January 26, 2015

Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei - End Game

Digital Devil Story is a lot like the Wizardry series in many ways, including the number of posts that get done for each game.  The lack of story and repetitious nature of gameplay severely limits the amount of content that I can make fun of... er, I mean rationally discuss.

Neener-neener, rational pumpkin eater.

Getting access to the floating city of Bien proved to be a little strenuous as guards wouldn't let us enter.  They were having issues with a Ms. Medusa who was having a good time turning people to stone (hellooo Boss #2).  One of the guards, Gar, would allow us access if we retrieved his shield for him.  Figuring we'd stumble upon it eventually (since we explore every tile), we pressed forward and ran into a wall of difficulty that had me reminiscing back to the days of ye ole Wizardry.  The problem lay in the magnetite; there wasn't enough of it to go around.  If I kept my bestest monsies out in the field, the drain would be too much for my cheap ass to handle.  On the other hand, if I reduced magnetite usage by keeping my big guns stored away, we'd get served during battle.  Keep in mind that most of the demons I'm using are the same ones that we're fighting against.  A single random encounter can bring as many as eight foes versus our six.  It probably didn't help that my demon morale was at an all-time low due to my constant berating of their abilities and stupid faces.  I would often compare this batch of new demons to the previous, far more awesome, group of demons.  Gone were the days of deep philosophical discussion as the entire party fought battle after battle in a heavy silence.  I tried talking with Gumdrop but her mouth was stuffed with dark chocolate 98% of the time.  Our only hope was to get me to a high enough level to allow for the fusion of some really great demons.  We'd also need to find a magnetite source and exploit the heck out of it.  Both of these required heavy grinding but I tried to get a little exploration done as well.  Gummers had picked up a warp spell, so the party could push further ahead without having to worry so much.  I was just thinking about how much pain and suffering I was going to deliver to Medusa for all of this when...

Med... ummm... me-Medusa?

Yep, I had bumbled across Loki, aka Boss #3.  In our confusion, Loki had his way with most of us but we managed to just barely get a victory in.  Unfortunately, on the same turn we killed him, Gumdrop fell prey to Loki's vicious claws.  After looking up into the sky, fists clenched, and screeching one of my best "NOOOOOOOOOes!", I decided then and there to commit seppuku and invoke my protagonist-death-equals-reset rule.  And it wasn't just about her losing out on the 10K+ experience that Loki gives, but it was mostly about that.  Well, this little run-in showed why I was having such a difficult time in this area.  Backtracking, I picked up Gar's shield at the tower of Daedalus in a location directly referenced to by a NPC.

Huh?  The ceiling?  You must some
kind of crazy person.  Ignored.

Seriously, I did check out the area one level about this guy (I'm not that stuppit) and, at the time, there was just a pile of old weapons and armour.  Gar's shield only appeared there after talking with Gar and it was this pile of armaments that I had forgotten about.  But it's not my fault!™  It's this damn remake's fault.  You see, while normally I'd be using grid paper to map and note areas of interest, this remake includes an auto-mapper which only shows major locations (stairs, elevators, healers, fusion dudes).  I did take screenshots of some areas in a lazy attempt to mark them for later exploration, but I only started doing that after Daedalus tower.

Don't judge me!  You'd do the same!

Finally getting access to Bien, the exploration was swift and sure due to the overpowered nature of the party (I even had to cut the number of demons down from 4 to 2).  Medusa was no match for us and, after destroying her, the city changed back to normal and a recreation area opened up.  Recreation in DDS means gambling on pure luck-based games.  With macca to spare, I tried my hand at the ol' one-armed bandits, each spin costing 50 macca.  Many of the symbols on the reels matched the fantasy atmosphere of the game: demon heads, swords, rings, and orbs.  I managed to get three orbs in a row a bunch of times and was "rewarded" with a measly 200 macca.  It was obvious that the orbs were the just the base payout symbol.  However, the other symbols intrigued me and I envisioned getting a rare demon or powerful sword if I could just get them to match.  Thousands of macca later...

Well, fuck me running.

Things went smoothly after Bien until reaching the Sea of Flames, which is exactly what it sounds like.  Every step damages everybody for one point, ensuring a constant drain on healing resources.  Luckily, or perhaps I should say "Of course", there were healers and shops kickin' around in the burning wastelands, so it was manageable.  Another boon of this area was a magnetite dealer who only appeared in one spot every half-moon phase.  This guy actually made sense being here; I can only assume that all these demons we've been murdering also need magnetite to exist.

Is this shit uncut?  Cuz I gots burned last time, yo.

NPCs in the area had been talking about the legendary arms and I had already found the armour portions and just needed the sword, Hinokagutsuchi.  One NPC told me that the sword could be found in "a place that I know well".  I thought he meant the casino so I went back and spent thousands more macca attempting to get three swords, with predictable results (note: star symbols are wild).

Ugh, what comes after fuck me running?

I wasn't far off, however, as it was in the city of Bien.  I just needed the assistance of a demon in a bottle named Ruth that I had recently acquired.  She can detect hidden doors and I had noted some suspicious places in previously explored locations.  With her aid, I gained the fabled sword of legend and then was immediately disappointed after comparing it against my current sword, which did slightly less damage but had more chances to hit.

There's a reason they don't
design real swords like this.

The final two areas were thankfully free of flames but dreaded level-drainers became more frequent, forcing the use of attack magic to get them beat ASAP.  Even if a level did get drained, it wasn't such a big deal at this point; I was high enough level to command the most powerful demons I was able to fuse.  How powerful were said demons?

EVEN THE GODS THEMSELVES BEND
TO WILL OF NUNG!  Bwahahahahaha!

One might be wondering why I included a mere werewolf amongst such divine royalty.  Well, that humble little fur-face was of great help for those random encounters where there are 6+ opponents.  Wolfie's Roar ability has a decent chance of paralyzing most or all foes when used in combat.  That is, when he decides to use it (i.e. not freakin' often enough).  But when it does go down, it makes the remaining battle a cinch.  I had a similar experience happen early on in the game with Cerberus (who also had the roar ability).  I kept both these howlers around far longer than their stats should dictate otherwise purely because of this special ability.  The same thing happened in the early game with demons who could heal, but after macca became less of a problem, I could just summon a healer outside of combat, use up its MP, and send it on back (yes, you have to pay macca each time you summon a demon).  At any rate, these powerhouses helped us push through the final tower until we were just outside the door to the final boss.  The only problem was that there were unresolved quests in previous areas.  There was an elevator that I hadn't unlocked which meant there was an undefeated boss somewhere.  I had found the trapped goddess Izanami but had not figured out how to release her.

Replace Izanami with every woman
in my life (before the wife).

Did I really want to go back and tie up these loose ends?  I looked at my demonic posse and got nothing but a bunch of shrugs so we decided to just screw it and fight Lucifer.  If we had missed something crucial to defeating him, I'm sure we'd find out soon enough.  The battle was a tough one but it did seem like we were inflicting damage.  Since I had all the big guns out, Gumdrop was the only healer in the group, which she had to do every turn since Lucifer's melee attack hit everyone in the party for massive damage.  Fortunately, my horde of healing items gave us a bonus healer, though it meant me giving up a turn to attack (only Gums and I can use items).  There were a few dicey situations where Lucifer's constant pummelling almost got one of us but we managed to recover nicely.  Eventually the embodiment of pure evil fell to our mighty blows of righteousness.

"All I ever wanted was a huuuuuggggg..."

With his death, Izanami's soul still gets released so I guess I didn't have anything to worry about.  As part of his dying speech, Lucifer tells us to remain ever vigilant for there is still a demon more powerful than he.  The game ends with the most breathtaking end screen I have ever seen before fading to "However..." and then immediately kicking into the intro of Megami Tensei 2, which I'll do after completing a few other games first.  Hopefully, the bonus content that's unlocked by completing the first game isn't reliant on me releasing Izanami on my own.