It seems that with every year that passes we get some brand new spin-off to the Shin Megami Tensei titles. Persona, Digital Devil Saga, Devil Summoner… it's impressive how the list goes on. What makes these games work is that while they're part of the same overarching series each of them has their own spin with the premise at work. For example in the main series titles you negotiate with demons to get them to join your side but in Digital Devil Saga you actually were the demons, eating the other demons you encounter to grow in power.
Devil Survivor continues this tradition of spinning off in interesting new directions with the established cosmology. As is par for the course a disaster happens in Tokyo that has unleashed a whole slew of demons upon the unsuspecting populace. Three friends, your protagonist being one of them, are given COMPs, devices that allow them to communicate with and control demons. Stuck inside of central Tokyo with thousands of innocent civilians they must work to survive the monsters while finding an escape route from the city.
As in most of their titles you will be able to negotiate with demons to help you survive but it takes an interesting twist in this title. Battles are fought as turn-based affairs almost on par with the Final Fantasy Tactics titles. You can place up to four teams, each having one human and two active demons, on the field and then take turns with the enemy moving around. The twist comes when you go to attack an opponent.
Upon doing so you are brought to an old-school turn based combat interface. The attacker gets to take first actions and then the defender gets to go. Once both sides have acted you are pulled back out to the map screen for the next characters turn. Unless you have taken advantage of the enemy weaknesses that is. In this case the team that exploited their foes weaknesses will get an extra free turn to beat on them without fear of reprisal.
Another interesting feature is the streamlining of the Fusion system. Typically you just attempted to fuse your demons until you found a combination that worked out well for you. But in this one you can look at a list of potential fusions beforehand, pick the final demon you're interested in and then choose which of your demons to use that can be part of the fusion formula. This should shave off plenty of time from those who obsess over what fusions they make. There have also been tweaks to the skill inheritance system that are more in line with Devil Summoner 2's use of the passive skills.
Promisingly enough the game promises to have several endings based solely upon player actions. Rather than worrying about alignment you will simply affect your destiny via your actions and the relationships that you allow to form. By simply saving someone's life his impact on the game world might change your ending. They were mum on the exact amount of endings but with how subtle these sound, like less obvious versions of the Reasons from Nocturne (ie. based upon choices and not arbitrary sides), there will be plenty of replayability.
All of this joins up with the ability to learn skills from fallen enemies to make for one of the more interesting JRPG releases of recent memory. Boasting around twenty hours length and high replayability this is a handheld title that seems to carry the value of a full priced console game on it. Look for it coming your way towards the end of June.