In an undisclosed year in the twenty-first century, humanity
is trying to rebuild after the cataclysmic Great Destruction. Demons
from another plane roam the rubble of Japan’s eradicated cities,
forcing the survivors to huddle in underground bunkers. A few brave
warriors, Demon Busters they are called, dare to go outside to face the
dangers. Fans of the Shin
Megami Tensei
(SMT) series already know I am describing
the plot from SMT: href=""
target="_blank">Imagine Online. Gamers who don’t
know what SMT is and are looking for a game that does things
differently should pay attention.

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href=""> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 200px; height: 197px;" alt=""

This is how
Ralsu would look as a female Japanese teen.

Imagine Online
is a free-to-play MMOG hosted by Aeria Games that brings the cult
classic Shin Megami
universe into the world on massively multiplayer
gaming. As a Demon Buster operating out of the human base known as
Third Home, players strike out on a quest to get to the heart of the
demonic infestation. Along the way, you’ll negotiate with demons,
follow the quests you want, and develop skills to make your character
play the way you want.

Character creation options, while not as plentiful as those
offered in  href=""
World International
, quickly show how much style="font-style: italic;">Imagine differs
from standard MMOG fare. Your avatar can be male or female human with a
selection of machete, knife, or axe as your starting weapon. You’ll
customize your Demon Buster’s appearance with a number of urban apparel
choices. From khakis to jeans to sweaters to tees, you’ll be able to
design a Demon Buster that fits your idea of a cool sixteen to
twenty-two year old who likes to go around and mix it up with demons.

The second major difference between style="font-style: italic;">Imagine and other
MMOG offerings reveals itself almost immediately after you have picked
out your character’s ensemble; Imagine
gives players an opening cinematic. It’s nothing too fancy at first;
you’ll read a bit of plot background before hopping into the game. But
the music is striking, and adrenaline-inducing guitar riffs accompany
some synthesized melodies to produce a score that both exhilarates a
gamer and makes the hairs on the back of his neck stand erect at the
same time. Unfortunately, all of the exposition appears as text on your
screen, and it’s not the best translation. It’s really a pity that style="font-style: italic;">Imagine lacks voice
acting, but it is a F2P game.

Your freshly inducted Demon Buster (DB) begins his or her
journey by helping a more experienced DB investigate why Second Home
has fallen off of the communications grid. This brief tutorial will
introduce movement controls, combat, and skill usage in a way that
feels pretty seamless because it also moves the plot forward. It’s what
comes at the end of the tutorial that really generates enthusiasm.

Your character is forced to choose between going into a
dangerous area solo while leaving the other DB to stay with an injured
guard or stay behind and defer to her expertise. Regardless of your
selection, a few scenes later has you coming into one of the lower
levels of this dingy, metropolitan structure (with your nerves already
on edge because of previous demon encounters and the story of the
downed guard) to run into a boss complete with cut scene. Cue the
pounding music, the sense of drama, and clever camera work to present
the scale of your foe. Your DB companion tries to save you from a
killing blow and gets herself tossed around like a rag doll. Then the
demoness turns on you and swings… 

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Clever use
of letterboxing and other camera effects makes cinematics dramatic.

I won’t spoil any more of the story, so instead I’ll mention
the bells and whistles offered up by style="font-style: italic;">Imagine. Combat
involves real-time attacks (on a cooldown timer) with a touch of the
strategy required in  href=""
Gamers will need to employ certain types of attacks to penetrate the
defenses of the enemies they face. Speaking of those enemies, many can
be coerced or cajoled into becoming your companion and fighting for
you. Once you have dominated a demon, it will fight with you and gain
levels as well as developing a deeper level of trust in you.

As your Demon Buster gains levels, more skills will become
accessible. The skills are strengthened by using them, but players will
have to pick which ones to advance carefully because the points
available for all skills are finite. Unlocking a precise combination of
skills allows for a large variety of customization akin to classes in
most games. This is why players don’t pick a class at character
creation; they build their character based on skills and their choice
of attributes as they level. Thus, gaining a level gives skill points
and attribute points. Using skills makes your skills better and your
Demon Buster stronger. It winds up a combination of traditional
level-based progression and the skill-based advancement that fans of href=""
clamor for in forums all over the web.

Ten Ton Hammer is keeping a close eye on style="font-style: italic;">Imagine because it
has so many distinctive gameplay traits. Be sure to look for a review
from Ten Ton Hammer when the beta ends.

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016