Shin Megami Tensei V Review – The Demon Negotiator
I can’t believe it’s been so long since a new Shin Megami Tensei game has been released. While Atlus did release a remaster of Shin Megami Tensei III, after such a lengthy wait, a fresh entry like Shin Megami Tensei V was required. The delay feels longer because of the announcement’s timing, which was almost four years ago. This new game was advertised as a Nintendo Switch exclusive and will remain such at its debut, while there are rumors that additional ports may be in the works.
Shin Megami Tensei is the Persona series’ parent. As in, this series gave birth to the Persona spin-off, which ended up in the spotlight while the SMT brand remained in the shadows. I believe the time has come for it to return, and the Nintendo Switch is the ideal platform for it to do so. Indeed, Atlus has learned a lot from their experience with the Persona series, as well as prior SMT games, and this is reflected in their design choices for SMTV.
Those who have played the previous games will feel right at home with this latest entry. The introduction provides a background overview of the world, angels, demons, god, and all that jazz. It appears to be quite religious at first, but this is typical of most SMT games. In this new one, you play as a high-school kid (as is customary) who learns of a demon sighting in a tunnel near his school and decides to investigate, only to find himself in a strange world that is a post-apocalyptic version of Tokyo. The main character is ambushed by a horde of demons, forcing him to fuse with a mysterious entity, resulting in the creation of Nahobino.
Yes, I’m aware that this all sounds similar. The plot doesn’t offer anything original in the first act, but it does teach you a lot of the fundamentals. You discover new gaming systems such as Essense, Fusions, and Miracles as well as how to battle, negotiate, and ask demons to join your group. This latest installment sticks to the series’ core, although it does provide some incremental improvements. Even on the standard difficulty, it seems very demanding, but there are additional settings such as an easy difficulty and even an optional free DLC that adds a safety difficulty setting. I only played through the Normal mode, which I believe offers the ideal balance of challenge and skill.
If you’re looking for a story to draw you in, this isn’t the game for you. The plot of the game is firmly founded in philosophy, prompting you to consider some of the things in our actual world. It wants to appear intellectual without actually being smart, and that is the highest compliment I can pay it. Shin Megami Tensei V is best enjoyed by delving further into its gameplay elements. The primary element of the game is finding the most powerful demons, negotiating with them to let them join your team, and then fusing them to make them even more powerful. The plot merely plays out in the background, with little to keep you interested. The supporting characters are underdeveloped, and the writing is uninteresting, but the localization is remarkable, particularly in how Sega handled the negotiations with the demons.
When you come across a demon, you can fight them in a turn-based system. You can choose between abilities such as attacks and skills that execute special moves. Your party is made up of the many demons that you may persuade to become partners. You can converse to these demons at any time, which leads to intriguing, frequently humorous, and utterly random interactions. It’s typically entertaining to find out the personalities and characteristics of the demons since they’re crucial to winning the negotiations. Choosing the appropriate answer and having the right item to give them is the key to reaching the end.
The most enjoyable aspect for me was the difficulty and exhilaration of defeating some of the more difficult encounters. The game also pushes you to explore your surroundings in search of collectibles known as Mimam. These aren’t simply pointless collectibles; they may fetch you some excellent bonuses to help you enhance your party members. Unfortunately, the difficulty spikes are a stumbling block for the game, especially if you don’t appreciate grinding too much. Going through the same battles to level up your characters might become tedious quickly, but it is vital to be prepared for some of the game’s most difficult bouts.
You can’t just choose the most powerful demons and breeze through the game in normal mode. To make it to the climax, you’ll need to mix and match your demons, enhance them and your skills, and figure out your enemies’ weaknesses. You can also take their essences with you. These essences can be utilized to teach other demons or the main character new skills. Miracles may also be unlocked, which function more as stat buffs or additional upgrades such as increased health, attack power, and so on. These new improvements may appear little in the broad scheme of things, but they change the game’s design to make it more unique and skill-oriented. You won’t get bored repeating the same tasks.
The saving mechanism, in my opinion, is a little unfair and time-consuming. Because the game is fairly challenging, there are only a limited amount of save spots scattered over the world map. These also serve as a warp point and a shop, among other functions. If you’ve taken a battering, you can heal your group here, but it will cost you some in-game currency. The trial and error aspect of demon negotiations can put you in danger in a battle if the demon decides to attack you during a negotiation, and not having a save point here might be annoying. It limits your ability to explore the world as you fear you might end up losing progress.
Another problem I encountered was more of a technical nature due to hardware restrictions. The graphic style is pretty lovely, and there is some wonderful cinematics in the game, but the frame rate is not consistent, particularly during some of the end-game events. During exploration, you might feel the hiccups and stutters. I thought the load times were a touch too long as well, but this is coming from someone who has been spoilt by the load times of current-generation consoles.
Shin Megami Tensei V Game Information
- Price: $59.99
- Publisher: Sega
- Developer: Atlus
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher