Shin Megami Tensei IV (Nintendo 3DS) Review
The Shin Megami Tensei tiles have been one of Atlus’ most treasured series that up until now, the company continues to make games where fans always support them. Ever since Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne was released, many fans have been asking when will the fourth game in the SMT series be out? Ten years following the release of Nocturne, Atlus finally decided to bring the fourth game in the series that I must say, lives up to the tradition of the Shin Megami Tensei titles that fans have played. For newcomers to the SMT franchise, don’t think this game as a Persona title as it’s somewhat different.
Returning after ten years in the market, does Shin Megami Tensei IV have what it takes to bring back its fans and entice newcomers to their SMT series? Let’s find out in our review.
If there is a series in the JRPG genre that offers a mature storyline with interesting plot twists, it would be Shin Megami Tensei. Long time fans who missed the mature and dark narrative of the series will be pleased with Shin Megami Tensei IV as the game lives up to the series’ tradition. You start the game as a Samurai Trainee in the Easter Kingdom of Mikado, where your task is to take down demons while recruiting some of them to join your cause. From the very simple slaying demon missions that your superior asks you to do, the scope of your mission becomes wider when someone within in the kingdom is turning other citizens in some sort of a demon that causes havoc in the land. From there, the dark tone of the game will start to develop as it leads you to many different places like Tokyo. Similar to its past three titles, there will be characters that will help you along the way that will contribute to the overall plot of the game. Expect the game to discuss several kinds of themes that will make your journey a memorable one as you finish the game.
One of the similarities of Shin Megami Tensei IV to titles like Persona and Devil Survivor series is the demon summoning feature. As every SMT game allows you to summon demons to aid you in your battle, Shin Megami Tensei IV will do the same. As you become the Samurai of the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado, you are given a Gauntlet, a wrist device that acts like a mini-computer that can do various things like summoning demons, scan the area around, and buy apps that will help your character and demons be competitive in battle.
Recruiting demons in Shin Megami Tensei IV is somewhat similar to the past titles in the series. When you engage them in battle, you will have an option to talk and persuade them. Simply talking to a bunch of demons will not make the persuasion any easier as they will demand certain things before joining your party. Depending on the answers you give to them, they can either get aggressive or join your party if you give them certain items. Getting demons to join your side is a tough one as it’s trial and error. The options from the answers you can give them vary and with a plethora of demons available in the game, it’s hard to figure out what type of answers they will respond to.
Another familiar feature long time fans will see in this game is the Fusion. Unlike in Persona 4 where you have to go to Igor to do the fusion, you can do it right on your gauntlet at any time. Instead of Igor helping you with the fusion recommendations, an A.I. called Mido will help you. The Cathedral of Shadows is the section where you will fuse demons. Those who have fused demons before from other SMT games should be familiar with this one. From the demons that you have collected, you can fuse them to make a new type of demon. Though, the level of demons that you can create will be based on your main character’s level.
When it comes to the battle system, it’s not that different from other SMT titles. The game will bring you to its traditional first person turn-based combat where you will see the monster’s image on the top screen and your party at the bottom. Actions will be minimal and will not be as flashy as the ones found in Persona 4. Since SMT IV will now have on-screen enemies, it’s easier to engage them in battle and have a pre-emptive strike. Simply press the X button to use your sword to the on-screen enemies and it will give you an advantage in battle.
Apps and Character Customization
Aside from raising your demons and teaching them skills to make them competent in battle, you also have to worry about building up your character to make him stronger. For every level you get, you gain points that you can use to raise your main character’s attributes. Also, you will be spending time racking up for Macca, the in-game currency, to gear your character. Similar to other SMT games, you will come across shops where you can buy gear for your main character. One good thing I like about the Shin Megami Tensei IV is that the character appearance changes depending on the gear you equip at him.
Thanks to the main character’s gauntlet, the game will also introduce something called an App. For every level that you do, aside from gaining points for increasing the attributes of your characters, you will also get App Points. By going through your gauntlet, you can check out the App section and use the App points that you get from leveling. Think of the apps as skills that you can teach your character and demons. The apps that you can buy will greatly enhance your party to make them stronger in battle. Certain apps can give you additional demon slots in your gauntlet, give more experience points when recruiting demons, or add several skill slots for every single one of them. There are a lot of apps that you can download and with this, it makes the game’s customization better than previous SMT titles.