Shin Megami Tensei is among the longest-running JRPG series out there, but it hasn’t gotten very good it deserves with the public. Persona, a spin-off of SMT, is much more popular in the western world, so why hasn’t the primary series struck a chord using the general public yet? There are numerous reasons why, from being limited to handheld entries typically to the name not holding much brand power within america, but none of them of this matters anymore. Shin Megami Tensei V is nice, so good that could mark the series’ breakout moment in the western world.
Shin Megami Tensei V may be the first mainline SMT game to grace a console since Nocturne on the Ps2. That game saw an HD remaster earlier this year, but it didn’t drum up enough fanfare to obtain the series very good it deserves. Shin Megami Tensei V not just has the quality to do so, but it’s also releasing within the perfect group of circumstances to make it’s launch the series’ breakout moment in the western world.
Most diehard Shin Megami Tensei fans will roll their eyes when they hear this, but yes, the Persona series is widely popular. Much more so compared to series it comes from. Now that there exists a new mainline SMT game on our hands, however, Persona’s popularity can perform the series good quality. There are countless people itching for a new hardcore RPG at this time, so when you pair that with the popularity from the Nintendo Switch, Shin Megami Tensei V comes with an incredibly wide audience to achieve. With Nintendo giving this game an enormous spotlight, it truly feels like SMT has returned in a huge way.
Shin Megami Tensei V must be a stellar RPG to capture this audience’s hearts though, and Atlus flexes its RPG prowess hard with SMT V. This is a classic SMT game through and through, refusing to chop any corners or dilute its vision. What’s most impressive, however, is when the series is able to modernize itself while not compromising on anything that makes Shin Megami Tensei what it's.
The game begins in modern-day Tokyo. You play being an unassuming high school student who, following a short walk home, wakes up inside a post-apocalyptic form of Tokyo. There’s no telling what happened or where everyone went, but it’s your decision to find the answers. You get together with a mysterious stranger and be a strong being called a Nahobino, a creature that is neither human nor demon.
Shin Megami Tensei V’s plot begins like the majority of other SMT games. It keeps things mysterious and uses the requirement for answers as a means to drive the player forward. Unlike other JRPGs, the introduction is refreshingly short. The game lets you loose to explore and fight demons very early on, which most people are certain to appreciate. The storyline is slowly doled out over the course of the journey, keeping the mysteries alive for dozens of hours. It’s a slow burn like the majority of other SMT games, but it’s well worth the wait.
When you awaken in the post-apocalypse, you discover Tokyo to be mostly a desert, but Shin Megami Tensei’s stellar art direction still shines with such a supposedly bland environment. Although the color palate is muted and the area is destroyed, the sport still seems to be beautiful. Somehow, this console/handheld hybrid beautifully realizes a desecrated Tokyo with massive dunes of sand and buildings warped beyond recognition.
It’s a hellish landscape that’s difficult to look away from. Character models will also be remarkably detailed, as well as their vivid colors and personality-filled animations pop against the drab background. This is actually the best-looking Nintendo Switch game without a doubt.
Unfortunately, the graphics are generally a blessing and a curse. Performance isn't up to snuff, and also the game feels choppy as you dash with the landscape. Shin Megami Tensei V has an increased budget and runs on Unreal Engine 4, which is a huge step-up for the franchise, but performance suffers consequently. It doesn’t matter a whole lot for any turn-based JRPG like this, especially with the presentation being just like it's, but it really does seem like the Switch is holding this game back. Still, this seems like the jump from Persona 4 to Persona 5 when it comes to presentation and graphics, and it’s mostly worthwhile.
Thankfully, the gameplay more than comprises of these performance problems. If you’ve played a Shin Megami Tensei game before, then you know what to expect. The Press Turn system and demon negotiation return, plus they work as they are doing in the past entries. New to the series are Magatsuhi Skills, however, that are ultimate abilities that must be charged up during combat. Once the meter is full, you can make all of your attacks into critical hits, among other things.
Also, party building has a few new additions too. You may still fuse demons to create new ones, however you may also collect Demon Essences, which allow you to add skills for your existing roster of demons or even the protagonist. You can preserve these in your inventory with out that demon inside your collection. For instance, collecting a Pixie Essence will help you to add any of that Pixie’s abilities, such as Dia, to your party.
Shin Megami Tensei V also adds a brand new special currency called Glory, which can be obtained by finding certain collectibles in the overworld. Glory can be exchanged for Miracles, which are passive abilities which cover a wide range of things like increasing your maximum demon stock, improving negotiation chances, or upgrading your character’s elemental prowess. All of these features add new layers of technique to team building, giving you more control of the party than ever before.
Since it’s running on more powerful hardware along with a more advanced engine, Shin Megami Tensei V features the most open and detailed environments in series history. These are surprisingly enjoyable to traverse, as the protagonist includes a speedy sprint and jump that allow you to access areas you wouldn’t have the ability to reach within the SMT games. You will find hidden treasure containers, demons, quests, and more to discover in the overworld, which is a nice step from the corridors the series is renowned for.
Although it’s a hellish landscape, the world of Shin Megami Tensei V is simply nice to exist in. Since demons appear on the overworld there are no random encounters, you are in control of what you would like to complete for the most part. You are able to grind, do side quests, and hunt for items at your leisure. Since it’s on the Switch, it also has the added benefit of portability. You can play on the television during dungeons or serious story moments and undock the machine when it’s time to grind. SMT V feels much less restrictive than previous SMT games, which many players are certain to appreciate.
As I mentioned above, if you’ve played a Shin Megami Tensei game, then you need to already know what to expect with SMT V. That’s not a bad thing though. The series understands why people enjoy it, also it offers the most concentrated version of itself with SMT V. This is a Shin Megami Tensei game that will not only please longtime fans, but also attract more casual RPG players who've heard of the series. That’s a tough good balance to accomplish, but SMT V does it with flying colors.
Shin Megami Tensei V is among the best RPGs around the Nintendo Switch. It’s also one of the best JRPGs released recently. It's unapologetically Shin Megami Tensei, staying true to its roots while modernizing the franchise in much-needed ways. The performance issues are unfortunate, but they’re insufficient to turn people from this excellent RPG. Although it’s been some time because the last mainline game, Shin Megami Tensei V lives up to the hype. This can be a JRPG you won’t wish to miss.