Shin Megami Tensei V - World in Ruins Trailer - Nintendo Switch
Who it Caters to
Shin Megami Tensei V is here and now as a Nintendo Switch Exclusive! There are 2 kinds of people in the world: those who love this series and those who only play its more flashy cousin Persona—and of course, people who are still ignorant of these two, but you get our point. While Persona is all about style, Shin Megami Tensei is more on the hellish side of things, twisting every JRPG mechanic to punish the players yet making them addicted to the saga's darker touch.
If you enjoy a good JRPG with turn-based combat, a lot of grinding, and a cool story about angels and demons, Shin Megami Tensei V has a lot to offer!
What to Expect
Have you ever played any SMT game before? We're sure most of you have, and we also know there are a lot of you who may have discovered the saga thanks to the remaster of Shin Megami Tensei III that went out last May. Shin Megami Tensei V follows the very same formula and even feels like a reinterpretation of sorts, only with a different story and a new set of characters. Basically, you're a teenager at the end of the world who ends up fused with a powerful demon and now may be the only one capable of restoring things back to normal. In this adventure, demons could be both your enemies or allies...and gigantic bosses will not be lacking!
Shin Megami Tensei V looks really good, and it's by far the best-looking title in the saga, but this doesn't mean it's a masterpiece or makes the best out of the Switch's capabilities. Aesthetically, SMT V feels rather archaic, from the textures to the dated UI to the dull scenarios. This may sound harsh, but old fans know these games have never been about the graphics anyway. In terms of performance, we experienced a couple of bugs here and there, but nothing to worry about.
Shin Megami Tensei V is not a game that will visually impress your friends when recommending it, but once you get used to it and accept its perfect imperfection, it will definitely conquer you—just wait for the Gameplay section!
This is another area that won't blow your mind but still works. The soundtrack is full of pieces that really help set up the mood. When in battle, for example, you may hear an ambient track with industrial noises—it sounds like you're in hell, but it's far from those upbeat rock songs that other JRPG use in combat segments. But wait, it does have an upbeat song! It just starts once you launch your first attack. Isn't that a nice touch?!
Just like in other departments, the music in Shin Megami Tensei V (composed by Ryota Kozuka) feels like a continuation to other Shin Megami Tensei games. Voice acting is not bad, although it sounds forced at times—and you may find Amanozako's voice too annoying for a navigator that will be screaming at you every few seconds.
Shin Megami Tensei V starts with a group of teenagers at Jouin Academy. They all talk about a series of mysterious murders taking place in the city, and that's why students are not allowed to walk home alone. The protagonist is a lonely guy that seems to have no friends and ends up joining some random boys and girls that, coincidentally, will play a major role in saving the world.
After witnessing one of the attacks, the protagonist faints...only to wake up 2 decades later in the Netherworld, where very little remains from our now extinct civilization. He's not alone, though. He's now fused with a proto-fiend called Aogami, combined into a being some call the Nahobino, a combination of Knowledge and Life. So...what happened to the world?! Well, angels and demons started a war, and Lucifer seems to be the big winner. Could a Nahobino and some rebel demons take on this colossal villain?!
Secondary characters are briefly shown at the start, but then you'll spend several hours playing alone, roaming the Netherworld with no clear objective other than helping Aogami and staying alive. There are several clear objectives, though: finding all Maiman (little characters hidden in the most remote places, or in plain sight), farming Macca (aka money) to negotiate with stronger demons and recruit them to your party, doing some sidequests, and exploring the map to defeat all bosses and minibosses. It's pretty straightforward, but only if you have some experience in Shin Megami Tensei games or JRPGs in general.
Even if you play in Normal difficulty, the game expects you to grind a lot. Enemies a few levels above you are near impossible to kill if you don't have the right skills at hand, and even more so if they have an elemental advantage. Other than fighting harder bosses, your incentive to level up is to find new demons through fusion, since you can only create monsters who have the same level or lower. That said, recruiting fusion material is hard and expensive in most cases. Shin Megami Tensei V can be beaten with a random team, but it also invites you to spend hours upon hours min-maxing your party and unlocking all available demons, like a Pokémon game of sorts. Many factors add depth to this mechanic, like training demons to learn strong/useful skills they can pass on to the newly fused monster. Finding all 200 Maiman will grant you Glory points to unlock new skills and passive benefits to both your allies and the protagonist, so all in all, exploring every corner of the map searching for stronger demons and hidden Maiman is just as important as doing quests and finishing the story.
Back to the grindy nature of Shin Megami Tensei V, it's not unusual to hit a wall every few hours, mostly when it's time to defeat a boss as part of the main quest. You may have no trouble killing random mobs, but bosses and minibosses are always above your level or outnumber your party. There are several instakill skills, and demons who can revive are hard to find in the early game, so the first portion of the game may be infuriating for casual players. If you don't have elemental attacks that are effective against a boss, it will block most of your damage or just evade/block your attacks. There's a mechanic that grants you extra turns if you, for example, land an effective attack, but it could also give extra turns to your enemies, and if they can focus on the protagonist or kill someone in your party in just 1 hit, be sure they will just do it! If you're new to Shin Megami Tensei, then you may not know that the death of the protagonist is Game Over, regardless of your other party members being at full health.
After the first, let's say, 10 hours (unless you're rushing it) Shin Megami Tensei V finally picks up as you should now be more familiar with all mechanics. That's also when the story clicks, with secondary characters finally showing up again to give more meaning to the plot. If you can survive it, chances are you'll love everything that comes after!
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Shin Megami Tensei V is one of the best JRPG we've played, but it's certainly not a game for everyone. It's unforgiving, it's demanding, and sometimes it's even hard to look at. Uninviting as it may sound for newcomers, SMT V is a dream come true to the hardcore fans—after all, who doesn't like breathtaking battles, RNG negotiations, and that feeling of accomplishment every time you are ready for a new, stronger fusion?!
Improved graphics while still appealing to the Shin Megami Tensei aesthetics.
A true unforgiving JRPG, full of things to do and with a dark story based on a Biblic war.
Everything that's amazing about this game is also daunting for casual or inexperienced players.
The "open-world" is pretty linear, and quests are unoriginal and dull.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Although we finished the main story, we're still playing Shin Megami Tensei V...now on the hardest difficulty! We still have several fusions to unlock too!
This is a fantastic maze-based JRPG and an ideal challenge for those who enjoy collecting monsters. If you are feeling itchy bout it, Shin Megami Tensei V is now available on Nintendo Switch.
Author: Rod Locksley
Hey! I'm Rod, and when I'm not watching anime or playing video games I'm probably writing about them, but I'm also a graphic and web designer, and I even published a comic book and worked like 4 years for a well-known MMORPG. Curiously, my favorite series are quite different from each other, so I'm still trying to understand what I really like in an anime...