Shin Megami Tensei IV

Shin_Megami_Tensei_IV_box_art
8.5 Overall Score
Content: 10/10
Anime Nonsense: 10/10
Approachability: 7/10

Written by on July 31, 2013 in [, ]

Shin Megami Tensei has been around for a while, and in most ways become something of Atlus’ wheelhouse. Persona has spawned its own anime and fighting game, and the series as a whole has become something of an adult-themed Pokemon. Whether it’s been the traditional RPG style of the later Persona games, the old school first person vibe of the earlier SMT games, or the tactics-focused Devil Survivor games, all of them are focused on building a team, fusing demons, and casting Bufu on things in turn-based combat. There are rock paper scissors mechanics, dating game elements, and weird bargain minigames. Shin Megami Tensei IV, the latest entry in the core series of these games, plucks some of the better elements from all of the subgenres, spinoffs, and other nonsense and combines them into an amazingly solid 3DS title.

You're going to spend a lot of time looking at this dude.

You’re going to spend a lot of time looking at this dude.

SMT IV casts you as a newly minted Samurai in a medieval fantasy setting. The plot seems kind of Diablo-ish at first, as your character must venture through multiple floors of a dungeon, collecting demons and identifying things with your futuristic AI gauntlet. Yeah, SMT IV mixes genres pretty quickly, and it isn’t before long that you realize there’s a whole lot of weird going on with the game’s plotline. It’s a bit anime, and runs into the same uberhero story that every other RPG runs with, but Atlus has a way of creating a world around that story that keeps it engaging.

 

As a 3DS title SMT IV looks and sounds pretty impressive. Characters are fully voice acted, and the core dungeon exploration is comparable to a Persona. Armor customization looks quite nice, as well. The amount of armor combinations and assets in the game is surprising, and throwing on armor combinations with varying styles and colors adds something to running around dungeons and fighting monsters.

Yup, there’s still a lot of turn-based combat.

The demon fusion system remains the core of this game, as it has for the rest of the SMT series. In IV fusing and leveling demons also opens up various abilities for your character, providing a constant incentive to swap out your roster of monsters on a regular basis. It adds something new to the character building in the game and got me to look at and use a pretty sizable number of the bafflingly large demon roster over the course of the game.

A large part of your experience revolves around chatting up demons. And not mentioning their terrifying skull heads.

A large part of your experience revolves around chatting up demons. And not mentioning their terrifying skull heads.

Perhaps the only true negative element of SMT IV is that while it innovated on Atlus’ previous formulas, at its core it’s more of the same style of game. If fusing demons and fighting other demons and dealing with weird anime plotlines wasn’t your bag before, SMT IV probably isn’t going to be the thing that sells you on the series. It is, however, quite a bit more approachable than prior games. Demon fusions are suggested, and a buyback system lets the player spend in-game currency (or the 3DS’s much-ignored play coins) to respawn with no loss in progress after dying. As a result SMT IV seems significantly less daunting than Atlus’ other portable offerings (I’m looking at you, Dark Spire).

This is Death. He's surprisingly lax about the whole reaping thing.

This is Death. He’s surprisingly lax about the whole reaping thing.

SMT IV is a solid title in Atlus’ demon-obsessed series, regardless of platform. As a 3DS title its a great pile of content for the little console, and has forced me into neglecting my Animal Crossing village, which may be the highest praise I can give the game. If you’re a fan of the SMT games or RPGs in general you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not buying SMT IV; it’s as simple as that.

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Author: Zach Snell View all posts by
Hi there. If you're reading this you've probably read some material of mine. If you want more go here and read my stories about a guy who punches wizards. http://www.amazon.com/Zachary-Snell/e/B008G0MORI/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

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