Shin Megami Tensei V – Review
Follow Genre: RPG
Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus, Nintendo
Platform: Switch
Tested on: Switch

Shin Megami Tensei V – Review

Site Score
9.5
Good: Engaging story, Demon collecting, Graphics
Bad: Normal difficulty is hard for newcomers and Safety difficulty is ridiculously easy, A lot of backtracking
User Score
10.0
(1 votes)
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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

The (Shin) Megami Tensei series has been around since 1987, and even though it didn’t have that much momentum in the West back then, the series gradually gained more and more fans over the years. Eventually, the SMT games have become coveted titles for those who like grim JRPGs, and so far the series has never had a truly flawed entry. We were quite stoked to see the announcement of the ‘fifth’ installment, especially because of its graphical overhaul, as well as its new mechanics in an open-world setting. We were thoroughly entertained by this very impressive title for Nintendo’s Switch.

Story

The story of Shin Megami Tensei V is actually quite simple. You’ll find yourself playing as a high school student in Tokyo. It seems the city is plagued with violent occurrences and it’s not safe to go home alone anymore. When making your way to the dormitory with new friends, you encounter a grim scene in the station, forcing you to take a different route to the dormitory. When all of a sudden a strange occurrence happens, and you find yourself in a desolate wasteland surrounded by angels and demons, you know you’re not in Kansas anymore. It doesn’t take long before a dormant power awakens in your character, and mere moments later you find yourself resolving conflicts between the aforementioned angels and demons, while also trying to find the aforementioned classmates who apparently also teleported to these strange lands. Soon, however, it becomes clear that the surrounding Netherworld may not be as foreign as you initially think.

Overall the story pacing and flow are perfect. You’ll get the necessary information when you need it, and there are quite a few cutscenes thrown in the mix. More than often there’s a healthy balance between exploring, battling, and cutscenes, making sure the game allows you to properly play at your own pace, without having to constantly put down the controller to watch the cutscenes.

Graphics

Graphically Shin Megami Tensei V is an absolute sight to behold; for the Nintendo Switch. While the game is not comparable to exclusive titles on next-gen consoles in terms of graphical quality, it does look amazing on Nintendo’s hybrid console. We were treated to loads of different enemy models, pretty environments, and also a lot of different story-related character models. Of course, like in a true JRPG fashion, we were still treated to reused assets and empty spots on the map, but these were actually negligible for what we got in return. More than once we found ourselves quite intrigued by what was shown to us, and we loved seeing all the demons and characters come to life in a proper 3D fashion.

Sound

The sound design of SMTV is handled perfectly. The backdrop is suitable for what unfolds on the screen, even though the battle music sometimes kicks in a bit too drastically. Nonetheless, the music is great, the sound effects are top-notch and we even very much enjoyed the English voice acting. While some overacting is present, we very much liked the quality of the (story) dialogues by the English cast. Purists will be pleased to hear that the Japanese audio option was also added to the game, so they can play through the game with the original Japanese voice cast.

Gameplay

Shin Megami Tensei V is a classic JRPG experience, albeit with a few modernized elements thrown in the mix to make sure this version caters to a modern-day audience. The game will revolve around learning what is going on around you, while you constantly battle demons, add them to your party, and ultimately even start fusing demons together to create more powerful beings in the process. The game could be considered a very grim and dark Pokémon experience when it comes to collecting demons to strengthen your party. However, your ‘stock room’ is very limited, and the protagonist will also join in on the battles at hand.

The game will throw you in a fairly open world, where you can engage in combat at any given time with the creatures that roam around, while going from one objective marker to the next. Along the way, you’ll be able to complete side quests, but these will constantly have you go back and forth between different points to complete them. Nonetheless, they are usually worth the hassle, as they will reward you with a lot of experience or useful items. Also, the more you explore, the more items you’ll find and even certain bonuses might be thrown your way. Other than that, the game is very traditional in its approach. You’ll fight turn-based battles where your opponents will have weaknesses that may cause you to gain extra attacks or deal more damage. During battles, you may converse with enemy demons to try and convince them to join your side. This often involves you forking over some money and/or even some of your HP and MP. Another very classic mechanic the game embeds is the need to manually save the game. If you decide to play a long time, without saving at a dedicated save point, it might just be that you lose all your progress when you meet your untimely demise during one of the game’s many harder battles.

As mentioned before, demon collecting is a huge part of this game (and the series in general). The game sadly has very limited space if you wish to collect many of them, but as you progress, fusing demons together will make more room, and you’ll get stronger demons in return for merging two weaker ones together. That being said, completionists will have a hard time making choices as to which demons they wish to have by their side. You can unlock a few extra spots in your stock, but we would have loved more storage for your odd companions. Unused demons will still get a percentage of the experience earned in combat, making sure they don’t fall behind too much when not being utilized.

Because SMTV is such a complex game, the developers added a Safety difficulty after the game’s release. This difficulty option offers absolutely no challenge at all, and you’ll basically insta-kill every enemy that crosses your path. Bosses may take a few hits, but other than that, this mode holds no challenges, even if you decide to power waltz your way through everything without grinding to level up. For those looking for a difficulty setting that is slightly easier than the normal difficulty, it might somewhat feel insulting at times that the game is so easy all of a sudden. Nonetheless, it’s great that this option was added for players who’d rather enjoy the story.

Conclusion

Shin Megami Tensei V is a title we can easily recommend. This new installment in the SMT series is a phenomenal experience, and we loved seeing such a modern and polished Shin Megami Tensei experience. We loved the story, and even the open world had its many secrets and charms. The game also comes with great voice acting and a superb soundtrack and this title is also a testament to how good games can look on the Switch. While we wouldn’t mind an extremely polished next-gen version for the SMT series, this fifth installment is very much worth picking up.

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Shin Megami Tensei V - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Ibuki


Aspiring ninja.

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