Shin Megami Tensei IV ReviewJustin Ling
Shin Megami Tensei IV is the latest entry in the famous Megami Tensei franchise and the latest game in the emainlinef series and it does not disappoint. The protagonist is a young man from the kingdom of East Mikado who has recently been selected to be a Samurai. As a Samurai, his job is to defeat any demons that threatens the peace of East Mikado. However, he soon finds out that there are sinister forces at work both outside of East Mikado and within. As his friends begin to question where they stand, he too will need to decide what he should do when war erupts.
The narrative of Shin Megami Tensei IV is relatively simple but solid. The previous mainline games have the same core story: the protagonist is thrown into a world of demons and must rely on both his wits and his own contracted demons to survive. Thankfully Shin Megami Tensei IV manages to put its own refreshing spin on this story; the world of East Mikado is one that seems idyllic yet has enough subtle tension and strange technology that will have players wondering just what sort of place it really is. The characters are written in a way that make them likeable, making them easier for players to connect to, even if their contribution in battles tend to be a little sketchy at best and downright unhelpful at worst.
The gamefs exploration is done in 3D while combat is done in 2D. The game will have players navigating a myriad of area doing a variety of tasks, whether it is searching for loot, navigating dungeons, or searching for the entry point to another area. One major change from other Shin Megami Tensei games is that this game has mostly done away with random encounters; enemies are still encountered on the field, but they appear as blue figures that can be attacked preemptively for an advantage in battle or avoided entirely if the player does not wish to engage in combat. Another major change is that players can now save anywhere on the field; this is a definite boon for those who just started the series and are not quite accustomed to how punishing the game can be at times.
Combat is something that newcomers may take a while to get used to. This game uses the Press Turn system originating from Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, a system that awards players for fighting smartly and can also cause the player to be decimated if they get into the fight with the wrong party setup. While some may find this to be wanton cruelty, the combat system actually works well in teaching players to fight smart; they will need to learn to cover weaknesses and choose attacks that hit enemy weaknesses in order to keep on the offensive. Luckily, this game has features that will help newcomers; once an enemy is beaten at least once, the in-battle cursor will let players know if an attack will strike a weakness or resistance whenever that same enemy is encountered again (except in miniboss and boss battles).
Collecting demons is a major part of this seriesf fun and Shin Megami Tensei IV has over 400 demons from across several mythologies and religions for players to use in combat. Demon fusion, a major staple of the franchise that allows players to create more powerful demons, has been made more convenient for players. This game includes a gFusion Searchh system that allows players to see what fusion combinations will result in the demon they desire. The fusion system also allows players to choose which moves and traits get passed down to the resulting demon, allowing them to tweak their demons as much as they want. The only major downside concerning demons is that there are certain demons that can only be obtained through fusion accidents, accidents that have a miniscule chance of occurring and not always resulting in the special demon. While this is a minor point that does not detract from the overall experience too much, players seeking 100% completion may feel a little frustrated.
Shin Megami Tensei IV is a great blend of mythology and strategy, creating a fine experience for those who enjoy RPGs. While the game can be very punishing at times, it still offers players plenty of advantages that, when used efficiently, will lead to players completely dominating battles. Friendly enough for newcomers to become accustomed to the franchisefs legendary difficulty but challenging enough for older fans to be engrossed in, Shin Megami Tensei IV is a game that anyone with a Nintendo 3DS should try out.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.