Shin Megami Tensei IV
Shin Megami Tensei IV (JP: 真・女神転生 IV, trans. (Hepburn): Shin Megami Tensei IV, "True Goddess' Reincarnation IV) is a turn-based role-playing game developed by Atlus and published by Atlus in Japan and Atlus USA in North America in 2013 for the Nintendo 3DS. The game is also notable for having received a digital release (through the Nintendo eShop) in Europe in 2014, published by Nintendo. It is the fifth installment in the Shin Megami Tensei series, part of the core Megami Tensei franchise. The game received an updated follow-up, called Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse in 2016 for the Nintendo 3DS.
Why It Rocks
- The battle system is, by and large, the best of all Shin Megami Tensei games. It fixes most flaws from previous games, yet it still manages to be just as challenging.
- For the first time in the mainline series, the death of the protagonist isn't tantamount to an instant game over. If Flynn dies, his demons can keep fighting (though you can't change demons, as Flynn wields the Gauntlet to summon demons).
- There are no random encounters; enemy demons appear on the map, letting the player choose whether to fight or not. By hitting enemy figures at the right time, you can obtain an advantage and deal some damage at the start of the battle.
- The party menu and turn order are displayed on the lower screen for the player to see.
- The Smirk status was introduced: when someone obtains a Press Turn, he may smirk and deal extra damage for the next turn, or guaranteeing that an enemy attack misses. Thanks to the Press Turn system, you can play around with the turn order to maintain a smirk for as long as possible, adding more strategy to the game.
- The game is full of side-quests, obtained at job boards or during demon negotiation. Each side-quest has a little plot that makes the game world feel more alive, and gives worthwhile rewards (ranging from Incenses to boost stats, to money, to unique equipment).
- Some side-quests also affect your alignment, which makes them more impactful on the main story.
- For the first time in the series, there are several ways to obtain Experience Points (besides killing enemies), such as fusing demons, completing side-quests or successfully recruiting enemy demons.
- One of the series' staples, Demon Fusion, makes a return and was completely revamped:
- As a nice gimmick, the Demon Fusion soundtracks from Shin Megami Tensei, Shin Megami Tensei II and Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne make a return and are swapped every time you fuse a demon.
- If you don't feel like using an online tool to determine the result of a particular fusion, you can set the game to research a list of available fusions. You can also filter the research in several ways (such as specifying a demon you want to fuse or one of the components).
- Just like in Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor, the player can choose inherited skills.
- When demons learned all their possible skills, they can teach them to Flynn via Demon Whisper. This is the primary way for Flynn to learn spells, and if a particular skill is Whispered more than once, you will receive an upgraded version (some of the possible upgrades are a reduced MP consumption or a stronger effect).
- As you explore the world, you can loot "relics" that can be sold in stores for Macca (the game's currency). Some relics are more common, while others can only be found by defeating particular demons. Several side-quests ask you to find uncommon or unique relics.
- After a certain point in the game, you unlock special simulated battles where you are given a handful of demons and skills and must defeat an enemy while meeting certain requirements, encouraging you to think strategically to defeat the enemy with what you have.
- The Press Turn system makes a return from Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, and there are several death animations for enemies, depending on the element you use to kill them.
- For most of the story, other important characters (your fellow Samurai, plus Merkabah and Lucifer in the Law and Chaos routes respectively) will join your party and fight for you. While you can't control them, they can still act as damage tanks or dealers, taking some pressure off.
- Very good story, exploring themes like classism, nihilism and the role of knowledge and traditions in a society.
- Since the main characters are Samurai from the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado, they give a new, detached and more realist outlook of Japanese society and values, which was a novel idea for the time.
- Over a hundred demons to recruit, all taken from and accurate to real life religions and myths, and available for you to recruit via Demon Negotiation or Demon Fusion. New demons were added after the game launched via DLC, along with maps and bosses.
- All demons have a Race, which determines the demons you can fuse it with and which will be the result.
- Demons also have a personality, making the world feel livelier.
- The game has several quality-of-life measures to make the experience less frustrating:
- You can save at any point in the game from the main menu, which incentivizes and makes experimentation easier. You are also given two save slots, just in case.
- You can skip all dialogue by holding down a button.
- Dying repeatedly unlocks an Easy mode, which allows you to instantly escape battles.
- If you die, you can pay Charon with Macca or Nintendo Play Coins to be revived where you died. If you don't have money, Charon will give you a debt, which will be repaid as soon as you gain enough money.
- Scattered throughout the world, you can find demon Domains, small dungeons inhabited by a powerful demon. Defeating the owner of the Domain will give you unique rewards, like unlocking hidden rooms or unique relics.
- You can fast travel to every location on the map with a Terminal.
- The game has some of the best graphics on the Nintendo 3DS, and still manages to run in full 3D while experiencing little or no performance stutters. The art style is also very good, with the cutscenes looking reminiscent of a manga.
- Very good music. The game makes very good use of the rock, techno and metal that the soundtracks of Shin Megami Tensei games are known for.
- The Fiends, a staple of the series, make their return in this game and are just as hard as in previous games.
- While several frustrating or tedious elements were taken away, some things still managed to slip through the cracks:
- Some enemies have moves that make your demons fly off the battle screen and back into the overworld, where they will disguise as one of the enemy figures. If you can't find them while they're disguised, they will be lost.
- In some areas, the floor is poisoned, and if you don't have a plentiful supply of Dis-Poisons or a demon with Posumudi, you will be forced to backtrack to the nearest Hunter Association or all the way to Mikado Castle to heal yourself.
- It's possible to make the game unwinnable by getting lost inside a demon's Domain and saving both on both save slots. If you can't find the Domain exit, you will be forced to start the game over.
- The uncontrollable party members have terrible AI and will often use spells that your target resists (giving them a free Press Turn).
- The first boss, Minotaur, is infamously hard, since he has some very strong physical spells and the AI-controlled party members tend to spam moves that he resists or is outright immune to.
- You are given very little directions as to where to go or what to do to advance the story. Side-quests, on the other hand, don't have this issue.
- Like in Shin Megami Tensei II, Fiends only have a 1/256 chance to spawn in specific areas, meaning that the search for them can be especially time-consuming. If you are particularly unlucky, you can also end up running into a Fiend while you are unprepared and/or underleveled, which is basically a guaranteed game over.
- The game never received a physical release in Europe. Thankfully, this wasn't the case for Apocalypse.