Shin Megami Tensei 5 overview: Harder and higher than ever

MSRP $60.00

“Shin Megami Tensei 5 is yet another gem for the Nintendo Switch that every JRPG fan needs to check out.”


  • Powerful story
  • Tons of get together customization
  • Immersive world
  • Fun exploration
  • Great visuals


  • A little bit of an entry barrier
  • Tough problem spikes

Shin Megami Tensei followers are getting an early Christmas current. A brand new installment has lastly come to the legendary Japanese role-playing recreation sequence, and it’s packing every part followers might need and extra.

Shin Megami Tensei 5 is the newest entry in Atlus’ JRPG sequence, which was additionally off into the immensely in style Persona video games. Like different Megami Tensei video games, SMT 5 focuses much less on friendship and slice-of-life relationships and extra on gathering a private military of demons to battle in opposition to gods and demons. It’s about surviving a holy warfare, all whereas making choices that can determine the destiny of the world. 

Shin Megami Tensei 5 takes this premise to the subsequent degree, sporting a stronger story than ever, higher gameplay, elevated customization, key nuances, and extra. As quickly as I used to be transported to the Netherworld, a sandy wasteland, I knew this recreation would have me saying, “OK, that’s sick,” time after time. And it did.

Story Megami Tensei

While Megami Tensei titles all the time function sturdy tales, Shin Megami Tensei 5 focuses extra on its narrative than ever earlier than. In reality, this is among the most gratifying tales within the sequence’ historical past because of the additional care put into it.

The story begins as regular for the SMT sequence. There’s an unnamed hero residing out an bizarre life. Before it, he’s unsuspectingly blasted right into a mirror world stuffed with demons and ruins of locations he as soon as knew. How did issues get this fashion? That query — and extra — is answered as gamers progress by means of the thriller. The hero’s body-sharing buddy, Proto-Fiend — who is a thriller himself — hints that that is the way forward for Tokyo after a holy warfare between the angelic military of Heaven and Hell’s demonic forces. After being fused with this Fiend in a brand new human-demon kind referred to as the Nahbino, the objective is to carry order to an ongoing battle whereas touring between the pre- and post-wasteland worlds.

Shin Megami Tensei 5 Angel holding up a human.

Throughout the story, gamers meet many extra characters and are available face-to-face with completely different selections that determine what ending they’ll get. The most necessary selections come from a traditional sequence function referred to as Reasons, that are characters that stand for various alignments. Things like regulation, neutrality, chaos, justice, and extra take the type of completely different characters. During moments much like Persona’s Social Link scenes, gamers enter deep conversations with characters. Responses to their questions and actions find yourself defining the character and the destiny of his world. The story is predicated across the angelic and self-righteous forces of Heaven and the chaotic “simply trying to get by or rule” forces of Hell, and people excessive stakes make selections all of the extra highly effective this time round.

This is what SMT has all the time been about — morality and the beliefs of humanity versus these of upper beings — and the brand new programs add extra energy and immersion to the combo. Questions like whether or not a person ought to be capable to take one other’s life and if one ought to atone for his or her sins, regardless of the circumstances, come to the forefront. It’s as much as the participant and their very own beliefs to say sure or no and form actuality. It’s an attractive idea that basically doubles as a commentary on human beliefs, and tackles the “morality choice” concept higher than every other recreation on the market. In reality, the way forward for the world itself turns into an overlying thriller relying on the participant’s selections, and that provides much more intrigue on high of the bottom narrative.

The central thriller stored me tuned in all the time. There are particular moments the place it shines, however they’ll land tougher the much less moving into. Just know that the teachings realized all through Atlus’ historical past of SMT and Persona tales are out in full power right here.

More freedom than ever

Speaking of classes realized, the precise gameplay of Shin Megami Tensei 5 really seems like an evolution for Atlus. The traditional turn-based battle system returns right here, full with the SMT signature “one more” mechanic. This entails with the ability to hit an enemy with their weak spot to earn an additional flip in battle. Be cautious, although: An opponent can do the identical factor proper again to you, including an additional layer of technique and problem to the battles all through the sport. Loads of the time, I used to be modifying my character and customizing my demon crew round this mechanic to get the very best battle outcomes attainable. Think of it like a demonic model of Pokémon, however take away the considered searching for the cutest crew attainable as a result of that received’t fly right here.

While the battles are enjoyable, most of my enjoyment of SMT 5 comes from popping into the World of Shadows and customizing my crew. I spent hours merely modifying my crew of monsters, discovering synergy between demons, fusing demons into essentially the most becoming kind for my crew, and searching for the very best Nahbino construct attainable. 

Yes, demon fusion is again and higher than ever, with Atlus bringing within the capacity to decide on what strikes gamers need to pull for a demon fusion. This makes it lots simpler to make a dream demon construct. And because of the brand new Essence fusion mechanic, gamers can take that customization even additional.

Shin Megami Tensei 5 Nahbino protagonist holding miracle water.

Essence fusion permits gamers to take the Essences of demons they’ve collected and attribute them to different demons and even the Nahbino himself. This means gamers can’t solely take abilities from completely different demons, however affinities as nicely. For instance, I’ve a Pyro Jack, however I’m not a fan of his inherent fireplace abilities. So I’ll pull from a Flaemis as an alternative. Players don’t even have to only decide from abilities; they will change their Nahbino and demon weaknesses, resistances, and strengths as nicely. I discovered myself altering my Nahbino from a buff and debuff machine to a healer to a purple mage all-rounder many instances. With all of the hours I put into the sport, I’m positive a stable 5 of these got here from messing round with crew compositions alone. 

I used to be completely overwhelmed with what this recreation lets you do on high of the already nice get together customization that’s all the time current in SMT.

The freedom of the sport extends into the exploration as nicely. The easy addition of a leap button to the sequence actually opens the door to some enjoyable lite-platforming segments much like these present in Kingdom Hearts. Thanks to the immersive setting and the various hidden set items to discover, that is simply Atlus’ greatest surroundings but with regards to traversal. Players also can use save factors to quick journey from place to position, making it even simpler to get round.

Shin Megami Tensei 5 protagonist talking to King Frost.

There are even side-missions the place gamers get to make impactful selections. Accepted a mission from a Lilith, however need to betray them to hitch an Angel? Go for it. Want to maintain the spoils from a quest for your self and defeat the particular person you accepted it from? Feel free.

One extra problem accepted

If you’re going into Shin Megami Tensei 5 praying that the benefit of Persona hasn’t rubbed off on the unique demon negotiating sequence, worry not. Or perhaps do worry, as a result of SMT 5 is an actual problem, because the sequence has all the time been.

If you actually desire a cause to get super-strategic in battles, SMT 5 is the sport that can put you to the take a look at in ways in which hardcore mode Fire Emblem needs it might.

On a couple of event, I went right into a battle, acquired hit as soon as, and simply let the enemy steamroll my crew as I stated, “Yeah I’m not ready to beat this guy.” Trust me: when you’re new to SMT, this recreation will prepare you to save lots of earlier than actually any and each large battle or aspect mission, even on regular problem. 

Shin Megami Tensei 5 protagonist, Nahbino performing an attack.

This is usually a blessing or a curse relying on what sort of participant you’re. If you actually desire a cause to get super-strategic in battles, SMT 5 is the sport that can put you to the take a look at in ways in which hardcore mode Fire Emblem needs it might. However, when you’re coming from the Persona sequence and hoping for the same expertise, then it might rub you the unsuitable means. I believe this recreation actually might have benefited from the Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster‘s droop function, but it surely a minimum of lets you immediately teleport to any save level to save lots of your recreation at any time.

Adding to the issue for some stands out as the return of the demon negotiation mechanic, which will be exhausting to get the dangle of at first. To recruit new get together members, you’ll need to attraction to them in a dialog. Sometimes, you may get on their good aspect with easy phrases and different instances you’ll need to pay the toll by means of gadgets, well being, cash, and different means. Many instances, you’ll simply be out of luck and have them run away and even attempt to kill you.

Thankfully, as with the SMT 3: Nocturne HD Remaster, Atlus has added an informal problem this time round, although I’ve heard that informal mode even has its difficult moments on occasion. 

Our take

Shin Megami Tensei 5 confirmed me that Atlus hasn’t misplaced its luster and possibly received’t for a very long time. It stored every part the sequence is understood for intact whereas including extra and leaving me wanting much more than that. Not solely is it a deal with for anybody concerned about JRPG story, however for these wanting a real problem and to work their technique muscular tissues as nicely. This problem could also be a little bit of a barrier to newcomers. However, it’s a barrier I extremely advocate breaking down for a very gratifying expertise.

How lengthy will it final?

It took me round 70 hours to complete the sport. However, I went after many sidequests, spent tons of time customizing my get together, and died lots. So relying on the way you sort out this behemoth, your time might range.

Is there an alternate?

This 12 months has been chock-full of nice JRPGs. I like to recommend Tales of Arise, Scarlet Nexus, and there’s additionally the upcoming Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. But Shin Megami Tensei 5 is a novel expertise you shouldn’t miss out on.

Should you purchase it?

Yes. It’s additionally a must-own Switch title that each RPG fan wants of their assortment.

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