Shin Megami Tensei V
Warning: This Writer Makes An Innocent Comparison To Persona Only In This Section
After years of hype, teasers, and announcements, Shin Megami Tensei 5 is finally released on the Nintendo Switch. On par with Metroid Prime arguably, SMT 5 was one of 2021's most anticipated titles. To explain how such a title achieved massive levels of hype is mainly subjective. Personally, I feel a large part of it is due to a certain spin-off series that has become taboo to talk about amongst game writers. Mama ain't raise a punk, so I'll flat out say that the Persona series may have been part of its influence. What was initially a spinoff series, Persona has been a megahit in its own right. The combination of visual novels and relatable school settings with RPGs brought in a new fanbase for Atlus. Many of its fans have interchanged since Persona's peak, influencing its sales.
The newfound success for Shin Megami Tensei 3 Nocturne HD can be a testament to this. However, the SMT fanbase is just as verbose about their series. Perhaps it's the fans' appreciation of various mythologies being represented in an all-in-one package. This stems from lore usually involving a power struggle between gods and demons, with humans caught in the middle. At the end of the day, Persona is Persona and Shin Megami Tensei is Shin Megami Tensei. I've only mentioned the former as one of the reasonings behind SMT 5's hype coupled with the decades-long legacy SMT as a series had developed.
The Demon And Angel War Continue In Shin Megami Tensei V
The player controls a nameless protagonist who will more than likely have an official name in the upcoming months. As per usual with previous Shin Megami Tensei titles, the protagonist is a silent "self-insert" type, who makes occasional choices based on their own reflection. During cutscenes, this is played out with this rather cool effect like a thought bubble. In generic conversations, the player can choose whatever reply they feel best fit their scenario.
In Tokyo, the city has been plagued with shadows inflicting attacks on defenseless passerbys. These attacks accumulate until one of the protagonist's students begs him to look after her older brother. On his way there, he comes across a mysterious tunnel which is the source of the attacks. After several sequences, the tunnel collapses and the protagonist comes across a different world. This version of Tokyo is desolate, barren, and unidentifiable save for the Tokyo Tower. He comes across an unknown entity who gives the protagonist his power, declaring himself as the Nahobino. Fused with this entity, the Nahobino now strives to figure out what is going on while trying to survive the Netherworld.
Shin Megami Tensei V Is A Bit Of Old And New
While being the 5th in the series, the gameplay reminded me more of Shin Megami Tensei 3 Nocturne from a graphical standpoint. Shin Megami Tensei 4 and Apocalypse's battles were first-person, akin to earlier SMT titles. Perhaps this was due to the hardware limitations of the 3DS, but SMT5 is all 3D, even during battles. The Nahobino fights alongside his demon allies, while using skills to defeat enemy demons. To encourage demons to join his party, the player can use the iconic "Talk" command to meet the demon's demands.
Hopefully, meeting these demands will cause the demons to do so. Sometimes, meeting all of their requirements isn't enough and they will take whatever you give them, fleeing in the process. By the end of my "first take," I was able to recruit a slime. Wanna know what it cost me? Not much, only all but one of my HP and half of my Macca. At least I made it out alive with a new ally huh?
Almost Two Decades Later, SMT Doesn't Miss A Beat
What also makes Shin Megami Tensei 5 special is that this is the first SMT console game in over 18 years, counting Shin Megami Tensei 3 in 2003. Compared to the graphics back then, even down to its Remaster, SMT 5 is a beautiful game. The classic art design stands out on the Switch. The accompanying demons are familiar to fans of the series, yet also appear different compared to other games. The demons all have distinct personalities while referencing present-day quips. For fans of the series, it's a long-awaited homecoming. Those new to the series or are transferring from Persona will appreciate the familiarity while respecting its uniqueness.
Overall, there are a lot of hidden depths in Shin Megami Tensei 5 waiting to be explored. While I've only begun to scratch the surface, it is a series that's notorious for keeping players on their toes. Amidst the humor that demons provide lies a tale of deceit, mystery, and mythology of the highest caliber. If history has anything to say about it, SMT5 is shaping to be like its previous titles, ensnaring players until they reach the conclusion.
Shin Megami Tensei 5 is now available on the Nintendo Switch.