By Steve Baltimore / December 10th, 2021
|Title||Shin Megami Tensei V|
|Release Date||November 12, 2021|
When Shin Megami Tensei V was announced for the Switch, I got super excited. It has been a long time since we got an entry in the mainline series of titles. It felt like the wait was going to last forever, but the wait is finally over! I couldn’t wait to dig into this one when I got my hands on it. I’ve spent about 60 hours with the game now and it’s time to share my thoughts. Did it live up to my expectations? Let’s find out.
The story here follows a young man that, after a grizzly murder, ends up in strange world after taking a detour home. This world of ruin is filled with hungry demons that want to pick the very flesh from his bones. Just before he is torn apart he encounters a savior, and they unite to form a powerful being known as a Nahobino. While not entirely human or demon, they possess unlimited potential. The young man will soon learn the truth of this world and his role in shaping the fate of it.
While the main story here is pretty basic, the characters and demons are what really make it shine. Interactions with both really breathe a lot of life into this world and make you want to know more about them. The demon interactions are especially great with some nods to older titles in the series. This made doing all the game’s sidequests feel like less of a chore and more like world building. Fans of the franchise are going to find a lot to love here, but newcomers should have no problem diving in as well.
The gameplay is pretty straightforward. Explore this strange world of demons while obtaining some of them to fight at your side. The two most common methods being through negotiations and through demon fusion. During combat you will be given the option to talk to the enemy demons, and if you butter them up just right with some spoils, they will join your party. These conversations are as lively as ever, and you can tell the localization team really put in a lot of work to make these great. Demon fusion will be available at the Leyline Founts after you progress a bit in the story. Here you can combine two demons into a completely new demon. Combining demons will also allow them to inherit some of each one’s skills. Demons will also obtain new skills as they level up or by using demon essences. These can be found as treasure, enemy drops or as quest rewards. As a Nahobino, this is the only way you can gain skills. You will use these at Leyline Founts in order to give yourself new skills and change your elemental resistances. Using all of these tools effectively will help you greatly in the challenges you face ahead.
The Leyline Founts you find while exploring this massive world do much more than just demon fusion. From these you can visit the shop, use them to teleport around the world, recover MP and HP, spend glory points for many permanent buffs & stat boosts, and more. I feel like there a plenty of these on each map that you don’t spend a lot of time backtracking needlessly, but in some areas the layout of the ruins still make reaching certain areas a pain. This makes getting through certain maps take much longer than it actually should.
Combat is a turn-based affair as you would expect. Each side will get a set number of turns when the battle begins. Additional turns can be gained by hitting an enemy’s weak point, getting a critical strike or passing a turn. This combat system seems simple at first glance, but when forming a party you will need to take into account what elemental skills they have and each party member’s weaknesses. In addition to this, different races have powerful Magatsuhi skills at their disposal. These powerful skills can give the party insane buffs or do crazy amounts of damage to your foes. These will be available for use when the Magatsuhi meter at the top of the screen is filled. Various actions will fill this gauge, and unlocking miracles adds to the number of these that will do so.
I can safely say Shin Megami Tensei V is one of the best looking titles on the Nintendo Switch to date. The world is greatly detailed and has a tremendous amount of depth. Some maps will have you climbing up ruined buildings to find a path to the next area, while the next may have you climbing snow-covered hills. The demons all look amazing. You can tell there was a lot of care put into how each of these well-known creatures were recreated for the game on this new hardware. The character models are pretty nice as well, but honestly the demons and environments are the standouts here.
The music is some of the best the franchise has to offer. There are the usual haunting tunes as you explore the world filled with demons, but there are some fantastic battle themes as well. One of these even has a bit of a Persona flavor to it. The English voice cast does a pretty good job bringing the characters and demons to life, but the Japanese audio can be obtained as free DLC for those that want it.
Shin Megami Tensei V is, without a doubt, my favorite game of the mainline series. I love the demon interactions and the fun combat system, and the world they created to explore is simply amazing. I played the game on Normal difficulty, but there are easier and more challenging ones that players can choose from to fit their skill level. There is more than enough content here to justify the $59.99 price tag. This is a great entry for newcomers and old fans alike and no one should sleep on it.
Game copy purchased by the reviewer.
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