Hello all, this’ll be my first review on this website and I’m hitting up none other than the notorious Shin Megami Tensei IV for the 3DS!
Shin Megami Tensei IV is well, obviously the 4th installment of the Shin Megami Tensei series by Atlus! It’s a JRPG game that is turn based, and the series is notable for having darker themes than other games and also for being difficult at times! And of course, demons.
The box art is pretty beautiful, I must say. Tells you exactly what you’re about to get into, Walter on the left and Jonathan on the right, representing both demons and angels or chaos and law. Shin Megami Tensei is notorious for it’s alignment choices, so this here is quite a nod to that system.
This game uses the standard press turn system of a Shin Megami Tensei. Basically if you hit a weakness of an enemy you are fighting, you get an extra turn of action, and if you’re hit by an enemy who strikes your weakness, they get an extra turn of action. This can make some battles quite difficult, but to me I personally found this entry to be one of the easier mainline Shin Megami Tensei installments. This game has many demons for you to collect, fuse, and negotiate with to join your party! Sometimes you’ll even recruit guest characters to join you as well. Skills are used in battle alongside normal attacks and there are many skills to use. You can also easily pass on skills when you fuse two demons together to get a third one. Unfortunately, I feel that made the game a bit too easy since it’s very easy to get a good spread of demons this way unlike prior installments when you couldn’t just pass over everything you wanted to. There is some customization with your own character in terms of his equipment, apps (basically passive skills), and you can choose what stats to level up. In this sense you can gear to be a mage, fighter, jack of all trades character and other things. Negotiating is fun for a while, where you answer a demons questions and demands and try to sway them to join you, but after a while you get used to all the options and you won’t be using demons you negotiate, just ones you fuse since the ones you fuse are better with all the passover abilities.
When you aren’t in battle, you’re on the map. When I first got this game I was slightly confused by the point and click where you want to go, but as you descend into Naraku and Tokyo, you realize you walk on a map more similar to SMT3 and to go to other destinations there is a sort of world map. There are a lot of things you can look for in terms of the map like treasure, demons to fight or just characters to talk to. It’s pretty normal for a game in that you touch an enemy you fight it, and there’s not a whole lot of interaction there other than the fact that you can attack them to get extra damage off at the start of a fight or they can get the jump on you (and maybe wipe out your whole team in a round!). Overall the general experience is quite satisfying, especially when you get a boss killed in one round (bosses are generally hard in these series)!
The world of SMT is very vast, you begin in the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado, and you descent down through the depths of Naraku and finally into Tokyo itself. The game itself is very beautiful and the art style personally is one of my favorites in the SMT series. It renders itself nicely on the 3DS and the art for the demons is very well done. To be honest, after playing Nocturne I hoped they would continue with the 3D art style as with the new generation systems like the PS3 and up, you’d think that they could do amazing renders of the demons. But the 2D art is well done indeed. The real winner is the dark 3D overworld though, every area has it’s charm and creepiness to it, as the world itself is very dark indeed. The 3D cutscenes are very interesting as well, as they don’t really feel like cutscenes at all but rather moving pictures which give the game a lot of atmosphere.
Did you know that this installment is the first to be voice acted? Well, it is and it is done very well. The characters have a lot of life to them even though Shin Megami Tensei installments don’t focus on the characters too heavily, and it’s definitely thanks to these voice actors. The music by Ryota Koduka and Kenichi Tsuchiya, and arranged by Toshiki Konish is done very well. I thought it was interesting they didn’t use their very own Shoji Meguro, but they did very well indeed. There is a very interesting sound direction they created for this game, and it really shows. It’s pretty dark and there’s a tune that fits the atmosphere very well albeit they might not be good to hear. Though there are of course the blood pumping battle themes as well!
You hear this one when you boot up the game. And it’s crazy! It starts on a very low pitched note and it develops into one of the best themes I’ve ever listened to. As soon as I heard this I knew the game was gonna be crazy.
One of the main battle themes, listen to that bass go man…
Main overworld theme, and it does rock. The one thing I’d watch out for though is even though these are put in the game, 3DS speakers are normally not that good and the soundcard, and there is a LOT of bass in this OST so they don’t sound as good as they do here. But that’s a good taste of what to expect in the first place anyways!
The content in this game is immense. The game follows an unnamed man (given name Flynn), on his journey to become a Samurai. He eventually becomes one and realizes that the goal of a Samurai is to defend the kingdom of Mikado obviously, but also to combat demons. Mikado is broken down to two classes, the “Casualries” and the “Luxurors“. The former are a peasant class, while the latter are nobles if you compare them to ourselves. You soon meet Jonathan, Isabeau, and Walter who are all also Samurai in training. All three of them have unique personalities that you may or may not agree with, and the choices down the line you make involving them and yourselves will affect the outcome of the story.
Stated above, there is a choice system that directly affects the storyline although it seems transparent in the way that it does. This is because the choice system is very well crafted, and that the answers aren’t as easy to look at as they seem. Some characters make it obvious which are the good or bad answers, but for the most part it is well crafted. By the time you reach the end, you realize how heavy the decisions you made impact the game, and it feels very fulfilling. Definitely good writing.
The game itself is quite long and there is a lot to do, and I was definitely pleased with it.
This game has a TON of quests for you to do, though in reality only some of them are extras. You need to do a lot of them for the neutral ending, so in the end they aren’t really extras if you gotta do them, hey? Lots of fetch quest type stuff too which is no good… I definitely liked the Nozomi subplot though! There are also quite a few areas you never need to go to in the main story arc that you can visit which is pretty cool.
This game has some replayability, it makes you replay the game 4 times to get all 4 endings, but other than that there isn’t much else to do. More than one difficulty level and new game + also, but to beat the game 4 times to get different endings is very annoying. I’d only recommend to play it twice as there are path splits.
- Great overall package of a JRPG (story, music, battles, graphics are all good)
- Lots to do (demon negotiation, quests)
- A bit nonlinear at times (confusing overhead map)
- Some annoying fetch quests
Overall Score 41/45
I really enjoyed this game and I’d recommend it to anyone, it was very well worth it! Definitely filled the gap of no SMT from Nocturne to IV very well!
“I’ll end it thus.”
ps. I liked Isabeau…