Thursday, July 18, 2013

Review: Shin Megami Tensei IV

Review by Pokefreak

Title: Shin Megami Tensei IV (translated as True Goddess Reincarnation IV)
Developer: ATLUS
Platform: 3DS
Bottom Line: Expensive and difficult, but rewarding and classic.

The Shin Megami Tensei name is commonplace for any RPG fan. From the original Famicom games to the wildly successful Persona series, everything about it clicks with JRPG fans. And ATLUS has decided to present us with another entry in the main series, the first since 2009's Strange Journey on the DS and even moreso since the last main entry, 2003's Nocturne on the PS2. As an avid fan of the SMT name, with Persona 4 being my all time favourite game, I couldn't turn down getting a chance to look at the series that started my obsession over these games.

Now before you continue, I need to point out. THIS GAME IS NOT PERSONA. It seems that numerous other reviewers have constantly looked down on SMTIV because it doesn't feature the same RPG/dating sim elements that Persona 3/4 have. Persona is a spin-off series of this, friends. Get used to it.

Now, before we get started, the game itself is pricy. Currently, the only versions of the game you can buy physically are the limited editions. These cost as much as a typical console game, nearing $60. Is the extra stuff in the box worth the extra $20? Well, let's see what's in the box.


Inside the package is a small game guide/artbook from famous guide developers Prima, a soundtrack CD, and the game itself. It's not a bad value if you're like me and like having physical objects rather than download codes. It's a good value if you like that kind of thing. The only issue is that it's still more expensive on the eShop than most 3DS games, even without the extra feelies. Not exactly a smart move, ATLUS. Another problem is that the Prima guide doens't cover the entire game. It really only covers the first quarter of the game and only has information on the demons featured in that quarter. What the hell, Prima?

Let's jump into the actual game. You play as Flynn, a young man aiming to be a Samurai in the eastern kingdom of Mikado. You succeed, and team up with your Samurai friends Walter, Jonathan and Isabeau. But as you protect the kingdom, you learn that you might not be the only ones in the world, and that underneath your world is something much more terrifying... the land of Tokyo, where demons roam free and humans have barely managed to survive. On top of that, there's someone called the "Black Samurai" who is turning people into demons!

Gameplay is MegaTen standard. You need to make use of a Pokemon-like system where some attacks do more damage to certain demons. On top of that, you have to recruit demons and fuse them to make stronger demons to keep yourself on top of the game. It requires a fair bit of strategy, despite being more action-based than most titles in the franchise. And there are over 400 demons in the game. Good luck.

Graphically, the game looks amazing. The game moves between 2D stills for cutscenes and battles and 3D for overworld exploration. The 2D has a certain charm to it that reminds me of past MegaTen games, especially Strange Journey. The 3D aspect looks better than its PS2 prequel and controls well too. The 3D feature of the system does the overworld wonders, while the battles and cutscenes just look flat. It's a weird thing where the game can look either amazing or awful.

All in all, the game brings a little of what we know, revamps and polishes it, and presents us with the beautiful on one side, sorta rusty on the other gem that is Shin Megami Tensei IV. If you want a good RPG, this will definitely strike your fancy.

The Good:
+Fantastic music by Mr. Shoji Meguro himself
+Classic SMT story featuring both Law and Chaos routes
-Engrossing gameplay with amazing overworlds.

The bad
-Graphics are a double-edged sword
-Game can be difficult and mocks you for drying
-Recruiting demons is one of the worst endeavors ever.
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