Once again, Tokyo is plunged into chaos as the apocalypse draws near and it's up to an unlikely protagonist to save the day.
In Shin Megami Tensei V, you play as an unnamed high school student who lives in Tokyo and finds himself battling demons after a strange event occurs while he's hiding in a tunnel in the city. After he emerges, Tokyo seems to have suffered from a devastating event and appears to have gained many years in its deteriorated state as skyscrapers are strewn sideways across the landscape while sand and dust blankets the area. Our protagonist then meets an ally who grants him the ability to recruit and wield demons in order to fight other ones. It's the typical story of a Shin Megami Tensei game but the upgraded hardware this time around provides a substantial boost in graphical quality from its predecessors among other enhancements. v1d30chumz 54-211-101-93
One thing that struck me quite quickly was how enjoyable exploring the map is. When you're in the post-apocalyptic version of Tokyo, you're treated to large maps that take quite a lot of platforming to traverse. There are a lot of reasons to explore every nook and cranny with special items to be found all over the place; often in hard-to-reach places that require some investigating and risk-taking to reach. Simply put, Shin Megami Tensei V sets a new standard in these kinds of JRPGs with its ability to reward the player for exploring. Meanwhile, the fast-travel system allows you to quickly move from one area to another which makes exploring even more enjoyable.
With that in mind, the map can feel quite dull when playing in pre-apocalyptic Tokyo as it's more akin to Shin Megami Tensei IV's simple map where you just move a cursor from one point to another. You might also explore areas that are similar to classic dungeons with long hallways and lots of dead ends which isn't as dull as the city map but you'll spend less time there than in the more interesting overworld so you could consider it as a nice change of scenery and gameplay. Overall, there is a slight lack in visual variety but that's par for the course with the series and the rewarding exploration in the post-apocalyptic area mostly manages to make up for that.
The collectibles to be found in Shin Megami Tensei V's post-apocalyptic map are plentiful including little demons called Mimans that reward you when you reach certain milestones as well as vending machines that sell items from pre-apocalyptic Tokyo which can be traded for cash, battle items, and demon essences. Finding an essence can be very rewarding because you can use them to learn the skills of a specific demon or even swap your affinities out for theirs. This means that you can learn some unique abilities such as a counter-attack or boost your defense against a specific element to help you through the next boss battle by simply finding an essence.
Monster recruiting will be familiar for fans as you meet monsters that are equivalent or lower in level then try to convince them to join you by picking the right conversation responses that fit with their personality. Once you've got a few recruited, you can partake in monster fusion to combine them and create new ones. The demon roster is also familiar with all of the regulars making an appearance.
Meanwhile, exploiting enemy weaknesses is as important as ever, allowing you to earn an extra attack if you can do so or suddenly ending your turn if you use an element that a monster blocks. The appearance of the new magatsuhi meter that fills as you battle or complete certain tasks allows you to trigger an ability when it's maxed out such as turn all allies' attacks into critical hits for a turn.
Finally, enemies have the same systems at their disposal which ends up making some battles extremely difficult and even impossible if you don't prepare properly. I frequently found myself fighting the same boss multiple times while trying out different strategies because levelling up just wouldn't cut it. Fighting enemies is overall enjoyable due to the need to strategize but it can feel a little too harsh when you happen to get hit with a couple of critical attacks in a row then end up with a game over thus putting you way back to when you last saved. I found casual mode to be a little more forgiving but I still managed to occasionally get myself into sticky situations.
Shin Megami Tensei V is a solid evolution of the series with updated graphics and a thoroughly enjoyable overworld traversal system that rewards exploration although the battle system and monster recruiting remain a little too familiar.
- + Sets a new standard for rewarding overworld exploration
- + Solid variety of collectibles
- + Essence system is a useful addition
- - Doesn't take many risks in its battle system or monster recruiting
- - Exploring some areas can be dull
- - Can be unforgiving even when strategizing