If you’re into demons or not, Shin Megami Tensei IV might interest you. It’s the latest game in the Shin Megami Tensei video game series as of writing this and it’s $10 more expensive than its previous 3DS titles. Don’t let the $10 price difference fool you. It may not be worth it for some, however, it can be the best game for others.
Players take on the role as a young pony-tailed casualty in the game. After obtaining the Samurai rank, you will learn about demons and how it is the job of a Samurai to slay them. What differentiates a samurai from a regular human is the demon summoning program – it’s installed software on the device that attaches to your left-arm in the game.
The game includes voice acting for important characters, as well as text for both. The voices aren’t bad and they suit each character’s personality well. Text isn’t difficult to read which is a plus. Background music, sound effects, and voiced dialogue can be adjusted via settings in the game. It’s not possible to increase or decrease the default text speed in the game, however, hitting the ‘X’ button repeatedly on the Nintendo 3DS can skip parts of dialogue.
The game’s graphics speak for itself. The developers and designers have surely outdone themselves with Shin Megami Tensei IV. Dungeons and Tokyo are both beautiful. When talking with some of the important characters, the screen zooms in to still images (I’m talking about the cutscenes). When using the world map, an icon will be displayed which shows you the location of your character, while navigating through labyrinths allow you to freely move your character in the 3D environment as seen in the screenshots below.
Shin Megami Tensei IV Nintendo 3DS gameplay screenshots.
During the gameplay, you will encounter demons that you can fight or recruit to your team. Of course, the recruiting feature does not work with bosses or demons that are a higher level than you. Yes, the game uses a leveling up system which determines stats. The protagonist can freely select which stats to increase after gaining a level, however, demons’ stats are increased by the game itself after each level, unless the demon learns a skill or uses an item that increases its stats. Just so you know, said items are scarce in the game.
It is possible to avoid battles with demons, however, some areas in the game might make it a bit difficult. For example, while walking, several icons representing demons can pop out of nowhere, chasing you for 10-20 seconds. Some areas in the game also delay your movements, such as poisonous swamps and the mysterious red aura that comes out of the ground. These areas make it possible for demons to catch up to you easier.
The battle system is a turn based system. Your team always gives the first blow in battle, unless it’s a surprise encounter. The teammate with the highest agility on your team always strikes first. The game has a decent number of skills, some target one enemy/ally, some target all enemies/allies, and others target a random amount of enemies. You begin the game with the weakest skills and as you progress further, you will discover more powerful skills that look different in battle when used. There are physical, gun, fire, ice, electric, force, dark, light, almighty, ailment, support, healing, auto, and stat modifying skills.
The game has another interesting feature that is called Demon Fusion. Thanks to this feature, it is possible to obtain a demon without being required to find it and recruit it by talking. There are risks to demon fusion and that’s what makes it interesting. Errors can occur during the fusion, making you lose the demons that you were fusing while the result demon is not what you expected.
The storyline is decent and the gameplay is fun if you enjoy turn-based combat games. The game will have you playing for hours and with four different endings depending on the path that you follow, it will have you playing multiple times. After dying three times in the game, an easier difficulty level will be made available to you. For those who do not want to spend the time leveling up their character or purchasing DLC, changing to the easier difficulty is something I recommend because you may hate the game after running into Minotaur.
Shin Megami Tensei IV gets an 8.9 out of 10.