My Early Impressions of Shin Megami Tensei V

Credit: Atlus
My first Shin Megami Tensei experience has come in the form of Shin Megami Tensei V on Nintendo Switch.

There seems to be an overabundance of video games out there that have a significant focus on demons, the Netherworld, and hell. I’ve never been one to indulge too much in those types of games. I know part of it stems from my faith in Jesus, but even beyond that, I limit the amount of games I play that have a darker tone. But being that there were so many great things talked about regarding Shin Megami Tensei V and based on how much I respect Atlus as a top Japanese RPG developer, I decided to check the game out and share my impressions here on the site. That’s the purpose of today’s post.

Being familiar with Persona 4 Golden & Persona 5 Royal, which also deals with demons and darker themes yet has flashier and eye-popping aesthetics to balance things out visually, Shin Megami Tensei V looked dark and dreary aesthetically from the very beginning. The music also compliments the visuals in this way. While Persona 5 contains a soundtrack with music you would want to dance to, this is not the case with Shin Megami Tensei V. As I felt would be the case when I first saw the trailer for the game, Shin Megami Tensei V is like Persona 5’s much darker sister. The games also differ in their approach. Whereas Persona games are more about character development with battles being a secondary focus, Shin Megami Tensei titles prioritize the battles with the story and characters being less of a priority. This leads to much more of a focus on the demons within the game, which was the case from what I’ve experienced so far with Shin Megami Tensei V.

Credit: Atlus
If you like battles, then you’ll be glad to know that Shin Megami Tensei V has one of the better battle systems in an RPG.

So how does Shin Megami Tensei V play? It plays very well. There is a ton of strategy at work when it comes to the battle system and the role demons play in it, whether they are fighting with you or against you. Once you learn the battle system, it’s really fun to exploit your enemies’ weaknesses to your advantage. Your demons level up, which then allows them to gain further abilities and powers. While there are many similarities to the Persona 5 battle system, I felt that Shin Megami Tensei V’s battle mechanics had more depth as the game has more of a battle focus. After wandering around and battling different enemies for an hour, I can easily see why people would get hooked on just the battles alone. Its system is well done.

Though Shin Megami Tensei V isn’t an open-world game, there is plenty to explore and the game rewards you for being willing to go off the main paths. The items that you collect during your exploration are very useful. Also, memorizing the locations of orbs (at least on the easier difficulties) will allow you to replenish your HP and SP without having to use any abilities or items. You are not able to save anywhere but can only do so at specific locations so it is wise to always know where you are in case you may need to get to a save point for some much-needed recovery. Keep in mind though that enemies that you’ve defeated will regenerate.

Credit: Atlus
When compared to the eye-catching visuals of Persona 4 & 5, Shin Megami Tensei’s graphics can seem a bit dull at times.

Many of the reviews discussed this but Shin Megami Tensei V could have been better visually. Unfortunately, when dealing with the Nintendo Switch, you are getting the worst graphical fidelity out of all of the main gaming platforms. The graphics overall are decent, but I wouldn’t be surprised if most gamers are willing to overlook them because of the tremendous value the game offers beyond just visuals. On the contrary, when you look at a game like Persona 5 Royal, it is a feast for the eyes.

I will still be playing Shin Megami Tensei V from time to time. But this game hasn’t increased my interest in the series. I have found it overall inferior to Persona 4 & 5. This has nothing to do with the quality of the game itself, which I view as being top-notch. It’s just not my type of game. Sometimes that happens in gaming and my opinion is based more on personal preference than whether the game was well made. Many gamers have claimed that Shin Megami Tensei V is the best JRPG on the Switch, but I believe that Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age Definitive Edition are better choices. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve played Shin Megami Tensei V, I would love for you to share your perspective in the comment section.

-LandoRigs (TVGA)


2 Comments on “My Early Impressions of Shin Megami Tensei V

  1. I’m in the final legs of SMT V at the moment, and this makes it the episode that I spent the longest playing. (I finished III, IV, IVA within a month each). As a long time fan, I think V has a lot of visual and mechanics improvement, but its story is really too loose to be captivating. I’m at the final zone and I still don’t have a clear idea of how Da’at was formed. For the first time ever, I don’t feel the compulsion to keep going at a SMT game.

    There are also too few memorable, gripping moments, especially when compared to III and IV. Frankly, I just want to beat the game and get it over and done with. Hopefully, there would be a SMT V(A) or something that’d retain the mechanics, and comes with a better story.

  2. Thanks for sharing. I will eventually get back to Shin Megami Tensei V, but the game overall feels a bit dull compared to its Persona brethren. Its dark and dreary atmosphere also prevents me from wanting to play it for long stretches. From what I’ve played so far, I can understand why people like it but I admit it isn’t my cup of tea.

    To have that feeling of just trying to finishing a game and get it over with is terrible. I experienced that in Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order and Final Fantasy VII Remake for different reasons. I felt that Jedi Fallen Order was just too long of a game that really needed to be condensed and more action packed. There were too many stretches where I would get lost or have to retrace my steps and it felt like it took forever. I ended up enjoying the campaign of Star Wars Battlefront II better than Jedi Fallen Order.

    With Final Fantasy Remake, it was a great game overall but I honestly wish I had not focused on completing the uninspired side missions. It felt like nothing more than busy work. So when I returned to the main story and took on the final chapters in the game, I just wanted it to end.

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