Shin Megami Tensei V consistently challenges players through intuitive turn-based battles in a beautifully destroyed open world.
After years of waiting, Shin Megami Tensei V has finally made its debut on the Nintendo Switch. Players take the role of the Nahobino – a reincarnation of a free God able to choose their own path and morality. This hits at the core of the SMT series – one where players work alongside demons in a netherworld and choose which path to march down. Will players choose to be a benevolent God, a nefarious one, or one of pure chaos? It’s this level of choice that adds the philosophical overtones which made the series famous. Shin Megami Tensei V is no different in that regard and even sets the protagonist up in a way that allows the choices to feel natural and believable within the game world.
As the fifth title in the renowned series, Shin Megami Tensei V iterates on its decade-spanning gameplay systems, which provides players with more control and tighter mechanics than ever before. As a turn-based RPG, tight mechanics may not be something one would expect to hear, but Atlus has carefully and deliberately forged the battle system to create a consistently rewarding experience well beyond the players first few encounters.
This battle system is called the “press-turn system,” where players can gain additional actions on their turn if they land a critical hit or hit an enemy’s weak point. So, the fundamental core is to exploit the enemy’s weakness to overwhelm them with additional attacks per turn. As a long-time RPG player, I find this combat system to be incredibly enjoyable. I love turn-based battle systems, and this adds just the right amount of spin on that classic formula to keep battles fun. It’s important to note that Shin Megami Tensei V is a tough game. So, without utilizing the press-turn system, players will likely find themselves in trouble a lot, particularly in boss battles. But, it is finding ways to use the press-turn system and exploit weaknesses that keep each battle fresh and fun.
Another aspect to the battle system is building your party. Similarly to Pokémon, players can collect demons either by coercing them during battle or using demons in the player’s party to fuse into new, more powerful allies. There is a whole compendium to store the player’s recorded data on demons, including their strengths and weaknesses. Filling this out and completing it is similar to that of the Pokedex in the Pokémon series.
Melding the fulfilling combat system and demon recruitment systems is the oppressing overworld where players can freely explore. Each area is large and open, demons scatter the battlefields, and fantastic music reverberates in the background. Areas range from post-apocalyptic cities that sandstorms have wracked to angelic, maze-like temples. It’s here, in the overworld areas, where players can interact with NPCs, accept and complete side quests, and progress the story as they make their way toward finding out what is going on in the war between the humans, demons, and angles. This story is the core driving force and has the player making decisions along the way and ultimately choosing an ending to the game based on which path they choose to follow.
If you’re a fan of JRPGs, the Shin Megami franchise, or perhaps even the Persona or Pokémon franchises, this is definitely a title worth checking out. The combat is solid and refreshing; the boss battles are a treat. Collecting new demons is fun and addicting, as well as figuring out who to use to fuse into a demon you’re really looking forward to using. While the story, overall, is a bit light, it is dark and adopts a morally gray approach where there is no clear right or wrong answer. Plus, it’s a fun time to assume the role of the Nahobino and go toe-to-toe with an innumerable amount of gods from all types of historical and religious backgrounds. Shin Megami Tensei V is a definite recommend for me, especially for fans of the JRPG genre.