[HOT] : Review Shin Megami Tensei V – Devilishly successful?

You will probably have already noticed it if you hang around in our columns: we love Japanese RPGs. Square Enix, Bandai Namco, Atlus… So many big names, so many lived epics and yet, despite the years that go by, we still love to dive back into them. So, yes, we are not unaware that the J-RPG suffers from ups and downs. Scriptwriting or gameplay gimmicks repeated to disgust, generally linear trips, often poor technique… The genre seems to suffer from a clear lack of ambition, relying more on formulas known to players rather than risking a change of scenery. And it is also because it stands out that Shin Megami Tensei V was watching us.

Finally, yes and no. A Shin Megami Tensei, it’s a bit of a promise, it’s the guarantee to find a light RPG in abstruse and redundant blah blah but a rich and intoxicating, difficult and rewarding experience. And we say that but, from the first trailers, which then dated from the release of the Nintendo Switch itself, the title was already announced as a surprise, in particular on the way it portrays its world and crosses it. Finally, the only downside, a silence of almost 4 years before offering us to see more. Was this silence in favor of the game? On the contrary, does he announce the end of the world for the series? Is it better to praise or damn this Shin Megami Tensei V?

(Critique de Shin Megami Tensei V sur Nintendo Switch made from a copy of the game provided by the publisher)

In the old pots

We said it earlier, Shin Megami Tensei, often, it’s a promise and naturally, this fifth part continues the process started in the previous episodes … at least as far as its story is concerned. Shin Megami Tensei V offers you (as often) to embody a Tokyo high school student whose mundane life serves to depict a city suffering from many words. Strange accidents, disappearances … The daily life of the inhabitants of the capital is grim, a tone quite faithful to that found in the previous sections, far from the usual neon lights and cherry blossoms. This image will take a final blow when, following an unfortunate detour, our character discovers Da’ath, the broken reflection of the Japanese capital, an eternal battlefield of the forces of good and evil on a bed of sand and ruins of a skyscraper. -skies…

It is in this context that our weakling avatar and unable to defend himself alone, is offered to merge with a strange entity in order to become the Nahobino, a half-man, half-god character who should remind fans of the series of the -demon of Shin Megami Tensei III (also available on the hybrid console, a parallel which is therefore not trivial). In this form and now equipped with new talents (just like the character he reminds us of), you are free to roam the wasteland of Da’ath, rally devils and angels to your cause and decide the way the world will follow. (another habit of the series and one of the main differences with the most famous Atlus license).

A déjà vu? Indeed, it is normal, deprived of its subtleties (a choice that we make in order to avoid ruining you the pleasure of the discovery), the last title of the editor is hardly different from the preceding sections (and in real life). , he does not stray too often and never too far) but, its staging takes advantage of the power of the Nintendo Switch which makes this episode, the most cinematic episode of the series to date, in particular thanks to the neat dubbing (English or Japanese after a download) and cutscenes which, thank heaven, never last too long (we stay on a classic formula so not too much). In any case, you will understand, we are walking on familiar ground.

The adventure of which you are the tempo

And since we’re talking about walking, let’s now talk about the real novelty of this component: open environments. Indeed, it is a first in the series (but also in the RPGs of Atlus), the world of Shin Megami Tensei V is actually made up of quite large open areas (4 in number) to explore freely and in which to complete your quests, hunt monsters, find secrets… Of course, unlike the previous sections, this choice forces Atlus to always display where the rest of the story continues (an advantage as well as a disadvantage, we leave you to judge) but it also offers the editor to create a world much more interactive and lively (ironic for the post-apo but we don’t shy away from our pleasure).

Thanks to this new approach, Shin Megami Tensei breathes like he never did before. Although it does not renew the notion of the open world and is rather content to offer its twist to the great classics (challenges which unlock the display of map sections, display of collection points, etc.) but for the first time, he offers fans of this series many options to manage the flow of his adventure whether it be by tracking down monsters (now clearly displayed on the map) as collection points and even a few platform phases (often for nice gifts: items and glory points). So welcome options to strengthen your attachment to this world but also to allow you to build a team adapted to the challenges that will follow …

This is the rhythm of the fight

Finally, if there is a rhythm that you will have to take (especially if you are new to the series), it is that of the fights. If in a way Shin Megami Tensei looks like Pokémon (especially on its aspect “collection of monsters”), we are far from a game that we end up by stupidly hammering the A button… Introducing the Press-Turn System, name barbarian who actually hides one of the best all-RPG combat systems. The principle is simple, each team is granted a number of actions equal to the number of participants. Targeting an opponent’s weaknesses or performing a critical hit grants an extra strike, failing on the other hand causes you to lose two chances.… If that is not enough for you to understand how the principle is exciting …

And not only is it exciting, it rewards your pugnacity and selflessness in the quest to create the perfect team. At the Cathedral of Shadows, you are offered to merge monsters with each other in order to obtain new ones. These new monsters benefit from their own skills but also from a handful from that of the sacrificed monsters (according to your tastes). Thereby, you can create extremely versatile or weak demons, the recipe for ultraspecialized teams capable of rolling over all the enemies that will face you (and one of the most addicting aspects of the series). Despite a bestiary limited to 200 monsters at most, the possibilities are simply mind-boggling (and it’s not difficult to get attached to some of them as they are healed).

Finally, before creating the perfect team, you will first have to recruit beasts. To recruit, all you need to do is chat with a monster during combat. Depending on his mood, his character (generally referred to by his species) and the phase of the moon, he will more or less let himself go, asking one or two questions which, depending on your answer, will trigger his flight, the resumption of the fight or a phase of negotiation. After having relieved you of some objects, money, points of life or magic, the monster will join your ranks (on the condition that you have room left or that it has a lower level than yours). Let us add that “catching” all the monsters greatly facilitates the formation of your teams since a monster registered in your compendium (the Pokédex of the demonologist) can be summoned again for money for your future mergers.

And if your team and monsters will require your attention, you will need to wear more to your avatar. Hotspot of your team (if it is KO’d, it’s Game Over (remember to save regularly)), all Nahobino that he is, he also increases in level, learns skills… To make him more powerful, except by fighting, you will have to get your hands on the essences of monsters (their souls in some ways) and extract their skills or even their weaknesses and resistances. As with your monsters, by juggling, it is possible for you to create an avatar without weakness and extremely versatile able to take all the hard knocks. And that is not to mention the glory points, to be found by exploring the map, which allow you to acquire all kinds of bonuses (elemental affinity, molten bonus points, etc.).

Weaknesses exploited

Undoubtedly, our time spent on Shin Megami Tensei V is a pleasure (you must have felt this as you followed the paragraphs so far) and this is likely due to Atlus’ efforts to loosen up and make his title accessible. This episode does everything better than the previous ones. Less laborious negotiations (no more monsters that shoot themselves after emptying your inventory), abandonment of certain types of skills and optimization of certain existing types, much more pleasant navigation both in the menus and on the map (especially because it is become much more difficult to get lost)… We are in heaven but, it is better to clarify a certain number of points before you start or you could fall from the clouds…