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Shin Megami Tensei IV Review

Shin Megami Tensei IV Review

In recent years Atlus has been on a roll with the Shin Megami Tensei franchise. This of course includes the Persona series, but there hasn't been a true mainline release since Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne released on the PS2. For that reason it makes sense that Atlus would decide to revive the mainline series with Shin Megami Tensei IV. For hardcore fans of the series, you already have this pre-ordered and paid for, but for those who aren't as hardcore or are newcomers to the series, the question is: should you pick it up?

Like in the previous Shin Megami Tensei games, SMT IV takes place in a world fuelled by Law (lead by God) and Chaos (lead by Lucifer). Both sides are locked in an unending conflict that sees the human race stuck in the middle. After taking part in a ceremony where they are picked as a samurai, the player learns of the samurais' role: to exterminate demons.

The difference between SMT and other games with a similar plot is that neither of the two sides are inherently good or evil depending on your perspective. It's for that reason that you'll have to make difficult choices throughout the game, which ultimately end up changing the world. SMT IV has four different endings which are obtained based on the choices you make throughout the game. And of course, for the true SMT aficionado, there's numerous side quests that help to further develop the game's world.

SMT IV's characters are quite well-developed, thanks in part to their excellent and incredibly extensive voice acting. The amount of depth Atlus put into their actions throughout the game is duly noted. Unfortunately the story isn't as well developed compared to previous entries, as it's a bit more laid back. When compared to how much Nocturne pushed the overall stories of Law and Chaos forward, it all seems a bit tame. That isn't to say that it's horrible in any way, Atlus just decided to put more emphasis on the characters this time around..

For most mainline SMT fanatics, the gameplay is where they expect things to excel, and they'll be pleased to know SMT IV doesn't disappoint. You'll engage in turn-based combat with up to three demons fighting alongside you, although demons can be switched out at will in and outside of battle. You can recruit demons by talking to them, although most of the time they'll ask for something in return for lending you their power, usually money or items.

One of the issues with this system, which should be familiar to fans of this year's earlier SMT releases (Soul Hackers or Persona 2), is that figuring out what the demons want in order to join you is incredibly obtuse. This especially true for new players, as it requires some serious devotion into the system to truly understand it.

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