Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance

Review: Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance

When Shin Megami Tensei V launched in 2021, I was adamant that it was the best the series had seen. It was a great experience and offered a lot to players who waited years for it to launch on the Switch. Atlus knows how to make great games and deliver definitive experiences.

Persona is known for its stylish, cool vibe, while Shin Megami Tensei takes an edgy approach, focusing on the concept of the end of the world. Shin Megami Tensei V follows the tradition of its predecessors by starting with a teenager on his way to school who is suddenly thrust into an apocalyptic scenario.

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is the definitive experience

First and foremost, Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is the definitive way to play this game. It’s got a far better frame rate, and it is so smooth on the console with better textures and resolutions, showcasing how excellent the art direction is. The load times are infinitely better, navigating menus are better, and certain sections (no spoilers) feel much better to work through now that aging hardware isn’t a bottleneck for issues to prevail.

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This time, the protagonist wakes up in Da’at, the netherworld, facing never-before-seen dangers and relentless demons. Within minutes, the main character gains the ability to battle these demons and, with the aid of the supernatural phenomenon Aogami, fuses into a Nahobino—a formidable entity capable of decimating the demonic forces haunting Tokyo.

Vengeance offers two routes: the original route and the Path of Vengeance, which introduces new plot threads, characters, and battles. Unlike previous games in the series, no specific choices are required to access this new content. The Vengeance route can be chosen independently. Having already completed the original game, I focused on the Vengeance-specific campaign.

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance‘s new Vengeance route features reworked story beats from beginning to end. The update incorporates new characters such as Yoko Hiromine, a transfer student encountered shortly after entering Da’at and serving as an exorcist, and the Fallen Ones, a group of female demons known as the Qadištu. These additions act as the central new antagonizing force in the familiar storyline, providing a fresh perspective for players. Their addition to the story breaks up the uneven and glacier pace the original faced a few years ago and makes up for it by adding some great twists.
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The Press Turn battle system is as great as ever, allowing you to use elemental exploitation again to turn the tide in battle. The turn-based system focuses on delivering as much damage via innate elements as possible by targeting the right weakness and earning additional turns in battle to win. I’ve always found the Shin Megami Tensei series more complicated than the Persona series. That notion has flourished with the new Vengeance story path, mainly because if your character falls in battle due to one wrong move, the game ends, and you must begin again.

The new mechanics and human guests make a world of difference

The new guest mechanic in Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance adds additional characters to the game’s stories, making the presence of other characters more significant. Sometimes, you’ll find essential characters temporarily joining your roster, bringing skills and the option to add or remove them from battle. There are benefits to using the guest characters over demons, like having access to items since demons generally do not have access and a wider variety of skills to utilize in battle. The downside, of course, is that these are temporary characters who, once finished, are removed from the group and no longer accessible, so it is worth exploring all your options during these particular sections.

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You can still haggle and negotiate with demons you come across, too. Adding them to your party and then using them as the base for fusing even stronger demons is fun. There are a lot of demons to discover and recruit, yet it’s worth investing time in finding which combinations are worth fusing to make later stages more manageable.

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance adds some welcome additions to the mix with the option to select up on the D-pad to shift the camera to a birdseye view for 3D mapping to sort and prioritize items on the map. This feature becomes increasingly valuable as players navigate the more complex environments in the game’s latter stages.

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Adding rest areas, akin to Persona 5‘s Safe Rooms, adds a strategic layer to gameplay. These demon haunts, accessible through Leyline founts, offer a sanctuary where players can interact with their companions, unlock new levels and skills and more.

The essence of Shin Megami Tensei‘s allure lies in its unapologetic attitude and dark, atmospheric art direction. The game’s world, ravaged by divine forces, coupled with its iconic demon designs, instills a sense of dread and fascination. The soundtrack complements this ambiance perfectly, with a mix of synth-metal and ambient tunes that enhance the mood for battles and exploration. Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance remains true to the series’ roots while appealing to the humanity of its players, striking a balance between darkness and engagement.

Verdict

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance adds a lot to an already packed title from Atlus. Whether or not you wish to double-dip for the new content depends on whether you want to work through a lot of the content once again before the new pathway truly opens up to the player. There is enough new content that won’t be a 1:1 experience, and adding human guests with updated mechanics makes this an easy way to revisit this apocalyptic world. And the new twist and surprises are surprising enough that it makes this world so much better than it was a few years ago. Thanks to the hardware available today, the boost in framerate and better graphics also help.
Recommended

[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]

Reviewed on: PlayStation 5

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance
Review: Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance
Summary
Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance adds a lot to an already packed title from Atlus.
Liked
Press Turn battle system is still incredible
Great updates to SMTV including graphics and new storyline
New human partners in battle make a huge difference
Didn't Like
You still will need to grind
Still a difficult game so don't expect less