Demons and angels are fighting one more time on the Nintendo 3DS in Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse. The latest entry in the unforgiving RPG series will turn you into a Godslayer, demon summoner, and… a teenager?
SMTIV:A is not a direct sequel to Shin Megami Tensei IV. It’s more of a spin-off story, set right in the last hours of SMTIV. While you don’t need to have played the last game, I would recommend you do, (because it’s a great 3DS game) so you can know more about the returning characters. Unlike the last entry in the series, Apocalypse will drop you off right in the action in a full on war between the demon lord Lucifer, and the angel Merkahbah, along with Flynn, protagonist of SMTIV, almost ready for the final battle against the two beings.
I barely started, what do you mean I already died!?
You play as Nanashi, a 15-year-old hunter in training, who finds himself getting killed in the first 20-30 minutes of the game, spoilers by the way. This is not me saying the game is hard, you literally die, and get revived by the demon, Dagda, who plays an important role in this story of war. Back in Shin Megami Tensei IV, part of the story felt like it dragged on to the second half of the game, in Apocalypse, story is very straight-forward and at the right pace to keep you engaged for hours.
If you’ve played the Shin Megami Tensei series before, you’re probably familiar with the series’ multiple endings based on Law, Chaos, and Neutral routes, in Apocalypse, there are still multiple paths, but instead, Law and Chaos got replaced with Peace and Anarchy. However the story unfolds is up to you.
While some Tokyo areas from the last game were re-used, there are a lot of new ones too, that look visually stunning, and fit the genre and series perfectly. One of the complaints of IV that I remember reading a lot, was that its dungeons didn’t actually feel like dungeons, Apocalypse brings some new and old dungeons (with some changes), that while some of them feel really short, they feel like a step up from its predecessor.
I will probably kill them next turn!… aaaand my party has been wiped.
Combat had some changes I liked too. Battles are still using the Press Turn system, but the Smirk feature from IV was tweaked with some changes. Smirking will now guarantee a critical hit, and will get rid of weakness, instead of giving you the high Evade from IV. Another thing that was changed are the Light and Dark (Death) skills, Hama and Mudo. These spells/skills now deal damage, and have a possibility of instant kill if there is a weakness to them. Take advantage of enemy weakness to deal as much damage as possible before the enemy gets a chance to act. Enemy AI felt very different to me, in a good way for the difficulty of game, but bad for the player if you’re unlucky. Enemies will sometimes abuse the press turn system using your weaknesses against you to get as many attacks as possible and wipe your demons, or, your whole party in a single turn.
Force (Wind) skills are also part of the changes, with an added effect to them. That effect, is the ability to literally blow your demons away, meaning you lose them from your party until you find them roaming the maps. It may seem like an enemy on the field, but it could actually be your demon waiting for you to find it.
My partners are a bit different!
Partners are also back, but this time, they won’t show you such a samurai skill, instead you can pick your own partner to take to battle, and level them up, without any skill points to assign, so they can assist with different supportive or offensive abilities depending on the partner you pick. I changed partners often depending on the skills I felt I would use and lack in battle.
If you’re like me, and got lost multiple times in the Tokyo map in the last game, you’ll be happy to know that it is easier to move around now, and the map has the areas you’ve visited labelled with their names, and bridges to move from one area to the other.
If you thought Pokemon EV and IV training was hard, try fusing a demon with exactly the skills you want for it. Demon fusion is obviously back in the game, with hundreds of demons to fuse and collect. If you’re new to the series, you will probably notice some of these “demons” might be based on your culture, or any other mythology you know of. Every single demon has a short description of their origin. A little history lesson.
Multiple DLC has already been announced for the game that will expand the story, or will help you grind stuff if you’re stuck. Yes, including that one every fan is excited for!
Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse is easily one of my favorite titles on the Nintendo 3DS library, and, one of my favorite titles of the year so far. The high difficulty of the series combined with world of war and deception of SMTIV:Apocalypse, is enough for me to give this game 9 Hee-hos out of 10.
Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse will be available September 20th on the Nintendo 3DS at $49.99 in North America. Be sure to try it out, and show us all your awesome demon fusions over @NerdworkTweets, and let us know what route you will try to take first!