Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance Review

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance

Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus
Platforms: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S (Reviewed), PC
Release Date: June 14, 2024
Price: $59.99 USD – Available Here $99.95 AUD – Available Here

Overview

What happens when an exceptional RPG lands on an exclusive platform that, due to its own limitations, holds back various elements of the game and plagues what would otherwise be an amazing game with performance issues? Well, usually a developer would simply port the game to other platforms without much extra fuss, but Atlus has chosen to go the extra mile when it comes to Shin Megami Tensei V

After being released on the Switch three years ago and impressing many fans of the franchise and even newcomers with its extensive customization when it comes to combat and how challenging it can be but limited by what the Switch could handle, Atlus has seen fit to bring the game to a wider range of platforms with not only all of the previous DLC included but some modified and new mechanics, brand new demons, and even an entirely new storyline to playthrough in the form of Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance. With Atlus going the extra mile to make sure even those who played the original have entirely new content to experience, is this the exceptional step that SMT V needed?

Story

In many ways Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance starts the same way as the original. In fact, right out of the gate players are given the choice to either play through the “Canon of Vengeance” or play through the original storyline called the “Canon of Creation” if they are truly new to the game and want to see the original content as it was offered. This is a great option for newcomers and does allow players a way to introduce themselves to the world that may not be familiar to them. That being said, the Creation storyline is the same as what was found in the original release almost to the letter as far as plot goes so players who’ve already played the game will find themselves retreading old ground here.

Instead, the main storyline and primarily all of the new content will be found in the Canon of Vengeance storyline which still starts the same way. After trying to head back to their student dorm, the player finds themselves trapped in an earthquake within a strange tunnel and finds themselves trapped in an endless desert known as Da’at and while they may have witnessed a fellow student be saved by an Angel, they’ve been left to wander the wastes of Tokyo. That is until they find themselves fusing with an ally of Bethel, a force created to fight against the demons, known as Aogami and fusing together to become a Nahobino that can not only do battle with demons, but even absorb their essences to gain new powers and convince them to fight alongside him.

A large portion of the beginning of Vengeance’s storyline will appear mostly familiar with only a few subtle changes here and there and these are also dependent on player choice. In fact, the first major introduction of a new and dangerous element as well as massive alteration to the events that originally takes place happens during the attack on Tokyo’s school. Upon reaching this point players will quickly begin to realize that things are taking a different path than they have before and that a number of new characters are entering into the fray, both as allies and as enemies. As players make their way through Vengeance’s storyline they will experience a number of rather expected twists given the nature of the series but some of the developments  are rather surprising, especially in regards to the way the game’s different endings can play out and how players actually manage to obtain them. It is also nice to note that nearly every single side-character of importance has been given a bigger role this time around, this can range from them commenting on how players handled a certain quest, taking larger and in some cases significant roles in the core storyline, and even chiming up in the brand new “Demon Haunt.”

Yes, perhaps one of the most interesting additions to Vengeance, outside of the brand new storyline and entirely different endings on offer of course, is the fact that at nearly every Leyline Fount players will now have the ability to visit their Demon Haunt which will be populated with some of the demons that they have summoned with them, either in their party or in their stock. This also includes human allies as well. What makes this so interesting is the fact that players can actually talk to their summoned allies in the haunt and while some are less talkative or interesting than others, many have quite a few things to say, revealing new elements of a demon’s personality or history that fans may never have known of before or even creating it right from scratch here. The dialogue even changes from location to location for some summoned allies who will comment on the layout of a new land or dungeon and even about a boss they may have fought. 

This can be especially unique given the fact that some summons that players can eventually bring to their party have some rather unique storyline roles. Along these same lines, the player can talk directly with Aogami here as well, the two conversing (one-sidedly) about events and often obtaining stat bonuses as well. It is also nice to note that summons who fight alongside or stay with the player for a length of time will also gain various bonuses or unlock new skills from time to time. This is done either through fighting alongside them long enough or giving them “gifts” that are obtained through exploration. 

As far as side-quests go, players will find that there is some solid story content here as well. Again, a lot of these side-quests were in the original release as well but many new ones have also been added or given the ability to be repeated in some instances. There are even special side-quests that can involve having a certain demonic/angelic ally in the haunt and talking with them, triggering a special quest that may require a highly specific group of allies to trigger an encounter, something that is a nice touch to add extra bits of lore to the story as well as introduce new and varied encounters. 

It is also worth noting that, since Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance features all of the previously released DLC, side-quests like facing down Cleopatra, Artemis, or even taking on the slew of fiends to challenge the Demi-Fiend are all included, though that last one is extremely punishing though it is far from the hardest encounter in the title, making this an absolutely packed offering that tells either two completely original storylines for newcomers or a highly entertaining and engrossing one that follows an entirely new enemy faction with plenty of intrigue behind-the-scenes and foes to challenge to discover the new truth behind their actions, making this a must play RPG for anyone looking to experience an impressive story that, just like the original, takes a few hours to get going especially if this isn’t your first time through. 

Gameplay

In many ways Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance will still play the same as the original game with players traversing across multiple large scale open areas filled with enemies to take on, 200 “Miman” to collect, treasures that range from demon essences to usable items in battle or for stat growth, and all of this takes place on the multi-layered locations players will travel through. One useful element added in this version of the game is the “Sky View” option that gives players a birds-eye view of their location which can be useful for finding specific routes. Demonic “guides” that accompany the player remain a thing with players being able to frequently find new ones to travel alongside them to find hidden items, enemies, and even the new “Magatsu Rails.” These rails serve as both shortcuts as well as ways to travel to new/hidden locations where often a single species of demon resides alongside a number of treasures. Most importantly though, as mentioned, they can be used to quickly traverse large spans of a platforming section or lengthy winding hill most of the time should players need to return to a leyline fount or track down something they missed.

Even when players might see the indicator of where a “chest” or Miman might be, finding the way up to it is an entirely different endeavor, especially since some of the game’s platforming between desolate buildings is still a little rough. Of course, one of the key additions that makes Vengeance so much more player friendly is something that, in retrospect given the Switch’s portable nature, is a bit shocking wasn’t already included and that is the ability to save anywhere at any time. Previously players could only save at leyline founts where the shop, Realm of Shadows fusion location, and quick travel point, and restoration are all combined in a one stop location. Now, all players need to do is tap left on the D-pad and save at will, making risky jumps a quickly fixed mistake due to how incredibly quick the game loads on the Xbox. Of course, in battle this is also a useful feature as players no longer need to worry about getting instant killed by enemies due to either a light or dark weakness and being hit with Hama or Mudo, though that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t save regularly.

Once players find themselves in combat they’ll find that, once again, for the most part it is unchanged but a number of quality of life elements have been added or eventually made unlockable through the Miracles feature that also makes a return. Combat still features the Press Turn mechanic where critical hits/attacks against weaknesses can provide additional attacks for both the player’s party as well as the enemy. Similarly, a blocked attack will remove two turns while an absorbed one will completely end one side’s actions. Alongside this players have the ever filling Magatsuhi gauge that, when filled, can be used to pull off a number of powerful skills and there are far more than ever this time around with new ones added. As players progress through the game they will obtain Periapts and Talismans that unlock highly specific Magatsuhi skills or powerful attacks that either require a certain type of demon to be in the player’s party at the time or even a specific set of demons to trigger their incredibly powerful effects. Other quality of life elements include adjusting the speed of battle animations, auto battle that makes use of skills instead of just generic attacks as well as, with a Miracle, can automatically turn off should an ally fall to low health, and even the ability to sort battle items. 

Of course new threats also arise even in standard fights. While rare, players can occasionally encounter Magatsuhi empowered enemies that glow red in the field and once players enter battle with them they will need to focus on taking them out. While their weaknesses will remain the same as a standard version of the foe, they are able to unleash any type of Magatsuhi skill available. This can range from simply being a shield that prevents any incoming damage or fully healing the entire enemy party to straight up delivering instant kill damage to the player’s entire team. Taking on these foes is quite rewarding though as they almost always provide their Essence, enhancement items, and bonus XP. Along these same lines, chain battles are now a possible event that can trigger. Should players enter battle with an enemy close to another they may now immediately enter into the next fight without a chance to heal or swap their stock around. 

Winning consecutive battles does reward players with multiplied XP and Macca as a result and in fact there are even “Training Simulation” battles that players can unlock as they progress through the story of Vengeance that allow players to re-battle old enemies (usually bosses) in a chain of fights to receive a reward for initial completion as well as some potential for grinding, since Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is far from an easy game and will still take every opportunity to crush the player. This includes numerous side-quests that may seem simple but can pit players against high level foes, especially in the end-game. That being said, it is worth noting that Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance does offer multiple New Game Plus options including a hidden one. One option allows players to transfer only the minimal amount of content over to their new run through the title while the other allows them to bring everything over for a full-powered run.

As before, Essences are also the main way for the Nahobino to learn skills or change their affinity as they will not learn skills by leveling up. In a different twist, rather than locating Aogami Essences through examining locations discovered by the player’s demonic guide, they are now scattered throughout the world as Husks that recharge over a certain period of time. These husks contain powerful unique skills that the Nahobino can only use as well as other powerful abilities that may be useful to apply to their allies as well. It is also nice to note that a number of demons that players can add to their party have powerful innate skills that can change the way certain elements of battle can flow if they are in the team, make recruiting demons cheaper, or even providing powerful stat boosts should entire teams be formed around them.

A number of other quality of life features include a massively helpful way to make demon fusion even easier than before as well as recruiting allies.  Players could always see what demons they could make with the demons they had in their stock but now a new mechanic allows them to see what demons they can fuse using the demons in their party as well as the demons in the Compendium. Of course, this does require using Macca to pay for these demons to be summoned from the Compendium for the fusion but also makes it far easier to identify and acquire missing entries or tracking down a specific demon/angel/god required for a special fusion, adding even more options than before. Even demon recruitment has been given a few extra adjustments and tweaks including the addition of a mini-game where players need to identify a demon using a vague part of their silhouette with a correct answer immediately adding the demon to the player’s stock. 

Audio & Visuals

With the arrival of Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance on the Xbox Series X the title now runs flawlessly with none of the slow down, odd model appearances, or pop in issues that had previously plagued the original Switch release. That isn’t to say that the game’s dungeons aren’t that much better looking as players will still mostly be exploring through desolated multi-tiered wastelands though a few of the newer areas players explore are a bit more vibrant and uniquely detailed but still have a desolated feeling to them. The character models, including the humans as well as the many demons that players will come across are incredibly impressive looking as they have been once again touched-up to look excellent in this new release and, as mentioned before, thanks to the stronger capabilities of these consoles special combat skills that many demons possess, called Unique skills, that feature special and often elaborate animations, all look quite stunning, especially some of the more outlandish skills. It is also nice to note that a number of the brand new demons that are newly introduced into the franchise as a whole feel like a perfect fit for the series, especially given their nature in the story.

The voice work is once again available with both the original English dub as well as the Japanese voice track available. The English voice actors perform their roles admirably and all returning characters have reprised their roles in the new storyline alongside the brand new characters that are introduced. In fact, a few characters are given a lot more range here to act thanks to the way Vengeance’s storyline provides more interactions, developments, and emphasis on other characters besides the Nahobino. The soundtrack features a great collection of returning music for familiar areas as well as some outstanding tracks that work in the brand new dungeons. There are even a number of pieces of exclusive combat music that only appears to play during specific boss battles making these fights feel all the more impressive as a result.

Overall

Atlus has truly gone above and beyond when it comes to Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance. More than a simple port, not only does this title include the originals storyline but an almost entirely brand new one that almost immediately starts making small changes before spiraling hard into its own original content all while delivering plenty of quality of life features and the same engrossing turn-based RPG gameplay as before where players will oft need strategy to survive. Some elements such as platforming and character movement are still rough around the edges and even now the story still takes a little to get rolling, but once it does Vengeance fires on all cylinders and delivers a must play RPG for anyone who is a fan of the franchise and even those looking to try it out for the first time with two entire storylines to experience as a result.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW

Excellent
9.5
Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance shines even brighter than before with a more involved new storyline, QoL improvements, and tons of content, this is the definitive way to experience this RPG.
Travis Bruno
Travis Bruno
After playing games since a young age and getting into anime a bit later on its been time to write about a little bit of everything.
Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance shines even brighter than before with a more involved new storyline, QoL improvements, and tons of content, this is the definitive way to experience this RPG.Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance Review