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Shin Megami Tensei IV

真・女神転生IV

Developer / Publisher: Atlus
23 May 2013
Shin Megami Tensei IV [真・女神転生IV] - cover art
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3.97 / 5.0
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490 Ratings / 2 Reviews
#244 All-time
#3 for 2013
After passing a rigorous test to become a Samurai (a title given to the brave warriors who defend the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado, a feudal society based on Medieval Europe), protagonist Flynn is given a technological device known as a "Gauntlet" and is tasked with exploring the dangerous dungeons of Naraku along with his Samurai companions. However, things go awry when the kingdom is threatened by a mysterious figure known as the Black Samurai, who is spreading "knowledge and wisdom" across the kingdom.
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4 stars for game
+0.5 stars for Walter
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As the fifth Shin Megami Tensei title I've finished, the series is starting to feel very familiar to me. Shin Megami Tensei is one of the bigger RPG series in Japan, and it's pretty easy to see why once you get in to the games. They are designed like classic RPGs, emphasizing challenge and sometimes frustrating random chance. They do monster collection effectively, making the player adapt to the changing difficulty curve instead of getting too attached to his team. They offer the option of changing the game's outcome, even if the choices aren't so hot. Shin Megami Tensei IV ranks somewhere in the middle of the series to me, but it is a good introduction to mainline SMT for newcomers and one of the better RPGs on the 3DS.

SMT IV starts out differently than its predecessor, Nocturne. Instead of a kid in the big city, you're a hopeful samurai candidate in what appears to be a feudal Japanese kingdom called Mikado. Things seem fishy to the player because the samurai have electronic technology that they regard as mystic relics. After a quick trial, you explore a strange cave called Naraku that lies beneath your kingdom and is filled with demons. The game's story doesn't really unfold until you reach the bottom of Naraku, and I don't want to spoil what happens, but needless to say it evolves in to the usual Law vs Chaos story so prevalent in the series. While I enjoyed the setup of this game, I think the characters don't always show the best motivations or justification for their actions. Like in other SMT titles, only the extremes of each personality type accomplish anything by end-game, and you never feel right about supporting them. The Neutral path makes a decent compromise, but still has a questionable result. I'm not opposed to a game having nothing but bad endings, but I do feel like SMT games often end on an unnecessarily bleak note, only accentuating the negative. Fortunately, the story is secondary to gameplay in SMT, so nitpicking it too much doesn't accomplish a whole lot. One thing the game does really well is create a sense of dramatic irony: the player is aware that something is wrong with Mikado and the game's world as a whole, but the characters have no clue. This makes the game's many twists and pokes of humor, especially involving your AI assistant, Burroughs, very effective.

SMT IV's visual style is weird. For the most part, it looks good. The demons are well-animated and the 3D environments look beautiful. It's clear that the game was on a limited budget, though. Most of its cutscenes are just characters standing and staring at things without moving, leaving one to wonder why the game wasn't just developed in visual novel style like Persona 3 Portable. Some of the new demons introduced in the game have very odd designs that I didn't think meshed well with the old ones. Often, they are caricatures of humans or grotesque things with anatomy that makes little sense. I feel the developers could have done a little better job of hiding the fact that some parts of the game didn't get as much attention as others. On the other hand, the music is great. It has a nice mix of electronica, hard rock and even bagpipe music. I thought I would miss Shoji Meguro, who really made Nocturne and Strange Journey work well on the sound front, but this game's composers are more than worthy to take his reins.

The gameplay is mostly what you'd expect from the main series: the press turn battle system is back. Hitting weaknesses and not missing is of vital importance, even if you have to burn MP to do it. I was not sure how I liked this system at first back in Nocturne, but I do like how it encourages using skills instead of conservation, which makes for slow and boring gameplay in many games. This time, your main character's build is almost completely up to you. Instead of learning skills from equipment, Flynn gets them from Demon Whispers. When your party members have learned all of their skills, they can "whisper" them to the hero, letting you basically pick whatever skills you want. I think this is great for many reasons, but the primary one is that it lets you experiment with skills before committing to them. Many RPGs force you to go down skill paths without prior knowledge of where you'll end up, but here there's no ambiguity. Overall, this makes the game engine feel improved from its predecessors, and the typical fast battle speed returns as well, so combat is very streamlined. As far as battles go, my one real complaint is about ambushes. If an enemy sneaks up on you, often you are just plain dead. Getting hit by a weakness, a critical, or status effects often spells the end for your entire party. Worse, ambushes can happen on reinforcements or even during boss battles. It just feels cruel and unusual.

On the flip side, the game has a lot of features that make it more newbie-friendly than other entries in the series. It's very forgiving about game overs, for one. For a fee of either money or 3DS Play Coins (which I thought was a nice touch as it got me to exercise a bit while playing this, believe it or not) you can get revived right before the battle you died in. I don't care how hardcore of a gamer you are; this is a good feature that every RPG should have. The game also does everything it can to make the monster fusion system easier to understand, even to the point of recommending fusions. These recommendations are usually good choices, so I think new players will be able to pick it up with little problem.

The game's biggest problem is really its overworld map. Once you reach this area, it's pretty obvious why. You can only travel on small, jagged paths that are maze-like in structure, and you have to do this just to get from town to town. While it's possible to avoid encounters in the dungeons, you cannot on the world map. You also cannot control whether or not you get ambushed. The game assumes you have some knowledge of Tokyo's layout, which would probably help in finding areas you need to travel to, but even then it can be hard to remember a certain road is blocked off or you have to take X tunnel to reach Y location. Add together the dead ends, frequent encounters, and backtracking the game requires and you end up with some ultra tedious exploration. This problem plagues the game from beginning to end, and even the air travel you eventually find only lets you land in useless spots. It's a gross stain on a game that easily could have been one of my favorites.

Shin Megami Tensei has gone on for a long time. Many good games have been released under the brand, and it's gradually becoming one of my favorites. That said, Atlus really needs to get a clue about certain things. It's just silly that Persona gets all of the innovation, character development, and fast travel while the mainline series gets the gameplay depth and build options. These things should not be mutually exclusive. While Shin Megami Tensei IV is a great game, with just a few of the lessons learned from other games in the series, it could really have felt more polished and appealed to more players. RPG enthusiasts should still enjoy the game if they can get past angels and demons being lumped together as the same thing, but even though it's more accessible, I'm not sure I can recommend this to a player unfamiliar with the genre.
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Catalog

oatvorefm 真・女神転生IV 2024-04-12T15:37:22Z
2024-04-12T15:37:22Z
5.0
2
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
deadass 真・女神転生IV 2024-04-11T07:38:26Z
2024-04-11T07:38:26Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
top 300 on charts 3DS Shin Megami Tensei
GavinV 真・女神転生IV 2024-04-08T14:36:43Z
2024-04-08T14:36:43Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Tarafaeryn 真・女神転生IV 2024-04-04T05:24:46Z
2024-04-04T05:24:46Z
4
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
SergLeDerg 真・女神転生IV 2024-04-04T03:18:19Z
2024-04-04T03:18:19Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Bologna_Cheeks 真・女神転生IV 2024-04-02T05:05:47Z
2024-04-02T05:05:47Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
FirstMate 真・女神転生IV 2024-03-29T18:57:52Z
2024-03-29T18:57:52Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
pkhg_ 真・女神転生IV 2024-03-26T08:33:15Z
2024-03-26T08:33:15Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
PonyPower 真・女神転生IV 2024-03-24T00:55:31Z
2024-03-24T00:55:31Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
wildpaleyonder 真・女神転生IV 2024-03-22T21:55:26Z
2024-03-22T21:55:26Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
dotnds 真・女神転生IV 2024-03-22T19:12:45Z
2024-03-22T19:12:45Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
jydah 真・女神転生IV 2024-03-22T18:26:22Z
2024-03-22T18:26:22Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
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CERO: C
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  • Previous comments (46) Loading...
  • RiskR 2023-11-28 14:57:38.154137+00
    this game completely convinced me that megaten is my favorite game franchise of all time
    reply
    • RiskR 2023-12-07 15:16:26.351037+00
      best mainline it aint even close
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • Pumas 2024-02-17 16:51:55.423477+00
    This is one of the only games that literally had me in the first couple seconds. The fucking theme that plays during the intro is hypnotizing.
    reply
    • Pumas 2024-02-17 16:53:55.060904+00
      There are so many incredible moments in this game and all of them are accompanied by tracks that make them 10x more impactful.
    • Fowlawneeshafow 2024-02-25 05:02:41.7303+00
      Ryota Kozuka is somehow better than Meguro maybe
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • Crazystone 2024-02-20 18:33:33.937463+00
    Replaying jrpgs if your first walkthrough wasn't deep down in history is unpleasant deal. Was lost after coming into tokyo and tried to replay game from start to that moment. No, that's too much of repeating the same things.
    reply
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  • Pumas 2024-03-14 01:19:46.763664+00
    This better get a remaster or something. Needs to be on modern hardware so more people can experience peak
    reply
    • Fowlawneeshafow 2024-03-17 06:02:27.716108+00
      3ds games are sadly much more difficult to port to modern hardware because of the dual screen configuration. Visually combat would need to be overhauled and UI completely redesigned. Every 3DS/DS remaster/port I've seen either comes from a game which coincidentally was already on single-screen systems once before and works, or sacrifices significant elements to make it work. The Etrian Odyssey remasters come to mind for example.

      Not saying it's impossible to do or it can't happen, but it would take much more work than a usual remaster/port.
    • Diugo 2024-03-17 08:57:56.959945+00
      I highly doubt this will get a rerelease. As it probably has to be a remake. On top of that the 3ds version didnt sell that well. I dont think they would want to gamble an expensive remake.
    • Pumas 2024-03-19 00:01:35.718691+00
      I know yall are right but maybe one day (im coping)
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • MicahGonzalez 2024-03-19 21:08:05.492574+00
    The rating for this has shot up so much. I feel like it was around a 3.67 when I played it.
    reply
    • Fowlawneeshafow 2024-04-04 04:25:57.444684+00
      zelda cycle effect and the game is now 10 years old, mainly. it deserves it but so does V. this game was loathed by a huge chunk of the SMT fanbase for like 5 years at least, mostly for being so unlike the rest of the series.
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • thesoyman 2024-04-09 12:35:24.69979+00
    Wish there was any other game as good as this
    reply
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • RiskR 2024-04-09 14:05:53.844783+00
    why is this marked as cyberpunk primary and post apocalyptic is marked as an influence even though it should be the other way around?
    reply
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