Shin Megami Tensei IV is the latest in a series that has, as of late, fallen in the shadow of its Persona spin-off franchise. While the two have similar themes, the story, settings and gameplay differ greatly. Fans of Persona would do well to check it out though, and this modern, fresh 3DS title may be a great opportunity.
What it is: Shin Megami Tensei IV places you in the role of a samurai. As such, your duties are to fight off demons and to act as a peacekeeper. Being a samurai is no walk in the park, however, and fans of the series will be glad to know that SMT IV is just as difficult as you’d expect given the series reputation.
When traveling through dungeons, enemies appear on-screen, as in Persona, and you can preemptively strike then for a bonus. During battle, your party will be off-screen, like in Strange Journey, though in other respects it is as you would expect from SMT. Hitting weaknesses grants your party an extra attack turn and a chance to enter a ‘grinning’ state, which for one turn greatly increases evasion and damage. Both of these features are available to the enemy as well, so it is certainly possible for a battle to get out of hand very quickly.
Why we’re excited: The writing seems very well done, from our limited time with the game, and the prospect of seeing all these characters develop and interact is something to look forward to. Additionally, in a nod to the 3DS portability and battery, you can save the game anywhere and anytime. Not having to worry about the battery dying and losing all our progress in a dungeon is great news.
What we’re wondering: Another new feature? Special fusions via StreetPass. This works well in Japan, but in America it’s uncommon for StreetPass functions to be relevant on a day-to-day basis for many 3DS owners. We wonder if these fusions will be exclusive to StreetPass, or if we can get them in other ways.
Shin Megami Tensei IV releases July 16 on 3DS for $49.99, in a special edition bundle with a strategy/art book and soundtrack.