HomeReviews4.5/5 ReviewShin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance Review

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance Review

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Shin Megami Tensei V arrived on the Nintendo Switch, back in 2021, to critical acclaim and even came into consideration for the best RPG of the year. Developers Atlus must have seen room for improvement however, as a definitive edition is now available on Xbox in the form of Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance. Not only is the original offering ready to delve into via multiple platforms, it also brings with it an additional story as well as a vast number of new features to enhance the experience.

Will Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance be a worthwhile venture for newcomers and returning players alike, or does it fail to live up to expectations?

Shin Megami Tensei V Vengeance review 1
A worthwhile venture?

In Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance, a Tokyo student’s life is about to be turned upside down. After a gruesome murder occurs in Shinagawa Station, the protagonist – you – ends up taking an unplanned walk through Takanawa Tunnel. The tunnel ends up collapsing, leaving you unconscious, before awakening in a strange and dusky looking place. It’s an apocalyptic wasteland known as Da’at and all kinds of dangerous demons lurk here. Fortunately, a guy named Aogami offers a helping hand and you merge together to become a human-demon hybrid: a Nahobino.

At the crux of it all, you’re in the middle of a raging war between light and dark, with the fate of the world resting upon the outcome. How it plays out though, depends on a choice at the very beginning, which either sets you on the original Canon of Creation path, or the brand new Canon of Vengeance storyline. While the former follows the conflict between angels and demons, the latter soon goes off on a divergence with the introduction of a new ally and the self-preserving, all-female, demonic gang Qadištu who interfere with everything going on.

No matter which route you venture down, the cutscenes will certainly grab your attention with memorable looking characters, intense background music, and quality voiceovers. You really have to pay attention though, for the narrative is fairly complex to follow as you try to become accustomed to the lore of the realm. It’s also a little bit lacking in character development due to story-advancing interactions between you and everyone else being relatively infrequent. Still, having two massive stories is impressive and the most important aspect is whether the gameplay can hold things together.

And well, yes it can, because it’s stupendously addictive.

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Quests to take in

Thrust into Da’at initially, you’ll roam the desecrated landscape to pursue the main quests and get into battles with demons. Before the tackling battling aspect though, I must mention the plethora of other things looking to garner your interest. The Sub-quests will see you meeting all kinds of strange demons that send you out on fetching, hunting and even time-sensitive missions. Bizarre portals, Abscesses, churn out a handful of demons before presenting a tougher final battle where achieving success closes it down for good.

Aside from the confrontation-based activities, there are numerous different things to find. Special husks containing essences for learning abilities, demon statues possessing the remnants of slain demons, treasure chests, and lucrative relics. Perhaps the most fun comes from tracking down little Miman creatures that have been hidden in the most peculiar spots, actively encouraging exploration in return for nice rewards. You shouldn’t be too concerned about back-tracking to find anything either, thanks to the fast-travel points and the newly added Magatsu Rails, providing shortcuts aplenty as well as giving access to secret areas. It’s very easy to get side-tracked and wander around for lengthy spells.

As for the combat, in Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance you enter the battle phase and take turns with the enemy to drain each other’s health bar. The choices consist of a basic attack, skills that use up the limited MP resource, items, the option to guard, skip a turn, or flee. Performing critical attacks and skills exploiting an elemental weakness earns an extra turn, which can be extremely useful as there are few pushovers here.

In fact, you need a team really and so you must recruit demons to do your bidding. It’s rather enjoyable to just strike up a conversation with a foe in an attempt to win them over using words. Some aren’t interested in chatting however, requesting chunks of health, Macca (the currency), MP, and all sorts of gifts. Needs must though to get three allies able to join you in battle and hopefully turn the odds in your favour.

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Manage your party

Managing the party is a crucial part of succeeding and switching members depending on the demons ahead is a regular occurrence. Given that demons now possess innate skills that are passively active could help massively. For example, bringing one in to boost Fire attacks or give allies resistance to ice, can be a difference maker when the going gets tough. Heck, the new Magatsuhi Skills mean that certain demon combinations are able to pull off super powerful manoeuvres.

And on the subject of demons, the variety of those you’ll face, recruit or create via fusions, is nothing short of outstanding. With more than forty extra demons compared to the original SMTV, that means there’s a whopping 270+ in total. Split into a host of different races, you can expect to encounter ghostly beings, foul-creatures, fairies, deities, serpents, wargods, and more. Their strengths and weaknesses differ, with a vast array of elemental and support skills in their arsenal.

They’re all visually diverse too, with the Puss in Boots cosplaying Cait Sith, the blacksmith yokai Ippon-Datara, the boar-ish Zhu Tun She, and the deviously alluring Mermaid, just a small selection of the types you’ll meet. Some you may recognise from other Atlus games like Soul Hackers 2, but with a bit of a makeover, which is pretty cool. You can even get to know their personalities in the new Demon Haunt area, acting as a chilled place to chat and enhance your bonds.

Levelling-up the Nahobino and other allies through the numerous activities, acquiring a variety of demons, and being strategic about your every move is the bare minimum when the big bosses step forward. One bad move and you’ll probably have a total squad wipe – nobody wants that. It’s brutal on the Casual difficulty, although that’s part of Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance’s charm. Overcoming the trickiest and most impressive looking enemies is incredibly satisfying. The challenge will force you to mix up the party often and keep proceedings fresh.

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A seriously addictive turn-based RPG

While I have already mentioned some of the new features, there are many nuances that simply make the experience better. Being able to save anywhere is a literal life-saver to avoid losing progress unnecessarily. Having the opportunity to fight alongside a selection of human characters is a nice touch too. Other little noticeable changes include a slightly clearer mini-map, the option to re-read tutorial pop-ups whenever you wish to, and the auto-skill battle option to let the AI take over for the easier confrontations.

Ultimately then, Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is a seriously addictive turn-based RPG that will impress returning players and enchant newcomers for hours on end. There’s a ridiculous amount of content and a huge roster of demons to engage with, as well as a shed load of welcome additions and improvements. Sure, the storytelling isn’t perfect, but the shortcomings there are more than made up for by the rest of what Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance delivers.

Clear your schedule – Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is a damn great game that deserves your time and attention.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Addictive turn-based combat
  • Tons to do outside of battle
  • Demons galore
  • Hours and hours of content
  • Many improvements
Cons:
  • Storytelling could be better
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, SEGA
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC
  • Release date and price - 14 June 2024 | £54.99
James Birks
James Birks
Been gaming casually since the SNES as a youngster but found my true passion for games on the Playstation 1 (the forbidden word ooo). My addiction grew to its pinnacle with the purchase of an Xbox 360 & Xbox Live Service. A recovering GS hunter that will still play literally any game.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Addictive turn-based combat</li> <li>Tons to do outside of battle</li> <li>Demons galore</li> <li>Hours and hours of content</li> <li>Many improvements</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Storytelling could be better</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, SEGA</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC <li>Release date and price - 14 June 2024 | £54.99</li> </ul>Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance Review
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