Gamer Limit Banner
Avatar ImageReview: Shin Megami Tensei IV
By: | July 10th, 2013 | 3DS
3DS |Review

Shin Megami Tensei has always been a fairly niche franchise. Outside of the increasingly successful Persona series, recently seeing a great deal of success with Persona 4, most Mega-Ten games have a fairly limited appeal in the west. While modern Persona games are appealing due to their social links, bright colors, and emphasis on flashy High School drama, the SMT series proper is essentially its antithesis, with an emphasis on  isolation, desperation, and generally, an insular heavy theme.

In fact, “insular” is probably the best way to describe the newest iteration in the SMT franchise, as  SMT IV does very little to welcome new fans. But for those of you who are already in, you really can’t go wrong, even if a few corners were cut to bring the game to the 3DS.

I’ll cut to the chase, SMT IV‘s Kingdom of Mikado setting is incredible, with its own unique blend of cyberpunk-medieval-samurai fusion. I immediately fell in love with the game’s location, and within mere minutes of entering my first dungeon, I was hooked. Around 10 hours in you’ll encounter the first twist — which while I won’t ruin here, I will say it blew my mind. The over-arching themes are a bit on the nose (rich vs. poor, chaotic free will vs. order), but as a general rule I enjoyed the moral choices I had to make, as the game doesn’t painfully quantitate them as a contrived “GOOD” or “BAD” statistical boost.

In terms of gameplay, SMT IV sticks to its franchise roots, as it’s a very old school JRPG that involves turned based menu combat. Keeping in line with the oldest of the old, party participants are not animated like the Persona series or many other Mega-Ten iterations, instead only displaying enemy models on-screen. But despite the lack of theatrics, combat is engaging and satisfying thanks to the weakness system, which allows you to earn extra turns and temporary boosts (called “smirks”) if you target a foe with a particular element or nab a critical hit.

It forces you to balance your party, as you can’t simply hoard one or two elemental types and hope to win — you have to be constantly evolving. Since you won’t be recruiting human party members, you’ll be taking your pick of up to three other demons, as well as a number of stock positions available as backup options. In order to actually recruit demons, you have to either fuse existing party members, or recruit them by talking.

In true SMT fashion, talking to demons ranges from surprisingly cordial to utterly bizarre. Some demons will literally ask for half your inventory before they swear fealty, and even then, they’ll run away with your gear and leave you forever. Others respond very well to compliments and flattery, and will join you right away, as many still will take your compliments as in insult, deem you weak, and vow to destroy the essence of your soul.

There are over 400 demons available in the game, and let me just say, it’s the most addicting “catch ‘em all” system yet. With literally hundreds of different fusion combinations and recipes at the touch of a button, it’s incredibly easy to spend hours strategically raising and developing your team. Thankfully, once you catch a demon it remains in your tome forever so you can just re-purchase it again with Macca (the main currency of the series), which is a nice touch. In fact if the party system wasn’t so good, I would have longed for a more modern combat system.

If you ever feel like straying from the main path you may come away disappointed, as a great deal of the sidequests involve antiquated Fed-Ex/fetch objectives. I recommend mostly sticking to the core plot, which doesn’t really drag all that often as it takes you all across the world with its fairly interesting tale of intrigue and branching paths. If you’re not particularly well versed with SMT games and want to give this one a shot, SMT IV is actually pretty accommodating, given the fact that it features one of the most robust tutorials in all of SMT history.

It’s also incredibly forgiving, as it’s one of the only games with an “easy mode” option, and after death you have the ability to resurrect exactly where you left off with either Macca or 3DS Play Coins. Newcomers will be especially pleased to hear that the easy mode can be toggled on or off at any point without penalty, and you can save anywhere, even in dungeons. It still has a few difficulty walls here and there, but nothing a solid grind and a few demon fusions can’t fix.

But while the dungeon crawling aspect looks great aesthetically throughout the entire journey (as it shows a full 3D model of your character), the corner-cutting I mentioned earlier rears its ugly head approximately 10 hours into the game in other areas. As you start to enter more and more rooms and engage with the game’s NPCs, the pixelated inhabitants start to look worse and worse. I’m not normally one to complain about visuals, but re-using the same assets over and over can really take you out of the game, especially when the developers don’t even bother to reconstruct their poses, leading you to feel like you’re talking to the same “tired old man” 1000 times over.

The main map navigation is also fairly jarring, as the “pawn” icon returns to facilitate a minimal world crawl experience that just falls flat. For those of you who aren’t aware, many games in the SMT franchise utilize an arrow icon (a pawn) to traverse the world map. Now, back in the 90s this was a forced necessity due to hardware limitations, and it didn’t feel that out of place. But this is 2013, and using the same system on the 3DS is odd, especially given the fact that most of the game is absolutely beautiful.

In fact it’s abundantly clear that Atlus had a ton of ambition for SMT IV, but much of it is held back by the hardware. Like many old school games, many of the fantastic elements and major plot points will require a little extra imagination on your part, as there are no pretty high-budget Square Enix quality cutscenes to help you along the way. For some (myself included to an extent), the lack of production values can actually be a plus, forcing you to visualize part of the world and the story in your mind’s eye. But for most people out there, a certain level of flashiness is required, and even the hardiest of SMT fans will probably long for more as you cross the 20 hour mark.

As far as RPGs go, SMT IV offers up pretty much everything you could ask for, provided you’re willing to overlook the aforementioned technical issues. Once everything is said and done (which will take you anywhere from 30-60 hours, depending on your penchant for sidequests), you can tackle the game again with New Game+, which allows you to retain nearly everything you earned the first time around, and best the newly unlocked “hard” difficulty setting. New Game+ is a SMT staple and I’m glad it returns here, as I love that I have the ability to take my creatures I’ve spent hours training with on a new mission.

Shin Megami Tensei IV will do little to shake your notions of the series if you’ve already attempted to get into it. Like the newly released Soul Hackers 3DS remake, many areas feel a bit too antiquated to serve the needs of anyone but pre-existing SMT fans. But unlike Soul Hackers, SMT IV doesn’t have the excuse of being developed as an adaptation of a game from 1997. Even with its blemishes though, I really enjoyed my time with Shin Megami Tensei IV, and the demon collection and fusion system remains just as addicting as ever — just don’t expect it to top some of the other entries in the series, including Nocturne.

This review is based on a digital copy of the 3DS game Shin Megami Tensei IV.


  1. Wait, you’re not a fan of the press turn combat system? That’s a first for people who are fans of the series (no sly passive agressiveness meant). Nocturne is one of my favorite games for it. Anyway good review all around, can’t wait for my copy.

  2. For some reason I felt like I read that you didn’t. My bad, with all the reviews I’ve been reading, I must have mixed some things up.

  3. Great review Chris, just started this game last night and I am really digging it. Strangely it is the first 3DS game where I actually like the 3D here and there, most of the the time I turn it on just to see how it is used then immediately switch it back off.

    Nice to see your article on Destructoid as well.

  4. avatar Deangelo

    Wow, this article is good, my younger sister is analyzing these things, therefore I am going to
    inform her.

    My web-site: ipage coupons

  5. avatar ¥×¥é¥À ¥­©`¥±©`¥¹

    requires pertaining to 3 a lot of time in addition to 30 or so minutes. Gmaes is without a doubt increasing numbers of mobile or portable usrs happen to be frequently looking OK. This is certainly starting to be further fascinating after you take up in the strange somewhat video game titles by means of LG KP500 Coookie. Your dog certain who using inside woirld with enjoyable in addition to adventuure. Obtain that mobile phone at the earliest opportunity and so staert this scoirng success poins truthfulness will be able to. With foregoing, it all ‘s coming it is adequately knowledgeable of who both LG KC910 in addition to LG KP500 Dessert cellular phones happen to be suited varieties mobile devices The criminals to are available in a incredibe priice, in addition to there are numerous trusted online retailers so, who put up for sale the crooks to, givign enormous bargains. If you happen to Perform A work Police arrest records Determine? Based on the Point out that you are currently throughout as well as placement you will be making an application for, this workplace will be able to necessitate a work police arrest records examine. This could assist this workplace settle on should you be capable to hold on to a new vulnerable placement throughout his or her agency. If you happen to making an application for a posture where you’ll certainly be managing care and attention solutions to the aging population, little children in addition to people who ailments in addition to particular requires, examples of the pre-employment screening process you need to endure is without a doubt illegal drug assessment, having sex offenders record in addition to criminal record. Safeness in addition to wellbeing happen to be one of the key issues with people throughout care and attention imparting solutions. Because of this ,, personnel managing this kind of fragile requires should really get rid any kind of malice in addition to offences. Any business employers happen to be confident to make sure that that you’ve got in no way been recently imposed in addition to guilty with toddler physical or mental abuse, erotic physical or mental abuse, erotic infiltration, rape, erotic pestering, external trauma and / or infiltration in addition to homicide and / or murder. That the placement you will be searching for demands anyone to take on bucks in addition to spending habits, then you definately should really expect to have who a natural part of ones a career police arrest records examine incorporates a study onto your finance information, consumer credit rating information, criminal record, city historical past, in addition to asset control. The excuse is to the safe practices in the business enterprise. They can’t always be at the same time aware to allow for one so, who will be afflicted with in financial terms to fund this company�s possessions, carries, funding, in addition to bucks allocations. In case you have a new over historical past with piracy at a business enterprise and / or happen to be great with big debts, it may silly enough in order to acquire at a likely workplace. The majority organisations won’t be able to afford to pay member of staff robber. Criminal record checks exposes details along the lines of offences in addition to criminal acts maybe you have dedicated such as homicide and / or murder. In addition to, external infiltration, external trauma concerning insignificant circumstance. A work police arrest records examine in addition will provide understanding of busts in addition to court warrants supported upon you. If guilty and / or absolved and / or the outcome filled out from everyone has long been removed, this develop in the circumstance is without a doubt noted down in the criminal record. Any city homework is without a doubt with the same meaning, primarily should you be utilizing in particular corporation places of work and / or Multi-National Companies. Some generate income by way of discovering flaws in the business enterprise that they just work at in addition to in the end register case from individuals. An individual’s city historical past will disclose, any time in actual fact you experienced filled out any kind of litigation from ones past business employers. Using pre-employment screening process, ones capability business employers happen to be shielding this.
    ¥×¥é¥À ¥­©`¥±©`¥¹ http://www.printersfinishing.com/images/prada8.html

  6. avatar Colin

    By simply taking a mobile unit app, complete visitors can be renewed with nearby folks
    to test skills. Here’s a review of some fun games which will keep you glued to a person’s iPhone or music player for hours.

    Here is my web-site … brave tails hack – Colin,

  7. avatar Sheri

    Pretty great post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I have really
    loved surfing around your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing to
    your rss feed and I’m hoping you write once more soon!

    Feel free to surf to my blog – rafting na dunajcu

  8. avatar Pauline

    Where ever you are or what you’re doing, your organization can finally come the length of!
    The guys who create things like the know its a huge “fad”
    with a major steep bell contour.

    my web page: web site

  9. avatar Hans

    I want to to thank you for this excellent read!!

    I definitely loved every bit of it. I have got yoou book marked to loo at new
    stuff you post…

    Look into my page: hairstyle magazines

  10. avatar Verena

    Hi there i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting anyplace,
    when i read this post i thought i could also create comment due to
    this brilliant piece of writing.

    my homepage … arizer; burx.de,

  11. avatar Heather

    Hello there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it is truly informative.
    I’m going to watch out for brussels. I will appreciate if you continue this in future.

    A lot of people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

    Here is my web site – awesome vacarion spots

  12. avatar Wilhemina

    The other day, while I was at work, my cousin stole my iphone and tested
    to see if it can survive a 30 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My
    apple ipad is now broken and she has 83
    views. I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

    Here is my blog applaud means

  13. avatar Randi

    I’m amazed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s both equally
    educative and engaging, and without a doubt,
    you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something which
    too few men and women are speaking intelligently about.

    I’m very happy that I came across this during my hunt for something regarding
    this.

    My webpage Clash of clans hack android

  14. avatar Micheline

    The secret with these dresses is to allow them to float.
    of having to access the user interface via the Web, and I don’t.
    If you are tired of going to your local store and finding
    that they have just sold out the lingerie of your size then you can consider online shopping You will not have to face this issue while shopping online.

    Look into my web blog sexy; computerrepairredlands.com,

  15. avatar Freya

    Thanks very nice blog!

    Here is my webpage … cincinnati hotel deals

Leave a Reply