It’s no surprise, being a huge fan of the Final Fantasy franchise and just a general lover of the RPG genre that I’m also a fan of the Shin Megami Tensei series. It may come as a surprise that I’ve only played a handful of games though, both of which were from the persona game line, so I’ve been eager to try one of the other games for some time now, as many people have told me that the story lines, graphics, and battle systems are usually just downright awesome.
So when Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocolypse was offered my way, I saw it as a great chance to get some more knowledge on the other franchises. Apocolypse was recently released on the Nintendo 3DS system in Europe back on 2nd December 2016, although technically it’s been out in Japan since February 10th 2016, and even America managed to get their hands on it on 20th September 2016. As many of you are probably already aware, the Shin Megami Tensei series are developed and published by Atlus (with a little help from Deep Silver in Europe and Australia).
Shin Megami Tensei games usually revolve around a very dark and mysterious story line. Persona had monsters, shadows, mysterious other worlds and mysterious hours, and whilst Apocalypse follows the same suit, it’s more about Demons and Gods who are bringing about the apocalypse. If you’ve been keeping up to date with your games then you’ll likely know already that this game is set within the same setting as Shin Megami Tensei IV.
The game begins with a glimpse of Tokyo in the year 2038 (22 years to sort out your problems guys!). Angels and Demons are waging a war, and a young man by the name of Flynn (not your character) appears to be liberating the town of Tokyo from the monsters. Your character (Nanashi) wakes up from his lovely nap (aww!) and is introduced to Asahi, a young and ambitious woman who, like you, is a hunter cadet just waiting for their big chance.
The game does some brief introduction as to how you are both newbies, still waiting to become official hunters and get your new smartphones so you can go and fix the world. You might at this point be thinking that having a smart phone wouldn’t really make you a great hunter. Well you’d be wrong! These are magical smart phones where you can store demons! I usually just use mine for Candy Crush and pornogra… work stuff. You’re introduced to two flashy demon hunters, Nikkari, a decent and professional looking hunter who seems interested in getting the job done and Manabu, a rastafarian jackass who insults you on how much of a newb you are and then forgets to put his phone demon away.
During your relic scavenging session, you’ll stumble across a smashed demon hunter smartphone, which you’re not to touch until Asahi gets Nikkari to investigate, but screw that, you’re a rebel without a case and you’re gonna so use it to summon some sweet demons up, right? Well you’re wrong, just like I was ( 🙁 ) it won’t work just yet, and instead you get a nice tasty little history session on how you were imprisoned in this apocalyptic war.
The history lesson you receive will pretty much explain the events that led up to the game, and give you a good oversight as to what’s happened to Tokyo since the demons began appearing, so I’d highly recommend you don’t go skipping through it as much as possible, plus it’s actually pretty interesting to find out why both angels and demons are your enemies and how the people of Tokyo have managed to stay alive for the past 25 years, so grab some popcorn and get ready for a nice little video!
After a brief run around your headquarters, a crazy dream and a global message of how Flynn is going to save you all by taking the demons on by himself, you’ll get to go on your first official assignment and learn the basics of combat.
Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse uses a field battle system, so you’ll run around on your screen, collecting items and battling monsters. Naturally, it’s a JRPG game, so don’t expect to have things easy with low amounts of monsters or with no puzzles. Games like these also strive on items and puzzles, so expect to be doing some extra running around, collecting and grabbing everything you can to help you on your super demon hunting quests.
The battle system is typical of Shin Megami Tensei, for those of you who don’t know, it’s turn based attacking and based on an active battlefield. So when you first start, you’ll see your demons in the field roaming around, running up to them and hitting them first will cause a pre-emptive attack at the start of the fight. Afterwards you and your monster will take it in turns to attack. The battle system places a strong emphasis on exploiting weaknesses, to the point where you get another turn (sometimes) if you exploit a weakness. This does, however, work against you, so if a monster exploits one of your weaknesses, then it’s going to be one tough battle with multiple attacks against you. If you do manage to find your enemies weakness then you might also get hold of the ‘Smirk’ status, which will give you a 100% chance for all your attacks to hit, so finding those weaknesses are a valuable part of all battles.
After you’ve learnt to fight, you’ll get a nice cutscene with a whole load of events that happen. I’ll leave the story right about there, but let’s just say that as you keep progressing through the story, events will unfold which set you apart from the other cadets and turn you, well a powerhouse. Naturally you can’t spend all of your demon hunting lives as a cadet, so something will have to happen to make you amazing, and let’s just say that it does.
These events will also allow you to gain access to your demon summoning program (yay!) by which you’ll be able to summon up lots of different nasties with their own unique strengths, skills and abilities to be able to take our anything that even looks at you funny. This is what’s expected of RPGs now a days, but Shin Megami Tensei always offers you a great range of different tactical options to take advantage of, in the form of different characters, different abilities and a range of different playstyles, so feel free to take advantage of all it has to offer.
Of course this is an RPG game, so expect a lot of grinding and levelling up. As you gain experience, you’ll level up and ultimately you’ll earn stats points to be able to dominate those monsters. As always, you can expect the basic statistics to chuck your points into, strength, dexterity, critical, magic etc, Each of these will affect your character in different ways, so you can level up and progress yourself in whatever way you want.
As far as the graphics go, I’m a little torn. There’s some elements which are just amazing, such as the cutscenes, the character design and the environments, there’s really a massive amount of detail which has gone into making this look visually pleasing. The downside is that the demons and monsters look like they’ve been made out of crafting paper. They are a bit 2 dimension, lacking detail and most of the time I can’t tell what it’s supposed to be, for example, the first demon you fly looks like some flying pig, I mean I know it’s a demon, but give it some legs and let it charge towards you. It’s not exactly a huge issue, and frankly it’s not even enough to downrate the game, but adding a bit more detail into the visuals of your enemies would definitely be a plus.
The sound is definitely better than the graphics. The voices of characters are all crystal clear and really appropriate for the setting of the game (no squeaky voices in an apocalyptic wasteland…) and you’ve got some fantastic background music which really does add to the mystery and darkness of the dungeons that you’re running around. You’ll also get some nice and funky uplifting music when you level up, and some very very nice sound effects, so really, plus 1 for the games sound and atmosphere.
Overall the game is a fantastic play, the graphics, whilst aren’t the best, are actually a lot better than I was expecting and the sound is great. Of course, this is an RPG game, so the story is going to be the main highlight of this particular game, and Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse has a great story line to offer it’s players. The battle system is streamlined and effective and you’ll get lots of gridning, lots of levelling, and a load of new skills and demons to help you progress and dominate this game.