Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance – Expand Everything

REVIEW – This game is an expanded edition of a JRPG that was released nearly three years ago, as Vengeance was released back in November 2021, albeit as a Nintendo Switch exclusive title. Now, however, the Unreal Engine 4-powered title has gone multiplatform (and cross-gen), which won’t make Persona fans completely happy, but Atlus hasn’t done anything wrong.


The extended Shin Megami Tensei V begins by asking a question that may be too bold a move for those unfamiliar with the story so far, but this deep-dive thought can be found elsewhere.



The Path of Creation or Vengeance


In the original Shin Megami Tensei V, we could only choose the Path of Creation, but Vengeance now gives us the opportunity to see the flip side of that, the Path of Vengeance. This also provides some replayability for players who played the original version, as the ending is also different “on the other side”. The setting is still post-apocalyptic Tokyo, called Da’at in the game, which looks much nicer than the original, which is understandable since there is a huge technical difference between a Switch and a PlayStation 5. The named characters, our demons, are all looking very impressive, although it’s strange that the NPCs don’t have eyes. This is no longer a technical limitation, so it must have been a creative decision by Atlus. Another new feature is that the demon wiki (compendium) has been expanded, or what is particularly useful: you can save anywhere on the world map. The demons are a lot of fun to talk to, as they are one of the strengths of the franchise (and even more so in the expanded edition, and yes, there is one that looks quite phallic).

They have personalities and can even give you quests, so you can’t complain about the immersion in Atlus’ game, which is very well supported by the auto battle feature. Since Shin Megami Tensei V can’t be called easy (and that’s an understatement), grinding will be necessary, and that can be made easier with this. The best would be what we saw in Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters, or at least in the Switch version of VII-IX: the combat could be sped up, which would inevitably shorten the grind. Vengeance has also sped up loading times considerably, and the PlayStation 5 easily manages 60 FPS without any bad frame pacing. Of course, the extended edition also includes all the DLC missions, so there are also Shin Megami Tensei III-themed battles, although it’s recommended to use the affected characters towards the end of the story. There are also new rest areas, and generally the team building feels a bit deeper (and since Persona is a spin-off of SMT, it’s understandable where they got the idea). It’s no joke that you can easily spend dozens of hours in this game, and even then that’s a modest estimate, but it can still eventually break your teeth if you’re not careful.



Sometimes, Mistakes Take Victories


You could call Shin Megami Tensei V that because the game is brutal. It is ruthless. It’s not easy, it requires serious attention. Haven’t we grinded enough? Oops, a simple enemy can suddenly kill us. Of course, there are platforming sections outside of combat. This may sound a bit unusual, but it’s part of the game, and surprisingly, there aren’t too many complaints about it… at first. It’s interesting that the game felt easier as time went on, while the platforming elements became more challenging, which can lead to no small amount of frustration after making just one mistake. So it’s not only the Qadištu, or female demons, that will cause you more than a few unpleasant moments. Of course, you can choose an easier difficulty level, but that won’t help much either.

The other problem is that the pace of the game’s narrative feels extremely slow, so if you’re not willing to invest a lot of time in Shin Megami Tensei V, you won’t experience everything that Atlus’ creation has to offer. In any case, it has to be said that anyone jumping into this game after Persona 5 will not have the same experience. Persona is much more stylish, but it’s started to build on that since the third installment (the first two were still a bit hardcore). Shin Megami Tensei is for the die-hard JRPG fans out there: it’s rewarding work, but you have to get there. As a musical motif, you could say that Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is a crescendo. A song that builds slowly and then reaches a climax. (One such example is White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane.)



Modern Nahobino, still with old-school presentation


Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance has an old-fashioned feel to it with its turn-based combat, and so you have to look at what it has to offer differently. More than the base game, but still not sure if it deserves a 9/10. It’s a good game, but graphically it seems to have been held back by the Switch (for which there’s a re-release now), so it’s an 8.5 at best. It’s not recommended for beginners, and if you’re not familiar with the franchise, you can’t really be told to give it a try… at your own risk.



+ Path of Vengeance storyline
+ More characters, demons and content
+ Better performance


– It could have been a little nicer, though
– Continues to quickly punish on mistakes
– The pace of the game is slow

Publisher: SEEGA

Developer: Atlus

Style: turn-based JRPG

Release: November 11, 2021 (base game)/2024. June 14 (Vengeance)

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance

Gameplay - 9.2
Graphics - 7.8
Story - 8.4
Music/Audio - 9.1
Ambience - 9



Bigger, better, more expansive, but should still be treated as a niche game.

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Grabbing controllers since the middle of the nineties. Mostly he has no idea what he does - and he loves Diablo III. (Not.)

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