Author Topic: Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance (Switch) Review  (Read 426 times)

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Offline Shaymin

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Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance (Switch) Review
« on: June 12, 2024, 06:08:01 AM »

The revenge of the return of the cover version’s Mara.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/review/67360/shin-megami-tensei-v-vengeance-switch-review

I greatly enjoyed the original Shin Megami Tensei V when it came out in 2021, and it was a winner in the duel of the monster taming games that were released on Switch that holiday season. Still, although this has been Atlus’s modus operandi as far back as 2008 in North America with Persona 3 FES, it’s hard not to look askance at the decision to launch the game for full price on the Switch without any upgrade option even if the Switch is the only place it’d be relevant. Though if you missed SMTV the first time around, this will be the version you get since the original will be delisted by Vengeance launch day, and it’s still worth experiencing the game regardless.

Upon starting a file, the Vengeance additions are immediately available as you have to make a choice as to whether to bring a girl into the world with you. Choosing to leave her behind will force you into the vanilla “Canon of Creation”, while pulling her into the world will unlock the new “Canon of Vengeance” storyline. The key elements of the storyline are common to both routes, in that Tokyo is infested with demons and you are a “Nahobino”, or human fused with a demon, who has to save Tokyo from destruction at the hand of a horde; whether that’s a demonic or angelic horde or both is determined by choices made throughout the story in sidequests or main story dialogue options. Given that the same plot outlines apply to every Shin Megami Tensei main game and most of the spinoffs up to and including Persona 5, the broad strokes will be familiar; Vengeance is truly a case of the devil being in the details.

When I reviewed the original Shin Megami Tensei V (which you can check out here) I ended up doing three full runs through the game and part of a fourth, so I leapt right into the Canon of Vengeance this time. Without spoiling things, I felt like the new character was reacting how I would have in most situations, and thanks to their addition I was able to eliminate one obnoxious enemy about ten hours of in-game time before they would go down in the Canon of Creation. And thank heavens for that, as their second boss fight in the original game was harder than some of the bosses I played in the notoriously hard Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. The Canon of Vengeance does add additional boss characters of questionable motivations to make up for these changes in the story, so the pacing of the two storylines is somewhat similar.

The battle system in Vengeance is a turn based system that returns the series’s trademark “Press Turn” mechanics. The party and the opposing demons have a certain number of icons with the party getting one icon per active party member, and certain harder enemies having multiple icons per member. The icons disappear as members take their turn, though some actions such as landing a critical or elemental weakness hit or swapping a member of the party in battle will allow an extra turn. Missing an attack or having an attack elementally blocked takes away two icons, which for most enemy parties will immediately end their turns. Vengeance adds a few twists to the system, including quest or random rewards that unlock new abilities for specific classes or alignments of demons that can be used when a “Maghatsui” meter fills, though the Nahobino’s “every hit is critical for that round” Maghatsui move is still the default technique I used for putting huge damage into boss fights early on. Later on, it’s worth setting up a team in a way to take advantage of some of the bigger ones, like having every skill that isn’t the default physical attack costing one magic point.

Your reminder that these guys starred in the first Shin Megami Tensei game to be localized - on the VIRTUAL BOY.

One of the biggest differences in battles is also a key difference in the story, however; the preponderance of “guest” human characters. Early on, situations are frequent where the party consists of the main character that can’t be swapped out, one or two humans, and the rest of the party filled with recruitable demons. Although the guests can’t be used to swap the demon slot(s) that I found, they do have the ability to use items in battle. This means they can use inexpensive items to hit elemental weaknesses even without knowing attacks of that element or a “Dampener” to give an auto-block to the entire party. My playthrough for the review was on Normal difficulty, and it was frequently easier than the original review which was on the “Casual” difficulty level, especially since Vengeance also added a save anywhere option rather than tying it to locations on the map. The main character falling in battle still triggers a game over by default, but it’s easier to get back to where you were, and normally party member demons using items had to be unlocked through the “Miracles” function about halfway through a first run at the earliest.

The classic demon recruitment and fusion systems are back for Vengeance, with some of the same great quotes when recruiting - though once the actual negotiation stage is reached, Vengeance has a somewhat easy to obtain “Gold Card” item that serves as an automatic recruitment if a slot in the party is open. There are more demons in Vengeance as well, and the demons now have a character alignment on the “law, neutral, chaos” spectrum which controls some of the special techniques. I haven’t lost a demon as a result of being the wrong alignment yet, but if it does come up I won’t be shocked. Another new addition to the game is a “Demon Haunt” which allows for conversations with demons and the party who possessed your main character in the first, with occasional items and stat boosts earned randomly while they’re in your party.

Hey Suzuki-san, free stuff, ten o'clock.

One of the original statements about Vengeance was that although save carryover would not be available presumably to keep parity with the day-and-date release on other consoles and PC, there would be an option to carry over demons from the game. For me with the three clears, this became the three route-specific demons unlocked for finishing the original game; one for the Law route, one for neutral, and one for Chaos. The game also gave me ten items for leveling up the main character plus a full slate of stat boosting items, and the same “free levels and stats” for the demons. The former were used immediately, while the latter I’m sitting on since the demon level boosters only work until the demon matches the main character’s level and I don’t think I fused anything that would need an extra 10+ points in every single stat yet. Some of the original game’s downloadable content also carries over; although the money/experience/Miracle unlocking options will be sold again according to the game’s eShop page. What IS present automatically in Vengeance is the four purchasable quests that serve to unlock additional demons, one line of which unlocks nine demon options including the protagonist of Nocturne. Though there will be a couple of purchasable demon quests post-launch, that’s all there is for now and the Deluxe version is only $10 US more than the base game at launch.

Playing Vengeance both docked and in handheld, I didn’t have any of the pre-launch technical issues I had with the original, so if there’s a day one patch I haven’t come across any situations where it’d be technically necessary. More likely it would add the support for DLC and any extra difficulty options beyond the “Casual”, “Normal”, and “Hard” that were offered in the review copy with “Story” and “Maniac” difficulty for those who played Fire Emblem Awakening on Normal or Lunatic+. The new demon designs are solid and appropriately creepy, and Nahobino's hair is somehow slightly more fabulous than it was in the original. The soundtrack was good enough for me to buy from Apple originally, and Vengeance gives some great remixes that usually play when the bonus character is in the party.

We drew a lot of comparisons between the Partner Showcase and today at NWR between Vengeance and Persona 5 Royal, but they’re not quite the same. For one, the PlayStation 4 version of Royal launched a year and a half before the game became fully multiplatform, while Vengeance is day and date. Still, having played both, if you held an Evoker to my head I’d probably say I think Vengeance is the better enhanced version. There’s plenty of gameplay changes, and the new character is integrated better than the gymnast in Royal. If you missed Shin Megami Tensei V the first time, Vengeance is the best way to experience a great RPG.

That said, I’ve learned my lesson and will be waiting until the enhanced version for Metaphor: ReFantazio - which hopefully will come out on the Switch’s successor.

Donald Theriault - News Editor, Nintendo World Report / 2016 Nintendo World Champion
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Offline Ian Sane

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Re: Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance (Switch) Review
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2024, 11:50:46 AM »
I've been playing the original SMT V on and off for a while and I'm currently at the last boss. I got the game on sale and I've put over 100 hours into it so I can't really complain that I didn't get my money's worth.  I would prefer obviously that there be some way to upgrade to Vengeance with DLC.

Though the game is so difficult and demanding that once I beat it, I can't really imagine going through it again.  I need a palette cleanser and some easier RPGs before I tackle another SMT.  So even if the upgrade was available I don't know if it would make sense for me to buy it because it would likely be years before I would start playing it.

Sega Atlus games tend to get marked down in price.  If I wait, odds are Vengeance physical copies will be getting marked down to the point where it would essentially be the cost of DLC.  So if I'm interested I can get it then.  Do I regret getting the base version?  Not really because I've put over 100 hours into it.  If it was sitting in my backlog unplayed I would be annoyed but I clearly made use of the time between it's original release and now.