Shin Megami is one of those games series that I've always heard about, but never actually played. Developed by Atlus, Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse is set in the Shin Megami Tensei IV universe.
The story starts some 25 years after a great war between heaven and hell. To protect Tokyo from total annihilation a rock dome was created, the aftermath is a city low on goods and overrun with demons and angels. You play as Nanashi, a young hunter that works alongside his childhood friend, Asahi. Together they must fight against the warring demons and angels whilst also following the orders of a mysterious demon called Dagda.
There's a lot of story to take in during IV: Apocalypse, the exposition is honestly a little overwhelming for someone like myself that wasn't previously a fan. Fortunately the writing is absolutely solid, something that is helped by believable, and excellent voice acting - something rarely seen on handheld titles.
The gameplay is a mix of turn-based JRPG combat and world exploration, with hefty amounts of dialogue thrown in. Combat is presented in an unusual manner; with only the enemies being visible and no protagonists, there aren't really any proper battle animations. While I was originally a little miffed at this situation, it is something I soon forgot as I got stuck into it. Outside of battles players must wander through Tokyo, completing dungeons and scavenging loot. I found the exploration to be one of the weaker elements of the title, as the right way to progress is often unclear. This eventually leads to wandering around in hope you will stumble upon the right path, which is incredibly frustrating.
One of IV: Apocalypse’s coolest features is the addition of a Pokémon-like system that lets players recruit angels or demons to their team. Players must either beat the enemies into joining them or talk to them and answer any questions or demands they may have. What makes this system even more special is the ability to combine these angels and demons, giving you an even stronger monster to fight with. Surprisingly, each demon you catch has its own personality and will often address you in a certain manner, meaning you often end up picking favourites between the demons on your team.
The battles themselves are a mix of physical based moves and magic. Each enemy in the game is weak to a specific type of attack and hitting them with the corresponding move will gain your team an extra turn as well as dealing more damage - this goes both ways though! Players can also choose to talk with enemies if they wish, either using the aforementioned recruiting system or simply bullying them into giving you money in return for not killing them.
As previously mentioned, the writing and voice acting in Tensei: IV are excellent. unfortunately, the overarching narrative itself doesn't quite hit the mark. It's an enjoyable story in itself, with the dynamic between three different factions forming an interesting conflict, but it's incredibly hard to follow in places - which might be something first time players of the series (like myself) might struggle with.
Outside of the narrative there are a whole host of collectible missions along with demon hunts. They serve little purpose, but they do give players something extra do in the world that reward players with extra money and loot.
Dialogue in Tensei: IV is presented in a comic book style, capturing characters’ body language and emotions in the moment they talk. The battle system is also presented in a similar manner, but with more emphasis on enemy motion. World exploration is handled in 3D and whilst these areas are perfectly palatable, they do lose a lot of the character that the 2D sections have.
Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse is an excellent game that blends believable voice acting with an addictive battle system. The addition of a Pokémon inspired ‘collect them all’ feature helps bolster Tensei IV: Apocalypse' battle system by giving players the chance to build their own team. For fans of the series and newcomers alike, Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse is a quintessential JRPG experience, and one that only has some very minor issues.
Shin Megami Tensei 4 Apocalypse (Reviewed on Nintendo 3DS)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
For fans of the series and newcomers alike, Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse is a quintessential JRPG experience, and one that only has some very minor issues.