Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance review for PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Switch

Platform: PC
Also On: Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, Switch
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Atlus
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No

After three years since the original release of Shin Megami Tensei V on the Nintendo Switch, ATLUS has graced us with the definitive version of their most recent entry in the SMT franchise. There were a fair bit of criticisms about the original, and after spending dozens upon dozens of hours in the new and revamped iteration of Da’at, I can confidently say that, at least for me, those criticisms have been almost entirely addressed. On top of that, ATLUS delivered a brand new storyline, hence the Vengeance in the title. For anybody interested in a revamped version of a great turn-based RPG, look nowhere else but once again to ATLUS.

For those that may not know what Shin Megami Tensei is or what this rerelease means, I’ll use Persona as the comparison (to my own dismay), as that is absolutely the more popular between the two. Shin Megami Tensei V is a turn-based Japanese role-playing game set in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, but instead of being more like Fallout, it’s more like every religious sect merged and all of their deities, and, to no surprise, demons had begun slaughtering humans. If you’re familiar with Persona, you’ll be mostly accustomed to all the religious figures and creatures that inhabit this world, as well as the character building that fans of both series can’t seem to get enough of. It uses a very similar combat system as Persona with the four member parties, striking and protecting various elemental weaknesses to gain an advantage, and recruiting new demons (or Personas, depending on the franchise) to aid you in combat, whether that be through different skills or for fusion into stronger demons. However, the core difference is what’s known as the “Press Turn” system. If you strike a foe’s weakness or land a critical hit, you will be given a “half turn”, which effectively extends your total turns to a maximum of 8 total (1 per party member, with 1 additional per). Think of Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance like a Persona 5 Royal or equivalent “definitive” release of the game.

I’m gonna get it out of the way immediately so the story qualms can be laid to rest after the response to Shin Megami Tensei V’s original story, or depending on who you ask, a lack thereof. Also, despite the protagonist having a name now, as usual your name is not voiced. In case you’re wondering, the canon name for the Nahobino is “Kei Amemura”. The original story of SMTV didn’t really give a lot of the human characters motivations for their stances and their appearances in the ending sequences of the game, and I know that rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. I’ve heard complaints about people giving some small speech and disappearing for most of the game from even friends of mine that are massively into this franchise. After playing through the new Vengeance storyline, I can ascertain as to why that may be. If you played the original, you may notice that the story was very heavily focused on the demons and how they felt about Lucifer’s reign and the state of Tokyo after the assassination and usurping of the Throne of Creation from God (Yes, that God, for those unaware of the themes held by Shin Megami Tensei).

To avoid spoiling anything, I won’t go into detail, but the Vengeance route focuses significantly more on the human aspects and how we, the player, and our friends feel about the world at hand even before the demonic invasion. You can expect to get a lot more depth out of characters previously delegated to being as shallow as a puddle on the driveway, as well as getting to experiment more with them in combat. Basically, be excited to learn more about characters and get a deeper look into the questions about existence and motivations you might have for making a choice throughout the game. Oh, and expect new endings. Yes, plural as in multiple endings. ATLUS cooked up a whole new batch of endings for you to get at the end, and I am unsure if there’s a secret fourth “true” ending like the true neutral in the original release. I couldn’t even begin to fathom what the requirements are, unless it’s still the secret boss I was too unprepared for.

Just in case anybody was wondering, because I know I sure as hell had the concern about it, the story bosses are 95% all brand new. One of my biggest worries was that we’d fight the same bosses with new dialogue scattered in between, and I am so, so thankful that ATLUS did the right thing and gave us nearly entirely new boss fights. You’ll still have your Hydra at Tokyo Tower, as that’s almost a necessity for Aogami’s memories, but don’t get accustomed to it later on. I won’t go into detail to avoid spoilers (and respect ATLUS’ wishes), but I can count on one hand how many bosses are the same from the base game.

I would be ashamed if I didn’t discuss the new combat additions as well, because boy do they REALLY change how you can teambuild in this version. Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance adds inherent abilities, or passive skills, to every single demon in the game. As expected by fans of the franchise, yes bosses have these too and will use them against you as much as possible. These can range from increasing your affinity with certain elements to higher ranks as long as a demon has a higher rank than you in them, increasing your damage based on the affinity of everybody in the party for specific elements, giving you extra turns for dodging attacks, and so, so much more. I cannot possibly go over them all in a review, so definitely experiment yourself and go through your demons’ abilities. You can get some seriously stupid abilities and combine them with others equally as stupid(ly strong). It adds a surprising amount of depth to how you approach encounters, whether it be building your own team around a specific ability combination or making sure that a boss that’s been wiping the floor with you can’t make good use of their ability instead. There are some absolutely criminal boss fights if you do not come prepared, I can assure you that much. I do feel like it’s important to mention that the weird level curves come endgame aren’t super better. It doesn’t feel as bad as the original, but it’s still noticeable that enemies have weird level jumps.

Adding on top of that, we got even MORE signature Nahobino skills. If you’ve seen basically any of the trailers, you have seen the new purple and gray Nahobino form we will be using during an unspecified part of the game. I was not expecting how insane the skills that this new form brings would end up being, but they are quite crazy. ATLUS seemed to go absolutely crazy with the original lineup of skills, but they really increased the bar this time. Whether you’re a Magic user or a Strength user, or honestly really anything in between, ATLUS has cooked up some more insane tools to play with. I promise that you won’t be disappointed in the new combinations you can make with your Nahobino this time around!

As we all heard recently, they redid some 80% of the soundtrack and have 84 NEW songs for the Vengeance story route. They remixed the battle themes for Da’at and some minor ones for sure, as well as giving us a bunch more. The music is phenomenal as always, and there’s some seriously banger songs scattered throughout. Hopefully they come to streaming services before a 3 year gap like the first game’s OST did.

It’s hard to tell if there’s going to be Day 1 DLC or not, as everything is (at least for the Steam page, as we reviewed this on PC) bundled with the Deluxe Edition, costing $70USD instead of the $60 price tag for the game without the deluxe contents. This comes with some new demon sidequests, more of the Mitama for farming like the base game DLCs, and if you preorder you get these unlimited use healing items that honestly aren’t very useful beyond the first area. You’ll get two new demons from the DLC, and all DLC from the original Switch release of Shin Megami Tensei V is included with the base game of Vengeance, so you won’t have to worry about that. Feel free to take on the Demi-fiend and get absolutely flattened because he’s THE franchise superboss.

All in all, Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is a massive improvement over the original, boasting two full-length story modes with multiple endings for you to go through and explore. Combined with a new bunch of demons, new music, new mechanics, and much more, this is absolutely the definitive way to play this game. Other than some minor level scaling problems that still remain from the base game, it is a phenomenal RPG that encourages multiple playthroughs with plenty of unique build variety as vast as the player is willing to look. I genuinely cannot possibly recommend Vengeance enough to fans of turn-based RPGs, or even fans of Persona that may still not be versed in what SMT has to offer differently. Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance releases for all major platforms on June 13th, and is well worth your money. Give it a shot, and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Sega provided us with a Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance PC code for review purposes.

Score: 9.5