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Joystick: Latest ‘Shin Megami Tensei comes with expected frights

Published 10:14am Thursday, July 18, 2013

“Shin Megami Tensei IV”

4 out of 5 stars

For 3DS

•Style: Horror/RPG

•Rating: M for Mature

• Solid RPG full of scary thrills.

• “Shin Megami Tensei” series comes back to its roots, albeit with easier difficulty.

• Tried-and-true dungeon crawling, level grinding won’t appeal to many gamers.


Japanese role playing game fans will no doubt rejoice upon hearing “Shin Megami Tensei IV” came out this week, and for good reason.

This game has been a long time coming and represents a big development for the series, which has made strides to become more accessible to casual gamers.

Yet what plagues “SMT IV,” as it plagues many other dungeon crawlers, is its niche nature: Hardcore RPGs with punishing mechanics have fallen out of style in recent years.

The game takes place in an alternate version of Japan, with samurai and peasants, monsters and demons, intrigue and devilry.

There’s a largely silent protagonist, stock characters representing overplayed RPG tropes and a bevy of demons to collect, command and conquer.

The game plays just as well as you would expect, with many great suprises and technical aspects thrown in. Yet despite how good “SMT IV” is, it likely won’t transcend its roots to become a huge seller in the states.

Western gamers, particularly in North America, generally don’t have the same fascination with punishing difficulty and long hours spent exploring dungeons, fighting enemies for little experience, and grinding a few levels to overcome the next big challenge.

“SMT IV” is a little more forgiving than its predecessors when it comes to things like that, but any endgame playthrough is going to involve a lot of grinding.

Yet the battle mechanics seem like a fresh take on a tried-and-true formula, and the game as a whole works well despite a somewhat flat plot. “SMT IV” is a great game for longtime RPG fans, or for beginners to the Megami Tensei franchise.

It should sell well for a good Nintendo 3DS game, but it’s a shame more people won’t play it. Maybe the “SMT” series needs to quit playing it safe when coming up with the next “SMT” game’s design.


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