I just beat the game for the first time almost exactly one week after buying it.
Even if the game didn’t have three endings and two New Game+ modes to chose from I’d play through the game again just for the thrill of it.
The game’s main theme is chosing between Chaos and Order. The two are in constant war with each other and this is apparent throughout the game. In the end I chose Chaos for my first playthrough. Without spoiling the ending, you will start to see the benefits and consequences of your decision immediately after you make it. Before I go further I want to stress that you don’t take the game’s storyline and themes too seriously. Otherwise you might ruin your own experience.
Having said that, the game is rated M for a reason. The game’s fully voiced and overt references to drug use as well as partial nudity with some of the demons you’ll encounter. There are also religious undertones some might consider offensive. If you are one of those kinds of people this game might not be a good choice. Again, the game demands you not take most of its aspects too seriously. For example the entity referred to as God in the game is definitely not the same God you’re thinking of depending on your beliefs. The way the game characterizes many mythical beings from various cultures again demands you not take tbe game too seriously.
Moving on, the game boasts a minimum 30 hours per playthrough. I finished at 35 hours which is about right for someone with my level of RPG playing experience. An interesting thing to note is there is no Game Over if your party is defeated in battle. When you die, you’ll find yourself on the banks of the River Styx (In Greek and Roman Mythology it’s the river the newly dead must cross to go to The Underworld) making a deal with Charon (the boatman who ferries souls to The Underworld) to return to life. For Macca (the game’s currency) or Play Coins he’ll send you back to the place where you died.
The game itself is an interesting past meets present. A third of the game takes place is the Eastern Kingdom is Mikado, which harkens to Feudal Japan. The rest takes place in a fictional version of Tokyo. I’ve never been to Tokyo personally but my understanding is the Tokyo you visit is recognizable to those who’ve been there. For example Shijuku, Shibuya and Kasumigaseki are actual prefectures in Japan as well as the names of boroughs in Tokyo itself.
Aside from the Player Character your team will consist of Demons akin to your party makeup in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World (only in that game your party is filled with monsters). You can recruit the demons you encounter but you’ll need more than sweet words to win them over. Their demands will put most Business Tycoons to shame. A protip: If they ask for Macca or an Item you don’t want to use pick REFUSE. Also, do not give them everything they ask for (Refuse or Cheat). If they leave after taking your Macca you won’t be getting it back! This can make recruiting demons frustrating in the beginning of the game but the general rule of thumb is stagger your answers to their demands for your loyalty.
Do note you can’t recruit demons at a higher level than you (Demons that evolve to higher levels are an exception to the rule). If you win over a demon at a higher level than you, if you’re lucky they’ll call in a buddy at or below their level to take their place. When demons level up they might teach you some of their skills. I would reccommend at least one party heal and a full revive spell as must-haves when the opportunity arises. Also, Binding Needles (AOE damage to all enemies + chance of Paralysis) is your friend. In fact: Binding Needle + Expert Funraisers = Broke Demons!
Overall I gave Shin Megami Tensei IV a 9/10 with the stratedgy guide and an 8/10 without it.
Both times I looked at the booklet included with the game I didn’t have one of my computers readily available. Speaking of the Stratedgy guide: It doesn’t cover the whole game. The help ends with your first encounter with Koga Sabouro, which is about two thirds through the game. In addition to the game and the stratedgy guide you’ll get a Soundtrack CD with 8 songs (I only recongnized 3 of the songs from game personally) on it. That’s why the game costs $50. Oh, and there is DLC. Like Fire Emblem Awakening 3 of them offer repeatable quests for grinding EXP, App Points and Macca. In all thee cases you’re intstantly teleported to a special version of Eastern Shinjuku filled with enemies who drop items to increase one of the three (Macca, EXP or App Points depending on the quest).
As to the question “Is this game worth buying a 3DS for?” my answer is yes. On that note, if you buy this game and you don’t have Fire Emblem Awakening, BUY IT! As I mentioned in my previous blog Nintendo is giving a $30 eShop Credit to anyone who registers both SMT and Awakening on their Club Nintendo account by August 31. After registering both games you will be given a redeem code and directions to add them to your eShop account. For those who are either frugal spenders or only buy eShop cards this is quite a deal. Taking this promotion into consideration you can say you only paid $5 for Fire Emblem Awakening!
Is there another reason for this promotion? Of course: Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem is coming to the Wii U next year. I don’t have a Wii U myself and have no plans of getting one though SMT:IV has gotten me interested in the series!