Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance

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Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance review


More strategy, Less grinding


Shin Megami Tensei is not for the faint of heart. Each mainline game can be described as difficult or unforgiving, leaning heavily in forcing the player to adapt to the game instead of the game adapting to the player. If I wanted to employ an overused adage, I'd say "Shin Megami Tensei is the Dark Souls of JRPGs" because of its reliance on making the player "git gud." Starting off as a monster collecting game on the Famicom a decade before Pokemon, the SMT series has become massively popular, due largely to the success of it's better known spin-off known as the "Persona" series. The Megami Tensei series has taken a bit of a back seat with IV and V only appearing on handheld Nintendo consoles, unlike the plethora of consoles it's more famous cousin has been ported to. Finally after three years, Atlus, the developer of all the Tensei games and their respective spin-offs, have brought V over to other consoles with their new enhanced edition, titled Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance.

If you're wondering how much of this enhanced edition is "new" and how much is "old, but better," it is a combination of both. Even calling Vengeance "enhanced" is a bit of a misnomer. Enhanced seems to imply an upgrade to the base game, essentially the same as before but maybe with better textures and some quality of life improvements. Don't get me wrong, that is here, but where Vengeance really shines is its new storyline. After playing the original SMTV in 2021, I left it feeling mostly satisfied, but a little disappointed by not feeling attached to any characters. The game, in a way, felt lonely, much like its apocalyptic setting. Persona has always been focused on the characters, and Shin Megami Tensei has always been more focused on the demons, so it made sense, but it felt like a missed opportunity. Now, I know I have some fans out there protesting, "Keep Persona out of SMT!" and I'm right there with you. I'm not saying I want a dating/life sim interjected into SMT, I'd just like characters that make me care if they die. What is the point of Apocalypse if there's no one to care about? Vengeance solves my biggest issue by making the side characters more prominent in the game, not only in the story but in combat as well. Depending on the situation, characters can join your roster and fight along side you for a good duration of time.

The most exciting part of Vengeance is the brand new story. Starting off, the game gives players a choice: do you take the hand of the unknown girl even though it could bring ruin, or do you let her be? Let her be and the game goes on as normal, but take her hand and you set off a chain of events that slowly changes everything. If you're familiar with the original SMTV, then you'll be familiar with what happens next – you and other students from your school are in a tunnel when it collapses, then suddenly you wake up in Da'at, a post apocalyptic looking city filled with sand and ruins. An Aogami (a human/android like proto-fiend) finds you and asks to fuse with you to help protect you from all the rampant demons. Fusing turns you into the Nahobino, a god-like warrior with a sword made of light for a right hand. As you progress through the desolate wasteland as normal, a girl appears who wasn't there before and things start to slowly, but surely, change. You don't need to have played the base game to enjoy the new story, but it did elevate my experience by seeing how adding her presence completely altered the trajectory of the story.

Worth fighting for

Combat is the best it has ever been, as per usual it relies on strategy over grinding to level up (although grinding to level up can still help you out of tough situations.) Think of it as a Pokemon made specifically for adults, both thematically and mechanically. Similarly to Pokemon, exploiting weaknesses is the name of the game. Exploiting weaknesses has more than one benefit however: not only does it do considerably more damage, but exploiting a weakness gives you an extra attack, capping off at a possible four extra attacks. Pair that with other exploits like being able to use a "dampener" item to block an incoming attack and your Nahobino (your character) can be a veritable god among devils. Towards the end of the game there are some difficult boss fights. Only once I learned the pattern and stocked myself up on useful items, was I able to beat them, though admittedly it did sometimes take me a few tries. Vengeance gives you the tools, and leaves it up to you to figure out what to do with them.

The only annoyance, and I mean that wholeheartedly, was that it gets a little frustrating fighting a lengthy boss fight, then dying and reloading a save, just to have to sit through cut scenes and dialogue again, just to get back into the fight. It's a minor annoyance, and cut scenes are skippable, but some dialogue just goes on too long. Yes, there's a fast forward but I'd much prefer a skip dialogue option instead. It's such a minor annoyance that it's hardly a problem though. Other than that I had a perfectly smooth time. Vengeance ran great on my Steam Deck and PC, and I had absolutely no bugs or crashes.


There is so much to say about Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance, but I'll spare you all the nitty-gritty details about the improvements, both big and small. If I did, this review would become a novel. What I will say is that if you were on the fence about SMT V, or if you loved it, Vengeance is the best way to go. Not only does it fix issues with the original, but the sheer amount of added content is reason alone to pick up this title. Hopefully, Vengeance will put the Megami Tensei name back in the spotlight, right alongside its spinoff.

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fun score


New Storyline, accessibility, players can save anywhere


Minor annoyances kept me from getting back into the action