Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse Review – Another One
ESRB Rating: M
Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse is in a sense a sequel to the original Shin Megami Tensei IV. It’s in a sense because it’s an alternative take on the neutral path in IV where Flynn decides to take on both Lucifer and Merkabah only for a third faction to come into play – the Divine Powers. They declare that everything will destroyed by the next full moon for the sake of humanities salvation. The difference doesn’t stop there either, in this game you don’t play as humanities Liberator Flynn. Instead you play as a hunter apprentice named Nanashi. On the road to becoming a real hunter, you die only to be revived by a demon by the name of Dagda. In exchange foryour life, Dagda wants you to become his Godslayer since Angels and Demons can only seal each other away.
Being a sequel, the Tokyo you know and love is very much intact. So intact that if you haven’t played the previous entry in a while, it’ll feel like a trip down memory lane as everything is largely the same with all of the Apocalypse content looking a lot better looking than it’s prequel counterpart but that’s pretty few and far in between. You don’t need much knowledge of the previous game’s story as again this is Nanashi’s story and not Flynn’s. That said, on its own, the story told is absolutely fantastic. Nothing lasted too long or too short. There wasn’t any filler mission either as every mission was vital to ending the war. The only real ‘issue’ the story has is that some parts may take you out of the experience because of how nonsensical they are, which is weird since it’s a story that’s very grounded in its own reality.
Apocalypse has made a ton of useful changes to the overall battle system. The Press-Turn system makes an appearance in this game as well. For the unfamiliar think of the normal turn-based battle system but when you land a critical hit or hit a weakness, you gain another turn and gain a chance to Smirk. Smirking allows you a guaranteed critical hit and in some cases, mean you get to go again. That’s not all however as now gaining a Smirk will let some moves gain a new property to them. For instance, the infamous Hamon and Mudo 1HKO spells are just normal magic attacks that deal Light and Dark damage respectively. If a character is smirking though, they have a chance to instantly kill an enemy like how they behaved previously. Beware as the Press-Turn system works both ways so enemies can do the exact same thing to you, and will abuse it if you’re not too careful. Another big shakeup is that you’ll have a variety of extremely competent AI companions with you with their own roles. For instance, I went through I’d say ~80% of the game with the companion whose specialty is just healing. Considering I’m someone who’s very finicky about who to heal and when, this game didn’t let me down. I could attack all I want and not worry about my health knowing that’s already taken care of. Be careful as AI partners can be targeted as well. Not only that, you can’t heal them, or change them during battle so them getting knocked out during battle is all to likely. Knocked out don’t worry as they’ll be out for a few turns only to come back at full health. An extension of the AI partners is the Assist Gauge. When your AI partner takes their turn the gauge fills up a little. Once it’s maxed out your enemies won’t attack that turn as all your companions get the jump on them instead while healing and giving you a slight buff in the process. This change is smaller, but should be noted nonetheless. Recruiting an enemy isn’t as hard as it used to be either as you know longer that to worry about enemies that need the use of a translator and their less likely to take your money and run this time as well. Naturally, something has to give, and if they aren’t taking your stuff to join your team, they’re ready to put up a fight.
Once you’ve befriended an enemy and it’s in your party, that enemy won’t attack you anymore if you talk to it. But, gaining enemy from talking to them is boring and doesn’t help much. The best way to go about things is to fuse them together to make an even more powerful one. Fused enemies have the benefit of potentially having moves used in the fusion as well as their own moves as it all depends on what moves you decide to keep. You can only befriend and create fused enemies that are your level or lower. The game does provide you with a way to get fused demons of higher loves however as you progress through the game.
In conclusion, the only real thing that bogs the game down are hidden traps laid out in areas. The entire game stops only for you to mash X to escape. It’s annoying and adds nothing to the game whatsoever. The only other thing is really just a nitpick as your companion will constantly complain that the enemies are too tough despite being either the same level or just a couple of levels higher than you. Which honestly isn’t the case. Normal enemies won’t be an issue, however bosses as usual in SMT games are a league of their own and can take you down quite easily if you’re ill-equipped. Other than that, and some parts of the story, just about everything else in this game is absolutely spot-on. When Atlus said they wanted to make this the best RPG on the 3DS they absolutely meant it. This is easily in the upper-echelon of that genre on the platform.
+Challenging yet fair
-Story becomes a little too unbelievable at times
-Traps are everywhere and just mess up the pacing