August 2021 will be a damn poor month for what concerns the made in Japan. However, JRPG fans will be able to make up for it as early as the following month, when a long roundup of rather interesting titles will begin to crowd the stores. If in September we will see the debut of the highly anticipated Tales of Arise, followed by Astria Ascending (for all the details of his new game by the writer of Final Fantasy VII Remake and Kingdom Hearts see our preview of Astria Ascending) and the Nintendo Switch version of Ni no Kuni II: The Destiny of a Kingdom, in October it will be the turn of Mary Skelter Finale and The Caligula Effect 2, while in November the task of delighting us will be up to Blue Reflection: Second Light and Shin Megami Tensei V.
Announced back in 2017, for a long time the fifth numbered episode of the Atlus brand remained far from our radar, inevitably leading us to fear for the fate of the project. Just as we began to resign ourselves to the idea of being able to play it during the current year, Atlus instead took fans by surprise, revealing that the new exclusive for Nintendo Switch will debut simultaneously in the world in mid-autumn. To pass the wait and better understand the potential of the product, we have therefore collected the information disclosed so far by the publisher.
The birth of being blasphemous
With the approach of the launch date of Shin Megami Tensei V, which is currently set for next November 12, the western division of Atlus has become somewhat talkative, finally disclosing a plethora of details about the plot and the protagonist of the story online. .
According to what has been learned, the protagonist of the story – again mute and without a default name – is a third year high school student at the prestigious Jouin Academy. Together with his classmates and other residents of the dormitory in which he resides, he leads a peaceful and relaxed existence, but his carefree days are coming to an end. After leaving school, the young man discovers that Shinagawa Station (one of Tokyo’s main railway stations) has been temporarily closed due to a brutal murder, which is why, instead of giving up and waiting for it to reopen, he tries to cross a nearby tunnel, hoping to find an alternative way to rejoin his friends and go home. Reaching the underpass, however, it suddenly collapses and buries the unfortunate student, who upon awakening he finds himself in a different version of Tokyo and now submerged by the desert. Bewildered by the experience he had just lived and not understanding what happened to the city, the protagonist is also attacked by a handful of horrifying creatures willing to kill him, from which he manages to escape only thanks to the intervention of a mysterious man who invites him to grab his hand.
Once in contact, however, the student with a passion for reading and the muscular Aogami they merge into a single being: a feared and blasphemous creature that takes the name of “Nahobino”. Inheriting some traits of the two original individuals, such as the face of the first and the handsome physique of the second, the being born from the merger is discovered in possession of such extraordinary powers as to allow him to stand up to and even annihilate demons.
Wandering through the ruins of Tokyo, he discovers that he has ended up in a post-apocalyptic world called Da’at, where dragons, angels, demons and countless deities belonging to different pantheons battle to survive and prevail over others. In search of answers about the fate of Tokyo and the meaning of being a Nahobino, the protagonist will then find himself involved in the war that will decide the fate of the world.
A city to protect
If we initially thought that the mild-mannered student of the Jouin Academy would be the only human being involved in the affair, the most recent story trailer by Shin Megami Tensei V has instead confirmed the exact opposite. Led by the Prime Minister of Japan, Hayao Koshimizu, who in the new world will take command of the Japanese division of the “Bethel” organization, the protagonist’s classmates and several other inhabitants of the original Tokyo will also give their contribution to unravel the mysteries related to the uncivilized reality of Da’at. With good reason, the Nahobino will have to do whatever it takes to protect the city and ensure the survival of mankind.
Anyone who has played the third incarnation of the series, perhaps through its recent re-release (otherwise see our review of Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne HD Remaster), will find several similarities with the plot of the fifth episode, starting with the radical transformation of the protagonist. . However, where the hero of Shin Megami Tensei III acquired demonic powers, becoming in effect a “Half-Devil”, the appearance of the Nahobino suggests instead that the protagonist of SMT V he will gain angelic powers instead.
Not only is the elegant character with thick blue hair surrounded by a luminous aura, but the design of the mysterious Aogami suggests that he is an angel. Keeping in mind that even after the fusion the individual will continue to converse with the student, who instead will have total control of the Nahobino’s body, we can’t wait to deepen the bond between the two characters and to understand if the result of their union can join multiple factions, resulting in possible different endings depending on the choices made along the way.
Hunting for demons, again
Moving on to the playful level, SMT V will see the return of the tested Press Turn Battle System already admired starting from the third episode, but which for the occasion will be supported by a renewed and decidedly more intuitive user interface.
However, let’s start our analysis by specifying that the clashes will not be random, but as happened in SMT IV and IV: Apocalypse (for all the details on the sequel to the fourth episode see the review of Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse), the battles will start whenever the character controlled by the player comes into contact with enemies clearly visible on the game map. In this regard, Atlus explained that the world of Da’at will be populated by creatures of all kinds, which is why we may come across demons of tiny dimensions, such as the Pixies, or perhaps in colossal beings comparable to real mountains and own. Between new monsters and unpublished enemies, which also in this round will boast the historic character design of Masayuki Doi, the bestiary should include more than 200 items: a very respectable goal, which in every area could put us in front of always different challenges and adversaries.
Strictly turn-based, the combat system will allow us to field a maximum of four units, including Nahobino, which they will gain extra turns every time they exploit an elemental weakness of the challengers. As happens for example in Persona 5 and its re-release (by the way, here you can find the review of Persona 5 Royal), the opponents will also enjoy the same advantage, which consequently can often reverse the course of a fight.
When forming your own party, therefore, it will be essential to choose followers with different weaknesses, in order to obtain a balanced team able to resist a minimum in any situation. In addition to standard attacks and elemental spells, which will change from companion to companion, in SMT V the player will be able to count on the so-called “Magatsuhi Abilities”, which can only be used after filling the appropriate bar in the upper right corner screen.
Once filled, this will allow a member of the team to unleash their own special technique, which depending on the demon it will result in a frighteningly powerful attack or perhaps a support / healing spell. Also in this case it will be necessary to keep in mind that even enemies will have access to it, forcing users to be very careful and choose their moves with a pinch of strategy.
Speaking of demons, as you have certainly guessed even in SMT V it will be possible to recruit opponents and add them to the party, which will offer players thousands of different combinations with which to modify their starting lineup. During the fight, therefore, the enemies impressed by the strength of the Nahobino and his companions will propose to welcome them in the team, but alternatively an item placed in the drop-down menu will allow the avatar to spend his turn in an attempt to convince the opponent selected to join his cause. Therefore, as happened in the other titles of the brand, during the negotiation phases it will be of vital importance give the right answers and win the sympathy of the desired monster. An operation that, given the presence of multiple answers, generally requires several attempts and can even become a little nerve-wracking.
Unfortunately, it is the technical sector that has not impressed us very much. Although Shin Megami Tensei V is the first Atlus game developed in Unreal Engine 4, the final yield of the product has not yet been able to fully satisfy our palates, also due to excessive aliasing that could become somewhat problematic, especially in handheld mode. On the other hand, the polygonal models are characterized by a surprising level of detail, when compared to those of past episodes, and by an accentuated color palette. On the contrary, the textures still seem too spartan, giving rise to very square and not very imaginative architectures.
If we postpone any judgment on the sound accompaniment, we greatly appreciated Atlus’s decision to make use of Japanese voice actors of a certain fame and talent. The cast in fact involves, among others, Saori Hayami (Shinobu Kocho in Demon Slayer, Yumeko Jabami in Kakegurui), Kaito Ishikawa (Naofumi Iwatani in The Rising of the Shield Hero) and Kenjiro Tsuda (Zaveid in Tales of Zestiria the X, Jigen in Boruto: Naruto the Next Generations), which will surely give us amazing performances. However, the title will also include an English dubbed track, while the texts will be localized in Italian, to the delight of those who do not chew the English-speaking language.