Shin Megami Tensei IV Has A Convincing World That Pulls You In

By Laura . July 10, 2013 . 9:00am

The Gauntlet Rites are a trial of adulthood. The year anyone in or near the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado turns 18, they travel into Mikado Castle to stand in a stifling line as they wait their turn.

 

The main hero (default name is Flynn) and Issachar, his best friend, are two such people. Issachar has always been looking forward to moving out of Casualry life—the social caste of herders and workers—and becoming a Samurai. Samurai are chosen from either Casualry or Luxuror backgrounds—the latter being the social caste of the aristocrats.

 

The Gauntlet, an aptly named machine that fits over the user’s wrist indiscriminately decides those worthy of being Samurai. Usually, the Gauntlet lies dead and silent, but when the right user appears, a “mystic script” appears on the Gauntlet’s digital screen and comes to life. After someone becomes a Samurai, they live within the castle and are treated to a life of comfort.

 

Despite the fact that in the past few years, no new Samurai have been chosen, Issachar hasn’t let his hopes sink. Unfortunately, as things would turn out, being a Samurai isn’t part of his fate. Flynn, your character, is chosen to be a Samurai. Issachar, sadly, is not.

 

Issachar left behind, Flynn is then escorted to meet the other newly-chosen Samurai. Walter is the only other person of a Casualry background to be chosen. He’s an outgoing, rough-around-the-edges type who’s nevertheless friendly. Meanwhile, Jonathan is a mellow Luxorer who extends a hand of friendship to Flynn and Walter despite their different statuses. Isabeau is the only female of the group. She’s reliable and has a stoic personality, but provides some humor as the others attempt to make her break her cool.

 

Finally, Navarre is unfortunately probably what most Luxurors are like—condescending towards the Casualry and someone that was already living the easy life prior to being chosen to be a Samurai.

 

Despite his age, their commander, Hope, has a commanding presence. He may be strict, but he also cares for his subordinates. It is when he first meets them that he introduces the group to their task as Samurai—to fight the demons that wander in Naraku, a sprawling dungeon with many levels going deep beneath Mikado. This knowledge has always been kept secret, but before it has a chance to really sink in, Flynn and the others are given their first task.

 

With the help of Burroughs, an AI that exists inside the Gauntlet, the group journeys into Naraku to both fight and befriend the demons in order to protect the citizens of Mikado, Luxuror and Casualry alike.

 

Shin Megami Tensei IV has a very solid world and history that it builds upon. In this game, unlike its predecessors, you’re treated to a world different from the one we live in. In previous games, one would start out in our world before something happens that irrevocably changes it. In Shin Megami Tensei IV, you start out in an established kingdom ruled by a King and a monastery of Priests with the Samurai as their army against the demons.

 

Essentially, while in previous games we started out in a “Chaos” setting, in this game, I feel like we start out in a “Law” setting. While I’ve never been sympathetic toward the Law side of events in Shin Megami Tensei games, I’m much more conflicted now that I’ve been introduced to a world that… well, isn’t utterly destroyed and desolate.

 

Shin Megami Tensei IV’s cast of characters is vivid, too. Their portraits are well-drawn and their voices portray their emotions well. I love how the AI Burroughs also seems to have her own personality. Their interactions are a pretty large focus of the game, and anything that happens to the characters feels more real than if they weren’t as developed. While I feel that the writing is sometimes inconsistent in terms of word choice, ultimately the game is very well-written and doesn’t come across as stiff.

 

The characters aren’t the only “people” with personalities, though. The demons are also all very unique. Each one is voiced (not with unique voices, mind you; that would be a lot of voices) and they taunt and growl at you as you negotiate with them or fight them. They each have their own personality when they talk, complete with different capitalization patterns in their text and speech patterns. It’s the kind of thing you can only do in a videogame.

 

I also like how, if you choose to talk to a demon, their portrait appears onscreen rather than just having their sprite highlighted in the distance.

 

Shin Megami Tensei IV’s music fits perfectly with the locations and atmosphere of the game, too. While it is definitely a different feel than Shoji Meguro’s music, the game itself also has a different atmosphere from previous Shin Megami Tensei games, so I felt it worked perfectly. Ultimately, all of these things come together to give Shin Megami Tensei IV a cohesive setting and story, which is one of the game’s strongest points.

 

From here on, we’ll gradually be explaining various aspects of the game. Keep in mind that some aspects we won’t be covering completely because I haven’t fully unlocked them yet, but hopefully this series of articles will give provide further insight into Shin Megami Tensei IV. Stay tuned for more of our ongoing coverage!


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  • Romancer Ecclesia

    Looks awesome, but I can’t play it. Now I know how the non-vita owners feel when they wanted Persona 4 Golden. (;へ:)

    • Dust Huynh

      Earlier this year, I had a choice between PS Vita or 3DS with my limited budget…Main attraction for the PS Vita was Persona 4 Golden, but 3DS just had way too many games coming out luckily this year. I made a good choice since 2013DS. X D

      • JuhRo

        I was put into that same position… but I wound up buying the Vita for 180$ with a 32 GB card… and then finding a regular 3DS for 50$. So… Luck of the draw for me.
        Enjoyed P4G in March/April and looking forward to finishing FEA, SMT4, loving Pokemon, as well as Killzone, Ys, Tearaway, Dragon’s crown..
        People complaining “ports ports ports!” are actually helping me out by saying what games I haven’t played and can now play on a portable.. loving the Jak trilogy, and Disgaea 3, and Atelier Totori

        Definitely prefer my Vita’s controls and overall feel of the console, but I needed to be not excluded from exclusives…

        I want Golden Sun, though…

      • AlexanderPappas

        2013DS? I like the sound of that.

    • Fidelis

      This should actually be a worse feeling for you since golden was a port and this will be completely new game..

    • RisukuAozora

      P4G was a simplified, easier Persona 4. Too much of a fanservice game really. Not like it was bad, far from it, but still, don’t feel too jealous for those that have a Vita and P4G. Especially with the drought Vita’s been in for a while.

  • Yui

    I’m not convinced, and haven’t been for a long time now. Nocturne had a convincing world. SMT2 did as well (SMT1, not so much). Even Strange Journey’s Schwarzwelt was beautifully constructed and full of wonder. Everything I’ve seen and heard about SMT4 up until now continues to put me off, and I’m having a hard time justifying it to myself, which is sad. As a longtime series fan, watching Atlus move further and further in this direction towards more dull fantasy worlds and stagnant corporatism is distressing.

    • Teddy

      If you think SMTIV is in a fantasy setting, you’re actually completely wrong. Notice how the article says that the game “starts” in that setting. That’s all I’ll say. If anything, the biggest marketing mistake of ATLUS is pushing Mikado so hard when it’s actually one of the smallest parts of the game.

      • Yui

        If it changes later on, then that’s all well and good – I’ve taken great pains to avoid anything that might be considered a spoiler regarding the game. I still don’t think that what I’ve seen of the setting is altogether impressive, and the fact that the elements of the game that I’ve been exposed to most are the fantasy elements is still evidence enough to be offputting.

        • http://terracannon876.livejournal.com Laura

          There is a reason for that lack… Everything that isn’t fantasy can be strictly classified as a spoiler.

          Judging from what you said above, I think you’ll like the game after enduring the first … hm … 1/10 of the game? That sounds about right.

          …This is hard to do while being as vague as possible ><

        • Shane Guidaboni

          If you’ve always enjoyed SMT, then don’t judge this game until you play it.

      • http://terracannon876.livejournal.com Laura

        I went in knowing nothing, and I felt like a trout had slapped my face. I wanted to share that feeling with everyone o/

        • Thom

          Mmm. Troutslap.

    • Fidelis

      Schwarzwelt was probably the most interesting and immersive world in the SMT franchise, imo. It was just wonderful
      SMT III’s world wasn’t all that great..A barren wasteland with souls scattered all over and two warring factions and a relatively peaceful tribe of manikins who are just trying to stay out of it..it’s not really too much of a great setting. Don’t get me wrong, the game was great, but I feel like it had the most simplified setting of the series. And to make matters worse in that game, the designated “law” and “chaos” heroes (Or…the closest thing in the game to them..the girl’s reason comes really close to the usual SMT chaos alignment) were really flat characters, and an interview I read said that they were intentionally made that way so the player could give them background.
      I’m just looking forward to seeing fleshed out characters again in a SMT game. Strange Journey had great characters and the game really prospered from it.

      • Yui

        We’ll have to agree to disagree. The Vortex World is one of my favourite settings in this medium just for its uniqueness and coherence. Everything about it fit thematically and its sparse nature only served to enhance it. There are very few other settings I’ve ever been so enamoured of.

  • mojack411

    I was about to read the article but then I realized it was actually going to give me details on setting and a little more plot. I want to go into this relatively clean since Atlus has been so dedicated to keeping tight-lipped about the whole thing. It must be very special so I wanna play the game how they intended us to play it.

    • http://terracannon876.livejournal.com Laura

      I tried to keep it as spoiler free as possible (everything here is what’s revealed within the first 5 minutes), but I do understand the need to keep yourself free of plot spoilers ;)

      • mojack411

        And I’m sure it was written extremely well like all the articles here ;) Less than a week until I can experience all this first hand without relying on articles xD

  • darkfox1

    Laura making me even more hype!! AAAAaaa help!

    • http://terracannon876.livejournal.com Laura

      PH33R ME FOR I AM THE HYPE MONSTER RAWR

  • Tom_Phoenix

    I have a question for Laura…how is the voice acting in this game?

    Atlus games tend to have very good voice acting (even if they do end up using the same voice actors frequently), but the performances that have been showcased in the trailers so far were…..well, they were by no means bad, but I wouldn’t consider them stellar either. So I’m wondering how is it while playing the actual game.

    • http://terracannon876.livejournal.com Laura

      I wouldn’t consider them stellar, but they’re solid to great. I love the demon voices (most of them) and I like … well, I like all the voices but sometimes the acting is a bit superficial at times. Overall, though, they’re pretty good.

      • PersonaSpace

        I’m sure nothing will ever meet the majesty of original Chie’s “ahaisthisourchance”

      • shuyai

        so i take it english voice only?

  • Lubulos

    Aaaaah I must not read! I’ll leave siliconera until the game comes out here in Europe.

    • Ying

      Or you could just skip these articles ^^;?

  • Strid

    Shin Megami Tensei IV Has A Convincing World That Pulls You In…

    …and DLC that keeps me far away from it.

    • celery

      Did the DLC keep you away from Fire Emblem, too? Because they’re basically the same kind of DLC–not bad at all. It’s a shame you’re letting that prevent you from getting such a good game.

      • Strid

        No, I do not and never will own FE: Awakening. Good games do not need DLC, much less DLC that thinks everyone should be able to win the game. Past that, I’m not entirely hurting for good games at this point.

        This is how you make a damn video game:

        http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2013/07/hideki_kamiya_believes_the_wonderful_101_wont_need_dlc

        • RisukuAozora

          So this is basically the “When game releases DLC, it is not a complete product” argument, right? I’m not in complete disagreement, but avoiding a game because it has DLC? o.O’

          • Strid

            No, for SMT IV it’s the idea that the developers think that everyone should be able to “win” their game, that’s why their DLC has some of the mechanics in it that it does. I think that’s crap. I think if someone doesn’t have time to play a game, the skill to beat it, etc. etc., they need to go do something within their capacity and stop tainting my hobby. I don’t show up on the basketball court and expect to be good at it nor do I demand the rules be bent to accommodate me, why should video games be any different?

            Games made to accommodate the “lesser gamer” [for lack of a better blanket term], it can’t be a good game, period, and clearly, SMT IV is that type of game.

          • Tyler Sedrick

            Hey there is a way around this for you can own games with DLC it’s called don’t buy the DLC Most games now a days have DLC You must not like to play a lot of games then.

          • Strid

            I do like to play a lot of games, just not a lot of bad ones, like we have this generation. I’m nowhere close to hurting for good games to play.

          • RisukuAozora

            Lemme try and break down Strid’s argument and counter it.

            -”…for SMT IV… developers think that everyone
            should be able to “win” their game, that’s why their DLC has…
            mechanics in it that it does.”
            – Except only 1 DLC has that aspect. The rest are bonus quests that can only be beaten at the highest levels. Also DLC is optional.

            -”I think if someone doesn’t have time to play a game, …etc… they need to go do something within their capacity and stop tainting my hobby.”
            –Time isn’t something everyone has. Should opportunities for people be denied because they lack time? That’s unfair. “Tainting my hobby” is rather elitist sounding to boot.

            -”Games made to accommodate the “lesser gamer”… can’t be a good game… and… SMT IV is
            that type of game.”
            –Replace the word gamer with person, and hopefully you see how insulting it sounds. Also, SMT IV can be rather unforgiving, so it really ISN’T that type of game. And what’s wrong with that type of game anyway?

            tl;dr… SMT IV (nor any game) should not be judged for their DLC alone. Games are more than their DLC and they deserved to be viewed as such.

          • Strid

            “Except only 1 DLC has that aspect.”
            -One is enough.

            “Time isn’t something everyone has.”
            -Right, they do not, and that’s life – it’s also fine. I don’t have time to be good at basketball, so I do not play basketball, at the very least, if I do, I do not expect to be good at it. Again I ask, why should games be any different than anything else in life?

            “Replace the word gamer with person, and hopefully you see how insulting it sounds.”
            -Good, these “people” have corrupted something I love. They can all go eat a bag of butts for all I care. I don’t show up at their prime events and demand to be catered to, I wont accept them doing it to mine.

            “SMT IV (nor any game) should not be judged for their DLC alone. Games
            are more than their DLC and they deserved to be viewed as such.”
            -Yes, they really should be. If your parents were ever worth a flip, then you’ve heard at least once, “stay away from that kid, they’re trouble” and It’s similar here. The mindset that made this DLC, that made the game “for everyone”, also made the “core” game and obviously wanted everyone to be able to win, therefore, the game is not for me, not now, not ever. That there is “I win” DLC alone is all it takes as I want nothing to do with tainting my hobby; you “people” do enough of that as it is.

          • RisukuAozora

            Welp, here we go again, I guess.

            “One is enough.”

            – So,1 optional thing ruins something for you? Wow, ok… must’ve not taken a lot of roads in life.

            “That’s life. I don’t have time to be good at basketball, so I do not expect to be good at it. …why should games be any different than anything else in life?”

            –I’m not saying games should be. But as opposed to simply just being a sport, it is also a business at its core. Game companies NEED to draw more people in as to make their monies, and to some, the DLC may just be the draw (I honestly doubt it tho). Also, what’s your deal with bring up B-Ball? Did a couple of guys who were up to no good started making trouble in your neighborhood?

            “…These “people”… corrupted something I love. They can all go eat a bag of butts for all I care. I don’t show up at their prime events and demand to be catered to.”

            –Geez, you’re being quite pretentious. Saying people can eat bags of butts? In addition, I don’t think people actually demanded “WE NEED A LEVEL UP DLC” at all. It was ATLUS’s decision, if anything, I think.

            “…If your parents were ever worth a flip, then you’ve heard at least once, “stay away from that kid, they’re trouble”. That mindset that made this DLC… made the game “for everyone”, also made the “core” game and obviously wanted everyone to be able to win, therefore, the game is not for me, not now, not ever. That there is “I win” DLC alone is all it takes as I want nothing to do with tainting my hobby; you “people” do enough of that as it is.”

            –You brought in my parents into this?! Whyl? Continuing on… Is there a problem with making games more accessible to others? Also, now you’re saying ‘you “people”? You’re insulting this great community by saying that, you know. And we taint your hobby? Well, you’re not the center of the universe, too bad. I’m not a big fan of DLC either, but to shun a game for having DLC… it’s a little silly.

            I just hope Strid doesn’t decide to counter me again, because honestly, there are better uses of time and server space than us crossing blows. Dammit, could’ve been playing some Animal Crossing too… =.=’

        • Suicunesol

          So if you buy the Wonderful 101, enjoy it, and then later some DLC is announced for it, what will happen to your opinion?

          • Strid

            That I made a mistake, buying a product that got DLC under the assumption that it would have none. Shit happens, if I can avoid it I do, if not, I deal with it.

  • ShawnOtakuSomething

    Its killing me!!! !!! not reading this! *reads anyway* ugh!! can’t wait.my body been ready since last year

  • Guilherme Matheus Silva

    Still don’t now if i should preorder it or download via eshop…

    • Thom

      The pre-order box set is what sealed the deal for me. That and my habit of owning hard copies of as many SMT games as I can get my hands on.

      • Guilherme Matheus Silva

        Well, I plan preordering a common version with just the game. =]

  • AndyLC

    Sounds fantastic!

  • Strid

    “Not to mention, you’re kind of being a pretentious dick and not really worth my time.”
    –Obviously I am because here you are, writing stuff. As for the dick part, that’s fine and all, but realize something at the very least, I’m not the asshole that is barging into my grandmother’s knitting club demanding that knitting be made for everyone.

    “Should people be judged simply because they have one simple thing wrong with them?”
    –Depends on what it is.

    “why should games be any different than anything else in life”
    –If someone would answer that question already… that’d be lovely because I’m dying to know why they are.

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