Shin Megami Tensei IV Really Shines Once You Reach Tokyo

By Laura . July 12, 2013 . 10:30am

Mikado, of course, is just one kingdom, and Shin Megami Tensei IV would hardly be an adventure if Flynn and the others didn’t venture outside of the tiny castle.  While you’re in Mikado, the game usually has you select where you want to go from a menu—you don’t walk around the streets yourself and see the wonders of your surroundings, which is a bit of a disappointment.


You can talk to the people by selecting them from the screen, and they appear as sprites in front of you. Meanwhile, in dungeons such as Naraku or the forest outside of Mikado Kingdom, you walk around as Flynn, interacting with the world around you through climbing, crawling, and whacking enemies over the head with a spear or sword.

(Note: Screenshot in Japanese, but we’re playing the U.S. version.)


All of this changes once you reach Tokyo, which is where the game really takes off.


In Tokyo, you don’t have a clean menu to select your destinations from. Tokyo is a deserted urban forest of crumbling buildings and puddles of miasma, roaming with Hunters out for themselves and a few ordinary people struggling to survive. Here, in no-man’s land, you move from area to area as an icon on a large map. The icon moves quickly, and you aren’t locked to a grid. Locations are marked, as are relic gathering points and points of interest.


Enemies also appear on the map, and they will chase you if you get too close. Unfortunately, because you’re just a small person-shaped icon, you don’t have a weapon to hit the enemy with, so you’ll have to rely on luck and hope that they don’t ambush you.


Once you reach an area on the map that you can enter, you then switch to the third-person view that we’ve seen, and run around as Flynn. This is how you’ll be doing the majority of your exploration. These areas that you run around in can’t strictly be classified as “dungeons” either. They’re streets. They’re dilapidated apartment buildings. They’re offices. They’re communities with people trying to rebuild their lives. Effectively, Shin Megami Tensei IV combines the idea of dungeons and regular areas to explore in Tokyo, and this is where the game really shines.


Taking advantage of or overseeing the people of Tokyo (depending on how you look at it), in one region are gangsters, armed to the teeth with firearms. In another, people have decided to live out “survival of the fittest” with religious zeal, with only the strong able to enter their community. Tokyo is still separated into many regions and is referred to as such. It doesn’t seem like there’s a detailed map of Tokyo provided with the game, so you’ll probably have to pay attention to the region names as they appear on the bottom of the screen. These names will be important for quest locations, since certain enemies and items only appear in designated places.


These quests, too, add to the atmosphere of Shin Megami Tensei IV, as people begin asking for items like meat or light bulbs for electricity.  Sometimes, you can cooperate with the Hunters to take out a dangerous demon. Relics become more common, as household items can be picked up and sold at stores since they’re in such dearth.


On the map, because your goal is to simply “explore and search,” there isn’t a designated target location, and this very much enhances the feeling of exploration, albeit in a rather depressing environment. You have a large area to travel around in before you hit roadblocks, and even these are placed rather far away. You could go north into a desert-like area, or you could head south and west into swamps that will poison you and more urban scenery filled with demons.


Once you reach these areas and switch to Flynn in third-person, the web of usable paths is fairly extensive, and there are many treasures to loot and places to see. Sometimes, Flynn will even come across a hubbub of people, such as in Ueno or Shinjuku. You’ll travel through just like through any dungeon, so you can fully experience the atmosphere, and again, this is Shin Megami Tensei IV mixing the concept of a dungeon with a regular area. You’ll even find Bars where you can heal or check up on quests, stores to buy items and weapons, and a Terminal, with which you can travel instantly between locations and Mikado.


Back to the map. The map is huge. Furthermore, on the map, rather than physical boundaries, you’re more likely to be hindered by the limitations of your party.  The enemies start becoming stronger and stronger in certain districts, and after a while, it’s just smarter to turn back.  Alternatively, you could even just train in these areas rather than avoid them, if you’re feeling daring.


Tokyo has such a different feel, not only in its dark, dreary design, but also with its lack of boundaries. While you are still being watched over by the Priests back in Mikado, such a tenuous link hardly feels real. Tokyo becomes accessible about 1/10th of the way into the game, so luckily, you won’t have long to wait until you can begin exploring it.


Of course, there is an ultimate reason you’re in Tokyo, but that would be giving too much away. What’s important is that you are in Tokyo, and there is no one there with you except your fellow Samurai and your demons. You’ll need to fend for yourself.


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  • Let’s spoil the game a little more before it gets released.

    • Or you could, you know, not read the article. :)

      • I didn’t read it. But kind of hard to avoid the article title on Twitter and the front page.

        Maybe next time avoid spoilers in titles, huh?

        • Are you talking about Tokyo? Because every Shin Megami Tensei game takes place in Tokyo. That’s kind of the point. :P

          • Right, because there’s no one new to the franchise. If it’s such common knowledge it would be in the marketing.

          • It is. Watch the trailers. There’s mentions of Tokyo districts and other references in several of them.

          • Ferrick

            they have been mentioning about tokyo since the first trailer… where have you been all these time

          • RisukuAozora

            I think Atlus assumes fans are intelligent enough to look some things up? Could be why it’s called IV even tho 1 & 2 didn’t make it across the border.

        • Lord Búho

          I’ve never played a mainline SMT and preordered this, I’m not bothered in the slightless by this article, I don’t mind knowing most of it takes place in Tokio and I don’t see how it would spoil anyone’s experience with the game, you’re just nitpicking.

        • mojack411

          The very first video that was released for this game way back when that I watched had Tokyo in it. Atlus has also mentioned Tokyo numerous times in their reports, although not why you’re there, which this article thankfully doesn’t say. It’s not a big secret at all. It’s like saying Dexter is a serial killer to someone who is about to start Dexter.

          And I don’t think the kind of person to buy this game would be the kind to not have watched or read anything about the game at all.

        • CrimsonDX

          Tokyo is mentioned on the official game site, so it is not a spoiler that you eventually go there.

      • But I like reading the articles :<

      • Fidelis

        I’d appreciate the author being a bit more discrete with the titles and icons

    • Ok, now Atlus is just trolling me. -_-;

  • mojack411

    Stop it Laura you’re killing me! These articles are making my hype go through the roof!

    • I’m uh … sorry. Reeeeally really sorry. But you’re better off leaving that roof unfixed because it’s probably not going to go down for a week ^^;

    • Ric Vazquez

      Agreed, I-CAN’T-WAIT!

  • ThatOneGuy

    Just a few more days. :D

    • Ric Vazquez

      I know that feel

  • I keep cliking these links but yet i never read the article i want to go in blind but my curiosity is making it hard to do so

  • ragingmerifes

    Also, Tokyo has dat battle theme.

  • kaizin

    it just keeps sounding better and better I love having the feeling of unlimited exploration and I always try and look everywhere I can when i play these types of dungeon crawler rpgs glad to see that i wont feel that much bounded. hurry up next week me and my wallet are ready >.<

  • resuri

    I really can’t wait! Only a few days to go! I see that the explorations aspects is almost the same with P3P. :) I’m a bit sad that there’s a lack of exploration on the castle itself though but I could live with that. :)

    • Ric Vazquez

      I know what you mean, what a bummer, I wanted to explore the samurai castle too (who doesn’t want to explore a samurai castle?!)

  • Notquitesure?

    Looks great.

  • celery

    I never thought I’d want the weekend to go by quickly but can it be the 16th now?

  • Meily

    My seller managed to get really early copies of the game from his local distributor and so I got mine 3 days early! :D The book included with the boxset is amazing. Haven’t opened the soundtrack CD yet though. Loving the game so far, the dungeons are quite entertaining once you get the Mapper app for your Gauntlet and work out how to use shortcuts (I was a bit slow in that respect… sigh). I’ve forgotten how annoying demon negotiations could be, though. Sometimes the demons run away after I give them stuff… -___-;

    • RisukuAozora

      Dang it, you’re lucky. I haven’t dropped by my Gamestop yet, but seriously, how is everyone getting their copies so early?

      • Meily

        Maybe the shipments arrive faster to different countries? I’m not in the US myself. But I think selling the games early to his buyers is my seller’s personal initiative – I think major stores would probably hold back the stock and honor the official release date.

        I mean, I tried redeeming my included Club Nintendo code for the free $30 eShop credit but the site won’t accept it, saying the code is actually for an unreleased game. Guess I’ll have to wait till July 16th to claim the credit. :P

        • RisukuAozora

          Hm, well at any rate, I’m glad you’re enjoying the game and the rest of us will be joining on the fun soon enough. :)

  • Guest

    I need to get this game. I haven’t had time to go preorder, but I hope I can get my hands on a copy!

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