Just as the main character in Shin Megami Tensei IV is highly customizable, so are the demons. The Cathedral of Shadows is back as one of Burroughs’ Apps, complete with a strange AI avatar in the form of the pixilated head of an old man that goes by the name of Mido. Mido functions as your guide as you go through the absolutely essential process of fusing demons.
Demon fusing is essentially the same. You take two demons, fuse them, and a new demon pops out. The new demon inherits some skills from the old demons, though it will have its own strengths and weaknesses.
The moment you open the “Mido” App from the main menu, the eponymous avatar greets you in an overly amused yet slightly ominous voice on the top screen. On the bottom, a list of three equations appear. These “equations” of “Demon A + Demon B = New Demon” are Mido’s recommended fusions—fusions that are both new to your Compendium and the highest possible levels you can fuse. This list is especially handy for people who want to clean out their roster quick and don’t much care for what skills your demon will get. Just two presses of the A button will get you a new, powerful demon.
However, for the more discerning, there is the Fusion option at the bottom of the screen. Here, you can select to Search for your fusions, or you can just select predetermined Special Fusions that use three or more demons.
For normal Fusion, you’re taken to a query screen, and here’s where things get interesting. Previously, you would just select two demons to fuse, probably by searching for possibilities by selecting one demon first. This can be done in the first query, “Demon to Include.” You select one demon and Mido gives you all possible fusions using that one demon. After that, however, you get various other options, such as “Demon to Exclude” (you can select one), “Top 10” (like the Recommended Fusions from the top screen, except more), and “New Demons Only”. This allows you to customize and easily search for the kind of fusion you want, especially if you’re looking to fill up that Compendium.
However, there are even more options after that. From there, you can even search for possible fusions by Race, demon name, Skill type (all possible fusions from any demon with a certain skill type), Skill name, and Affinities (including resistance skills like Resist Gun). For example, if I want a demon with Bufu, Mido will list out every demon that learns Bufu naturally as well as any demon that can be fused from a demon that knows Bufu (because the skill can be inherited). It’s extremely handy.
Finally, the last two options you are given are “Include Compendium,” which the game admits will take some time to calculate, and “Exclude Element Race” (the family of demons that result when you fuse two of the same Race of demons together, I believe).
Phew. That’s a lot of options. There is, of course, the option of not using any options. Mido will just list out every possible demon you can fuse from every combination of your team. He makes things so easy.
Meanwhile, Special Fusions must be unlocked. Possible Fusions appear on the list when you have at least one demon “ingredient” in your Compendium, but they are only unlocked when you have all of them. An interesting factor of the Special Fusions is that you can summon demons directly from your Compendium. The game nicely shows you just how much Macca you need to pay to summon all the demons you need. (Tip: It’s better to just take the hike and find the demons yourself if possible because you’re most likely going to be dirt poor…)
For both normal and Special Fusions, sometimes, you have to defeat the demon in battle first. For example, you must fight Ares before you are allowed to fuse him. The same can be said of powerful boss monsters, either from Challenge Quests or ones you encounter through the story. Odin is one example of this.
Another essential aspect of demon fusion is Skill inheritance. Rather than relying on luck or demon affinity, Shin Megami Tensei IV allows you to choose each demon’s inherited Skill set manually. This means that if you want a physical-oriented demon to inherit a magic skill for later fusion purposes, you can do so easily without tedious reselection of the same two demons over and over again. You can also pass down skills for Demon Whisper to upgrade Flynn’s own skill power very easily this way.
Occasionally, errors will happen (I got one the very first time I fused a demon!), but when this happens, only the demon’s natural skill set is replaced. The inherited skills are all kept as much as possible.
As an aside, you can easily view the lineage of a demon, too—that is, you can see what its direct parents were as far back as possible. My favorite function, the Profile—which contains background information on the demon in mythology or religion—can also be easily found with a single press of the L button from its main stat screen. This prevents you from having to flip through the Compendium every time you want to look up background information.
Interestingly, Shin Megami Tensei IV actually encourages you to level up your demon as much as possible. Aside from Demon Whisper, which allows your character to obtain and level up skills, demons may change up skills when they level up. The skill they choose to replace and the skill you obtain will be completely random, but you are always given the option to refuse. In addition, some demons will evolve to a much more powerful form that may even be higher than your current level. For example, Archangel may evolve into Principality a couple levels after it has learned all its skills.