When you die in Shin Megami Tensei IV, the game doesn’t end. Instead, Charon greets the player, who is waiting to be ferried across the river Styx. He says he could ferry you over to the other side, but he’s tired of all the work. Charon laments that there is an endless line of people he has to process and that it would be easier if he were to just resurrect you.
The catch is that Charon wants macca because macca makes the world move. Macca is Shin Megami Tensei IV’s currency.
In other Shin Megami Tensei titles and spin-offs, players see a somber note that reminds them how they failed to make a difference in the world. “The comfort of death will come to men and demons alike by the guidance of the great will,” Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne says, as the camera pans out to a spiraling staircase of angels. Meanwhile, Devil Survivor 2 tells you the world is going to nothingness and it’s your fault. D’oh. Charon instead is cleverly inserted as comic relief so players don’t feel that bad about dying. Plus, if you give him a nominal amount of macca he brings you back to life with a little HP.
If you don’t have macca you can take a loan out. Don’t forget to use Dia or medicine, otherwise you’ll see Charon again.
Actually, you don’t have to give Charon macca either. He asks you if you want to be revived and you can turn him down. Do so and he’ll ask you the same question again, reminding you that if you say no you will die. Reject him a second time and you’ll see a hilarious Game Over screen. This might be considered a spoiler, so highlight the text if you’re curious.
Charon stops trying to convince you. He hands you a number and tells you to wait until mountains crumble to sand. Frustrated with all of the souls to ferry across Styx, Charon rants about how this is going to take forever and then you see a Game Over screen.
Charon is essentially a frustrated bureaucrat who is stuck doing a thankless job with a never ending amount of work. He just wants a break, so let him resurrect you, OK? If he has to resurrect you twice, you’ll unlock an option to dial down the game’s difficulty.