Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance review

Shin Megami Tensei has long been one of the most revered JRPG franchises, known for its challenging combat, deep narratives, and unique supernatural elements. The series’ latest entry, Shin Megami Tensei V, was a critical hit when it launched in 2021. Now Atlus has taken that strong foundation and built upon it with Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance.

This definitive version of the game brings the post-apocalyptic world of Da’at to life like never before, with stunning visuals and silky-smooth performance that truly lets the game’s dark atmosphere shine. But the real draw is the new Canon of Vengeance storyline, which offers a dramatically different take on the original narrative, introducing new characters and plot threads that significantly shake up the classic Shin Megami Tensei formula.

Shin Megami Tensei V Vengeance details

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One and PC
Reviewed on: PlayStation 5
Developer(s):
 ATLUS
Publisher(s): SEGA
Genre: Role-playing, Adventure, Strategy
Modes: Single-player
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)

A Tale of two canons

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance offers a captivating new narrative that builds upon the strong foundation of the original game. The story begins much the same way, with you finding yourself transported to the post-apocalyptic world of Da’at after a strange encounter. However, early on, you are presented with a choice that dramatically alters the course of events.

The new Canon of Vengeance storyline introduces a mysterious girl named Yoko Hiromine, who you can choose to save. This decision sets the narrative on a drastically different path, one that centers around the enigmatic Qadištu, a group of powerful demons with their own dark designs. The addition of Yoko and the Qadistu breathes new life into the story. Compared to the original game’s narrative, which was a bit barebones, the Canon of Vengeance offers a more compelling and character-driven experience.

Atlus has given the relationships between the protagonist and their allies, like Tao and Dazai, more focus and development. Ultimately making it easier to connect with them. The Qadistu also provide a fresh perspective on the eternal conflict between order and chaos that drives the Shin Megami Tensei series.

That said, the pacing of the story can still feel a bit uneven at times, and if you are new to the series, you may find the slow start challenging to get through. Additionally, while the Canon of Vengeance is a significant improvement, the original Canon of Creation storyline is still worth experiencing to fully appreciate the narrative changes and additions.

Shin Megami Tensei V

Refined and expanded gameplay

Vengeance’s gameplay builds upon the strong foundations of the original release, while also introducing several new and refined mechanics that enhance the overall experience. At the core, the turn-based combat remains challenging and engaging. The Press Turn system, where you can gain extra actions by exploiting enemy weaknesses, is as satisfying as ever. Carefully managing your party’s elemental affinities and skills is crucial to success, as enemies will ruthlessly punish any mistakes. Trust me, I learned this the hard way! I really liked the new Magatsuhi system. It allows you to unleash satisfyingly powerful special attacks and adds an extra layer of strategy to battles.

One of the standout, and my favourite, new features is the ability to now recruit certain human characters as “Guests” to join your party. These allies bring their own unique abilities and personalities to the fight, making the party dynamics more compelling than the somewhat static cast of the original game. The improved auto-battle function is also a welcome quality-of-life change, allowing your party to more intelligently target enemy weaknesses.

The exploration of the expansive, post-apocalyptic world of Da’at has also been streamlined. The new Grind Rails system makes traversal much more efficient, while the Sky View mapping tool provides an invaluable overhead perspective to navigate the often complex environments. And, the addition of new areas and side content really encourages and incentivizes thorough exploration. While the core gameplay loop remains largely unchanged, the new content and refinements in Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance make it the definitive way to experience this challenging and rewarding JRPG. The only potential downside that I can see is that the increased complexity of some new systems, like the expanded demon fusion options, may be overwhelming for newcomers to the series.

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance review

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is a technical showcase on modern consoles

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance delivers an impressive audiovisual experience, especially when played on more powerful hardware like the PlayStation 5. The game’s visuals have been significantly enhanced compared to the original Nintendo Switch release. On the PS5, the resolution has been noticeably upscaled, providing a crisper, more detailed image. The character models and demon designs look stunning, with intricate textures and fluid animations that bring the post-apocalyptic world of Da’at to life. The PlayStation 5 version runs at a silky smooth 60 frames per second, with minimal loading times, allowing you to seamlessly transition between combat and exploration without any performance hiccups.

One of the standout visual features is the Sky View, an overhead mapping tool that allows you to get a better layout of the expansive environments. This 3D mapping system is both stylish and super useful, making navigation through the complex, debris-filled areas much easier. The audio design is equally impressive, with a musical score that perfectly complements the game’s dark, brooding atmosphere. The battle themes, in particular, are energetic and intense, really heightening the sense of urgency during combat. The voice acting, available in both English and Japanese, is also of high quality, with the English dub delivering convincing performances that bring the characters to life.

Overall, Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance’s presentation is a significant step up from the original release, providing an immersive and polished experience for both longtime fans and newcomers to the series.

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance review

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is the definitive JRPG experience

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is a definitive re-release that builds upon the acclaimed original game in significant ways. The standout addition is the brand-new Canon of Vengeance storyline, which provides a compelling alternative narrative with new characters like the enigmatic Yoko Hiromine. This route feels more akin to traditional RPGs, with deeper character development and a more engaging plot.

Alongside the narrative enhancements, Vengeance introduces a wealth of quality-of-life improvements. These include the ability to save anywhere, improved auto-battle functionality, and an increased level cap for demons. The game also features new demons, subquests, and dungeons to explore.

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is a must-play for fans and newcomers alike, delivering a refined and expanded JRPG experience that builds upon the strengths of the original in meaningful ways.

Pros

  • Over 40 new demons, additional side quests, and new areas to explore.
  • Numerous quality-of-life improvements such as the ability to save anywhere and an improved auto-battle system
  • In addition to the original storyline, Vengeance includes a brand-new compelling storyline

Cons

  • Some may find the new storyline to be too much of a departure from traditional Shin Megami Tensei storytelling
  • The exploration of the open world can feel a bit tedious at times

Overall assessment of Shin Megami Tensei V Vengeance

Gameplay: 4.5/5
Graphics: 4/5
Sound: 5/5
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 5/5

Overall rating: 4.6/5 (92%)

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Jon Scarr
Jon is the Gaming Editor and is based in Toronto. He is a proud Canadian who has a serious passion for gaming. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry with over 20 years experience. You can often find Jon streaming the latest games on his YouTube channel. Jon loves to talk about gaming and tech, come say hi and join the conversation with Jon on Threads @4ScarrsGaming and @4Scarrsgaming on Instagram.

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