Three years ago we saw Shin Megami Tensei IV coming stateside (well and everywhere else side too). It was a game that I’m pretty sure only I liked, but still for some reason it still got a sequel. Still a lot of people seemed excited about it in spite of fairly poor reviews all over the internet. I’ve got some really mixed feelings on this one. Let’s take a bit of deeper look shall we.
Here there be spoilers. Be warned.
Art: The art of Apocalypse is a fairly mixed bag, I really like the designs of Asahi and Gaston they both stand out really well from the old and new cast. Navarre looks better as a little green ghost then he ever did as a human, however the comical design does draw you out of the atmosphere, everytime Navarre speaks during a serious scene comes off as kind of jarring. When I should be focusing on Flynn being crucified I’m instead distracted by this little bro. Hallelujah is a little too generic for my taste and his demon design is truly awful. There is next to nothing about Toki’s design that I liked after she removed her mask. Nozomi returned with a new updated design and she looks great. As for the new deities and demigods I love Danu she looks really neat, her son Dagda not so much. He just looks straight up cheesy, and as one of the people you can side with cheesy just doesn’t really cut it. the bosses, none of them really impressed me, I didn’t like Lucifer or Merkabah at all. The knowledge that they were Walter and Jonathon made not siding with them really easy. We still have the fundamental problem that SMt4 had of extremely generic character sprites. The macabre setting fits nicely, you frequently travel through torn fences and broken streets. This time though they’ve added in bodies that can report having found (it’s a sidequest)as well as blood splatters in areas that have been attacked.
Sound: The soundtrack is nice and not too reminiscent of the previous game. I especially liked the music playing during the cut scenes with Krishna. The voice acting is solid, Todd Haberkorn did a good job with Gaston’s arrogance, and Matt Mercer returning as Walter was great the addition of having him voice Lucifer was equally satisfying. However and this pains me to say I thought Keith Silverstein was awful as Flynn. There was no passion in his voice at all as he voiced my bro. I was not very happy at all.
Gameplay: The gameplay is remarkably similar to SMT4 (shock) with a few nice add ons. Like the special attacks that your team will do after 8 rounds. I really liked that, it got me out of a few tough spots., but it almost made the game seem to easy. Each character had their own skill set to assist, for instance Gaston’s arrogant ass would cancel your press turn icons to do a powerful physical attack, Navarre on the other hand had great support magic. Smirking was totally a thing in the previous game, it made criticals significantly more likely, but now it also adds in extra effects. For you or the enemy using a death spell while smirking raises the likelihood of an instakill, otherwise it is a guaranteed critical….unless your opponent is smirking too…. Right so anyway you also still interact with your surroundings crawling, jumping, and climbing over obstacles to reach new map areas.
Characters: One of the key themes of Apocalypse is factions, well every group you can think of from SMT 4 has a representation somewhere in your party. Let’s discuss.
Nanashi (Akira): Your lead character this time around is a young hunter named Nanashi, he’s a silent protagonist with really bad hair. I was fairly fond of him but unlike the console games he didn’t have the sprite animations that aided Serph or Hitoshura in being a little bit more then ‘the quiet guy’. Nanashi is the reincarnation of Akira the former king and founder of Mikado. Saw this whole thing coming since Nanashi’s first introductory photos like a year and a half ago.
Asahi: This girl is an adorably poofy girl. She is also a hunter and Nanashi’s childhood friend. She’s bubbly and cute and spends half of the game being fairly useless (Gaston yells at her about it) up until the point where she dies. Once she revives she comes back with significantly more skill, but I thought her coming back to life kind of cheapened her sacrifice. I suppose that’s because of the path I picked though.
Navarre: In SMT 4 there were five people who passed the test of the gauntlet, one of them being this idiot. So he is one of the partners and he represents both the previous game and Mikado. Being dead has apparently out Navarre’s personality, he’s actually a bit of a team player this time around, I think he’s just glad to be noticed. He is one of the two characters with the best development. I did not like him at all in 4, but over here in Apocalypse I’ve kind of grown a soft spot for him. Kudos Atlus it only took two games to make me like him, unlike the seventy fifth Persona 4 game and I still don’t like Rise.
Isabeau: The neutral route in SMT 4 was represented by Isabeau a female samurai inaugurated at the same time as Flynn and Navarre. She is an honest goodnatured individual with a passion for manga. She shows the strength of both her body and her will time and time again in this game. She may have been a bit indecisive before, but now she knows who and what she’s fighting for. I got the feeling this game was trying extremely hard to push Flynn X Isabeau, that’s cool with me honestly, I ship it! She doggedly stood by Flynn’s side over the course of the game It made me super happy to watch her grow and support him!
Gaston: This guy was easily my favourite of the new characters, a samurai from Mikado Gaston is aligned with Jonathon’s angels. He’s kind of an arrogant asshole (he insists on being called Sir Gaston) but he’s fun, he comes off a bit better then his brother Navarre. When he loses his position as captain he reveals a much more human side to his personality. He develops and grows so much more then anyone else in the cast.
Nozomi: We also saw the return of the gorgeous Nozomi. I love her updated look, she’s damn sexy. Nozomi is the reasonable adult of the group. smart and sassy she’s the new leader of the fae folk with the aid of the goddess Danu. I am pretty damn fond of this lady. I do kind of miss her giving me random quests though. Just out of curiosity does anyone else remember her little sprite to the left? That’s how we knew Nozomi for an entire game.
Hallelujah: I’m less fond of Hallelujah who represents the gang of the Ashura Kai. He’s a little too token for me. He’s a half demon who all too often just follows along with you. He’s like a puppy dog. I mean I understand why Gaston left Mikado, but don’t really get why Hallelujah betrayed the only family he ever knew. I just don’t get it.
Toki: My least favorite is Toki. I never used her. Not even once.She’s painfully serious and really dull. She represents the Ring of Gaea which is cool, but because of their beliefs she relies on nothing but strength. So after getting her ass kicked and getting protected by Gaston, she breaks free from her system of beliefs. At this point she decides for literally no reason that she’s desperately in love with Flynn and she calls him master. It sucks.
Flynn: While not a party member Flynn is still an important and relevant part of the game. He is an honest and kind individual that wants to aid as many people as possible. I still love him. The people see him as their Messiah after the events of the first game. Unfortunately he spends an unholy amount of this game crucified.
Story: The story follows the events of the neutral route of SMT 4 and showcases the Gods battling for supremacy. God, Merkabah, Lucifer, and Krishna are all on different fronts with the meager humans left in Tokyo trying to not die.You take on the role of Nanashi a young hunter who dies and is resurrected at the beginning of the game. The game starts with the war of angels and demons, and escalates through your characters personal follies to bring Krishna’s faction into it as well. You with the aid of your friends (through their lives or deaths) lead humanities path to either greatness or declination.
Also in there somewhere you find out that the Flynn that rescued is in fact a doppelganger. Oops. It’s kind of obvious once he sheds his human skin and eats a pile of human souls…..
As is common with SMT games there are multiple endings. There’s the dark awful horrible ending wherein everyone dies except for you. Flynn becomes your Godslayer (undead servant) and you have the option of reviving one of your deceased party members as your eternal mindless servant. If I got this ending I probably would have chosen Toki to revive as an empty shell because you wouldn’t really be able to tell any difference. The rest of your friends souls are used to remake a new world with you as it’s eternal god.
The peace ending is the ‘everybody lives’ storyline. It might be a little too happy, but it shows the warmth of what can be accomplished with faith in your friends. You see them cast working together to rebuild Tokyo and Mikado both, so that all that remains of humanity can live in peace together.
Overall Enjoyment: I have really mixed feelings on this game. The characters varied from good to banal with no real middle ground. The comedic pieces felt really out of place, but as an ending they also instilled a sense of hope (also it kind of makes the god ending hit hard out of left field). I liked the game and the press turn battle system goes down as my favourite rpg fighting style, but I think overall I’m going to end up ranking this game as fun but forgettable.
Sound track: 8
Overall Enjoyment: 7