Shin Megami Tensei 4 is a challenging game that somehow builds a year-long adventure out of samurai legends, smartphones and demons.
That’s right–this Nintendo 3DS game is about ancient samurai who gained access to the most advanced electronic gauntlet ever invented. This piece of armor uses the latest in modern technology to summon demons to attack enemies.
As strange as this story gets, Shin Megami Tensei 4 actually plays more like an old dungeon-crawler. In the game, the player simply moves around the underground dungeon of Naraku in search of treasure, bosses and any semblance of a storyline. The game does provide a main quest, but it literally leaves the player to figure out how to trigger the next event in the narrative.
And this storyline is downright bizarre, once it gets started. It opens with a long stretch of exposition. The player has to find a ceremony where the main character gets drafted into the samurai army of Mikado. In this group, he befriends three fellow samurai–Jonathan, Walter and Isabeau.
Their initial mission is to explore the underground dungeon of Naraku. At first glance, this looks like another boring expedition into a cave with monsters and treasure. However, they’re in for a shock once they reach the bottom. The dungeon actually leads into the post-apocalyptic remains of modern Tokyo.
This game is long. Over the course of one year, I’ve spent about 140 hours exploring Tokyo. At around the halfway point, there’s also entirely different worlds. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but this entire game is about morality. The decisions of the main characters ultimately determine the fate of the above-ground world of Mikado and the underworld of Tokyo.
Overall, Shin Megami Tensei 4 is a great game if players are willing to invest time into it. The graphics look amazing for a handheld adventure. The music was spooky enough to give me chills whenever I ventured into a new section of Tokyo. There’s only one flaw–the game has too many random monster battles.
I’ve heard that the Shin Megami Tensei series of games is known for plunging people through extreme challenges. However, SMT (Shin Megami Tensei) 4 pushes everything a little too far. Every four seconds, a monster just rushes me out of nowhere and I have to go through another battle. The fast-paced fights only last a few seconds, but they kept distracting me from my main objective.
By the time I reached the final boss, my characters maximized their power to level 100. Even at this level, the monsters still had enough powerful moves to dismantle my party in only two turns. Needless to say, SMT 4 is absolutely unfair. Thankfully, the game provided a satisfying ending to this hardcore tale of the apocalypse.
So believe me–SMT 4 is an incredible experience if people are willing to invest time into every part of the game. Just be sure to take plenty of breaks, because this legendary trek is like a marathon.