Post-apocalyptic worlds are forever capturing the imagination. Along with dystopian universes, they provide glimpses into what may very well be our future. Many cultures around the world have tales of bleak human existence after a dying world. The Giver, by Lois Lowry was my first journey into such a dangerous and weirdly wonderous world. The Hunger Games and Mad Max: Fury Road are some of the most popular in recent big screen and literature entertainment, garnered hit box office numbers, not to mention large fan-bases.
Anime, too, has any number of titles based in such worlds. Usually violent and sometimes gruesome, such as Psycho Pass and Akira, these animated tales have fantastical technology and engaging storylines that show off amazing amounts of ingenuity.
Not to be left out is the reason we are here. Video games certainly enjoy playing with ideas, as well. It is always a delight to fans when we hear of a new release in such a universe. And this year we are in for a huge treat. Atlus’ Megami Tensei franchise, one of the oldest and biggest based in a post-apocalyptic world, is releasing, Shin Megami Tensei V in November!
So, strap on your armor, grab your favorite weapon and follow us into a deep dive of everything we know. What we can expect from the newest title in this gorgeously enduring series.
Tale as old as Time
Megami Tensei begins its story where many post-apocalyptic universes get their starts-literature. Digital Devil Story, a science fiction novel series by Aya Nishitani, serves as the origins for the Megami Tensei franchise, including the first game bearing its name. Developed by Atlus and published by Namco in 1987, Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei released solely in Japan for PC. Tokuma Shoten, the publishing company of the novels, and Nishitani were intimately involved in planning the game. Two different versions of the game based on the trilogy shared a release- Atlus’ traditional role-playing and Telenet’s action role-playing style. Unfortunately, neither version never made it to the Western world, a decision often attributed to Nintendo’s censorship policy on religious references.
However, Megami Tensei was quite popular within Japan, gaining favorable critic and player responses. This led Atlus to create a sequel, deviating from the novels into a completely original story. Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei II released for the Famicom in 1990. It paved the way for what is now known as Shin Megami Tensei, the third most successful RPG series in Japan, only eclipsed by Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy.
From there, we have seen multiple games in the series for multiple platforms. Shin Megami Tensei franchise now boasts 17 games to date, the last, Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster releasing in 2021 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation and Microsoft Windows, worldwide.
You spin me right round, baby!
Spin-offs included in the franchise have been just as popular as the original series. In particular, the Persona games, now up to 14 titles including spin-offs of spin-offs, have a huge player and fan-base who eagerly anticipate each new release, showing how truly broad Shin Megami Tensei’s legacy is.
Along with video game spin-offs, the series has also enjoyed a variety of media adaptations, including anime, manga and theatrical adaptations, as well as a whole butt-load of merchandise. Seriously, peek into a Hot Topic store sometime.
What makes the franchise so enduring? Part of it is the gameplay, known for its difficulty. As one of the first RPGs ever, Dark Souls, BloodBorne and Sekiro obviously took a more than a few ideas from Shin Megami Tensei’s playbook. The music and visuals were engaging for the time and have only gotten better as the years and games pass. The stories, each different but sometimes still connected, show various protagonists fighting against overwhelming powerful deities, often bent on destroying the world. Who doesn’t want to be a hero fighting to save everything you know and love?
Between Hell and Hello
So, what can we expect from the newest entry? Officially, Atlus teases us with this little proclamation: “The ambitions of God and human clash amidst the horror of a dying world.” Shin Megami Tensei V’s “hero” is not quite human or demon, the Nahobino, a being forged by a high school student and his friends. He comes to be in Da’At, the alternative version of Tokyo, suffering from an apocalypse. Oh, and a war between angels and demons. Piece of cake, right?
Stuck between the two worlds, and desperately wanting to save their own, the group agrees to help the angels in hopes of keeping the demons from invading regular Tokyo. But of course, best laid plans and all of that. The player moves from nameless high school student to playing the rest of the game as the Nahobino. Along the way of taking his throne as a God, Nahobino must decide what to save and who to sacrifice. Each path is treacherous and will require the player to use thought and make moral decisions. No pressure!
Gameplay is similar to other titles in the franchise, including summoning and fusing demons, to create a more powerful creature. As revealed during Nintendo’s E3 segment, the Press Turn System turn-based battle mechanics will continue in Shin Megami Tensei V. PTS allows the player to discover things about your opponent and “press the advantage” in order to get additional turns. It’s a different and cool way to allow logical choice into battles.
Here for the Hype
In order to hype the release, Atlus and Sega are keeping anticipations high through multiple videos showcasing character and demon revelations. Most recently were Makami from Persona 5 and Nue, a monkey-like demon hailing from several games in the series. Each video shows us a little bit more of the hell our characters face.
Speaking of characters, the Nahobino sports a gorgeous blue armored suit and flowing blue hair. Each move he makes is well-crafted and graceful. There always something to be said for the visuals in the Shin Megami Tensei series. And V looks to be the culmination of beautiful design and today’s graphical technology.
In development hell since 2017, when Nintendo teased it as part of the Switch reveal, we have eagerly awaited its release. Now, with a November 12 world-wide release date, the wait is almost over.
As of printing, you can pre-order Shin Megami Tensei V for Nintendo Switch exclusively in two editions. The digital edition contains just the base game. However, the physical premium edition features the base game, Steelbook, 2 CD soundtrack, demon handbook and sling bag.
As always, we will continue to update this article as detail emerge. My final thought- can we expect a Catherine cross-over sometime too?
Digital- $59.99 USD
Retail Premium– $119 USD
Retail Steelbook– $59.99 USD