This is my first SMT game so I was really excited to play it! I am used to Persona games. I finished Persona 5. I have played, but not beaten Persona 3, Persona 4 Golden, and Persona 5 Royal. I was interested in seeing the origins of the Persona games and the plot interested me. I have played up until the Manikins.
This has to be one of the most interesting ways to begin a story. It literally begins with the world ending so the worst case scenario has already happened. Your character becomes a demon and is tasked with choosing who will rule and shape new Tokyo. Tokyo has become a spherical world. I believe that I will eventually meet people who will have their own vision of what Tokyo should look like and I can pick whose vision I agree with the most. This game does have multiple endings.
Having previous experience with Persona does help, but this game is a bit harder even on Merciful. Magic is similar. I recognize Dia for healing, Zio for lightning. Seeing the health or what a demon is weak too is only available with magic so far. It does not automatically come up like it does in the Persona games.
Recruiting party members is difficult. First, you need to be in the right moon phase. A full moon means that you’ll probably won’t get a party member. Second, some just won’t talk to you because they either can’t understand you or you are too low level. Third, they need to be persuaded similar to Persona 5 except that it’s random. They will ask for offerings then ask you a question and after that they’ll decide whether to join you or not. It is so far frustrating because I will get really close, like with Nyx all I had to do was answer her question, but she decided that she didn’t like my answer and left.
The moon phase as well as enemies appearing depends on steps taken in a dungeon. There is a nice little graph in the bottom right that will glow red when you are close to an encounter. The moon influences lunar chests with full giving you the best stuff. The moon also influences demons with a full moon causing them to go berserk and not want to help you. Fusion is basically the same, but the moon also plays an effect here. The phases of the moon will give benefits to demons being fused. I think full moon is supposed to be the best time to do this.
There are no social links or practically any socialization in this game. You can talk to souls or whoever is still left alive, but it is a very isolating game. If you are expecting to hang out with friends and create bonds, this will not be the game for you.
I’d say it is worth it if you have not played it before or want an introduction to the Shin Megami Tensei series. It is known to be difficult which is why I decided to download the free Merciful DLC. It’s very different from Persona in terms of it being a more isolating experience. I don’t mind that it’s designed this way as it actually makes the game calming for me. It just allows me to explore the environments and appreciate the story. The similarities are mainly that it does involve teenagers in the plot, you can recruit demons into your party, and familiar faces like Jack Frost.
In terms of the quality of the port. It’s got it’s positives and negatives. I love the graphic updates with the Unity engine and I do love that it is voiced because I understand that the original had no voice acting. But, the music has still been kept compressed which can be heard in battles and the movie cutscenes were kept in their original ratios. I also have experienced two black screens where the game just locked and needed to be restarted so I lost progress (the worst being around 20 minutes) and autosaves are not a thing. Still, I would recommend this game mainly for the story alone as long as you like philosophy.
Have you played a Shin Megami Tensei game before?