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Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse

Platform(s): Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Role-Playing
Publisher: Atlus U.S.A.
Release Date: Sept. 20, 2016


3DS Preview - 'Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on July 8, 2016 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Overlapping the story of the original SMTIV, the upcoming game focuses on a Hunter cadet protagonist who gets killed by one of the demons treating post-apocalyptic Tokyo as their personal playground.

Pre-order Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse

Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse assumes that about 75% of the original Shin Megami Tensei IV took place, but right at the point you'd move on to the ending, the path splits, and all factions became embroiled in a stalemate of a war. Rather than returning to the control of Flynn, the protagonist from the first game, you play as a new hero, Nanashi, who's a lifelong resident of Tokyo and a member of the Hunters. He's accidentally killed  during a mission, but a demon known as Dagda offers him a chance at new life in exchange for his servitude. Propelled by Dagda, Nanashi must enter the conflict and find a way to bring an end to the battle once and for all.

The combat engine in Apocalypse is almost the same as in the previous game. It's a turn-based RPG where you and your team of demons fight opponents by aiming at their weak points. What has changed are largely tweaks to the engine. Light and Dark-type spells now inflict damage where previously they were chance-based instant-kill attacks. This means they can hit weaknesses without it being feast or famine. The downside is that they can only instantly kill an enemy when you're in Smirking status. Many moves have a Smirk attribute, which means they can only achieve their full power after some buildup. Likewise, your AI partners return, but rather than being a random annoyance, they're now a full-fledged mechanic. You pick an AI partner who can use different abilities, so you can customize your partner based on the enemy lineup. When a meter fills up, they also have special attacks.

Demon recruitment has also changed a little. The Negotiation mechanic has been changed to be more friendly. Failing a negotiation means the next time you encounter that demon, it's slightly easier to recruit them. Demons have also been given elemental affinities. For example, Jack Frost is better at ice spells, and when using them, he'll have reduced costs and increase damage, similar to when the protagonist ranks up his own skills. On the other hand, he might be far worse at fire spells or be unable to use them. It's an interesting twist, since you'll have to consider your fusion transfers more carefully. Many of the demons from SMT4 are returning, but we're told there will also be new ones.

One of the biggest complaints about the original SMT4 was how obscure it got once you reached Tokyo. The game world was poorly labeled, and while having a working knowledge of Tokyo helped, it still wasn't anywhere close to being user-friendly. A small but significant change to the game is that Tokyo's map is now properly labeled, and the user interface has been redesigned to be more intuitive. Additionally, and this is a true blessing, the Estoma spell is now a barrier around your protagonist instead of a buff to your sword. It prevents random encounters and was almost worthless in the original game. In this title, not only is it quickly accessible, but it's also far more useful. Once you reach a higher level, these two changes should make travel around Tokyo less tedious.

At the end of the day, Atlus is open about the fact that Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse is more of the same. There are new demons, new dungeons and new mechanics but, it's a return to the world of SMT4, and fans should find a lot of familiar characters and places when they return to Tokyo under the dome. Exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS, Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse comes out later this year on Sept. 20.

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