• So how about that Nintendo Direct? WestEgg, Irene, VolcanicDynamo, and Special Guest Aurc give our thoughts on the June Direct, including a deep look at the Metroid Prime 4 reveal! Check it out here!

News Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance announced for PC and consoles, coming June 14th (out now!)

It seems that the performance has not improved compared to the original.


I was thinking of buying it, since I didn't play the original and Persona 5 Royal I loved it. I have PS4 as well, but I play a lot more on Switch, was the performance bad or was it just at certain specific times?
I'm not that sensitive to frame drops and play plenty of stuff on 30 (though I do notice them) but this game actually was one of the very first that gave me headaches. There's no huge issues but rather an array of constant tiny problems that eventually kind of got to me, screen tearing, flickering, uneven frame pacing, tiny little frame drops. It just felt unpleasant, especially in late game areas. If you're not sensitive to this stuff at all you probably won't notice.
 
Bummer if performance isn't noticeably improved. I have no problem with picking this up on PC, but a meaty RPG like this works so much better on Switch that I'd prefer to play on there. Gonna wait for some more impressions/reviews. Hopefully a day 1 patch fixes some things up.
 
The area with the towers activations had really awful stuttering and performance dipped fairly low there. On top of the bad performance, it's a hell area to navigate. Really made for a miserable experience. Hoping if nothing else, that area was improved across the board
With 'area with the towers' you mean Taito, the area where you fight Odin, Vasuki, and Zeus? That's the one where I remember thinking 'oh, this is rough rough', yeah.
 
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Shame about the Switch performance. Basically means I'll get to it when I get to it since I'll be busy playing Rebirth on PS5 for the foreseeable future.
 
Thanks for the replies, well I'll wait a bit to see if they patch it, or failing that, a price drop. Maybe I'll even wait to see if Switch 2 improves the version.

Punctual fps drops don't matter much to me, but it's true that I couldn't complete Pokemon Scarlet because the constant change of fps every x seconds caused me physical ill, so I don't want to go through the same with SMT hahaha.
 
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As usual, exaggerated by people who never played the game. There was one specific area where I had routine slowdowns, otherwise it was more than fine.


I saw mixed takes on the story. One comment claimed it has a stronger first half, which is unfortunate because that's the half with the most in common with the original game.
What I got from multiple reviews is that the story is better overall and has better fleshed out characters, even if the ending stuff is still not quite as strong as it could be. But I also read multiple that compared it more to SMT4, and I love SMT4 so if that’s the case plus generally better than the original story then that’s good enough for me.
 
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I loved SMT V on Switch (despite the pretty rough performance) and I'm definitely going to be picking up Vengeance at some point, but it definitely won't be right away. I think I'm gonna wait to see how it performs on Switch 2, and then make a call as to whether or not I want it on Switch 2 or Xbox Series X.
 
I loved SMT V on Switch (despite the pretty rough performance) and I'm definitely going to be picking up Vengeance at some point, but it definitely won't be right away. I think I'm gonna wait to see how it performs on Switch 2, and then make a call as to whether or not I want it on Switch 2 or Xbox Series X.
Don't blame you. I'm not picking it up right away either. Picking it up brand new for $25 in about two months is gonna hit different.
 
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I’ll most likely skip the game, since I don’t have it in me with playing another JRPG on the PS5.

I’m curios about the sales figures for this game, lastly hopefully everyone who picked it up have a nice time with the game.
 
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I wonder how the pc port has fared? Seems like a game that is ‘perfect for Steam Deck’. I do want to check out the new route and also the pretty graphics of the ports, but it’s hard to go back from playing jrpgs on a handheld.
From what I've been hearing, it works great but Atlus skimped out on adding graphics settings. Which means you'll need to wait for someone to release mods for it (unreal engine so should be more than doable) if you want to adjust a lot of stuff in detail (to make it stronger/weaker).

Apparently they also released the game with no FPS cap.
 
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Between rewards I didn't realize I had and a Target gift card I managed to get the one PS5 copy my local Target had for about $22. Looking forward to o trying out the new route later.
 
I wonder how the pc port has fared? Seems like a game that is ‘perfect for Steam Deck’. I do want to check out the new route and also the pretty graphics of the ports, but it’s hard to go back from playing jrpgs on a handheld.
I will report back later, it’s downloading now, but I am expecting it to run well. Even emulating the Switch version the year that launched it was easy to get it to run at 60fps at 4K on mid range hardware.
 
PC port is solid, couple missing features like widescreen if you have a screen like that but mods for it are already available. Only thing that stands out is the cutscenes, they're still the Switch ones so the drop in quality can be a bit jarring.
 
It can’t seem to constantly hold a steady 60fps on Steam Deck though.

Any first hand impressions on stuttering? (Especially shader compilation related ones?)
 
Having fun already, not too far in tho.

The sass from demons makes me day, and little to no social activity stuff is why I love this series, and hate persona. Glad to play another SMT
 
It can’t seem to constantly hold a steady 60fps on Steam Deck though.

Any first hand impressions on stuttering? (Especially shader compilation related ones?)
Shader compilation stutter is just an Unreal Engine thing. You just kinda have to let the game do its thing until it's all resolved. Sucks ass but it is what it is.
 
Shader compilation stutter is just an Unreal Engine thing. You just kinda have to let the game do its thing until it's all resolved. Sucks ass but it is what it is.
On Windows, certainly. But given there usually are pre-compiled shaders for Steam Deck, I'm hoping for a smoother experience on there. Though sometimes UE games still have these issues even on Deck, for various reasons though, not only shader compilation stutters. Streaming stutter has occurred in quite a few games as well on Linux / Deck.
 
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I wonder how the pc port has fared? Seems like a game that is ‘perfect for Steam Deck’. I do want to check out the new route and also the pretty graphics of the ports, but it’s hard to go back from playing jrpgs on a handheld.
I don't know if this is helpful, but the laptop I use has a GTX1650 and a Ryzen 5 4600H with 8 GB of RAM, It can play the game with Ambient Occlusion On, Motion Blur Off (This is just my preference), Anti-Aliasing On, and V-Sync On at 2560x1440(QHD) at 60fps with some dips during some live load times. Also during cutscenes I've seen objects flicker. It does drop down to around 30-45fps if I turn the resolution up to 4K unfortunately.
 
It can’t seem to constantly hold a steady 60fps on Steam Deck though.

Any first hand impressions on stuttering? (Especially shader compilation related ones?)
So far I'm using this TouchArcade review as reference:

Its got me leaning strongly toward getting this on Steam, despite usually preferring a nice physical release like the steelbook on switch 🤔

Update:
GameXplain is mighty pleased w/ steam deck experience:
 
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Picked up my copy from Gamestop on the way back home from finishing some errands. I don't understand the excitement gamers get for steelbooks, but it looks nice.
 
Sadly they retranslated the German version and I really don't feel the (likely) Atlus Inhouse translation... especially since she sounds like it's translated from English.
I will miss the SMT5 translation which was done by the Nintendo translation team which was translated from Japanese.
 
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Started Canon of Vengeance (should we make an ST for this?). I am noticing a bunch of small tweaks to the route's overall "feel" compared to the original SMTV in terms of plot progression there is also a new boss, a demon from the Ars Goetia, which happens before you fight Hydra and is used to teach you about guest party members. This time they're fully controllabe, so SMT4s Walter doing the funny thing to the Minotaur won't happen in this game.. One thing that immediately stands out is that you're offered much more leeway to respond to conversations - makes me wonder if they replaced the endingtron 3000 of the original with the good old fashioned law/neutral/chaos route being decided depending on your decisions rather than just picking the one you like the most. Dunno if that increased responsiveness is also present on Canon of Creation though.

I am not a fan of how the new font upscales on my monitor, I'll say that much - hoping a mod addresses this. It was very clearly made for the switch in handheld mode and on a big screen, it looks like a stock Unreal renderer font (although I know it isn't). They also seem to have toned down some of the anti-aliasing on the UI, at least on PC. Can't say I'm a fan, the thick outlines helped a lot with giving SMTV its weird overly garish visual effect.

--
Going for a strength/physical oriented Nahobino this time. My old SMTV playthrough was a magical oriented one (since people told me "magic works in this game") and it became obvious rather quickly why nobody plays magical protagonists in SMT games (my Flynn was a gun build in SMTIV and magic actively does not work past level 30 in Nocturne); you just run into hard problems trying to cover your bases and can't leave room for the all-important passives in your skill list and the support skills (not to mention it's extremely grind heavy for essences). Physical just lets you cover way more bases since the only strong demon who usually resists it is Girremekhala (...so don't use physicals against Girremekhala).

If you're still doubting between picking physical and magic; here's a quick rundown that applies to most of the series (do note that prior to Nocturne, magic isn't an option for protagonists).

Magic advantages
  • Easy press turn generation since you can hit weaknesses easily.
  • Works really well on demons, good for clearing trash mobs.
  • Can be passed around for good coverage on demons.
  • Scales well early game.
Magic disadvantages
  • Scaling tends to flatten off, making it undesirable for superbosses.
  • In games where your protagonists skill slots need to be unlocked, you tend to be unable to cover all your bases or end up with a deficit in the unlock currency.
    • This is even worse if you're playing a game with upgradeable stat affinities (read: all games from 4: Apocalypse onwards or individually upgradeable skills).
  • Not much room in your skill list for passives and support skills.
  • Complex damage formula that takes a lot of things into account makes it so that getting higher damage numbers can feel a bit wonky/unclear.
Physical advantages
  • Often does not rely on MP but on HP. In games where it costs MP (this is SMTV:V), physical tends to be cheaper.
  • Simpler damage formula meaning it only really considers one stat. Scales extremely well into the late game.
  • Smaller noteworthy skill pool, leaves room for passives and support skills.
  • Fits well into games where you have a lower skill pool.
Physical disadvantages
  • Late bloomer on protagonists. Does not scale well early game; physical protagonists kinda tend to be sitting ducks or rely on poorly-scaled elemental skills until the midgame, where they start dealing comparable damage.
  • Physical demons get outranked. Quickly. This is because of said simpler damage formula; demons level up slower than the protagonist does. Not good for clearing trash mobs.
    • Can cause a money deficit when fusing physical demons as you're constantly pulling from the compendium to move your demons closer to your level.
  • Unreliable press turn generation; you're reliant on criticals to get more press turns, which is dubiously reliable or requires using weak skills.
 
Started Canon of Vengeance (should we make an ST for this?). I am noticing a bunch of small tweaks to the route's overall "feel" compared to the original SMTV in terms of plot progression there is also a new boss, a demon from the Ars Goetia, which happens before you fight Hydra and is used to teach you about guest party members. This time they're fully controllabe, so SMT4s Walter doing the funny thing to the Minotaur won't happen in this game.. One thing that immediately stands out is that you're offered much more leeway to respond to conversations - makes me wonder if they replaced the endingtron 3000 of the original with the good old fashioned law/neutral/chaos route being decided depending on your decisions rather than just picking the one you like the most. Dunno if that increased responsiveness is also present on Canon of Creation though.

I am not a fan of how the new font upscales on my monitor, I'll say that much - hoping a mod addresses this. It was very clearly made for the switch in handheld mode and on a big screen, it looks like a stock Unreal renderer font (although I know it isn't). They also seem to have toned down some of the anti-aliasing on the UI, at least on PC. Can't say I'm a fan, the thick outlines helped a lot with giving SMTV its weird overly garish visual effect.

--
Going for a strength/physical oriented Nahobino this time. My old SMTV playthrough was a magical oriented one (since people told me "magic works in this game") and it became obvious rather quickly why nobody plays magical protagonists in SMT games (my Flynn was a gun build in SMTIV and magic actively does not work past level 30 in Nocturne); you just run into hard problems trying to cover your bases and can't leave room for the all-important passives in your skill list and the support skills (not to mention it's extremely grind heavy for essences). Physical just lets you cover way more bases since the only strong demon who usually resists it is Girremekhala (...so don't use physicals against Girremekhala).

If you're still doubting between picking physical and magic; here's a quick rundown that applies to most of the series (do note that prior to Nocturne, magic isn't an option for protagonists).

Magic advantages
  • Easy press turn generation since you can hit weaknesses easily.
  • Works really well on demons, good for clearing trash mobs.
  • Can be passed around for good coverage on demons.
  • Scales well early game.
Magic disadvantages
  • Scaling tends to flatten off, making it undesirable for superbosses.
  • In games where your protagonists skill slots need to be unlocked, you tend to be unable to cover all your bases or end up with a deficit in the unlock currency.
    • This is even worse if you're playing a game with upgradeable stat affinities (read: all games from 4: Apocalypse onwards or individually upgradeable skills).
  • Not much room in your skill list for passives and support skills.
  • Complex damage formula that takes a lot of things into account makes it so that getting higher damage numbers can feel a bit wonky/unclear.
Physical advantages
  • Often does not rely on MP but on HP. In games where it costs MP (this is SMTV:V), physical tends to be cheaper.
  • Simpler damage formula meaning it only really considers one stat. Scales extremely well into the late game.
  • Smaller noteworthy skill pool, leaves room for passives and support skills.
  • Fits well into games where you have a lower skill pool.
Physical disadvantages
  • Late bloomer on protagonists. Does not scale well early game; physical protagonists kinda tend to be sitting ducks or rely on poorly-scaled elemental skills until the midgame, where they start dealing comparable damage.
  • Physical demons get outranked. Quickly. This is because of said simpler damage formula; demons level up slower than the protagonist does. Not good for clearing trash mobs.
    • Can cause a money deficit when fusing physical demons as you're constantly pulling from the compendium to move your demons closer to your level.
  • Unreliable press turn generation; you're reliant on criticals to get more press turns, which is dubiously reliable or requires using weak skills.
I did magic in both SMT4:A and SMTV and I felt like it worked pretty well, but yeah it’s heavily reliant on hitting weaknesses and your skill slots fill up very quickly. I’m also going to be trying out a physical build for Vengeance.
 
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The new additions to the plot heavily satirize and insinuate capitalism.
It's less about capitalism and moreso American hegemony, which isn't a new idea for SMT. Law has always had an association with that worldview as early as SMT1 (where the American ambassador drops the nukes to try and stop the demon invasion.) That's also why Laws big guy is the Abrahamic God and why many Law demons are angelic figures - the US is heavily associated with it's extreme brand of Christianity, even nowadays.

By contrast, Chaos is more heavily associated with Japanese feudalism, with it's SMT1 representative outright being a Japanese conservative military guy who wants to go back to the good old days. Lucifers human form in SMT1/2 also has explicit "American arms dealer" associations attached to him (he's giving the military guy the tools to do the demon invasion), to kinda push the idea that Chaos isn't really that different from Law in the end. (Which is true, both Law and Chaos are fundamentally extremist ideologies who think that the only way for humans to survive is to crush those who oppose them underneath it - Chaos is slightly more likeable in that they don't really pretend otherwise that their beliefs are the product of "survival of the fittest".)

This is why the franchise always gets accused of having a neutral bias; Neutral is based on things like Stephen Hawking's books about atheism and the big bang (this is why the guy who makes the demon summoning program is Stephen Hawking). The creators of SMT have a very clear belief that the only way forward is to just trust humanity to walk the path between Law and Chaos on their own, taking elements from both without going too far in either direction.
 
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By now 90% of game plots feel like that to some degree.

Has it overall more substance?
The main plot of the base edition felt really hollow for most of the time.
SMTV's base plot has a good amount of substance, it's just delivered in a way where you kinda have to start guessing what the intent was behind it since half of it is unfinished.

The original game's development cycle was a complete mess and suffered several delays, which leaves a lot of ideas unfinished. Vengeance appears to fill out a lot of the original ideas, but the framing is still the same. The main shortcomings of the original are mostly that the representatives are seriously underwritten and as a result you're mainly reliant on the Angels, Gods and Demons to fill out the gaps, whose behavior is always more... esoteric since they pull double duty as alignment representatives and being an attempt to depict an Angel/God/Demon as befitting of it's original myths.

In more detail; SMTV mainly deals with themes involving The End of History (based on the book) and The Fall of America/The West. SMTV asks the question that, assuming American dominance over the geopolitical landscape were to end, what would Japan be doing next (a theme not unfamiliar to megaten; SMT1 asks a similar question in the form of "what should Japan do after WW2", just that SMT1 had the benefit of hindsight, while SMTV is more speculative).

You can see this framed pretty clearly in terms of the demons associated with Bethel and the directions they take once Arioch falls and God is all but confirmed to have died since the Nahobino exist once more. Odin and Zeus both represent Europe and when it becomes clear that YHVH is actually dead, they both go back to their own areas in the world of Da'at. Europe would have a lot to lose from the fall of the US, but both are ultimately safe from it due to their power predating that of the US - they're unlikely to fall apart from it. Meanwhile, Shiva and Vasuki both represent India; a country with much to gain from the West falling as it's unique economic growth over the past decades has granted it a position of pseudo-world power, but diplomatically, it's not strongly affiliated with the West nor is it strongly affiliated with the Wests enemies and it's been able to grow into an economic powerhouse regardless of either. It's why Shiva doesn't even bother showing up to the Bethel meeting - if the world is going to end, he'll just do his dance to ensure that no matter what, the Indian gods will have their place in the new world; from this comparing perspective, India will likely be fine, no matter what.

The only one who doesn't fit neatly is Khonsu and this is where the games troubled development cycle becomes a problem. Khonsu is on paper affiliated with the Egyptian branch of Bethel, but already immediately abandons the throne because he sympathizes with Miyasu. A lazy read would be to assume that he's meant to represent Africa - a continent that even in the face of a Western collapse has very little to gain from it's collapse and also very little to lose since it likely won't be a world power regardless - the continent is still developing. The more interesting angle is combining his plotline with the games Neutral route, which is clearly intended as you need to clear Khonsu's sidequest (alongside beating Shiva) to unlock the True Neutral ending. Base SMTV's Neutral route is chiefly represented by the Chinese mother goddess Nuwa and the resident Raidou callback - Yakumo. It is not a surprise that Nuwa is picked here - if the US were to fall, China is easily the world hegemony slated to replace it. From this perspective, Khonsu's affiliation with Africa becomes much stronger; since China has been accused of neo-colonialist behavior in Africa and Khonsu's abandonment of the throne and his sidequest being required for the True Neutral ending play into this idea. Khonsu is unfortunately just underdeveloped, so much of this remains speculation.

And that finally leaves the Christian branch, the Japan branch and Chaos (the enemy "faction" led by Arioch, although it's organization is poor). The Christian branch is easily explained - the remains of YHVHs army, now trying to keep a faction of myriad Gods they'd otherwise have hated and would have crushed together. Abdiel is the extremist position among them; she believes that she can just beat the demons using the strength of the angels alone. The game goes to... rather extreme lengths to prove how delusional Abdiel ultimately is however - the Bethel branch meeting cutscene might as well be an extended takedown of her beliefs. If we stick to my previous analogy, the Christian branch is the US, desperately trying to keep itself together after the fall of it's dominance. Abdiel in this perspective then represents the kind of ultranationalism that is pretty common in the US.

The Japan branch meanwhile is... more difficult to explain. It's quite clearly meant to represent Japan as a whole, however it has been all but decimated after the fall of YHVH (in the analogy - Japan has a lot to lose on the world stage if the US were to fall and it being considered a world player has hinged a lot on the US). Unlike the other branches, who are represented by major gods in the pantheons present in those regions, the Japan branch is represented by the core faction representatives, the protagonist, Tao and the pair of proto-fiends that are Aogami and Koshimizu (who the game elaborates on are Susano-o and Tsukiyomi. This doesn't fit in cleanly anywhere else but I just want to mention quickly that Aogami in particular has some superhero elements to him - Susano-o and Tsukiyomi are both Japanese gods who are often used in popular entertainment, giving them both the idea of a "fictional hero".) Tao is mainly neutral; she'll guide the player no matter what and both the faction representatives are underdeveloped in this game (likely due to a bad development cycle). That mainly leaves Koshimizu as the one carrying the main idea behind Japan branch's analogy/wishes: Koshimizu wants to declare that God is dead, under the belief that a world of myriad gods all working for themselves is what will allow Japan (and the rest of the world) to thrive. (This is almost stated verbatim in the game). This is why he ultimately represents the Chaos faction in the endgame the best and really Chaos as a whole; Arioch wanted the same thing as Koshimizu did, but couldn't organize the demons/scheme enough to bring it about (which is why the few organized Chaos demon generals are all representative of minor religions; a basic example would be Chernobog, a demon based on an eastern european god of misfortune). Koshimizu had to go in solo to pull it off.

And that brings the endings: for a brief summary of them: In Law, you take the throne and make a new world under the rule of the old world in the hope that YHVH will some day return, in Chaos you create the world of Myriad Gods, in regular Neutral you destroy the throne and leave nothing in it's wake and in True Neutral you destroy the throne but remain in it's seat to prevent any gods from appearing ever again as a new world is made regardless.

Law is essentially just hoping that some day, the US' world hegemony will return, although the game is pretty explicit that there is essentially no hope of this ever happening. Chaos meanwhile brings about the world of myriad gods, but it does so under the admittance that all bringing this world about did was create more strive (befitting for Chaos). Regular neutral is considered negatively by the game - the game all but calls you a chicken for not picking any option and notes that the lack of creation of a new world will just mean that the current world will fizzle out.

True Neutral meanwhile calls back to 4: Apocalypse and sees you remove the influence of Gods and Demons from humanity. It doesn't go the full nine yards and tell you that this is the best ending possible - the downside is that Gods and Demons have clearly influenced human ideals and beliefs and letting go of them means actively killing your own beliefs (something the game draws attention to with how it also requires getting rid of Aogami), but it's pretty clearly favored by the developers due to how difficult it is to get.

I'm not sure how Vengeance will elaborate on these ideas yet but when I've finished it, I'll see if I can write a followup to this.
 
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I remember reading that Canon of Creation would get new story scenes. Is this true, or is the original version of the game completely untouched?
 
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This is why the franchise always gets accused of having a neutral bias; Neutral is based on things like Stephen Hawking's books about atheism and the big bang (this is why the guy who makes the demon summoning program is Stephen Hawking). The creators of SMT have a very clear belief that the only way forward is to just trust humanity to walk the path between Law and Chaos on their own, taking elements from both without going too far in either direction.
I mean... yes, that's the only logical conclusion to the paths the game presents you with. Both Law and Chaos (as presented in the games) are always far, far too extreme to either side to be actual viable options - even if you can see some of the appeal of why those paths might start to be walked on in the first place they don't lead anywhere good.

I don't think you can really call that a 'neutral bias', it's just the way that it is in SMT games. There basically isn't a good solution or path - we just have to trust humanity to learn from the perils of both extremes and walk the middle, like you said.
 
SMTV's base plot has a good amount of substance, it's just delivered in a way where you kinda have to start guessing what the intent was behind it since half of it is unfinished.
Yeah... And that's where I'm staying with my call: not enough there.
It takes a ton of huge ideas to build it's base (kind of the point of it's setting)... And does not much with them. It's kind of the equivalent to a teenager doing a lot of fancy citations for an essay... But doing nothing with them.
Sounds fancy on the surface. But it's not hard to cite deep stuff... The struggle comes when you try to spin into a cohesive narrative
Be it to transport the ideas of the stuff you take, to set a counter position, even if you use it as set dressing and want to just tell an entertaining story. For its length SMTV does fuck all with a ton of it till the last area.

The original game's development cycle was a complete mess and suffered several delays, which leaves a lot of ideas unfinished. Vengeance appears to fill out a lot of the original ideas, but the framing is still the same. The main shortcomings of the original are mostly that the representatives are seriously underwritten and as a result you're mainly reliant on the Angels, Gods and Demons to fill out the gaps, whose behavior is always more... esoteric since they pull double duty as alignment representatives and being an attempt to depict an Angel/God/Demon as befitting of it's original myths.
Oh for sure, but then again:
Wanting to tell a deep engaging story and actually doing it is a huge difference.
Allmost all developers WANT that.
SMT also takes such topics that play to the edge factor... And it's a slim line between taking all those things for the cool/edge/controversy factor, or to really do something with it.
In my book, they missed the mark and the story/game scrapes by on vibes.

In more detail; SMTV mainly deals with themes involving The End of History (based on the book) and The Fall of America/The West. SMTV asks the question that, assuming American dominance over the geopolitical landscape were to end, what would Japan be doing next (a theme not unfamiliar to megaten; SMT1 asks a similar question in the form of "what should Japan do after WW2", just that SMT1 had the benefit of hindsight, while SMTV is more speculative).

You can see this framed pretty clearly in terms of the demons associated with Bethel and the directions they take once Arioch falls and God is all but confirmed to have died since the Nahobino exist once more. Odin and Zeus both represent Europe and when it becomes clear that YHVH is actually dead, they both go back to their own areas in the world of Da'at. Europe would have a lot to lose from the fall of the US, but both are ultimately safe from it due to their power predating that of the US - they're unlikely to fall apart from it. Meanwhile, Shiva and Vasuki both represent India; a country with much to gain from the West falling as it's unique economic growth over the past decades has granted it a position of pseudo-world power, but diplomatically, it's not strongly affiliated with the West nor is it strongly affiliated with the Wests enemies and it's been able to grow into an economic powerhouse regardless of either. It's why Shiva doesn't even bother showing up to the Bethel meeting - if the world is going to end, he'll just do his dance to ensure that no matter what, the Indian gods will have their place in the new world; from this comparing perspective, India will likely be fine, no matter what.

The only one who doesn't fit neatly is Khonsu and this is where the games troubled development cycle becomes a problem. Khonsu is on paper affiliated with the Egyptian branch of Bethel, but already immediately abandons the throne because he sympathizes with Miyasu. A lazy read would be to assume that he's meant to represent Africa - a continent that even in the face of a Western collapse has very little to gain from it's collapse and also very little to lose since it likely won't be a world power regardless - the continent is still developing. The more interesting angle is combining his plotline with the games Neutral route, which is clearly intended as you need to clear Khonsu's sidequest (alongside beating Shiva) to unlock the True Neutral ending. Base SMTV's Neutral route is chiefly represented by the Chinese mother goddess Nuwa and the resident Raidou callback - Yakumo. It is not a surprise that Nuwa is picked here - if the US were to fall, China is easily the world hegemony slated to replace it. From this perspective, Khonsu's affiliation with Africa becomes much stronger; since China has been accused of neo-colonialist behavior in Africa and Khonsu's abandonment of the throne and his sidequest being required for the True Neutral ending play into this idea. Khonsu is unfortunately just underdeveloped, so much of this remains speculation.

And that finally leaves the Christian branch, the Japan branch and Chaos (the enemy "faction" led by Arioch, although it's organization is poor). The Christian branch is easily explained - the remains of YHVHs army, now trying to keep a faction of myriad Gods they'd otherwise have hated and would have crushed together. Abdiel is the extremist position among them; she believes that she can just beat the demons using the strength of the angels alone. The game goes to... rather extreme lengths to prove how delusional Abdiel ultimately is however - the Bethel branch meeting cutscene might as well be an extended takedown of her beliefs. If we stick to my previous analogy, the Christian branch is the US, desperately trying to keep itself together after the fall of it's dominance. Abdiel in this perspective then represents the kind of ultranationalism that is pretty common in the US.

The Japan branch meanwhile is... more difficult to explain. It's quite clearly meant to represent Japan as a whole, however it has been all but decimated after the fall of YHVH (in the analogy - Japan has a lot to lose on the world stage if the US were to fall and it being considered a world player has hinged a lot on the US). Unlike the other branches, who are represented by major gods in the pantheons present in those regions, the Japan branch is represented by the core faction representatives, the protagonist, Tao and the pair of proto-fiends that are Aogami and Koshimizu (who the game elaborates on are Susano-o and Tsukiyomi. This doesn't fit in cleanly anywhere else but I just want to mention quickly that Aogami in particular has some superhero elements to him - Susano-o and Tsukiyomi are both Japanese gods who are often used in popular entertainment, giving them both the idea of a "fictional hero".) Tao is mainly neutral; she'll guide the player no matter what and both the faction representatives are underdeveloped in this game (likely due to a bad development cycle). That mainly leaves Koshimizu as the one carrying the main idea behind Japan branch's analogy/wishes: Koshimizu wants to declare that God is dead, under the belief that a world of myriad gods all working for themselves is what will allow Japan (and the rest of the world) to thrive. (This is almost stated verbatim in the game). This is why he ultimately represents the Chaos faction in the endgame the best and really Chaos as a whole; Arioch wanted the same thing as Koshimizu did, but couldn't organize the demons/scheme enough to bring it about (which is why the few organized Chaos demon generals are all representative of minor religions; a basic example would be Chernobog, a demon based on an eastern european god of misfortune). Koshimizu had to go in solo to pull it off.

And that brings the endings: for a brief summary of them: In Law, you take the throne and make a new world under the rule of the old world in the hope that YHVH will some day return, in Chaos you create the world of Myriad Gods, in regular Neutral you destroy the throne and leave nothing in it's wake and in True Neutral you destroy the throne but remain in it's seat to prevent any gods from appearing ever again as a new world is made regardless.

Law is essentially just hoping that some day, the US' world hegemony will return, although the game is pretty explicit that there is essentially no hope of this ever happening. Chaos meanwhile brings about the world of myriad gods, but it does so under the admittance that all bringing this world about did was create more strive (befitting for Chaos). Regular neutral is considered negatively by the game - the game all but calls you a chicken for not picking any option and notes that the lack of creation of a new world will just mean that the current world will fizzle out.

True Neutral meanwhile calls back to 4: Apocalypse and sees you remove the influence of Gods and Demons from humanity. It doesn't go the full nine yards and tell you that this is the best ending possible - the downside is that Gods and Demons have clearly influenced human ideals and beliefs and letting go of them means actively killing your own beliefs (something the game draws attention to with how it also requires getting rid of Aogami), but it's pretty clearly favored by the developers due to how difficult it is to get.

I'm not sure how Vengeance will elaborate on these ideas yet but when I've finished it, I'll see if I can write a followup to this.
I know the book (did not read the book but read into the ideas), and find them ... Almost egotistical. I think every society had it's "were the perfect form of society, what else should come" moment.
I see a lot of potential in working critically with the concept, add to that the multiple endings I see why they would take it as a core thesis for the story they WANT to tell. But as you say yourself: the human characters are severely underwritten, partially because there aber up to 10h of gameplay till a handful of lines of dialogue gets exchanged. The demons can't play all roles, and the meeting felt like "o crap, we need to set up the ending somehow".
I like your interpretation... But it's doing a looooot of heavy lifting, and imho the game does not to warrant it, and many far different interpretations are also possible.

Not in the "open to interpretation" way, more in the "not enough to narrow it down" sense.


No idea if vengeance fixes that. That was probably my biggest disappointment with the game. (And the balancing.
Normal: general battles to easy, bosses fine. Hard: random battles fine, some bosses real bullshit. )
 
Gameplay improvements are excellent and it looks amazing now. Excited to see the story finally realized.
 
Bummer if performance isn't noticeably improved. I have no problem with picking this up on PC, but a meaty RPG like this works so much better on Switch that I'd prefer to play on there. Gonna wait for some more impressions/reviews. Hopefully a day 1 patch fixes some things up.
Same here. It is rather unlikely I would finish the game on PC, even if it looks and runs beautifully and is just an excellent game. I prefer portability and the flexibility it provides with such time consuming games. On the other hand, in this case, what Switch provides in the visual and performance department might sour my experience now that I know how it could perform. SMT V will still be a banger next year, maybe I'll play it on Switch 2 if it gets a next gen release or offers better performance with backwards compatibility.
 
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im gonna wait for switch 2 and a steep sale. If that one can have betteer performance (dynamic resolution + resulting more stable framerate) then im gona give Vengance a try at say 20€...
 
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Was gonna wait until after Elden Ring's DLC but I couldn't resist and picked it up (Steam version). Having a ton of fun, this game is so so good and every change they've made so far has been for the better.
 
I love how much the game trolls you by giving you access to a lot of good Ice demons just before the Hydra fight (Mermaid, Nyami Nyami, Apsaras if you do that quest)… that are all weak to fire.
 
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It is a huge shame the Steam version cannot be played on a portable device. Alas.
 
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