Published on June 13th, 2024 | by Abdul Saad

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance PS5 Review

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance PS5 Review Abdul Saad

Summary: Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is an incredible expansion that adds a slew of new content and previous DLC for free, well-needed gameplay improvements and quality-of-life changes. While they don't solve most of the game's core issues, the added content more than makes up for it and provides a stellar experience that quickly proves its superiority to the base game.


Chasing Vengeance

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is Atlus’ latest remix of the original title, released back in 2022. Like many of the publisher’s other re-releases, the game introduces all-new mechanics and improvements. After playing the game for a second time, I can confidently say that the title is an improvement in many ways to the original but does not eliminate all its existing issues.

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance follows you as a random high schooler who starts his average day in a boring high school. After class, you socialize by meeting classmates, and all seems fine until an earthquake unexpectedly occurs, knocking you out. When you awake, you find yourself in the world of Da’At, a post-apocalyptic version of Tokyo, in the middle of a massive battle of dominance between angels and demons. Upon waking up, you quickly find yourself surrounded by demons until a being known as Aogami saves you by fusing into the Nahobino, a mysterious being that is neither human nor deity.

The core concept, characters, and premise are impeccable and presented well. My only gripe is how little we see of these narrative elements for the first ten hours or so. Players will roam the Netherworld, the previously bustling city of Tokyo turned apocalyptic desert-scape, doing all manner of things, which mainly include fighting demons, being extorted by demons, heavily involving themselves in the lives and ecosystem of the demons, and finding a variety of items and collectibles.

Vengeance mixes things up by introducing an all-new narrative branch that sees players choose to help or ignore a mysterious girl. Choosing to help her will allow you to go into the Vengeance route, which adds new characters, including a brand new side character and a villain. This decision will also drastically change the narrative in the latter half, making the story grander in scope and more entertaining. This is because the narrative becomes interesting specifically due to the inclusion of the new characters, the four female Demons known as the Qadištu, who seek to have revenge on Humans and Angels. The expansion also notably adds a new playable character, Yoko Hiromine, who helps players right from the start. She provides great help to players as her inclusion makes bosses and fights much easier as now players have more varied sets of skills. Besides Yoko, the expansion also adds a new area called Demon Haunts, which are little resting areas seen in games like Persona 5, where players can interact with characters and demons, exchange gifts, and more.

What I love specifically about the expansion is that it gives new characters early on as players will Meet Yoko, control her, and fight an all new boss right from the first few hours. It also adds all new demons including quirky ones like a Nahobino Jack frost, along with new field exploration elements, demon conversations, new battles, subquest, new demon experiences, and more. One of the best inclusions, however, is the new Miracle Estoma. While activated, you are undetectable by all but a few demons on the field, and when you encounter a demon, the demon disappears, and combat will be avoided. This allows players to explore and progress without worrying about unwanted advances from demons. In addition, it adds several previous DLC features as standard features, such as Demons, Quests, and characters, including the Demi Fiend, which is guarded by a particularly tough quest.

Speaking of SMT V’s combat, it is where the game truly engages you. If you’re anything like me and live and breathe JRPGs, you’ll feel well at home with SMTV’s combat system. Demons roam freely about the Netherspace, and it’s up to you to either approach them head-on or wait till their backs are turned to attack, prompting the start of the battle with an advantage. Each demon has a weakness, and it’s up to you to find out what that is and exploit it, mainly because in SMT V, more turns are granted to you when a weakness is exploited, proving just how important it is to take advantage of said weaknesses.

This is why having more demons with a diverse skill set will come in handy, as no matter the demon, you’ll be prepared to face them. Of course, acquiring the help of demons won’t always be a simple task as each has its own bizarrely unique and often funny personalities, and all want something from you, whether it’s your life savings, soul, or health. You will fail a lot in winning the demons over, but the beauty of Shin Megami Tensei V is that you can always try again when you do. Aside from demons, there are also tools players can use to have the advantage, one of my favorites being the Spyglass, which displays the weaknesses of a demon and is a tool that’s noticeably missing from most Shin Megami Tensei games. Players can also use Shards and Dampers to always be one step ahead of their opponent, explore the world of shadows to fuse powerful demons, and acquire skills like increasing their elemental affinities, increasing their demon slots, and acquiring more skills by fusing another demon’s essence, among other things.

All that said, it’s easy to see how different the mainline SMT games are to the Persona series as while combat is considerably more difficult (especially on normal and hard mode) and methodological, it is significantly more engaging and, dare I say, satisfying, due to the number of options provided to players. However, it’s also worth noting that combat in SMTV can be a bit frustrating at times. Not only is grinding a necessity before and after any major boss in the game in order to have a smooth experience, but specific differences to the Persona series, like how reviving demons doesn’t immediately bring them back into action, really stand out. And while demons can extort you for all manner of items, I find it odd that they can’t even use said items in battles.

Outside combat, players can admire Shin Megami Tensei V’s impeccable character designs and art direction. While the character models aren’t as pretty as those in the Persona series, the models are shockingly detailed, especially that of the new characters; specifically, the designs of the demons are visually impressive, with unique, detailed locations introduced at various points in the story. In addition, the environments have all been well crafted and really succeeded in presenting the post-apocalyptic aesthetic. It’s just too bad that some of the game’s locations (especially the first) grow progressively bland as you go through the game, especially because you’ll be spending, on average, about ten hours or so in each section.

Aside from that, the act of transversal in SMTV feels incredibly effortless and satisfying. Nahobino’s movements are incredibly swift and light, making it easy to move from point A to B, and the ability to instantly spawn at your last save location (known as Leyline Founts) and fast travel to any of said Leyline Founts is a complete godsend, especially in dangerous moments in unfamiliar territories. Additionally, players can indulge themselves in the many side quests the game has to offer. Many demons have their own stories to tell in the form of subquests. Although it’s worth mentioning, most of the said subquests are fetch quests or kill X amount of X enemy. However, the excellent side quests really stand out despite their smaller narrative scale.

Performance-wise,  Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance runs really well on current-gen consoles. The game feels really swift and responsive thanks to the 60 FPS and the visuals are especially impressive. I also ran into no glitches and bugs, as the game ran smoothly throughout.

Final Thoughts?

Overall, Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is an incredible expansion that adds a slew of new content and previous DLC for free, well-needed gameplay improvements and quality-of-life changes. While they don’t solve most of the game’s core issues, the added content more than makes up for it and provides a stellar experience that quickly proves its superiority to the base game.

About the Author'

Abdul Saad is a seasoned entertainment journalist and critic, and has been writing for five years on multiple gaming sites. When he isn't writing or playing the latest JRPG, he can be found coding games of his own or tinkering with something electrical.

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