on December 29, 2016 by Mitch Jay
If you’re one of those who enjoyed Shin Megami Tensei IV but thought that it had more than a few issues, then know you certainly aren’t alone. I thought it was a great game, but Apocalypse had me glued from the beginning and is one of the best titles of 2016, as well as one of the strongest titles on the 3DS.
The 3DS has eaten a lot of my time this Autumn and Winter, and I’ve been very happy with it! Apocalypse is one of those games that kept me glued for 30+ hours as I fell in love with the characters and its challenging battles, and it’s a massive improvement over the first game. The first game was far from awful and although I struggle to put my finger on it, there was something about the game that was missing – it might’ve been the difficulty, as many have pointed out, which was inconsistent rather than genuinely difficult.
One of the best titles of 2016, as well as one of the strongest titles on the 3DS.
Apocalypse is still difficult but there are 5 difficulty levels to pick from, so people can play at a pace that they’re comfortable with – those yearning for nail-biting battles will certainly find them in apocalypse mode! Anyway, Apocalypse takes place in the same universe as SMTIV, where Flynn and Isabeau are still fighting to free humanity and Tokyo, but now focuses on newcomer Nanashi and his friend Asahi. It isn’t long until things go downhill and Nanashi has to rely on a demon to continue living, and so begins his journey as Godslayer – one to kill all of the Gods.
Apocalypse may not have many drastic options and paths to choose from like its predecessor, but it’s a tighter story with better pacing that won’t let you go. There’s a bigger cast of characters with many new faces and several familiar ones, and Flynn (the hero from the first game) has been fleshed out to be more of a character than he was ever in Shin Megami Tensei IV. Navarre, who I’m sure nobody liked, is one of my favourite characters in Apocalypse and there wasn’t a person in my party that I didn’t like – they’re all bursting with personality and bring light to a world that’s struggling to survive. It’s certainly a bleak story, but it’s not overly dark and oppressive – you’re fighting to free the world after all, you have to be optimistic!
A tighter story with better pacing that won’t let you go.
Gameplay-wise it’s very similar to the first game in that it’s a JRPG and that many of the locations will already be familiar to you but, as mentioned earlier, there are more difficulty options so more people will be able to enjoy Apocalypse (the game, not the mode because that’s some gruelling stuff you guys and you’ve got to prepare yourselves mentally for that battering) rather than be stumped by the almighty Minotaur. You can carry multiple demons and have 3 join you in battle as you tackle hordes of enemies – you can pick a partner to back you up and they all have varying, useful skills so it’s great to switch things up! There are plenty of stat-changing weapons and equipment to play with too, and they also change your appearance.
The demon negotiation system returns and I tell you what, if another demon asks me for 3 separate batches of Manna then I’m just straight up Navarre at them – half the time they go home anyway! Honestly though, I adore the negotiation system and at times it can be hilarious, whilst other times it makes you wonder why you’re not already casting magic at the demon. It’s important to make use of this throughout the game to gain a strong party, and to fuse demons, as demons eventually stop learning skills and more or less come to a standstill – you don’t want that Pixie in your party by the end, no matter what level it is.
Apocalypse boasts excellent English voice talent.
There a more than a few new 2D portraits going around which are gorgeous as always – other than the demons that are a bit of an eyesore – and I generally enjoyed how the new cast look, and Nozomi’s new outfit is pretty rad! With many of the locations returning from the first game, there isn’t a whole lot of new stuff to see but that doesn’t mean there aren’t new locations! Regardless, it sets the tone of the game well and other than having to run around the home base a little bit more than I’d have preferred and some locations towards the end, I never really felt as if I was constantly retreading the same ground.
Apocalypse boasts excellent English voice talent – I’d recognise Karen Strassman’s voice anywhere! She plays Nozomi, of course. Other than that we have a good few notable voice-actors and actresses joining the cast including Erica Lindbeck as Asahi, Xander Mobus as Dagda amongst many other lovely people, and returning voices such as Matthew Mercer. Apocalypse’s soundtrack helps the visuals set the tone and provides intense tracks for battles, and never once did the tunes grate on me – if anything, I’d happily listen to it now!
A fantastic game that stands amongst the greatest on the system’s expansive library.
Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse is a fantastic game that stands amongst the greatest on the system’s expansive library, and Atlus clearly looked at what held the first game back and improved upon it here. The translation and peformances are highly enjoyable, the gameplay is addicting and fast-paced, and the story is gripping along with the characters who carry it forward. If you didn’t like the first game then don’t let that put you off and, although I recommend playing it anyway, you can skip the first game and enjoy this one quite easily. This is one of my personal favourite games of the year, and so it goes without saying that this is an easy recommendation from me.