Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse isn’t really a remake of Shin Megami Tensei IV, nor is it a sequel to the original game. Instead, Apocalypse is somewhat of a side story offshoot from the 2013 title. Covered with new characters and an all-new story, can Apocalypse stand on its own as a memorable 3DS title?
As someone who played SMT IV back when it first launched more than three years ago, diving back into Tokyo was a familiar-feeling experience. Many environments were re-used, and adversaries throughout the game felt very familiar. Playing through Apocalypse felt a little bit like watching a TV show after not seeing it for several years. I did not really remember what the environments were like, for example, but when I revisited them I remembered that I had been there before.
Fortunately, Apocalypse has an all new story with shiny new characters that players can familiarize themselves with. The characters were well designed and all contributed well to the genuinely interesting story. I enjoyed that the lore did not seem like a simple shoe-in for a new title. Instead, Apocalypse introduces genuinely engaging villains and an enticing environment to explore.
Moreover, the core Shin Megami Tensei gameplay stays as good as ever.
For those that do not know, gameplay in Shin Megami Tensei is like an “adult” version of Pokemon. Players must recruit demons to fight on their side in order to take on enemies. The recruiting process is not just as simple as throwing a Pokeball, however. In order to get a demon on your team, you will have to partake in a dialogue conversation with the demon and give the demon items to convince them to join the team.
Sometimes the demon will oblige, while other times the demon will get angry and retaliate in response to a poor dialogue choice.
Like Pokemon, these demons can transform (evolve), learn moves, and can even be combined with other demons to form even more powerful species.
In battle, type advantages are integral to success. If you land a move that is particularly effective against a demon, you will receive an extra turn to move. If the attack is weak against the opponent, you lose a turn to move. The same thing applies to the enemy as well – if their attack is super-effective against you, they will receive an extra move as well. This battle system ensures that players are always cognizant of type advantages and strategy.
With a lengthy playtime and more than 450 different demons to recruit and battle, the game has quite the breadth of content for players to experience. The locations are varied, and Apocalypse keeps battle strategy varied and fun.
It’s difficult to recommend Apocalypse to fans of the SMT franchise, though. On one hand, SMT IV is one of the best games on the 3DS and is surely worth a playthrough by every 3DS owner. Apocalypse, however, is more or less a re-skin of the 2013 title with a new story perspective. Those that are looking to dive back into an SMT title with an expanded story and don’t mind retreading familiar ground will surely find a lot of recognizable fun in Apocalypse. For those that never played the original title, Apocalypse isn’t a bad place to start. However, considering how good of a game SMT IV is, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to go back and play the original release instead.