Feature Play: Shin Megami Tensei VI
In midst of a rather exciting revival of both the JRPG genre and the excitement for the upcoming Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 5 game, we thought it would be a great idea to take a look back at a game that really convinced us that even though Vita is a great niche handheld for JRPGamers (especially those who want the cross-play oriented games that have come out recently like God Eater series, Sword Art Online series, and Digimon: Cybersleuth), they’d be missing out on a rather meaty collection of games if they ignored Nintendo’s 3DS handheld series.
The story is where Shin Megami Tensei VI gets it right! It starts in the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado, where those who turn eighteen years old have to go through a ritual regardless of whether they want to or not.
It’s a ritual at Mikado Castle and it’s to find out if they are a chosen one, one who can become a samurai. It is an honor to be chosen in the “Gauntlet Rite” but it is also one with a heavy burden because you are responsible for defending your kingdom from possible danger.
You come in as the newest recruit who’s become a samurai, but you’re also one of a few which are mixed up from the upper and lower class groups of the kingdom. Now this wouldn’t be an SMT game if there weren’t demons, and as luck would have it, that’s who you’re fighting against.
The story avoids being too formulaic, if anything is comes off as one of the dev’s most ambitious ones to date. This is especially true when you compare it to the previous game SMT: Nocturne, which was steeped in modern looking aesthetics. This one takes on a more medieval, Samurai inspired era style.
It also wouldn’t be a SMT game without the sense of challenge, and you get that in the Press-Turn system. It is still turn based like their other games; there is a big reward/risk feel to it. Funny enough, the difference in battle here is rather … quirky. It’s called the Smirk system.
Both you and your enemies have the ability to flash a grin after they’ve successfully done an attack. These grins allow for more damage to be done, and add a lot of challenge to the system.
But honestly this isn’t too shocking for SMT, which has always played a bit like this. You’ll find yourself both empowered and at the mercy of the system. You could even find yourself getting your ass kicked! And this is even possible on the lower difficulties.
Finally, where the story shines the most (and this so true for many of Atlus’s games, especially the Persona series) is the characters and the depth of the story. There’s always a psychological/sociological commentary embedded in these narratives, and SMT 4 is no exception.
It’s always been celebrated for its rather dark approach to telling a story of the human condition. But we’re not going to tell you what it’s about. You’ll have to check it out on your own.