Intricate, elegant 'Shin Megami Tensei V' spins a haunting tale

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Posted at 3:23 PM, Nov 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-16 15:23:35-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — "Shin Megami Tensei V" is a Thanksgiving feast for JRPG-loving Switch owners. The meaty, deep game presents a dense, deep world rife for exploration and study as you work your way through its sprawling, twist-filled tale.

Eight years after the last numbered entry graced the 3DS, the franchise re-emerges from the shadows, taking advantage of the brighter, more detailed screen current hardware offers.

The system may have changed, but the setup remains broadly similar to what we've seen in past entries, dating back to the late 1980s.

Set in modern-day Tokyo, you play a high school student attempting to work your way through the social strata, which become part of a select group of heroes who protect society from a hidden onslaught of dark forces.

Navigating social and academic commitments alongside your ongoing crusade, you build up your forces by recruiting enemies to join you. Just as in the "Persona" spinoff, the summonable strength and spells from the souls you recruit can make all the difference between a smooth victory and an arduous grind.

As is nearly always the case with "Shin Megami Tensei" games, the plot descends into a wild and raucous throwdown among demonic, angelic and chaotic neutral elements, with the protagonists reduced to chess pieces in a more significant opera at play.

An updated combat system focuses more on action and skill rather than button-spamming. Combat has been an irritating necessity at times in the series, but here it's something of a high point.

It's the writing where the game hits more complex than in the combat arena. Challenging themes, such as psychological abuse, gender inequity, and economic hardships, abound. Intense thought went into shaping the characters as powerful, complete, and complicated psychological beings.

A thumping soundtrack helps underline the emotional and action undertones, heightening the intensity with the suave synchronicity of a film or TV series.

You'll get the most out of "Shin Megami Tensei V" if you set aside the urge to blow through the story. Appreciate the small touches and seek out the hidden oddities. If it takes eight more years until we see "Shin Megami Tensei VI," it's best to make this meal last as long as you can.

The publisher provided a review code.

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