Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance Review

Explore Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance with new paths, enhanced combat, and visuals.

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance Review – Losing My Religion

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance introduces a host of additions, improvements, and quality-of-life adjustments that transform an already-great RPG into a classic.

A Second Chance for Greatness

The original Shin Megami Tensei V was a standout title when it launched in 2021. I praised its challenging combat, excellent art design, diverse cast of mythological beings, and the dark, oppressive atmosphere where humanity hangs by a thread. However, there was certainly room for improvement. With the release of Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance, Atlus has taken the opportunity to refine and expand on the original game, making significant changes that elevate it to new heights.

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Enhanced Performance Across Platforms

One of the most significant upgrades in Vengeance is its performance. Unlike the original, which was constrained by the Nintendo Switch hardware, Vengeance is now a multiplatform release, allowing the game to run at a much smoother 60fps. The original Switch version often struggled with performance issues, especially in large, open environments or during intense combat sequences. This is no longer a problem on other platforms. While we reviewed Vengeance on the PS5 and cannot speak to the current performance of the Switch version, we know it aims to run at 30fps on the Switch.

Running at 60fps greatly enhances the gameplay experience, making combat smoother and exploration more fluid. The frame rate stability on platforms like the PS5 ensures that the game’s dynamic and intense battles are more enjoyable and less frustrating. This technical improvement is crucial for a game that relies heavily on strategic combat and precise timing.

Visuals and Art Design

Visually, Vengeance retains much of the original’s aesthetic, with environments and character models that may not match the intricate detail seen on current-gen consoles. However, the game’s stunning art design compensates for this. The world is filled with beautiful angels and goddesses, vile demonic hellspawn, and a blend of tarnished wastelands and mysterious, otherworldly constructs.

The art design in Shin Megami Tensei V has always been one of its strongest points. The game’s environments, though not hyper-detailed, are richly atmospheric and meticulously crafted to evoke a sense of otherworldly dread. The character models, especially the demons, are striking and memorable. Each demon is a unique blend of mythology and creativity, making encounters feel fresh and exciting.

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The game’s use of color and lighting further enhances its visual appeal. The bleak, post-apocalyptic landscapes of Da’at are juxtaposed with the vibrant and often grotesque designs of the demons, creating a visually arresting experience. This blend of the macabre and the beautiful is a hallmark of the Shin Megami Tensei series, and Vengeance continues this tradition admirably.

The Canon of Vengeance Story Path

One of the most significant additions to Vengeance is the new story path, the Canon of Vengeance. This path can be chosen at the game’s outset and introduces Yoko Hiromine, a student from a neighboring school trained in exorcism and harboring a grudge against her institution. Yoko’s story begins early, as she aids the player after a mini-boss encounter with the new demon Glasya-Labolas in the Tokyo ruins, cleverly introducing the new guest-character combat element.

Yoko is a compelling new character whose presence adds depth to the narrative. Her motivations and background are explored in a way that enriches the overall story. Her training in exorcism and her personal vendetta bring a fresh perspective to the game’s central conflict. Yoko’s interactions with the protagonist and other characters are well-written and add layers to the story’s themes of survival and morality.

Yoko is joined by a quartet of powerful female demons called the Qadištu, who have their own objectives in the ongoing story struggle. Their presence transforms the narrative in unexpected ways, adding new story scenes and enemy encounters that help alleviate the slow narrative pace of the original. Plot beats from the original storyline are twisted in new and interesting directions, providing a fresh experience for returning players.

The addition of the Canon of Vengeance story path also means that players can experience new branching paths and multiple endings. This adds replayability to the game, as players will want to explore different choices and their consequences. The inclusion of new characters and story arcs enriches the game’s lore and provides a more comprehensive understanding of the Shin Megami Tensei universe.

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Guest Mechanic and Demon Haunt

The new guest mechanic enhances the presence of other characters in SMT V’s story. Plot-essential characters join your roster as guests for certain stretches of the story, bringing a large set of skills and the ability to use items. They do not take up slots in your demon stock and can be summoned and removed from combat like demons. However, since they are story-dependent, they come and go as the plot dictates and lack the customization options of your demon units.

The guest mechanic is a welcome addition that adds strategic depth to combat. Guests can perform actions that your regular demons cannot, such as using items or casting unique spells. This makes them invaluable in tough battles and allows for more diverse strategies. Their temporary nature means that players must adapt to changing party compositions, adding a dynamic element to the gameplay.

The Demon Haunt is a newly accessible area via leylines where you can bond with your demon companions through combat, conversation, and gift-giving. This bonding can result in gifts, stat boosts, and additional skills. The Demon Haunt also allows you to hang out with your human pals and your fusion-friend Aogami, discussing plot-relevant happenings in a cheery environment that contrasts with the game’s darker setting.

The Demon Haunt serves as a hub for character development and interaction. It provides a break from the intense main storyline and allows players to engage with their demons on a more personal level. The conversations and interactions in the Demon Haunt are often humorous and light-hearted, offering a refreshing change of pace. This area also helps to flesh out the personalities of your demons, making them feel like more than just combat units.

Improved Navigation and Quality of Life

Vengeance has made navigating the game’s massive, open-exploration environments much more engaging and enjoyable. The in-game maps are more detailed, and a simple button press gives you a bird’s-eye view of the nearby area, making it easier to judge the topography. This addresses a common frustration from the original game, where players often struggled to determine the height and accessibility of points of interest.

Magetsu Rails, shortcuts that zip you from one area to another quickly, have been added, reducing the need for finicky platforming when backtracking. Demon NPC companions can now be recruited to find items and areas of interest on the map, and players can save almost anywhere rather than at set save points.

These quality-of-life improvements make exploration much more enjoyable and less tedious. The detailed maps and Magetsu Rails streamline navigation and reduce frustration, allowing players to focus on the game’s core elements of combat and story. The ability to save anywhere is a particularly welcome change, as it provides more flexibility and reduces the risk of losing progress.

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Combat Enhancements and New Skills

Vengeance introduces a range of new features and enhancements to combat. More Miracles are available to augment the Nahobino, and many of them can be toggled on and off after acquisition. A whole bunch of new demons have been added to the roster, along with new side quests and mini-adventures.

Magatsuhi skills have been dramatically upgraded, with new skills added alongside special skills that require specific demons or conditions. These skills can remove enemy Press Turns even in boss encounters, significantly impacting turn-based combat strategy.

The combat system in Shin Megami Tensei V was already robust and engaging, and Vengeance builds on this foundation with thoughtful enhancements. The new Miracles and Magatsuhi skills add layers of strategy, allowing for more varied and flexible approaches to battles. The addition of new demons and side quests provides fresh content and challenges, keeping the gameplay experience dynamic and exciting.

A Smoother and More Enjoyable Experience

One notable change in Vengeance is its perceived difficulty. While the original SMT V was known for its challenging gameplay, Vengeance feels somewhat easier overall. This may be due to the new innate skills, Miracle buffs, Magatsuhi skills, Demon Haunt boosts, and the save-anywhere feature, which make the game more player-friendly. However, players can still face significant challenges, especially on higher difficulties like the “Godborn” mode in New Game Plus.

The reduction in difficulty may be seen as a double-edged sword. On one hand, it makes the game more accessible to new players and reduces potential frustration. On the other hand, veterans of the series who relish the challenge may find the game less demanding. Nevertheless, the availability of higher difficulty modes ensures that those seeking a tougher experience can still find it.

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Final Thoughts

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance takes everything that made the original game memorable and engaging and enhances it with thoughtful tweaks and additions. The new story path, improved navigation, and combat enhancements make for a richer and more enjoyable experience. Whether you’re a newcomer to the series or a returning veteran, Vengeance offers plenty to love and discover.

The game’s narrative is more compelling with the addition of new characters and story arcs, and the quality-of-life improvements make exploration and combat more satisfying. The enhancements to performance and visual fidelity on platforms like the PS5 elevate the overall experience, ensuring that the game’s atmospheric and strategic elements shine.



Q: What are the major differences between Shin Megami Tensei V and Vengeance?
A: Vengeance introduces a new story path (Canon of Vengeance), enhanced performance on multiple platforms, improved navigation, a guest-character combat mechanic, and new areas like the Demon Haunt for bonding with demons.

Q: Does Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance run better on PS5 compared to the Switch?
A: Yes, Vengeance runs at a smoother 60fps on PS5, while the Switch version aims for 30fps. The performance on PS5 eliminates the hiccups and frame rate drops seen in the original Switch version.

Q: What is the Canon of Vengeance story path?
A: The Canon of Vengeance is a new storyline that introduces Yoko Hiromine and the Qadištu demons, adding new story scenes, enemy encounters, and plot twists to the original narrative.

Q: Can you save the game anywhere in Vengeance?
A: Yes, one of the quality-of-life improvements in Vengeance allows players to save almost anywhere, rather than at set save points.

Q: What is the Demon Haunt?
A: The Demon Haunt is a new area where players can bond with their demon companions through combat, conversation, and gift-giving, resulting in gifts, stat boosts, and additional skills.

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance
  • The Definitive Version of Shin Megami Tensei V: Fully evolved with stunning visuals for modern consoles, the dark lore, unnerving atmosphere, and beautiful and monstrous demons are back and better than ever. Massively expanded with new areas, demons, and music, Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance features more accessible gameplay, an improved battle system, new demon experiences, and greater field exploration.
  • A Tale of Vengeance or Creation: Which path will you choose? Experience a brand-new tale of revenge by the fallen or the original story of Shin Megami Tensei V, both filled with conflicting and tragic choices, forcing you to confront which ideologies you are willing to fight for. As order and chaos crumble around you, forge your own path to dictate the fate of humanity.
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