Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance Hands-on Preview

Shin Megami Tensei V, originally released in 2021, garnered favorable reviews and was eagerly anticipated by players who had been waiting for the next installment in the series. Fast-forward to 2024, and players can now experience in multi-platform the demon-raising and recruiting mechanics that the series is renowned for.

Ahead of its launch, I got the chance to play over 5 hours of Atlus’ latest, aptly entitled Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance, and while it’s easy to dismiss it for being a full-priced re-release, albeit across more platforms this time around, there’s more than meets the eye as it brings enough new content and improvements that would make other games blush. 

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance Hands-on Preview


Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance offers a significantly smoother and more seamless experience compared to the original version. I had the opportunity to try the game on a high-end gaming laptop connected to an external monitor, and the difference was striking. The original Nintendo Switch version, while enjoyable, couldn’t match the loading times and graphics quality provided by current-gen hardware, for obvious reasons.

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance shines as the definitive way to play the game. Loading screens are nearly nonexistent, and the frame rates remain consistently solid. Even in sprawling, demon-filled areas, the performance held up impressively. Whether you’re a longtime fan or a newcomer, you’ll appreciate the significant improvements in this enhanced edition.

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Sweet Vengeance

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance offers players an enhanced experience akin to Persona 5 Royal. Not only does it include all DLC released for Shin Megami Tensei V, but it also introduces quality-of-life improvements, a new character, fresh demons, and an entirely new storyline called Canon of Vengeance.

While the original story, Canon of Creation, remains accessible, players face a pivotal choice early in the game—one that will lead them down the path of vengeance. What distinguishes this decision is its occurrence right at the beginning of a new route, rather than serving as an alternate ending. This deliberate placement allows players to fully immerse themselves in an estimated 80-hour experience. Considering that the original storyline also offers a similar playtime, this effectively doubles the content available from the outset.

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As players explore the opening sequence, some elements may feel familiar. Even with the Canon of Vengeance storyline, not everything diverges suddenly. The opening area provides side quests and activities, making the world feel more alive.

While it’s premature to assess the cohesiveness of this new storyline after only a few hours of gameplay, the initial experience is intriguing and raises many questions. Hopefully, these mysteries will be resolved satisfactorily by the time the credits roll, but as I see it, there’s enough to go on that would make it a must-play because of the additions that flesh out parts of the story further.

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Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance introduces a notable departure in its storyline with the inclusion of Yoko Hiromine, a new character who joins the protagonist early on. Unlike the original narrative, where only recruited demons can serve as partymates, Yoko’s presence adds an intriguing dynamic. While it remains to be seen how integral her character will be throughout the story, her mere inclusion as a partymate provides ample reason to embark on this journey—especially considering Shin Megami Tensei’s penchant for delving deep into character development.

Additionally, I had the opportunity to explore a new dungeon in Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance called “Shakan.” This area becomes accessible after a pivotal boss fight at the middle of the story (details of which I won’t share due to potential spoilers). Shakan proved to be a labyrinth, featuring multi-level areas and intricate puzzles that manipulate the dungeon’s layout through switches, allowing players to explore previously unreachable locations. However, the demons within Shakan are formidable, so assembling a capable party is essential for survival.

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Demon Time

Demons play a pivotal role in any Shin Megami Tensei game, and in Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance, this remains true. In fact, the game now boasts over 270 demons, a significant leap from the original version. These demons not only possess their own dialogue and skills but also offer players the opportunity to delve deeper into their personalities through a new feature called Demon Haunts.

Accessible from the Leyline Founts, Demon Haunts allow players to converse with their demons, gaining insights and building connections. This interaction goes beyond mere superficial exchanges—players receive stat points or useful items as rewards for engaging with their demonic companions, which may prove invaluable in the battles that lie ahead.

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Another intriguing aspect relates to the importance of Magatsuhi and Unique Skills when assembling a demon party for combat. When combining specific demons (such as Pixie and High Pixie), players unlock special skills unique to that specific pairing. This system provides a playground for experimentation, allowing players to discover potent abilities through various combinations.

While seasoned players may find this mechanic fascinating, its true impact on success remains uncertain. While these unique skills can be advantageous in specific situations, it’s challenging to envision them surpassing a meticulously customized party. The final release of the game will reveal how these dynamics play out, and I eagerly await the outcome!

Time is of the Essence

While playing Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance, one thing was abundantly clear – the game is putting effort into making my time playing it worthwhile. The developers have added a ton of quality-of-life additions, and while I cannot name all of them with my limited time playing the early build, a few stand out.

Given the series’ reputation for challenging gameplay, I appreciate that Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance allows me to save at any moment. This feature instills confidence, even when facing battles that might result in defeat. Even on casual difficulty, the game prioritizes strategy over brute force, and the ability to save anywhere could be a very understated but equally useful feature.

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Speaking of combat, players with well-leveled parties in Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance can opt for the auto-battle feature. Enabling this command instructs party members to auto-attack until enemies are defeated. Additionally, an auto-skill command is available for those seeking specific abilities. Personally, I wish there were a toggle to set auto-attack as the default option (if it exists), sparing me the need to manually select it each time I encounter a demon.

As players explore the game world, they’ll encounter Magatsu Rails scattered across the map. These points grant access to otherwise unreachable areas, either advancing progress or leading to secret locations with valuable rewards.

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Another notable enhancement is the “Sky view.” This feature allows players to observe their surroundings from above and even make objects transparent to improve visibility. 

While seemingly minor, these improvements significantly respect players’ time and elevate the overall experience compared to the original game. Importantly, these enhancements apply to both the Canon of Creation and Canon of Vengeance storylines, ensuring enjoyment regardless of the chosen narrative path.

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is certainly looking as confident as it can be if this preview was anything to go by. The game is not merely a lazy re-release but there is obvious effort here poured in by the developers to ensure that while newcomers will enjoy the experience, fans of the series will find several brand-new features that will merit another playthrough should they choose to engage in this demon frenzy once again. 

We’ll have to wait until June 14 to find out what the full game holds, but this leaves me confident in thinking that Atlus has nailed this re-release with all of the various additions and improvements while keeping the base game intact.

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