Shin Megami Tensei 4’s storyline begins in the year 1492 with the protagonist participating in an initiation test known as the Gauntlet Rite. During this test, applicants must put on a metal gauntlet, which will either accept or reject the individual. Those who are rejected are allowed to return to their normal lives, while those who are accepted will pass the test and become members of the elite warrior society of the Samurai. Their goal is to protect the kingdom and fight demons in accordance with a mythical legacy present within the storyline. The majority of the game’s interface is based upon the Gauntlet itself, which is possessed by a female presence known as Burroughs. Using menus within the game will provide players with a virtual representation of the Gauntlet interface.
In some regard, those who have played through the other games in the Shin Megami Tensei series are likely to think that this storyline seems a little off-beat and contrasts too obviously to the traditional aspects of the series. The game has almost always been set within a modern time period in Japan, making it seem a bit strange to start this game in a region similar to Europe during 1492. Undeniably mysterious, it seems that this element is actually crucial to beginning of the game itself. As the protagonist, players find themselves floating in a void, surrounded by voices that are quoting scriptures and samurai warriors that are encouraging the protagonist’s character to create their own world, which is likely relevant to the time and setting of the story in this release. Actions still must be aligned with the orders of Law, Chaos, or Neutrality, which stay in line with the elements of previous releases, making the new environment and slightly altered storyline a little easier to get accustomed to playing within.
Combat is also similar to previous games and easy to understand if you are familiar with the series. Each character will start a round of combat with a list of actions available. Depending on players’ choices and the impact that they hold, the player will either earn extra actions or they may gain penalties. If the player hits one of the enemy’s weaknesses, then they will also earn bonus attacks. In contrast, if the player hits the enemy with a skill that it is able to absorb or reflect, then it will ultimately penalize the player by providing the enemy with an extra action instead. These elements are all very important because they ultimately add more weight to the players decisions and their effects within the world. Given the amount of demons that are present within the world, every choice and move counts towards your greater goal in this game. There are approximately 400 demons present within the game, which is said to be the highest amount that have ever appeared in the world within the entire series.
For those who have played through the Shin Megami Tensei series before, Shin Megami Tensei 4 will be easy to dive right into without too much trial and error. Players who are new to the series may want to check out the free downloadable incentives that Atlus is preparing for early adopters of the game. Entitled “The Platinum Surcoat”, the DLC is said to provide players with stats bonuses, three different hairstyles, a map pack, and collectible demons and enemies that will be able to generate extra experience for newcomers. Pre-orders will provide players with a collectible box set version of the game, which will include a starter guide, detailed art book, soundtrack, and custom case. Shin Megami Tensei 4 is currently available on store shelves, and make sure to check out Gaming Illustrate’s review of the game if you have not already.