Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance Review — A Revitalised Journey

Shin Megami Tensei V Vengeance Review

Atlus has done it again with their latest release, Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance. Known for their gripping narratives and complex gameplay mechanics, Atlus continues pushing the JRPG genre’s boundaries. With a rich history that includes titles like Persona and the original Shin Megami Tensei series, fans were eagerly awaiting this new instalment. Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is a new storyline that builds upon the original Shin Megami Tensei V, offering players a fresh yet familiar experience.

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance starts with a major decision that shapes the narrative. Whether you take a girl’s hand or not at the beginning will largely determine how the story unfolds. For those who have played the original Shin Megami Tensei V, this choice might come easier. Still, newcomers will appreciate the game advising on the story choice and allowing a selection of the desired path. For review purposes, I chose the new Vengeance storyline.

The game consists of two complete story paths: experience a brand-new route, the “Canon of Vengeance” – a dramatic tale of revenge by the fallen, centered around new characters and an enigmatic cohort of demons, the Qadištu, who plot their own dark designs apart from the war of those who fight to maintain order and those who seek to defy it. Or explore the original story told in Shin Megami Tensei V, the “Canon of Creation” – an eternal conflict between angels and demons, in which the protagonist fights for the world’s fate.

The game begins in a high school classroom, a familiar setting for Persona fans. Students discuss an attack by a shadowy figure, and on your way back to your dorms, another incident occurs, prompting you to seek an alternate route. This introduces the game’s map system, with clear markers guiding you to your next destination. Once you find your friend, the opening credits roll, speaking of gods and humans. You awaken in a sandy, otherworldly area, soon revealed to be the Netherworld, home to demons and descendants of the old gods.

Like most of the Atlus JRPG titles, it starts in a school class

In the Netherworld, you quickly encounter an ‘Angel’ saving a fellow student and offering them sanctuary. This sets the tone for the game’s exploration of divine and demonic themes. As you navigate this eerie landscape, you are saved by an angelic/cyber being who fuses with you, granting you the power to survive. This fusion creates the Nahobino, a powerful entity that allows you to battle the demons that inhabit this desolate world.

The storyline in Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is both complicated and engaging. The narrative unfolds through a series of missions that reveal the history and lore of this world, including a battle between gods and demons that mirrors the struggles of the characters. The themes of life, death, and vengeance are explored in depth, making for a compelling story that keeps you hooked from start to finish.

The gameplay in Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is a return to form for fans of the series. The battle system is turn-based, with a focus on exploiting enemy weaknesses to gain extra attacks. This mechanic, familiar to veterans of the series, adds a layer of strategy to each encounter. Battles are initiated by either hitting or getting hit by enemies on the field, with advantages given to those who strike first.

I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating—and it gets everywhere.

As you explore the Netherworld, you will find Magatsuhi crystals scattered throughout the landscape. These crystals come in various colours, each providing different benefits: green crystals restore HP, yellow crystals restore MP, and red crystals enable special skills. Treasure boxes are also scattered across the land, containing money and other items that aid in your journey.

Recruiting demons is a key component of the game. These demons, many of which will be familiar to Persona fans, can be recruited by talking to them during battles and convincing them to join your team. Often, this requires bribing them with life stones or money. Once recruited, demons can be merged to create new, more powerful allies, adding depth to the game’s strategic elements.

The game does a great job of pacing the introduction of new mechanics. Early on, you learn the basics of combat and exploration, with the Nahobino form providing a unique twist on the familiar gameplay. As you progress, new elements are introduced gradually, ensuring that you are never overwhelmed. The game also features a variety of side quests and main quests, each offering unique challenges and rewards.

One of the standout issues of Vengeance is its lack of an auto-save function. This design choice adds a layer of tension to the game, as you must manually save your progress to avoid losing it. The save action is easily accessible by pressing left on the D-pad, and it is critical to make use of it regularly. While this feature is potentially frustrating for some players, I hated it and would have loved an auto-save feature to be included.

The combat system in Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is both familiar and fresh. If you have played previous games in the series or Persona, you will feel right at home. Battles are turn-based, with options to attack, guard, talk, and change out your party members. Exploiting enemy weaknesses grants extra attacks, allowing for strategic depth and rewarding careful planning.

In addition to the traditional combat mechanics, the game introduces Magatsuhi Demons. These are stronger-than-average demons that drop rare loot, adding an extra layer of challenge and reward to the game. The introduction of these powerful foes keeps the gameplay fresh and engaging, ensuring that you are always on your toes. I want it on record that I never beat any of these. They’re really tough.

As you level up, you will have skills added to five main stats: Strength, Vitality, Magic, Agility, and Luck. Each stat has a significant impact on your performance in battle:

  • Strength: Increases physical attack power.
  • Vitality: Reduces damage taken.
  • Magic: Increases magic attack power.
  • Agility: Increases initiative, escape rate, hit rate, and evasion.
  • Luck: Increases the probability of favourable outcomes in chance-based situations.

The map is littered with blocked-off areas by huge demons called Abscesses. These are mini-boss encounters with about four rounds of normal demons followed by a challenging main event. Defeating these Abscesses unlocks new areas and grants access to new Miracles to spend your Glory on. Glory is a unique form of currency obtained from spheres scattered across the world and by completing sub-missions. It is used to unlock a variety of buffs and mastery skills, further enhancing your character’s abilities.

Visually, Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is a feast for the eyes. The transition from the modern Tokyo setting to the apocalyptic Netherworld is seamless, with each environment meticulously crafted to enhance immersion. The atmospheric lighting and detailed textures bring the world to life, making every exploration a visual treat. The game’s use of colour and contrast effectively sets the mood, whether you’re navigating the desolate landscapes of the Netherworld or the bustling streets of Tokyo.

The audio design is equally impressive. The game’s soundtrack, filled with haunting melodies and intense battle themes, complements the dark, brooding atmosphere. Voice acting is top-notch, adding depth to the characters and making the story more engaging. The sound effects, from the creaking of ancient doors to the whispers of spirits, add to the immersive experience. The developers have clearly put a lot of thought into the audio-visual presentation, and it pays off in spades.

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is a testament to Atlus’ ability to blend compelling storytelling with deep, strategic gameplay. The new Vengeance storyline offers a fresh perspective on the familiar world, making it a must-play for both newcomers and long-time fans. The lack of an auto-save feature is a notable challenge, requiring players to save frequently to avoid losing progress. However, this adds a layer of tension that fits well with the game’s overall tone.

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance Review

Despite some minor flaws, such as the grind-heavy progression and the occasional overwhelming number of demons blocking your path, the story’s depth and engaging gameplay make it worth the effort. The dual paths of the original and Vengeance storylines provide extensive replay value, ensuring that players get their money’s worth.

The game’s pacing in introducing mechanics is commendable, ensuring that players are never overwhelmed. The gradual increase in difficulty and the introduction of new elements keep the gameplay engaging from start to finish. The addition of Magatsuhi Demons and the strategic depth of the combat system provide a fresh take on familiar mechanics, making each battle a thrilling experience.



Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is a dark, challenging, and ultimately rewarding experience that solidifies Atlus’ reputation as a master of the JRPG genre. Whether you’re navigating the treacherous Netherworld or uncovering the secrets of modern Tokyo, the game offers a rich, immersive journey that will keep you hooked from start to finish. The complex characters, intricate storylines, and strategic gameplay combine to create an unforgettable gaming experience. So grab your controller, save often, and prepare to dive into the dark, twisted world of Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance.


  • Looks better than ever on PS5 and Xbox consoles

  • The narrative will suck you into the happenings of the world

  • The gameplay is simple yet sophisticated

  • Schools out! No classes to attend


  • Current day Toyko is lacking in scale

  • Grinding battles is required to build relationships and characters

  • The Netherworld has a lot to do and can get frustrating at times

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