Shin Megami Tensei 5’s Exploration: The RPG’s Hidden Strength

After spending over a week playing Atlus’s new role-playing game, Shin Megami Tensei 5, I’ve come to realize that the development team has gone above and beyond my expectations for the series. The character models are breathtaking, the story is captivating and more dynamic than ever, and the battles remain enjoyable yet strategically challenging. However, what truly stands out to me are the game’s movement mechanics and exploration.

The Joy of Movement

On the surface, the movement options in Shin Megami Tensei 5 may not appear groundbreaking. The main character, the Nahbino, can sprint with their hands behind their back, reminiscent of Naruto. In a first for the mainline SMT series, there’s also a jump button that adds lite-platforming elements, similar to Kingdom Hearts. While this may not sound impressive, it comes alive when you experience it firsthand.

Shin Megami Tensei 5's protagonist sliding down a hill of sand.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Set in a desolate world covered in sand, Shin Megami Tensei 5 presents a captivating environment filled with toppled buildings, wrecked cars, and scattered soda machines. As you traverse the game’s world, you’ll discover more and more about its lore. The synergy between movement mechanics and the surrounding world is so seamless and immersive that I found myself enjoying exploration more than in any other RPG.

While exploration in other games often feels like a means to an end, in SMT 5, it truly feels like embarking on a journey of discovery. It’s astonishing how such simple additions, like platforming and subtle nuances, can elevate the game to this level. I recall a moment when I spotted a colossal demon soaring through the Netherworld skies and wondered if I could get a closer look. I quickly made my way to the nearest toppled building, climbing the rooftops like a giant staircase. To my delight, I caught a fleeting glimpse of the creature before it disappeared in another direction, leaving me eagerly anticipating a future boss battle. Countless such moments make this game truly special.

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Shin Megami Tensei 5's protagonist talking with a demon.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Early on, my friends and I were thrilled by trailers showcasing the Nahbino’s ability to slide down hills of sand. What makes it even more exciting is how it further enhances the game’s immersion. Just imagine fleeing from a colossal boss battle, intending to return later, only to witness the Nahbino effortlessly sliding down a sandy slope. The countless little details and moments of fun make the game feel like an immersive anime adventure. When these emergent moments align perfectly, it becomes clear that the game has truly captured my attention.

A Lively World

Another aspect that greatly enhances the exploration in Shin Megami Tensei 5 is the world’s liveliness. The open world operates in real-time, reminiscent of games like Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Tales of Arise. Enemies appear on the overworld, allowing you to choose whether to engage or avoid them. Defeating one enemy seamlessly transitions back to the gameplay, where all other enemies remain.

Shin Megami Tensei 5’s exploration is the RPG’s secret weapon
Image used with permission by copyright holder

As you wander through the sandy wasteland, you’ll encounter not only typical demons but also creatures you can casually chat with, others requesting help with personality-filled side quests, and some that are best avoided until you’re better equipped. It truly feels like I’m not alone in this world; the demons inhabiting it seem to share the space with me. Each demon has its own motives, whether it’s protecting friends, seeking sustenance, claiming territory, or even attempting to eliminate me. This takes the experience to a whole new level, surpassing previous titles in the series. I simply can’t get enough of it.

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Shin Megami Tensei V exemplifies how much Atlus has grown and learned from previous entries in both the SMT and Persona series. The intricately crafted world showcases their dedication and passion, leaving me excited for what the future holds. When you finally get your hands on SMT 5, remember to take a break from battles and demon recruitment to appreciate the beauty of the world around you—you might just find yourself mesmerized by the sand.

Shin Megami Tensei V will be released on November 11 for the Nintendo Switch.

Editors’ Recommendations
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  • Sea of Stars brilliantly employs RPG simplicity as its secret weapon.
  • Monark offers a unique twist on the Shin Megami Tensei formula.
  • Battlefield 2042, Avatar, and more: a roundup of the best trailers from E3 2021.
  • Shin Megami Tensei 5’s latest trailer introduces its new protagonist and reveals the release date.

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