Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance Is the Persona 5 Fix You’ve Been Looking For

Become the god of high school.

Shin Megami

If you’re going to invest 100 hours in a Japanese role-playing game, the stakes had better be sky-high. But if you had any doubts about AtlusShin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance, instantly iconic lines like, “The Tokyo you're referring to is an act of God,” should be enough to win you over.

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is the upcoming role-playing adventure from Atlus. The Japanese studio might be best known for the Persona games, but that franchise is nothing more than a spinoff the of the Shin Megami Tensei series. And Vengeance is its latest entry

Like other games in both the Shin Megami Tensei franchise and its massively popular spinoff, Persona, Vengeance essentially feels an interactive anime full of dungeons and high school bullies. This time around, it’s revealed that the characters are living in a false version of Tokyo, while the real version has been overrun by demons. Dressed in an ornate school uniform, you play as a transfer student who’s expected to save the world and reclaim real Tokyo.

Inverse got to play Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance for several hours and get some first-hand impressions. For the most part, it looks to be a slick experience that expands and updates a pre-existing world, although it keeps a couple of retro elements that feel outdated in 2024.

"The Tokyo you're referring to is an act of God."


Like any other Shin Megami Tensei game, Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is heavy on lore. The main character is godlike and all-powerful, armed with a cybernetic suit that can pull off sleek moves like Aramasa (leaning forward to slash at enemies). “Your form is that of the ancient gods,” one character tells you. “There are none who stand closer to the throne than you.” Impactful dialogue choices are represented on the screen by a zoomed-in shot on the protagonist’s face, and you can hover over the options as giant words float across the screen. The soundtrack is packed with hits, including creepy choir music for shopping and hyped up battle jams.

By far, the most stand out moments in Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance come from silly interactions with demons and other non-playable characters. A good-natured request to aid a victim of high school bullying quickly veers violent in a ludicrous turn, like when an NPC says you’ll have to murder her bullies if you’d like to help.

Just like in every other Shin Megami Tensei/Persona game, you can choose to fight opponents in turn-based combat, bombarding them with spells and melee attacks — or you can simply try to sweet talk foes into joining your team. The character design of these demons looks better than ever, as many of them wouldn’t look out of place in a K-pop assemble or an influencer Reel. The dialogue between you and the monsters is some of the funniest games writing I’ve seen in a while. At one point, I talked a demon named Lamia into joining my team by agreeing to do aerobic exercises with her.

The main character is godlike and all-powerful, armed with a cybernetic suit that can pull off sleek moves like Aramasa, leaning forward to slash at enemies.


Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance isn’t without its hiccups, however. The overworld map feels very retro. You’re a flat dot on a map and you can walk to each location. The way the navigation works feels like an old school arcade pinball machine, as you have to ping-pong between different paths to get to your destination. It’s a bit awkwardly designed, and the inconvenience will likely add to your total playtime and lead to potential frustration. The map is a weird clash against the more modern elements, like a well-animated teleportation system within dungeons that beams your character across skyscrapers.

Some of the characters also look too similar, as if their visual assets were lazily recycled across the game. And of course, Vengeance is filled with cutscenes, so that every few minutes besides bumping into dozens of demons, you’ll have to sit through animated events that aren’t interactive. Even on casual mode, the game can be fairly intense when you run into mobs unto mobs, or a giant green monster that appears to take zero damage, so every precious minute counts.

All told, Vengeance looks to be a fun enough romp through an overly glamorous version of haunted Tokyo, even if we’ve largely seen some version of this before. Persona 5 will likely go down in history as one of my favorite games of all time, so it’s great to get to revisit a world with grandiose visions. It remains to be seen whether some of the older parts of the game drag down the overall experience, but the gleaming golden eyes of devils and picturesque wastelands might still make this one an entertaining tale to sit through.

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance arrives on June 14, 2024 for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC.

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