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Shin Megami Tensei V Is Getting The Royal Treatment In Vengeance

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SMT V: Vengeance is said to add around 75 extra hours of new content and tons of new music, and represent the full vision of the original RPG.

Atlus, developer of renowned RPGs in the Shin Megami Tensei and Persona franchises, seems to love re-releasing its games. While it may look like double-dipping, these definitive editions have often resulted in fully realized versions of their originals and not just ports or tacked-on extra content, evident in the likes of Persona 5 Royal and Persona 3 Reload. Now, 2021's Shin Megami Tensei V is getting the same treatment with the re-release subtitled Vengeance.

Ahead of its launch on June 14, I spoke with key developers on the project: producer Shinjiro Takata who's been with Atlus since its inception, director Shiego Komori who worked on SMT: Nocturne, and composer Ryota Kozuka who became main composer on SMT IV. With any definitive version, the main question is about how it warrants a whole new purchase. So we dug into the ways in which Vengeance makes its case, and judging from what I've seen thus far, it might be the biggest deviation from an original version that Atlus has done thus far.

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Now Playing: Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance - Announce Trailer

SMT V was a Nintendo Switch exclusive, and that came with some limitations--with the new definitive edition releasing on Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, and PC, the experience has been improved with features like higher visual fidelity and 60 fps, but those things are just the cherry on top. Takata said, "This time, we went in with the goal of taking a new direction for Vengeance, compared to just making a high spec version of previous titles."

It seems hindsight is often 20/20 with regards to creative works, as Takata said, "We focused on making this the best SMT V by carefully improving the system based on much of player feedback, while focusing on adding new elements." That may sound par for the course for an Atlus re-release, but when I asked about exactly how the new content is being woven into Vengeance, Takata stated, "In the newly added Vengeance route, the story development gradually begins to change from the original route and will unfold completely differently starting from the middle of the story."

Rather than being an additional set of quests, this new route is being pitched as a significant reframing of SMT V's narrative themes "featuring a whole new story with 75 more hours of gameplay," according to Takata. Whether or not a majority of those hours are variations on the existing sequence of events remains to be seen. However, as the new subtitle would indicate, Komori mentioned, "This work is a tale of revenge based on Atlus' own interpretation of the relationship between the Bull God and the Snake God that exists in various parts of the world." SMT has always been about a power struggle in a world where demons exist in a sort of theological multiverse, and in regards to Vengeance, Komori continued, "We believe that we were able to express a different kind of order and chaos in the relationship."

Vengeance having you get chased down by Mara is wild.
Vengeance having you get chased down by Mara is wild.

Even in the pre-release gameplay footage in teasers and trailers, those who played SMT V would quickly recognize that Vengeance is trying to go in a much different direction. From the new Nahobino form for the protagonist and new story-centric characters to the additional Da'at zone and songs on top of an already banging OST, it's a promising re-release considering those features are just part of the equation. The Qadištu, the four Goddesses of Vengeance who are new antagonists, all have stunning designs and represent what can be a more tangible angle to the traditional take on SMT's themes. One standout in particular is the character Yoko Hiromine, who is completely new to the game and is woven into the main story and appears to be integral to the core group of human characters regardless of the route you take.

SMT V wasn't exactly an expansive or complex story, but Yoko is said to bring a new element as an actual party member you can control in combat. As Komori put it, "The reason for adding other characters on the journey to join the fight was to deepen our focus on the interactions between the humans." He also told me that Yoko has existed since the production phase of SMT V, but couldn't make it all work in the original release.

Yoko Hiromine was conceptualized during development of SMT V, but didn't make it in the original release.
Yoko Hiromine was conceptualized during development of SMT V, but didn't make it in the original release.

Komori further explained, "The goal is to further the feeling of presence by cooperating with members on the journey, and to allow an easier understanding of their actions. She was conceived as a kind of heroine of chaos to be paired against Tao, and in this work, the setting from that time has been incorporated into the story as much as possible."

Now, what's arguably the badass part of SMT V is its soundtrack that brilliantly fuses punk, metal, synth rock, and ethereal ambient tunes with a dark tinge at every single turn. It's a key part of the series' identity and established the foundation of Atlus Sound Team's work. Kozuka said, "We are working on a large amount of new music for the Canon of Vengeance and various additions. I think the amount of music has been increased by about 80% in combination with the music for SMT V. We naturally ended up with that number of songs after creating songs that we thought were necessary for this work. We also created about 20 new battle themes."

Kozuka continued, "The music in the main scenario may be dark and a bit bewitching," and made reference to the first trailer for Vengeance in which the new Qadištu villains appear as an example for the new scenario's vibe. "Overall, we were conscious of how to infuse a wider range of tunes, while maintaining the musical worldview of SMT V," he concluded.

Vengeance features a new Nahobino form, taking the base design and somehow making it even tougher.
Vengeance features a new Nahobino form, taking the base design and somehow making it even tougher.

SMT V: Vengeance seems to be packaging an impressive level of new content and working it into the base game, and it appears to be more than just more for the sake of it--for better or worse, that has been Atlus' MO in recent years. And as great as the original version was, there was certainly room for improvement and the opportunity to explore more ideas. We'll see if Vengeance can make good on them and justify another full release.

As for what's next for Shin Megami Tensei, all Takata could tell me is that the team will continue to do what makes the series specifically and uniquely appealing: stories that are "dark, antithetical to modern society, and question the players' values."


Michael Higham

Senior Editor and Host at GameSpot. Filipino-American. Ask me about Yakuza, FFXIV, Persona, or Nier. If it's RPGs, I have it covered. Apparently I'm the tech expert here, too? Salamat sa 'yong suporta!

Shin Megami Tensei V

Shin Megami Tensei V

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