Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance review

The most soul-crushing post-apocalypse.

Shin Megami Tensei V always needed a PS5 release. Yes, it plays perfectly well on Nintendo Switch, but those large landscapes and detailed demons were always crying out for a more powerful machine. This hasn’t been “remastered” in any way, still looking very similar to the original Switch release, but this port runs more smoothly, and at a higher resolution. What more can you really ask for?

Well, one thing that fans were asking for was more story. The new “Canon of Vengeance” story path complements the original’s Creation path. One of the primary complaints following SMTV’s original release was that it simply didn’t have enough cutscenes or story content to push the game along, and while there’s a whole new story path present here, I want to re-emphasise the fact that it complements the original story. With the two put together, there’s enough story content to please fans, but they’re split into separate playthroughs.

Plenty of demons are available to collect and fight.
Plenty of demons are available to collect and fight. / Atlus

Those playthroughs won’t be easy, either. SMT games are notoriously difficult, and Atlus hasn’t turned down the difficulty to please newer fans of the series that have entered from Persona. If you know a demon’s weakness in Persona, taking out your foes in a single turn is realistic. In SMTV, you’ll be lucky to get that same result – and even then, a single critical hit against your protagonist could net you a game over before you even know what hit you.

Yes, only your protagonist needs to be knocked out in battle for a game over, and those game overs kick you all the way back to your last save from before the battle, no checkpoints. As a result, you’ll be saving before you go pretty much anywhere to do anything. Save points are multi-functional: you can warp between them, use them to access a shop, fuse and manage demons, restore health, upgrade your perks – sorry, Miracles – and more. It’s good that they’re useful, because you’ll be running back to them regularly, and thankfully they’re placed pretty frequently across the world.

Human characters are still important, despite the cast being demon-dominant.
Human characters are still important, despite the cast being demon-dominant. / Atlus

The desert-like landscapes of post-apocalyptic Tokyo are barely recognizable save for a few landmarks, and they’re infested with demons in every corner. You can try to follow the waypointed progression path, but the tough difficulty will stop you in your tracks. Leveling up your protagonist and team of demons matters, and going through an area to clear through side quests and demon statues to harvest power from will usually give you enough strength to push on. With that said, there will still be some ridiculously strong demons that will ambush you near some treasure or on a thin path, and they can end your game quickly.

It meant that I had to take my time at every step, clearing out areas fully, and never progressing without a fresh save file and a full health bar. But this overly-cautious approach also makes SMTV feel like a slog to get through. Each time you reach a new save point – which, as mentioned, aren’t too far away from one another – instead of looking for the next, you really have to stop, pick up side quests, and start digging around for anything that’ll help you level up before moving on. If you don’t, you’ll get overwhelmed. 

You may have my anguish, miss.
You may have my anguish, miss. / Atlus

This is still the same game that launched on Nintendo Switch in 2021, and while the new Vengeance path is very cool, it isn’t enough to warrant a second playthrough unless you’re a big fan of the original game and the larger series. 

It’s been a busy year for lengthy JRPGs, and Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance isn’t the best of the bunch. It’s a solid JRPG adventure with a lot to love, but you’ll be sent back to your last save file pretty regularly, and depending on how long it’s been since your last save, that can suck the energy out of the room instantly. As a result, SMTV feels like stalling a classic car. Someone will tell you you’re an idiot for not understanding the gearbox’s nuances, but a smooth ride will be preferable to juddering down the road.

Score: 7/10

Platform tested: PS5

Dave Aubrey


GLHF Deputy Editor. Nintendo fan. Rapper. Pretty good at video games.