So, yesterday, I picked up Shin Megami Tensei IV. At first, I couldn’t find it on the shelf at my local GameStop, not realizing that SMT IV got the special Atlus love, seeing it packaged it with a nice art/strategy book and soundtrack CD, placing it in a larger-than-norm 3DS box. Regardless, I got my copy and was able to play around an hour or so last night before I passed out before I could even enjoy the absurdity that is the Feedback Booth on Antiques Roadshow. Anyways, Atlus’ new role-playing adventure is cool, but I died four times and am not even out of the training tutorial thingy yet. Looks like it’s gonna be Devil Summoner Overclocked all over again.
SMT IV begins with a booming voice telling you that your choices will not just affect yourself. Yeah, that’s obvious. We call that living. And then, suddenly, your first choice is upon you: name the protagonist. I deleted Flynn and typed in Pauly. What happens next is unclear, but has you running around a destroyed landscape speaking with some folks that say cryptic things. It’s probably a dream. When you speak to a young girl who asks you to revive her, you are transported elsewhere, to the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado. Your buddy Isshachar introduces himself and tells you a bit about the Gauntlet Rite, which allows people to become Samurai.
To cut to the chase, Pauly is successful in becoming a Samurai. Afterwards, he meets some other graduates: Walter, Jonathan, Navarre, and Isabeau. Under the stern guidance of a man ironically named Hope, we five must endure some training exercises in Naraku, the Hall of Flame. These are basically tutorial stuff, which help you learn the basics of moving around an environment, how your chit-chatty menu device Burroughs works, and various aspects of combat (press turn, recruiting, leveling up). I was able to get through the first few quests just fine, but the last one–well, I assume it is the last one–which involves finding a specific item for Hope has consequently kicked my butt four times in a row. That’s because there’s a boss guarding the item, and it’s able to wipe out Pauly and company in two turns. We’re either underpowered, it’s either overpowered, or the game is just ridiculously hard from the get-go.
Now, when you die in SMT IV, you are transported to the Underworld. The Nether Realm. The Deadlands. I dunno. It’s a place of lost souls, and a man named Charon there will offer to revive you to the point just before where you died…for a price. Basically, some of your Macca, maybe about 75%. If you don’t have enough, he’ll still revive you, but put your bill on a tab, which you’ll have to pay later. I think I saw a forum thread somewhere mentioning that you can eventually use Play Coins too. The second time I died I was taken elsewhere, since Charon was busy sucking souls or something, and offered the ability to now change the difficulty level. Two more deaths after that have just resulted in a large tab.
I’m really looking forward to more demon recruiting though, as that aspect seems completely zany and random and wonderful. That’s where the real quirk shows up so far, followed by Burroughs calling me, “Hot stuff.” Recruiting is a multiple choice guessing game, wherein you might gain a friend, make an enemy, or just cause a demon to run away. I’ve not had much luck, getting only a…you know, I don’t really know the names of these demons. One is two centaurs joined, another is a gooey zombie, and the other is some kind of creepy doll. Have not opened up the ability to fuse and stuff, but I’m sure that’ll be soon enough.
A rough start, but I’m not deterred. Tonight I will do some more grinding and running back to the barracks to rest up and heal for free before I try to take on the item-guarding boss again. Ideally, I’d like Pauly to be around level 6, as well as my team of demons. That said, I need to recruit a few more, especially one with some healing magic. Don’t know if those thrive in Naraku or not. We’ll see, SMT IV. Pray for my soul.