Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance


Review by · July 6, 2024

It’s now par de course for ATLUS to release expanded follow-up releases of their titles, the first being Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3: FES back in 2008. Nearly 20 years later, with almost as much of a mouthful of a title, we have been blessed with Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance. This version-1.5 game was hotly anticipated by many fans of the original Shin Megami Tensei V, given the game had elements that were slightly undercooked or absent. Luckily, Vengeance provides spadefuls of updated and new features alongside an entirely new story path to play through. Join me at the nearest Leyline Fount and we shall journey onward to Da’at!

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance offers the player a choice immediately upon starting a new game: follow the Canon of Creation or the Canon of Vengeance. This acts as a selection between the Shin Megami Tensei V story route and the Vengeance exclusive. Remember these terms, as I use them to distinguish between the two games. After selecting the Canon of Vengeance, we meet the trapped soul of a mysterious girl who is portended to be pivotal to catastrophic events. I love a bit of catastrophe and happily confirmed my decision. The superb soundtrack establishes the game’s mood from the get-go. Even in these opening moments, the ATLUS Sound Team did a phenomenal job creating a range of atmospheres from eerie and mysterious to ramping things up for some stellar boss fights. The music works hand-in-hand with the visual design and I could not resist the draw to Vengeance’s otherworldly beauty.

A screenshot of the main character from Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance in a field filled with golden light, staring up at a metal scaffold tower.
Now that the game is free from its Switch shackles, we can appreciate environments like this in all their glory.

I played the original Shin Megami Tensei V on Switch, so the new and updated Canon of Vengeance features were immediately noticeable to me. Storywise, the game starts off the same, with a group of students from Jounin High School caught up in a disaster that transports them to another world: the Netherworld of Da’at in a location called Minato, to be precise. After the group dusts off and comes under threat by demons, we meet the proto-fiend Aogami, who grants the main character his powers by fusing with him and becoming an entity known as a Nahobino. A few tutorials and baby steps later, the game introduces a wealth of new features in rapid succession — I remember thinking to myself, “wow, they really went for it,” while making notes. There are a lot.

Some of the new gameplay features include a handy bird’s-eye camera view and Magatsuhi Rails for navigation (little paths of energy that act as a quick method of transportation between two points). These came in handy for getting back to places that required effort to get to, such as the top of a cliff you’d have to run an otherwise tedious distance to reach. Other quality-of-life additions include the ability to save anywhere, level scaling for enemies, and expanded auto-battle options.

While each of these features is welcome, together they take a bit of the “edge” off exploring. I couldn’t help but think back to my experience with Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster, which created a tangible sense of caution through its gameplay loop. Instead, Vengeance handles its difficulty by eschewing unavoidable danger between save points in exchange for freedom of exploration. You’re free to roam the vast, open areas of Da’at and can instantly teleport back to the safety of a Leyline Fount. You can completely avoid battles, either by beelining past enemies or using the Estoma Field ability to make them run away from you. However, with the addition of superpowered Magatsuhi Demons on the map, there are challenges readily available, should you wish to face them. Just be prepared for them to one-shot your entire party as they freely use any of the game’s powerful Magatsuhi abilities at any time.

The biggest point of contention for original Shin Megami Tensei V fans may well be the story, or at least how the pacing feels around the top-tier gameplay. The Canon of Vengeance path is more than a Persona 5: Royal-esque tweaking of the base game: it’s almost a completely different story. We have one new character, Yoko Hiromine, a fellow student in Japan. Conversely to the established cast, she is from Saint Marina’s Academy and is somehow able to use magic. She joins the party very early into the game, and it’s there that the splinters start forming in her…branch. We’re doing tree puns today, apparently. Events occur similarly to the Canon of Creation until a certain point, where things take a whole new direction. This caught me off guard somewhat, as the zones aren’t exactly small in Vengeance, and I’d already fully explored two of the original areas. Playing through these sections felt very fresh. 

A screenshot of the main characters, Yoko and Tao from Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance.
Yoko tends to ask questions the player may have had from the original game. Thanks, feedback!

While the Vengeance storyline initially followed the same beats as Creation, Yoko provided some interesting stances on my choices and offered a less black-and-white commentary when compared to characters such as Tao. She was fully implemented into the cast with new lines of voiced dialogue. She helped bridge some of the gaps in the original story, and everything felt more cohesive. And, of course, with new heroes comes new villains: the demon faction called the Qadištu. This quartet of femme fatales provides a compelling impediment for the Nahobino while they attempt to resurrect the dragon Tiamat. They provided some of my favourite moments in the game, with shocking and unpredictable actions that motivated me to push through some of the less interesting sections, like reaching Da’at Shinjuku. It’s the only new area in the Canon of Vengeance and also the point when I started having some mixed feelings.

Until Shinjuku, I felt like the Canon of Vengeance was simply a retelling of the Canon of Creation, albeit with a new perspective added to the mix and additional cutscenes to provide more context. It may be a slight spoiler to tell you that it isn’t, but I can’t review the game fairly without talking about this new segment. I won’t go into details about what changed, but how things unfolded in this new area felt woefully like I was playing a game that hadn’t learnt from its past mistakes. Cutscenes were few and far between with nothing of any real importance happening. There was some pointless backtracking, which still felt jarring despite the ability to teleport between Leyline Founts and the inclusion of Magatsuhi Rails. 

The environment of Shinjuku is absolutely stunning, reminding me of a cross between Lakeland from Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers and the aptly named Ruined City Centre from Code Vein. However, not only were story segments sparse, but so was other engaging content. Big, empty, pretty. Shallow. In fact, I was told to go back to Tokyo at one point, but I decided to keep exploring instead. I explored a whole city section separate from the earlier crystal lakes, but there was nothing of consequence to do there. I figured I’d just stumbled onto an endgame area, maybe an optional dungeon, so I explored everything I could and then went back to Tokyo. After a few cutscenes in Tokyo, I was sent straight back to Shinjuku to go to an area just past where I’d been exploring moments ago. That empty feeling I’d experienced was completely valid; it was just filler content between one cutscene and the next. There was no story relevance to this area at all: it was just pretty set dressing. I still can’t quite figure out why I was there other than because that’s where the Baddie of the Day had gone. It was pretty, though. Maybe that’s what attracted the baddies in the first place.

A screenshot of the main characters, Yoko and Tao from Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance.
Yoko and Tao join the party, but we all know where the true party is. In the Nahobino’s hair.

Despite these gripes with Shinjuku, it was still undeniably fun to play. Some players will appreciate the exploration-focused gameplay with just enough story to herd the Nahobino and his zoo of demons from one area to the next. It’s not like the story was bad, either. It was actually much more dramatic and high-stakes than I thought it would be. It was nice to see the characters being more involved and seeing how different “versions” of themselves from one Canon to the other behaved under various pressures. If you love the gameplay in Shin Megami Tensei games, then you will love working your way through Da’at. It’s just that the story won’t always be that driving force. I was very happy with how it wrapped up, though, and from what I can tell there, will be at least two different endings to the Canon of Vengeance. There are options for a new game plus, carrying over things like your Demon Compendium, and a more extensive option that lets you keep your levels and current party.

Speaking of demons, I was happy to see some meaningful additions both to the roster and associated features in Vengeance. There are plenty of newly added demons. Some new demons are accessible early in the game and help round out your teams with previously unavailable abilities. For example, Pellaidh is one of the first new demons you encounter and comes with a skill that can inflict Seal on all enemies while lowering their Attack. Debuffs are very powerful in Shin Megami Tensei games, so they’re a great addition. There are around 30 new demons in total, each providing some sort of valuable option. Demons both new and old have an individual passive trait that can help or hinder your strategies. I didn’t realise this until I was refining my team for the final battle, but one of my demons had a passive trait causing all abilities, including spells, to critically hit. Spells can’t usually critically hit, and each crit adds a Push Turn icon (i.e., an extra turn), so that’s incredibly valuable.

Overall, Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is a vastly improved experience when compared to the standalone Shin Megami Tensei V. Heck, the original is literally included in the game as the Canon of Creation. I had some qualms with the pacing in parts, but most of the Canon of Vengeance was a refined and satisfying time that can appeal to both newcomers and fans of the original release. Playing in 4k at 60fps was the icing on the cake, and seeing as Vengeance also has a Switch version, I’d encourage anyone who is able to play it on a console or PC that can run the game at peak performance.

It’s unfortunate that ATLUS doesn’t seem to get it right the first time round, but I can only hope that Persona 3 Reload’s example of adding content as DLC rather than a full re-release is a sign that they’re shifting tactics. Despite my stance on how ATLUS chooses to sell their games, I’m glad that this version exists. I’m a big fan of Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an in-depth turn-based game. The game’s atmosphere and themes are unlike anything anyone else is doing, and its brand of post-apocalyptic melancholy juxtaposes masterfully with its serene catharsis. 

During the process of reviewing Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance, I suffered a family loss and would like to dedicate my happy experience with the game and this finished article in memory of my step-dad, Mick. I’d also like to thank our readers for their patience, as well as the RPGFan staff for all their support. 


New additions are integrated seamlessly, the soundtrack is full of bangers, highly customisable team options, it's finally on a platform that can run it properly.


Pacing issues at times, the large areas can feel a bit empty, no upgrade option for owners of the original game.

Bottom Line

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance feels like the version of the game ATLUS always wanted to make. It's fixed most of the issues from the original release, and despite still having a few flaws, is a deeply rewarding experience.

Overall Score 93
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Sam-James Gordon

Sam-James Gordon

Sam-James, AKA Sam, has been a fan of RPGs since childhood. He grew up on games like Final Fantasy VIII, Legend of Dragoon, Grandia and the Breath of Fire series. The PS2 was a golden era of gaming for Sam, before many of his favourite series became dormant, and is loving the modern resurgence with games like Eiyuden Chronicle, Penny Blood, and Armed Fantasia.