The Quarterly JRPG Club - Q2 2018 - Shin Megami Tensei IV!

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Our second quarter game is Shin Megami Tensei IV for the Nintendo 3DS/2DS family of systems.

How Long to Beat:

IMAGE(http://res.cloudinary.com/dq11fe39k/image/upload/v1522409180/smtivhltb_uw0h6b.jpg)

Other Links:
eShop ($19.99)
Wikipedia
Official Website (requires Flash?)
Metacritic

HOOO BOY KEEN TO GET MY ASS KICKED

But really wow, the start of this game is rough. I've heard it gets a lot more manageable after the first hour or two, but I've never made it that far. Very excited to give this a proper attempt.

Hmmm, might join up this time since I never finished this and I might be itching for more SMT after I (hopefully) finish Persona 5 next month.

Gonna try and get to this and actually be a part of the Game Club. We'll see if that's successful at all!

Purchased and downloading now - I guess I park Fire Emblem for the moment. Hopefully I can balance Nino Kuni II with this

Yep, I'm in. Good excuse to charge up the 3DS.

I was feeling tempted and then I watched the Gametrailers review from 2013

Don't bother reading really. I am just raining on people's fun. I hope you all love it.

Spoiler:
There are several revelations but they are so poorly paced it can often seem the story is completely stalled. You can go for hours without anything of note occuring. It has such a hard time keeping momentum that by the time something does happen it hardly matters.

I'm not sure I can commit to an entire playthrough but I think I have a stalled second cycle saved.

At any rate, the soundtrack is killer.

A_Unicycle wrote:

HOOO BOY KEEN TO GET MY ASS KICKED

But really wow, the start of this game is rough. I've heard it gets a lot more manageable after the first hour or two, but I've never made it that far. Very excited to give this a proper attempt.

I agree that the game front loads a lot of unnecessary difficulty; perhaps even unfairly so. In my opinion, this is the game's biggest flaw and it's unfortunate that it happens right at the beginning. The game is way smoother after this initial hump.

Here's my advice for anyone having trouble getting out of the gate:

Spoiler:

Save scum your way through the first two hours. Demons are really fickle about negotiations at the beginning of the game so convincing them to join you can be challenging. Once you've established a party of demons and can weather a few hits then you're good to go.

Yeah, I can definitely speak from experience that the game gets notably easier. Still a challenge at times but in a satisfying way.

I picked this up this morning at GameStop before heading to the airport.

Challenge Accepted!

Soooo excited for this. I can finally take the collector’s edition my wife bought me years ago out of the shrinkwrap :).

MrMetonymy wrote:

Soooo excited for this. I can finally take the collector’s edition my wife bought me years ago out of the shrinkwrap :).

It's a nice set and the included strategy guide covers the first 1/3 of the game. In fact, I found where I stalled my NG+ run, so thank you, guide book!

I noticed there's a bunch of DLC available. I only picked up the free one.

Interesting. I grabbed the free one too.

I think I like that we have the option of DLC that grants ways to farm money or EXP. I probably won't use it, but if I get way behind it may be a nice little bump in progress if I need it.

Good to have options.

A_Unicycle wrote:

Interesting. I grabbed the free one too.

I think I like that we have the option of DLC that grants ways to farm money or EXP. I probably won't use it, but if I get way behind it may be a nice little bump in progress if I need it.

Good to have options.

Looks like they took a page out of Fire Emblem’s DLC playbook with the farming bits. I know I’m kidding myself if I think I’m not eventually going to buy them, but I’m not a fan of this practice.

Ted wrote:

Here's my advice for anyone having trouble getting out of the gate:

Spoiler:

Save scum your way through the first two hours. Demons are really fickle about negotiations at the beginning of the game so convincing them to join you can be challenging. Once you've established a party of demons and can weather a few hits then you're good to go.

This series is notorious for its willingness to kick in your teeth if you're going in and expecting just another Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest derivative. It's a lot closer in feel to a dungeon crawl. Emphasis added on the "crawl".

You want to play hyper-conservatively at the start like you would an old-school (ie. 8-bit) RPG. Don't be afraid to dip into the dungeon for a fight or two and then run back to town for healing until you get your levels up and a team built.

If you're coming into this fresh (ie. no previous SMT or Persona experience) here's some additional suggestions:

1. Elemental affinities are incredibly important in this game. Be very mindful of your team composition as the game will use the Press Turn system to its advantage and will wreck you if you're not paying attention.

2. "Always Be Fusing". This isn't Pokemon. Don't hang on to demons longer than you need to.

3. Buffs, Debuffs, and Status Ailments are super important in this series. Do not overlook them.

4. Save early, save often. And use leap-frog saves if you need them.

5. This is more a specific tip for IV, but the death penalty is pretty harsh in this game. Don't feel bad about using Play Coins (remember those?) to pay off Charon.

Mr GT Chris wrote:

I noticed there's a bunch of DLC available. I only picked up the free one.

For the paid DLC... Aside from the farming stuff, it's pretty much all post-game and non-essential.

shoptroll wrote:
Ted wrote:

Here's my advice for anyone having trouble getting out of the gate:

Spoiler:

Save scum your way through the first two hours. Demons are really fickle about negotiations at the beginning of the game so convincing them to join you can be challenging. Once you've established a party of demons and can weather a few hits then you're good to go.

This series is notorious for its willingness to kick in your teeth if you're going in and expecting just another Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest derivative. It's a lot closer in feel to a dungeon crawl. Emphasis added on the "crawl".

You want to play hyper-conservatively at the start like you would an old-school (ie. 8-bit) RPG. Don't be afraid to dip into the dungeon for a fight or two and then run back to town for healing until you get your levels up and a team built.

If you're coming into this fresh (ie. no previous SMT or Persona experience) here's some additional suggestions:

1. Elemental affinities are incredibly important in this game. Be very mindful of your team composition as the game will use the Press Turn system to its advantage and will wreck you if you're not paying attention.

2. "Always Be Fusing". This isn't Pokemon. Don't hang on to demons longer than you need to.

3. Buffs, Debuffs, and Status Ailments are super important in this series. Do not overlook them.

4. This is more a specific tip for IV, but the death penalty is pretty harsh in this game. Don't feel bad about using Play Coins (remember those?) to pay off Charon.

Mr GT Chris wrote:

I noticed there's a bunch of DLC available. I only picked up the free one.

For the paid DLC... Aside from the farming stuff, it's pretty much all post-game and non-essential.

Thanks for the tips, Shop. For someone who’s played Nocturne and DDS before, how would you say this one stacks up to previous entries in the mainline series?

MrMetonymy wrote:

Thanks for the tips, Shop. For someone who’s played Nocturne and DDS before, how would you say this one stacks up to previous entries in the mainline series?

My understanding (as I haven't touched Nocturne or the DDS duology yet) is that it's easier than previous games but still harder than modern Persona (3-5). It's unclear to me if that's due to a lower difficulty or a combination of the quality of life improvements and new features like Demon Whisper.

That second training level is brutal. And that porcupine thing is a pain.

MrMetonymy wrote:

For someone who’s played Nocturne and DDS before, how would you say this one stacks up to previous entries in the mainline series?

I've only played a little bit of those titles but a lot of Strange Journey. I think IV has the most streamlined version of the fusion system, especially because we get to select all the inherited skills instead of having the game randomly select them.

To me, Strange Journey remains the most compelling SMT game I've played but IV is the most fun to play.

In Strange Journey I lost interest due to lack of character and story development. The premise was intriguing.

Wonder how I will go with this one.

I surprised myself! With more of a careful approach, I made it in and out of Naraku without a single game over in just under 2 hours. I'm not sure if we go back in, but I finished the first set of quests and am now chatting to the crew on the top of castle. This time I'm putting a lot more points into 'magic' and 'luck' than anything. It seems to be working well for me.

So far my biggest problem is just hitting the enemies in the dungeon. The wind up on the attack button is a bit much, and if you swing too soon you can get 1-shotted pretty easily. I also had 2 moments where I looked away from the DS briefly and had an enemy run up and smack me from behind. This lead to my main character dying both times, it seems having revive items on hand is a MUST. I was able to flee, but I would have been in a world of hurt otherwise.

Another thing of note, I'm recruiting demons more often by refusing all of their requests and ending the conversation. Well, except the time I was given the option to throw up on the big warrior looking thing. Who wouldn't do that?

Tl;dr The game is a lot more manageable if you take it slow. Don't auto attack everything, make sure you get the first hit in.

I started last night, very late before going to sleep, and got about 15 minutes in to the game. Very interesting so far, but I was so sleepy and couldn't figure out how to save in the dark of my hotel room. I ended up turning it off instead. Whoops!

I'll restart again soon.

The game might not have given you the option yet. Either way, the menu navigation is buried a little bit:

Main Menu > Burroughs > Save

On a related note, we also have Main Menu > Burroughs > Load, which is handy in case fusions or app purchases don't pan out as hoped. Just reload right from inside the game.

This might be a random deep cut, but did anyone else get a weird twinge of Lady Hawk nostalgia when they introduced the new samurai recruits Isabeau and Navarre? That can’t be a coincidence, can it?

Maybe I’ve just been watching too many old Rutger Hauer movies lately...

EDIT: also, the quartermaster is named “Q.” Nice touch, Atlus.

I also finished the training and now the tutorial is covering the optional quest system. I already had the loot for two of them so I handed them in. Anyone buying any equipment yet? Hard for me to decide what is worth buying. Body armour mainly seems to affect your weaknesses to various attacks.

Had my first death. I actually thought it was one of those typical JRPG fake-out deaths since it occurred during a seemingly overly hard boss battle and was followed by a cut scene. But, no, just got my ass kicked. Died again shortly after and apparently I can now downgrade the difficulty. Yay me!

Mr GT Chris wrote:

Had my first death. I actually thought it was one of those typical JRPG fake-out deaths since it occurred during a seemingly overly hard boss battle and was followed by a cut scene. But, no, just got my ass kicked. Died again shortly after and apparently I can now downgrade the difficulty. Yay me!

Congrats on the first death :). You made way farther than I did before my first death.

Here’s a quick rundown of my first three encounters in the game:

1) tutorial battle #1: easy win

2) sweet-talked my first demon into joining my party. “This game isn’t that hard,” I think.

3) screwed up my 2nd negotiation. Demon counterattacked and wiped out my party.

Oh, that’s right. I’m playing a SMT game. Adjust my expectations accordingly.

Tagging in the thread at least. Not sure if I'm playing yet but I want to follow along.

I met a fairy, I asked her if she'd like to play with me.

"Nah, you're gonna use me for fusions!"

I gave her a rock, she got insulted.

I turned my back and she started grovelling

"Oh I guess this rock was enough...Ok, I'll join you!"

This game is weird.

Sadly gonna have to skip this one. Ni No Kuni 2 is eating my life.

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