During Nintendo’s E3 presentation fans finally got a release date for Shin Megami Tensei V, coming to the Switch on November 12th, 2021. This announcement drew widespread attention due to the massive success of Persona 5, a spin-off of the Shin Megami Tensei franchise also developed by Atlus. Whether this is the title that finally elevates Shin Megami Tensei from cult status remains to be seen, but Persona 5 fans are certain to be curious about the upcoming RPG. While there are many similarities between the two games, there are also some major differences fans should be aware of before investing their time and money into the new game.
Many of the core mechanics are shared between the two franchises. Shin Megami Tensei V is a turn-based RPG that uses the same weakness system that was present in Persona 5, allowing both players and opponents to chain bonus attacks for devastating turns. While this will make the flow of combat similar, Shin Megami Tensei has a reputation for being more difficult than its spin-offs, so go in expecting a bit more of a challenge.
The negotiation system will also return, allowing players to talk their way out of combat and even recruit enemies. This system is even more important and fleshed out in Shin Megami Tensei V. The E3 release trailer shows how the system is more complex with demons making specific requests, such as asking to take some of the protagonist’s health. In Persona 5 capturing personas was important to Joker’s stats and abilities but in Shin Megami Tensei V these demons will fight alongside you directly as party members.
One of the most significant differences between the two franchises is tone. While both series deal with dark political, religious, and philosophical themes Persona balances these out with its humor and bright pop aesthetics. Shin Megami Tensei, on the other hand, tells unflinchingly dark, post-apocalyptic stories. Shin Megami Tensei V will almost certainly be more downbeat and less hopeful than its Persona counterpart.
The most significant mechanical difference between the two is Shin Megami Tensei’s lack of a social sim mechanic. While Shin Megami Tensei V will feature some exploration of modern Tokyo, most of the game will take place in a post-apocalyptic version of the city. If exploring Shinjuku with virtual friends or taking NPC’s out on dates was central to your enjoyment of Persona, this may not be the game for you.
Shin Megami Tensei V offers recent Persona converts a chance to dive into the series that started it all. It will be available exclusively on the Switch starting November 12th of this year with pre-orders beginning on June 21st.