Shin Megami Tensei 5 review – a brutal RPG that goes all-in on battles of attrition

Sometimes a game greets you with a kick in the teeth. Shin Megami Tensei 5, the latest in the long-standing RPG franchise from developer Atlus, is one such game, beckoning you into an interdimensional war between heaven and hell, where humanity’s fate is on the line but the lowliest enemy can still beat you into submission.

Shin Megami Tensei 5 functions as an RPG, and a tough as nails one at that. Its combat is turn-based in perhaps its purest form, with barely anything interrupting your party and the enemy demons taking turns to poke and prod each other with various supernatural abilities. The combat system could be fairly described as a war of attrition, where both sides are slowly whittling down the health of one another, and supremely powerful abilities that can lay waste to a number of foes are extremely few and far between.

What this results in is one hell of a grind. If you thought modern RPGs like Dragon Quest 11 and even Tales of Arise required a steady slog through an army of enemies to boost your level, Shin Megami Tensei 5 is a league above that. Every periodic boss encounter for a story beat is a mountain to be summited, where you’ll have to spend hours repeatedly sprinting through all the foes you’ve gone through beforehand, slowly accumulating precious experience points so the boss can’t wipe away your entire team with a flick of its finger.

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