Reviews: Shin Megami Tensei

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Shin Megami Tensei
Man these games are great. An amalgamation of mythologies, hard as hell, and leaves none of its questions unasked. Also, better than Final Fantasy, I can only ask for that. It's these games that kicked forward my interest in mythology and the concept of chaos (the Chaos alignment helped that). Though I gotta say I've been getting my head wrapped up in understanding them, and I must confess that I may have taken some things too seriously, but I think I'm done gazing too deeply. The games are still utterly enjoyable to me, and that's all I ask (other than that last thing I said was all I asked for, but don't think too much of it).
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One of the greatest and most thought provoking RPG series today
Ah, Shin Megami Tensei...where to start? The simplest way to describe it is "Pokemon with Demons, Angels and religious metaphors", but that's only the surface. See, while the demon summoning mechanic is very similar to the concept of Mons, SMT games are much different from most games of that type. For one thing, it's much darker; Profanity, blood, and (oftentimes graphic) death are commonplace in this series, and these aren't cute pokemon we're talking about here, these are actual demons and creatures from almost all forms of mythology. Thor? We got that. Shiva? We got that. God, Satan, and Lucifer? They're here too, and they all have an interest in humanity...for better or worse.

And that brings me to the second main aspect of SMT, and that's the alignment system. See, in each of the "main" games, you must align yourself to one of three moral outputs:

  • Law: Emphasizes order and stability. The main alignment of God and the Angels.
  • Chaos: Values personal freedom above all else. The main alignment of Lucifer.
  • Neutral: The belief that humanity doesn't need either angels or demons to survive.

Sounds simple, right? WRONG. Each alignment has its dark side. Most people aligned with Law are fanatical Knight Templar, and YHVH (The SMT equivalent of God) is a totalitarian dictator who accepts nothing less than absolute obedience. Many people aligned with Chaos, in contrast, are violent, mindlessly destructive maniacs.

You may think Neutral is probably best then, but even that has some problems. First, obviously, you'll have both the forces of Law and Chaos gunning for you. Also, as the story in each game progresses, more and more of the human NP Cs will join one of the factions, making them your enemy. Its not uncommon for a Neutral protagonist to have maybe one or two other humans siding with him in the end, and the rest pitted against him.

So...who's side are YOU on?

(Obligatory "Hee-ho!" reference)
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