Hello, and welcome to my second Let's Play liveblog, God, the Devil, and Flynn, where we will be playing Shin Megami Tensei IV! Sinclair Drake Vs. the (Demon) World got a good reception, so I've decided to make a new liveblog following Flynn's adventures in Mikado and Tokyo. And the demons, of course. This one I intend to be quite a bit more in-depth than Drake, with more Character Development for the demons, more narration by Flynn as opposed to summarizing by myself, and all in-game sidequests completed. And one more thing, this liveblog is a Neutral run, which, as you'll discover, is more difficult to get in this game, so the pace might be a bit slower as I attempt to balance out my points. We ready? Good!
Flynn: I dreamed I was flying last night, over a massive ocean with nothing but water and clouds visible for miles. There's certainly nothing like this in the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado. They spoke to me; I'm not entirely sure who "they" were, but they told me I was to create a world. Could I really be capable of something like that? Surely that's for God to do, is it not? I saw two worlds, two strange worlds that couldn't possibly exist, with no one in them but myself and and one other person. I feel I had met these people before, but at the same time I am sure I had never seen them in my life. Are these the worlds I am to build? And there was someone else there, too... Was it you, by any chance?
Welcome to the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado, an idyllic Middle-Ages society that has known nothing but peace and security for the past 1500 years, under the protection of God and the peacekeeping troops known as the Samurai. It is here, on the shores of a quiet lake, we meet two youths, Flynn and Issachar, both recently turned eighteen, basking under a tree. This day is an important one for them, as this is the one day of the year where all young men and women of the Kingdom travel to its capital city to partake in the mystical Gauntlet Rite, the ceremony that selects new initiates to the Samurai. For the past several years, however, no applicant has been judged worthy...
Flynn: Heh, Issachar. As long as we've been friends, I've known that you have waited your entire life for this moment. Truly it was never much of a concern for me; whether I became a Samurai or simply took up blacksmithing with my father... I'd be serving in defense of the Kingdom either way. And is there any greater calling?
The two friends make their way to the capital city at Mikado Castle. Uncertain of where the Rite is being held, they inquire of an upper-crust person, or "Luxuror" (working-class people like Flynn and Issachar are called "Casualries"), who coldly brushes them off with "Seek it yourself."
It is here we gain control of Flynn, though at this point we can't do much but use the map interface to go to different parts of the castle city, speaking to various Luxurors and Casualries to get an idea of what life in East Mikado is like. Of particular note is the Obelisk Plaza, which contains East Mikado's creation myth transcribed on the eponymous stone, describing the heroic King Aquila, founder of the Kingdom, and how he gained the ability to summon Angels from Heaven to defend against the Unclean Ones, people who could summon demons.
Flynn: You always liked those stories, right, Issachar? Sometimes I do wish there were more stories, but as we have only been here 1500 years, I am not sure such a thing is possible.
At Luxuror District 1, speak to the man in the wig to be informed that the rite is taking place in the Aquila Statue Plaza of the castle.
Flynn: Hm. I had never interacted with the Luxurors at any great length before, so it is a relief to know there are good people among them.
A massive crowd is gathered at the Plaza for the Rite. As a dejected youth who failed the test walks away, Issachar's name is called, and immediately after, Flynn's. As Flynn approaches the monk who will perform the rite, Issachar shuffles away forlornly.
Flynn: This doesn't seem fair... This was your dream, Issachar, not mine; why should you not live it?
It is here we are introduced to Hope, Commander of the Samurai, and to the Gauntlet Rite itself; each Samurai hopeful must wear a strangely high-tech-looking gauntlet, and following the monk's prayer, must see if the Mystic Script appears on the gauntlet. Anyone whom this script appears to has been chosen as a Samurai. Flynn, of course, extends his arm to the monk, and...
Flynn: OH! Oh my... the mystic script! Never in my wildest dreams... back home, we were beginning to become skeptical that there would ever be anyone judged worthy again, but here I am living the dream. Living a dream that is not my own...
Yup, Flynn's been selected as a Samurai. This means he gets to keep the gauntlet, by the way; apparently they have lots of these things. You might also notice something about the Mystic Script. Like how it's modern Japanese. Surely this won't be important, right? Upon his selection, Flynn must discard his previous attachments and live as a Luxuror in Mikado Castle itself.
Flynn: Surely this is what every Casualry has always dreamed of, but I still wonder if I will ever see Mother, Father, or Issachar again...
Flynn then drifts off to sleep at the Samurai Barracks (read: heal spot for later) and dreams of the two mysterious worlds and the two mysterious young men again. And then he wakes to find one of them in his room. Weird, huh?
Flynn: Have I met you once before? You look like someone I had seen...
This is Walter, another Samurai initiate, and the only other Casualry selected this year. He and Flynn proceed to the plaza, where they meet the other new initiates, all Luxurors: the polite Jonathan, the mysterious and beautiful Isabeau, and the classist, loudmouthed Navarre. Well, they can't all be winners, I suppose.
Flynn: We have gone years without any new Prentices being selected, and yet in this year five were chosen? I wonder if this means anything?
Sir Hope then appears and announces the first day of practical training: all Prentice Samurai must descend into Naraku, a mysterious, ancient cavern beneath the castle to learn how to fight.
Flynn: Fight what, exactly? East Mikado has not known war for 1500 years...
Hope is nice enough to give Flynn some cash and healing supplies, and opens up the city's blacksmith and apothecary for the young Samurai's use. Honestly, though, I find shops near-useless in this game save for one specific purpose we'll cone to in a bit; you can almost always get much better stuff from quests and from demon skills. Oops, did I just spoiler the fact that there's demons in this game? Naughty me.
As Flynn makes his first descent into the catacombs, his gauntlet suddenly blazes with light...!
What is the meaning of the glowing gauntlet? What could there possibly be to fight in a totally peaceful kingdom? Will Flynn ever go home again? Stay tuned to find out!