Shin Megami Tensei
Just one of SMT
's many angels
"holy" doesn't mean "easy on the eyes".
features brutal bosses
, God-versus-Lucifer conflicts, horrible, horrible people, and, last but not least, good ol' demonic horror
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- Several games feature the Law Theme, typically sung by a chilling Ethereal Choir.
- While all of these vague references to other games is really cool, it has a horrifying implication that all of these games take place in a loosely-connected multiverse where any of these apocalyptic scenarios are possible. Even Catherine has an obscure reference to earlier SMT games, so while it lacks any apocalyptic themes, it still has particularly evil and meddlesome examples of All Myths Are True.
- The implication, asserted in Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE, that demonic contracts offer virtual absolute control over the demon, to the degree the machine summoning them can be used to literally use them as People Puppets. Couple Humans Are Bastards with this gem. Whaddya get?
- Shin Megami Tensei IV plays around with the idea of controlling demons. The demons in your party are loyal, but they occasionally show discontent when you don't let them change skills; on the other hand, they'll happily rejoin the party if they get lost. It also goes into Undying Loyalty territory, with demons like Ares and the Minotaur showing loyalty toward their masters, even years after they died, and your own demons continuing to fight for you even if you perish in battle. However, the game also ramps up the horrifying implications of this further, by having the Ashura-kai thugs summon demons to stop you, who are usually not pleased by their position, but are forced to fight. Later on in the game, the once proud demon Koga Saburo is forced by a thug who works for Tayama to fight you against his will, turned into a mindless attack dog, and thanks you when you kill him. This also in general counts as a Tear Jerker for him and the other National Defense Divinities as none of them are evil and want to protect mankind from demons and those who seek to harm humanity, whether actively, like the Ashura-kai, or whose methods would hurt humanity passively, like the Ring of Gaea.
- In a standard fusion, the involved demons get merged into a single larger one, and it's implied the result has parts of each's accumulated experience/bits of each's souls. How large could the mass of memories/souls of a top-tier demon could be?
- On a more meta example, and with some Fridge Horror for good measure: the fact most of the top-tier angels (Metatron, Sandalphon, Melchizedek, Ophanim, and most likely others) are portrayed as robots. Think about it for a sec.
- The revelation of what Magnetite/Magatsuhi/Red is made of. Human minds and souls, for the curious.
- The simple fact that God, the single most powerful entity in existence, is a psychotic, iron-fisted fascist obsessed with the idea of a World of Silence in which everyone mindlessly worships Him for all eternity, obliterating any hope for change or movement, no matter how small. All just to slake His unfathomably huge ego. That much power coupled with that much crazy - or worse, a benevolent entity warped into this by human belief, as has been heavily implied across the series.
- Both the Law and Chaos sides have pretty shady ways of changing the world, especially for humanity. Law's goals are often either iron-fist theocratic dictatorship or brainwashing everyone into submission; see the above YHVH example for what happens when The Almighty directly gets involved. Chaos's goals range from Might Makes Right anarchy to purging out any and all civilized thought from humanity. While the Neutral paths of many games aren't much better since they just regress back into the never-ending war between Law and Chaos as the introduction of Shin Megami Tensei II sadly illustrates, they're popular choices for many players simply because Neutral is often presented as a reasonable balance and its endings are generally considered less immediately-terrifying than those of the Law and Chaos factions. The White from Shin Megami Tensei IV introduce a fourth option that may or may not be better than any of those three: Because they just don't care anymore, they come up with the idea of using a black hole generator to return the entire universe to nothing, which they believe is the only way to end the eternal, bitter struggle once and for all. And then there's the Divine Powers' fifth option in Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, which consists of harvesting human souls en masse whether humanity wants it or not to create a new universe free of YHVH's rule, which most of the humans in Tokyo agree isn't much better than what Lucifer and Merkabah are doing. And then if you reject the Law and Chaos paths, it turns out that both Merkabah and Lucifer are creations of YHVH whose jobs are to uphold a massive farce disguised as a genuine Order Versus Chaos conflict just to make the Almighty look better.
- Sure, being able to summon demons with technology that automates the summoning process sounds cool, and it sure as hell is easier than having to perform a complex ritual with your own two hands and some otherworldly chants (and Akemi Nakajima in the original Digital Devil Story is able to use his coding chops to make demon summoning programs). But what happens when this technology is mass-produced (e.g. as a portable device or a smartphone app) so that anyone, or close to it, can summon demons? Devil Survivor shows humans in a lockdown turning on one another and creating what's practically a war zone, while Shin Megami Tensei IV features an organized crime group establishing a monopoly on the smartphone market so that they can control the supply and easily kill anyone who wrongs them with their favorite level 99 demons.
Demons in General
- Some of the demons of the series are downright terrifying.
- Pisaca. Skin that looks like it's melting, long eyestalks and a mouth that takes up its entire torso. Sweet dreams!◊ And Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey's Compendium description for them says that they crawl into people's mouths. And these things are about 7 feet tall. And other Compendiums imply they become Puppeteer Parasites.
- The gameplay is not safe from this. They have an attack that inflicts "Bomb" status, in which the victim—which can be anyone from one of your demons to you—becomes Made of Explodium. One hit with your guard down and you explode violently, dealing your HP in damage to the rest of your team. Easily the most terrifying status ailment besides Stone.
- Another Pisaca artwork◊, even more deformed and horrible, for your viewing pleasure.
- Legion◊, a mass of fleshy heads welded together. Some may notice that its design is a tad similar to Castlevania's take on Legion.
- Arioch. Cu Chulainn from the Final Fantasy games has nothing on this◊.
- Tiamat. There's so many things wrong with this picture.◊ Her makeover◊ for Soul Hackers is just as bad.
- Belberith. What happens when you blend 4 demons together? This.◊
- Kraken. Because we all so love octopi◊.
- Bael. Is it any wonder it was the prototype for Belberith above?◊
- Mara. To start with, it was pretty disgusting and horrific.◊ And then they went and made◊ him/her even more horrific. And as the main page points out - Mara is a demon of temptations. Which means that deep down, we all have the potential to be as ugly as that thing.
- Mishaguji. Same as Mara - ugly to start with◊, made even worse in the redesign. Doesn't help it looks like a goddamn parasite to start with.
- Many, many monsters of the first games were essentially an animal body with a human head. It only made it worse that these looked like rejects cast into the Uncanny Valley.
- Abaddon. See that gaping mouth?◊ It's capable of swallowing cities.
- Tzitzimitl, where did your eyes go?◊. And that belly she's caressing so lovingly? She's not pregnant with the cosmos within her robe —that's a distended stomach, bulging with the stars she has EATEN, snatched from the sky with her million arms.
- Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey even throws lovable Mascot Mook Jack Frost in here. How? By revealing it's an abominable snowman who changed his form in order to better freeze prey.
- As a side note, he is blissfully innocent if not particularly benevolent. If he remembers he's supposed to be a demon after all, he either becomes Black Frost, an insane Superpowered Evil Side now able of No Selling Fire, commonly the best way to deal with Frosts, or perhaps worse, he could evolve into freaking Wendigo.
- Beelzebub. A fly. Nothing but a fly.◊ Oh, yes, that. A fly the size of a tank made out of hundreds of thousands of smaller flies. And in Devil Survivor, his minions can inflict the "Egg" status on you and your allies. What does it do? It turns its target into an incubator for more flies, which hatch after a few turns, resulting in more enemies. And the host taking severe damage.
- Cherubs. Angels are supposed to be nice, aren't they? HA! Tell that to yourself when this thing comes after you.Have a gander and make your own choice, folks!◊
- In most games that Dominion appears in, it takes the form of a blue-haired angel with a scale and a book. In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, however, it became this abomination.◊
- Oh God, just Cthulhu's design◊. Penises do not belong on tongues.
- Old Ones. No need to explain this one, is there◊...
- Even though he only appears in a single game, and only as a boss, Satanael deserves mention. He bursts out of your friend's body, and forces you to fight him. Not good enough? He didn't quite make it out.◊
- Alice. Die For Me! is bad enough, but when you learn her story... which is also a Tear Jerker all on its own... well. The Hare of Inaba explains it rather well in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey: Alice was a normal, happy girl who at once point came to the attention of some demons who immediately got smitten with her. So what did the demons do? Something to help Alice, of course! They gave her a portion of their magic. Alice died soon after, driven to insanity by the power she had been granted. And the power revived her. Sorta. What rose from Alice's grave was a true demon, formed by the massive magical power Alice had been granted, and gifted with her innocent mindset... Now, what could go wrong with a girl who desperately wants a friend, but who tends to liberally throw around deadly instant-death magic and cannot understand the very concept of death itself, or what is she, or what is she doing? She also likes to summon wave after wave of undead, to ensure you never leave her...
- What she is brought back as is even worse. She went from being an innocent little girl with weird friends, to being a Fiend (an embodiment of the end of the world) in nearly all the games. She both Took a Level in Badass and several levels in Nightmare Fuel.
- In the aforementioned mission with the Hare of Inaba, Alice eventually catches up to you and the Hare, and then skins the Hare, boils him alive, and eats him. If you let her. It doesn't help that said Hare of Inaba mentions that he always revives, and so she does that to him over and over again.
- Atlus seems bent into making her the worst possible monster possible. As of Devil Survivor 2, she's now a monstruous Vampiric Drainer.
- Don't forget when Joker summons her in the Persona 5 Animation, she manages to evade Shadow Shido's fists, twists her head 180 degrees and makes a Slasher Smile with red, glowing eyes while behind Shido, then fires a Megidolaon that instantly damages him enough to turn him into his next form.
- Satan, the Accuser. A Knight Templar Eldritch Abomination whose Signature Moves are called God's Breath, Vanity and Futility? Really, what's not to fear?◊
- The Gnome got pretty unsettling in Strange Journey too.
- Diana◊ boasts sixteen breasts. Seven alone are on her head.
- Garrote◊ is a choking man in a garrote vil, an excruciating execution device. When Ixtab summons a Horde of them in IV, they are squirming.
- Rastaman◊, An overweight zombie Rastafarian with a bloody saw and a shopping bag filled with severed heads.
- There's some Fridge Horror about all of the demons of the Undead Race - many are sexually fetishistic, like Facebind, Drag Queen, or Padlock. Rastaman and Garrote are, essentially, criminals and assorted lowlife scum. Others are occupations that often come under heavy judgment like Patriot, Zombie Cop, Agony or Zombie Priest. This, on the whole, implies Undead are actually humans demonized by the stigmas they faced in life.
- Lilith. Special mention to her Shin Megami Tensei IV incarnation, but even her design◊ before that was unsettling in its own right. She's pretty, right? Look at her hands and feet. Carefully. Bleeurgh... The fact it's so easy to overlook only makes it MORE unsettling.