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Nightmare Fuel / Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse

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https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/shesha_second_form_smtivf.jpg
Yes, that's a 3D model in the battle interface and not a sprite.
Asahi: "Wow, everyone's really worked up. It's actually kind of scary..."
Dagda: "Heh, your friend's perception is spot on. Show's about to start, kid."
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Much like its immediate predecessor, and the series as a whole for that matter, Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse has its share of insomnia triggers.

As a Moments subpage, all spoilers are unmarked as per policy. You Have Been Warned.


  • The Psychotic Smirk that Nanashi sports in some promotional art can be pretty uncomfortable to look at. Especially the pose in which he points a finger to himself as if it's a gun, as if he's been playing a little too much Persona 3 lately.
  • One of the lesser, otherwise humorous facts about this game is seeing the description of the relics you collect when appraisng them on the shops. Back at the previous game, we had Flynn trying his best to comprehend utensils and mundane objects from his medieval-era perspective. Now, we get to see these from the eyes of a 15-year-old Hunter, with a modern view of these. Except, he was born five years after the sealing of Tokyo and was born amidst all the reigning chaos present, so he interprets makeup cases as bullet packers, kitchen racks as gun shelves, glass cups as spy tools... Everything from the insight of a juvenile hunter, living day by day hunting demons for survival or even for meat sources.
    • Speaking of which, take a look at the phone's Database after being officially promoted to a Hunter. This game finally gives an explanation about why one of the demon races is Food. Fridge Horror spoiled it since the first game, but the weight of that one tidbit feels heavier when you see whose demons are in this category, like the already-underdogged Hare of Inaba or Onmorakis in general.
  • In general, this game likes to use Hopeless Boss Fight to pit you against a powerful adversary, have them beat you down with no way to defend yourself unless someone else pulls a Big Damn Heroes moment, and immerse you in the feeling that you and your friends are about to die:
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    • Nanashi's death. The youngest SMT Main Series protagonist at 15 years old, he suffers a gruesome demise at the hands of a rather flamboyant, horse-like demon shortly after his story begins. And this is after he and Asahi witness their two mentors being killed by said demon as they were trying to protect them. Thank god Nanashi gets much better due to Dagda's intervention...
    • The Fantastic Racism exhibited by the Angels — "Land of the Unclean Ones", "Filth", etc. — is back in full force, and this time, as a Hunter from Tokyo, you get to experience it firsthand as Aniel shows up to summarily execute you and Asahi for attempting to tresspass on the angels' territory, all while shouting "Unclean!" with each attack. And because he's far higher-leveled than you, he nearly completes the job, bringing Asahi, who had already had her life and yours threatened not too long ago, to her knees as she realizes the hopelessness of her situation. Sure, you would've survived anyway thanks to Dagda, but Asahi wouldn't have had it not been for Flynn and Isabeau.
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    • The first fight with Odin. You're maybe expecting a difficult but still doable battle, but then he casts Will of Thunder: "Elec attacks will pierce until end of turn!" Well, okay, that sounds bad, but surely this can be survived, right? Zionga didn't do that much damage...and then on his next turn, he casts Will of Thunder again, followed by Concentrate so you know the next hit is going to do an assload of damage and not even Repel Elec is going to save you, and finally, he casts Thunder Reign, killing off all of your demons with about 1000 HP of damage each, ending the battle, and leaving you at the mercy of a group of omnicidal polytheistic gods.
  • Nanashi coming back to life but return becoming Dagda's human puppet. If he tries to do something that Dagda sees as counter to his plans or just plain dislikes, Dagda will just hijack Nanashi's body to make him do otherwise and Nanashi can do naught to stop it. The Divine Powers end up being released this way, if you try to say no to unsealing their ark. What if Dagda, for example, needs Nanashi to kill his friends or other innocent people off as part of his plans or simply For the Evulz, something that wouldn't be beyond him given how he rambles about how stupid friendship is? Yes, he tries to make Nanashi do just that to his friends in the Cosmic Egg. If you refuse to do it, Dagda will try to suck the life out of you in a Seemingly Hopeless Boss Fight, and since your demon summoning powers come from him, you also have trouble trying to command your demons! Had Danu not been there to save you with a Dagda clone, you would've died, and for real at that!]
  • Exploring one of the Challenge Quests reveals that the leaders of Japan, before the creation of the Firmament, had dabbled in human experimentation to summon the National Defense Divinities. The ringleader of this plot, the crazed Minister of Defense, also transplanted his personality into the body of an innocent woman before he died, and now "she" mindlessly wanders around Tokyo, carrying his brain in a jar and ranting about "saving" the country.
  • The Tokugawa Mandala. You know all those bloodthirsty wild demons roaming the streets who are out to kill any unfortunate humans they find? Now try defending yourself from them without any demons of your own. Fortunately, Nanashi is still able to summon his demons thanks to Dagda granting him his Godslayer powers, but everyone else in Tokyo isn't as fortunate.
  • Shesha, the massive dragon (both literal and otherwise) of the Divine Powers. It looks like it's made of lava and it turns entire districts into ground-zero zones splattered with blood where the dreary aboveground music plays instead of the more mellow underground music in order to consume humans and grow more powerful, leaving everyone around the area who isn't dead yet freaking out for their lives. It makes its introduction by punching a huge hole in the Firmament. When you fight it, to creepy distinct BGM to boot, you don't see a sprite of it; you see its overworld model moving about as it attacks you. Its second form, pictured above, has way more eyes than is comfortable to look at, and can speak. Defeating this form doesn't even faze it much; it just taunts that it will come back even stronger and more powerful. Which it does.
  • While fighting Merkabah and Lucifer, Flynn periodically flashes a Psychotic Smirk, which is creepy on two fronts: it looks rather off on his face, and it's Foreshadowing the fact that he's not actually Flynn.
  • The moment when the Flynn you spent the game with is revealed to really be Shesha in disguise, he ends up flashing an absolutely hideous Nightmare Face, a super-realistic design of Flynn's face with a sickly green skin and blood-red colored eyes and lips. JESUS, JUST LOOK AT IT. Uncanny Valley doesn't even begin to describe it: like our beloved Champion of Tokyo had a horrific Fusion Accident with The Joker and a snake. He then proceeds to gruesomely devour Asahi after she jumps in to protect Nanashi, meaning the same thing would have happened to him. The worst part is that this is literally the ONLY part in the game that uses this super-realistic art style. It's just so sudden and alien to the entire art style of the game, it looks like this... thing was not even supposed to be there in the first place.
  • While raiding Tsukiji Konganji for the second time, you may notice that there's a conspicuous lack of Ring of Gaea members patrolling the area this time around. A group of Hunters you meet inside the facility point this out along with the fact that the building shows signs of very recent activity, theorizing that they all sacrificed themselves to power up Shesha. As you find out much later, they're right, and if you're re-playing this segment, note that the end of this raid involves witnessing Flynn-who's-actually-Shesha pretend-defeating Odin. "Flynn" had just mass-consumed Gaean souls when you "interrupt" him. Spooky!
  • Hallelujah's true form: a half-demon hybrid. While certainly not as horrifying as the Shesha-disguised-as-Flynn example immediately above — for starters, he is still firmly on your side with the only change to their personality being a few levels in badass — he looks...unwell, to say the least. His skin turns completely white, his eyes are entirely blood-red, and he has a mass of cracks in the skin around his eyes. No wonder he was so reluctant to show his true power.
  • Toki being overshadowed by Inanna in the Cosmic Egg. The way that Krishna tries to coax her into acting on those feelings to the point where she believes she's giving birth to Nanashi's child is to bring back Maitreya is disturbing. Then there's the birthing scream...
  • Cleopatra's DLC story is horrifying. You go to an inverted pyramid to investigate the disappearance of many women, and what does Nanashi find? A LOT of mummified corpses with roses blooming out of them, with certain parts of their bodies chopped off. About 1464 of them. All of this in an effort to resurrect Cleopatra herself with the perfect body. You also find Asahi and manage to save her, but imagine what would have happened had Nanashi been too late to arrive...
  • "Explosive Epidemic in Mikado" has the player fight through several of Mikado's citizens who have been transformed into demons. Remember what happened to Issachar in the previous game? The same is happening to everyone of Mikado. Even Hugo and Hope get special portraits for the occasion. Reading through the related lore has one realize that the angels were behind the Demonic Gene, which is ingrained in everyone in Mikado and responsible for the demonic transformations. One of the triggers of this transformation: Cultural development. Not only do the angels directly keep the masses ignorant and subservient, but anyone who experiences any element from a society more advanced than a feudal one (like reading modern literature, for instance) becomes demonized.
    • A few players may realize that this DLC is a tie-in with the Alternate Universe mangas from the previous game, -Prayers- and Demonic Gene. Even if it's clearly a Massacre-route Nanashi that fought it off, imagine how worse this all could go if he hadn't interfered...!
  • The game just loves to give the humans of Tokyo what appears to be their moment of salvation, their moment when their hope is finally answered, from their crappy 25-year situation, only to crush it in front of their very eyes. Oh, Flynn's about to summon Masakado to help remove the Firmament?note  The Divine Powers step in and kidnap him. Merkabah, Lucifer, and the Divine Powers are destroyed and everyone's celebrating with Flynn? Actually, not only did the Divine Powers only feign defeat, but the Flynn who's been with the people of Tokyo since his apparent rescue is actually Shesha, more powerful than ever and leading the consumption of souls across Tokyo.
  • The first dungeon exclusive to the two neutral routes, the Cosmic Egg, is a massive Womb Level with red, fleshy walls and "doors" that make sickening fleshy sounds when you travel through them, as if taking a page from the Labyrinth of Amala. There's also a few spots where an appendage will swallow you up and spit you back out elsewhere with no prior warning. To destroy the Cosmic Egg, you reach the center of it and destroy its physical heart. The process of destruction of which is thankfully not shown, but still, watching it beat...ugh.
  • Twisted Tokyo, on the surface, is a Domain Up to Eleven, featuring even more disgusting-looking tentacles and skulls that make up the walls. The background behind this makes matters worse: It's actually yet another Alternate Timeline of Tokyo where the Messiahs never came and the city was eventually taken over entirely by demons. Apparently, the takeover was so thorough that the locations you explore bear familiar names but look nothing like the places they're named after; one way to interpret this is that the entire metropolis was turned into one big Domain. At least Blasted Tokyo from IV has humans and some infrastructure surviving at all.
    • And the bosses of Twisted Tokyo is the Fiend squad. Yes, those are the skeletons that stomp on new players on their first Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne playthrough. If this is not enough to instill fear, they are even stronger than the majority of bosses in the game and if you have a particular expansion DLC, they can go over level 900. When you encounter them, unlike most bosses which at least looked like they wanted to fight you, they just make a deep sigh. They are probably so strong that they don't even take you as anything other than an ant to be crushed under their feet.
  • Krishna hijacking every smartphone in Tokyo to broadcast his message about "salvation".
  • As Quetzalcoatl murders everyone at the Hunters' Association — normally a place of refuge where you can heal up and chat with your fellow Hunters — and claims their souls for the Divine Powers, he brilliantly corrupts one of the best-known memes from another video game series.
    Quetzalcoatl: Praise the Sun!
  • The Reveal in the neutral routes that Lucifer was created by YHVH to serve as a false-flag 'perfect enemy' for Merkabah to put up a facade of an Order Versus Chaos conflict, just to make YHVH and the Law faction look better by comparison and to get people to side with Him. YHVH does not care about humanity at all. Lucifer himself seems completely unaware of this until he dies, which will likely make you feel pretty bad for him.
  • Nanashi killing his friends at the start of the Massacre route isn't just heartbreaking, it's horrifying when you consider how his friends feel about it. One of their closest friends and their leader has abruptly decided to turn his sword towards them and they all go down with relatively little effort, likely because this act of betrayal has crushed their fighting spirit in Tokyo's Darkest Hour. He gets to watch them beg and plead for their lives as he coldly ends each and every one of them for what he believes to be the greater good. And then Nanashi moves on to slaughtering the people of Tokyo and Mikado en masse, while Fujiwara can only hopelessly lament that Nanashi could've used his abilities to defend humanity instead. While the resulting body count is not shown on-screen, the narration indicates that he's created mountains of corpses, with central Ginza likely drenched in human blood at this point. Hope your new universe is worth it!
  • After his death and subsequent resurrection on Massacre, Flynn Came Back Wrong. He loses all trace of personality and all of his heroic spirit, and even turns against the people he promised to protect. The only thing that matters to him is serving Nanashi, whom he reveres as a god. Seeing someone who took the fate of humanity into his own hands and declared war on Law and Chaos suddenly becoming subservient is... creepy. And he starts speaking in a Creepy Monotone. O.O.C. Is Serious Business indeed. And remember, it was your decision to side with Dagda that made him come back this way.
    • On the same route, you can pick which of your friends to revive as the True Goddess. Said True Goddess may have elements of the revived partner's personality, but ultimately that person is, just like Flynn, a brainwashed servant who doesn't care about their own hopes or dreams anymore, only serving you and helping you craft the new universe.
    • And when this is not terrifying enough, if you meet the requirements to fuse them and you did, humanity's three biggest enemies: Merkabah, Lucifer and Krishna are now officially on your side, ready to wipe out anyone who opposes you.
  • Satan has two long spikes piercing his hands in his portrait with red hot cracks in the skin surrounding each of them. They don't seem to bring him any pain, and seem to be a symbolism thing more than anything, but still...that really does not look pleasant to look at.
  • Early in the game, Nanashi has a dream of his past life as Akira right before God's Plan leads to the ICBM strike on Tokyo. In the dream, we see Flynn's previous incarnation unsheathing Masakado's Katana, in order to summon said deity and create the Firmament / Ceiling, protecting all of Tokyo against the ICBM Strike. Except Masakado's summoning is not that pleasant to watch or perform... He commits harakiri, pulling the blade through his own neck! Masakado, summoned as a floating head, then gorily merges with Flynn's descendant's body, gutural sounds and everything, in order to complete his transformation. It's kinda hard to think that Masakado is firmly cemented as a good guy after witnessing this!

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