Not nearly as bad as in the original game (as their Artificial Stupidity has been mostly fixed), but your main partner will "helpfully" remind you after a battle with an unregistered demon that you should have tried recruiting it. They apparently aren't aware when your inventory is too full or when you tried but failed. Or even better, when you tried but they wound up killing the demon.
If your Assist Gauge is at max, your partners will automatically do their Assist Rush at the end of your turn, which means if you're trying to isolate a demon you want to recruit or save the assault for a boss, you'll find yourself in a race to defeat the enemies before your partners "help" you by wasting the entire meter.
Partners who cut in at the start of battle may end up killing a demon you wanted to recruit. Gastonis worst about this, as he also uses your Press Turns and can waste them by missing or having his attacks nullified or worse.
Anvilicious: The game is about as unsubtle as all get out about how the power of friendship overcomes all with Peace route choices.
A lot of the guest artists' demons in IV were criticized for appearing Off-Model compared to demon designer Kazuma Kaneko and character designer Masayuki Doi's own art. For Apocalypse, Doi redrew some of the more contentious ones, such as Lucifer and Medusa, so that they don't fall quite as far into the Uncanny Valley.
In IV, your AI partner, and the moves they would use, were selected entirely at random. This meant they could easily trigger an enemy's smirk status, and there wasn't a thing you could do about it. In Apocalypse, players can manually pick their partner, and see exactly which moves they can use. Partners will also never use attacks that would be nullified, reflected, or drained, even if the enemy's resistances are unknown.
The oft-criticized overworld map from IV has been considerably touched up. It's now brighter, quest destinations are marked, locations are named after you visit them once and you can zoom in or out as well.
IV required meticulous juggling of a Karma Meter through dialogue choices or plot stopping side-quests to get the "Neutral" ending. In Apocalypse, you simply refuse all others (just like in I, II and Strange Journey).
The Fiends are no longer 1/256 chance encounters spread out across the world, but fixed fights in a Bonus Dungeon located in the Tokyo Bay area.
Dungeons in IV were often criticized for being both very short and very simple in contrast to the complex mazes of previous games. In Apocalypse this is addressed with the dungeons now being much longer and complex.
In the original game, Smirk was very controversial due to its exceedingly random and seemingly tacked-on nature along with just being plainly overpowered. In this game it is reworked to fit better with the rest of the battle system with new moves relating to the mechanic as well as ways to directly manipulate it. The status itself was also reworked to no longer give near perfect evasion and it now simply nullifies weaknesses and protects from criticals instead, thus preventing bosses from becoming practically untouchable for one turn just because one of your attacks happened to be nullified.
In response to Lucifer's bizarre Took a Level in Jerkass and less well-received design compared to past games Apocalypse reveals this version is actually the latest iteration of a subdivided Satan, whose traditional attitude and design IV's version of Lucifer resembles more closely.
The designs for several of IV's designs such as the National Defense Divinities are revealed to be the product of inhumane human experimentation. Meaning most of them were likely turned into their current states by Japanese nationalists. Of course this does not apply to all new designs but to a certain few.
The original got some accusations of Japanese nationalist sympathies, with the quest where you kick foreign gods out of Ikebukuro, an area of Tokyo known for its high immigrant population. In this one, you fight the deranged ghost of a nationalist politician, who is portrayed as a crazed Knight Templar who indirectly caused the entire conflict in the first place in a misguided attempt to remove foreign influence from Japan and make it a superpower again.
For people who feel that the series' portrayal of Neutral is too good compared to Law and Chaos, this game features the Divine Powers alliance as an explicitly antagonistic force of Neutral-aligned deities who demonstrate that they can be just as selfish and amoral as their Light and Chaos counterparts. Likewise, the inclusion of Maitreya/Miroku (who is a significant figure among Japanese Buddhists) among the Divine Powers goes a way towards addressing some of the series' accusations of nationalistic undertones in classifying locally-worshipped deities as Neutral and thus implicitly superior.
Asahi. She's either a flat stock moe sister character who is out of place in the setting or a ridiculously determined, upbeat Nice Girl in a normally dark setting who goes through significant character development.
Toki. She's either beloved for her dark design, assassin aesthetic, general snark and yandere tendencies, or hated for regressing into a shallow, lovesick character who flat-out worships Nanashi and by extension the player.
There's even a subsection of the fan who feels the former bits of her characterization are painfully edgy and trying too hard, but find the lovesick version of her endearing.
Dagda. Either he is an annoying hypocritical jerkass who tries too hard, or the sole voice of cynical rationality in a broken world, whose only sin is giving up too early or a Straw Character that turned unintentionally sympathetic.
Danu herself is just as divisive as her son. She's either seen as a controlling hypocrite or a benevolent protector looking out for humanity. Her actions in the Cosmic Egg, especially her creation of a new Dagda during the beginning of the Peace route, are also base-breaking. Some see her creation of a new Dagda as effectively brainwashing someone who dared to defy her, while others argue that it was a necessary thing to do since a happy ending was no longer possible with the original Dagda, or simply no Dagda at all. Implying by that extent that this was her way of avoiding the latterand not get rid of her own son completely.
Even YHVH, the Final Boss of the neutral paths, is this. Either it's awesome that players get to face him for the first time in a few decades, or think that he's only there to sell a game with a story of questionable quality.
Best Boss Ever: Many are in agreement that Final BossYHVH and Ultimate BossStephen are two of the best bosses in the franchise. Both fight similarly with extremely overpowered skills, and to beat them, you have to use special skills to weaken their resistances. Stephen is a special case in that in addition to your regular party, all four previous protagonists form their own party to help in the fight.
Best Level Ever: The Diamond Realm DLC. It's easy to see why: Shin Megami Tensei Crisis Crossover, with all the protagonists laying the smackdown on Stephen.
Breather Boss: None other than Matador. Yes, THATMatador. No, seriously. After the Mamudoon and Standard Status Effect spamming nightmare that is David, Matador's straightforward wail-on-the-enemy-with-Andalusia nature is a breath of fresh air. He sometimes screws up and uses Titanomachia or Mortal Jihad, missing and wasting press turns, and his weakness to Ice can be capitalized on majorly with Hallelujah, especially if he's learned Magic Compression. He's still a brutal boss, but noticeably weaker than David.
The nature and quality of the story is by far the greatest sourse of debate among the fans. Proponents love it for its greater depth and characters, presenting a story with a setting and characters that are refreshingly different for a Megaten game, fixing recurrent problems other games in the series have such as Flat Characters and Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy. Meanwhile detractors hate it, finding it a mess of cliches, stock characters, Mood Whiplash, lack of subtlety and feels like the story relies on contrivances to move forward. And while those elements may be refreshingly different to the series, and some detractors may even like the story in general, they nevertheless dislike that they skirt dangerously close to generic-RPG-ville and thus don't work as a MegaTen story in particular.
One specific example is the design(s) for Nanashi. In the final game he's a young fifteen-year old boy with a contemporary half-shaven undercut who draws his Dagda-given abilities from a Power Tattoo. An earlier concept of the protagonist is a man in his twenties who gets his powers from a transformed arm, and whose design was repurposed as Asahi's dad. A lot of the game's audience are teens, especially in its native Japan, for whom he was deliberately made to be a more "open-minded" teen as a better fit, and find him more relatable this way. His fans also like that he has a more fleshed-out personality and interactions than past protagonists to get behind. Meanwhile other parts of the audiences, especially in the West where older protagonists are more commonplace, found this line of reasoning somewhat absurd and that the change in design is a form of franchise decay that robs the MegaTen series of its unique identity to become more like the Persona spinoffs and all the other JRPGs.
The Neutral Massacre Route. On the one hand, it's either the most tonally appropriate outcome for such a Crapsack World, with a genuinely interesting outcome to boot, or a route that's out of place from the rest of the narrative and tries too hard to be dark and edgy, since here you fight not just some of the other sides, but all of them, and less rational so much as a glorified "villain path".
The redone alignment system. Detractors feel it removes the series' trademark moral ambiguity by having Law and Chaos be early bad endings clearly framed as completely in the wrong and one of the two rather offbeat Neutral endings being favored over the other. Supporters fire back that the difference for once is refreshing and that the characters offering said Neutral endings make some very good points about the sheerfutility of the traditional Megaten narrative.
After the hell that is Krishna's boss fight, getting to fuse him much later in the game and using his notorious Raga skills — which are not nerfed when he's on your side — on enemies is immensely satisfying.
Did Matador piss you off in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne? Well, not only is he a pushover compared to his Nocturne incarnation and even relative to the other Twisted Tokyo Fiends, but you can fuse him and have him learn Andalusia, which turns out to be one of the strongest Physical-based attacks in the game due to being able to hit up to 12 times in a row. Now you can make your enemies know the Demi-Fiend's pain!
Battling YHVH, in particular the part where you (and your party members on the Bonds Route) tear apart His divinity with well-placed The Reason You Suck Speeches.
Cliché Storm: A frequent complaint aimed at the games story is that a lot of the characters fall into rather common molds and archetypes seen in most Shonen anime and the like with nothing really done to set them apart from what has been done before.
"Common Knowledge": The Great Will is not mentioned in the game or DLC at all. This was a mistranslation of what was translated as the Axiom, which the game more often portrays as an omnipresent cosmic force rather than an actual sentient being. Whether or not the Great Will is YHVH or not is still unknown. This error is partly due to the unusually long gap between the Japanese and English releases; the rumor circulated and became known as fact in the west until the game was actually translated, and many still believe it.
Complete Monster: Defense Minister Tamagami may not be a demon, but, despite him not appearing for long, his actions are responsible in a large part for the dystopian setting of the game. A deranged Japanese Ultranationalist who believed only his country was worthy of superpower status, he called upon demonic power to realize his dream. He forcibly removed the souls of prisoners and replaced them with demon souls to create the National Defense Divinities, which he intended to use to conquer Japan's rivals such as China. He overwrote his personality onto the mind of an innocent woman to allow himself to cheat death, and he created the Yamato Reactor, a perpetual energy device fueled by demonic magics, through which demons entered the human world and ignited World War III. As his last gambit, if his new body were ever killed, he performed a ritual to summon Izanami to exterminate his own people and remake Japan from scratch in his image.
Critical Dissonance: The game received glowing reviews from critics thanks to the large number of improvements the game did over its predecessor. The reception from fans on the other hand was a lot more mixed, with the story and characters being the biggest point of contention among them.
Critical Research Failure: Meta example: apparently, according to the artbook, the writer of the game was completely unaware of the fact that Stephen was based on the real Stephen Hawking and why he was based on him.
Ixtabs know two skills: Lullaby, which attempts to put the party to sleep, and Eternal Rest, which kills all sleeping combatants, without fail. They also like to appear in pairs, and love to pull off that combo for a Total Party Kill. Also, to rub salt in the wound, the dungeon where they are found prevents you from being revived by Dagda. Hope you've saved recently.
Several horde encounters classify as this because not only can they take a significant amount of punishment before going down, reinforcements can also appear, forcing the player to fight them up to 4 times in a row without rest if they are particularly unlucky. Running isn't an option either. This gets complicated if the player also needs to expend a significant amount of MP just to take out one horde.
The lower floors of the DLC Farthest Reaches of Twisted Tokyo contain Mot, as seen in Nocturne, as a possible random encounter. Any Nocturne player will tell you how bad this version of Mot is, and this game's version packs Guardian's Eye, Makakaja, and Antichthon, making him slightly tougher than Nocture's Mot. If you get ambushed by that demon alone, prepare to have half if not most of your party wiped out right away.
Designated Villain: While the game treats Inanna's overbearing nature towards Danu and her desire to get her powers back as selfish and destructive, some fans found her situation to be sympathetic and see her desires as simply not wanting to be forgotten.
Disappointing Last Level: The final dungeon, YHVH's Universe, is widely considered to be the worst dungeon in the game. Reasons range from being absurdly large, no recruitable demons, reused bosses, boring teleport puzzles and coming across as just plain bland in design.
Ending Fatigue: On the Bonds route, following the events at the Cosmic Egg, most of the games plot threads have all been resolved only for Stephen to appear and tell them to fight YHVH. What follows is a massive but ultimately linear final dungeon with no recruitable demons and long Info Dumps up till the Final Boss. The Massacre route suffers from some of the fatigue as well, mostly thanks to the same massive time-sink of a dungeon, but still isn't hit as hard due it still having plot threads that get resolved and more consistently well received Boss Banter.
Hallelujah is the most well-received of all the party members. Due to his usefulness in combat, especially after he Took a Level in Badass (Wards off status ailments, casts Enduring Cheer, prevents the ever-annoying Lost status and later learns True Bufudyne and True Agidyne), and him being a complete and utter bro to Nanashi. In fact, even people who voice their distaste for the story still find him a highlight of it. That's why some people actually like pairingNanashi with him instead of Asahi.
Satan's depiction was met with unanimous praise, owing to his personality that was on display, his overall role in the story and one of the more fun boss fights. His design is also very much praised, compared to how he looks in previous games consistently for some.
Esoteric Happy Ending: While the writers comment the Massacre ending can be taken as a good ending, more than a few fans disagree with this, considering Nanashi and Dagda to be no better than YHVH after what they do. Some fans also see the Bonds as this, due to the countless hypocritical actions of Danu and Nozomi, with the New Dagda still wanting the same things as the original but choosing to help Danu being interpreted as brainwashing by detractors, and in general the characters ignoring the truths told to them because it doesn't fit their worldview.
Even Better Sequel: Looking at all that's listed under Author's Saving Throw, it's clear that the devs really took improving IV seriously. Even detractors of the game admit that Apocalypse is very solid mechanically, if not among the best of the series.
Fanon Discontinuity: While the series has an underlying continuity that is loose at best, it still tend to have some common threads that tie everything together. Apocalypse meanwhile is somewhat seen as an exception with it's lore severely contradicting what loose canon has already been established. As a result the game tends to be ignored among lore buffs and is instead treated as its own separate thing.
Fan-Preferred Couple: It comes down to Nanashi and Toki or Nanashi and Asahi. There are many however, who simply aren't invested in either pairing.
In the Japanese fandom, Nanashi and Hallelujah or Dagda tends to be very popular pairings. Then there is Krishna who tends to be paired with just about everyone.
Mute and Dizzy, hands down. Not because they can shut down any enemy into either wasting their turns doing nothing or using their puny regular attack, but for the simple fact that no one can resist either of these status. Not hordes, not bosses, not even the Final Boss or any Bonus Boss! Because of this, the skills Dark Sword and Mist Rush are highly valued among any endgame-level team.
The same can be said about the Steel Bazooka, coupled with Mute Rounds. Not the strongest firearm available to Nanashi, and certainly not the most powerful ammunition, but having two to six chances to inflict Mute per turn is nothing to scoff about.
Skill Augment returns from the previous game, allowing you to, through a few strokes of luck, mutate skills and get potent passives or skills earlier than normal. Its strength is downplayed this time round due to rearrangement of the skill ranks, making it less likely to find desirable element-blocking passives until very late into the game.
Before the first patch, if you had the patience, you could fuse White Rider, who comes with God's Arrow (Light-based instant kill), and have a skill mutate to Light Pierce, which pierces all resistances and is otherwise only available to DLC Cleopatra. This combo proved so deadly and effective even against bosses that the first patch had to nerf God's Arrow.
Just like Flynn in the previous game, Nanashi has full customizability of his stats and can utilize Demon Whisper to learn nearly any skill and tweak his affinity for it, making him an early powerhouse just by pouring all his points into a single offense stat. Unlike the previous game, positive affinities now give a percentage damage boost, letting him fully exploit nearly any attack, single or multi-hit.
Nanashi's Awakened Power, obtained near the end of the penultimate chapter, is absurdly powerful. It strengthens all (yes, ALL) of his attacks and makes them pierce resistances and even bypass reflective shields. Combine with the fact that the player can jack his offense stat to high heavens and you have a recipe for ludicrous damage. And if you neglect to take up or end up overwriting this skill, you also automatically get an infinite-use item that can teach it back. And it actually stacks with a late-game accessory which basically does the same thing.
Navarre eventually develops into one, due to his ability to consistently provide two of the strongest buffs and debuffs in the game via Doping (which increases max HP by 30%) and Debilitate (which lowers ALL enemy stats). Both of these spells, by the way, cost 100 MP each to cast, while Navarre does it for free. In short, he is one of the most essential partners to take into boss fights.
Once Asahi awakens, her Mediarama is capable of healing an upwards of 700-800 HP per use. Using her as a partner essentially guarantees your team receives Mediaharan level healing every turn for as long as she's alive. If your team is healthy, she's capable of bestowing Smirk, which is easily one of the best status buffs in the game.
Odin is one of the easiest special demons to fuse and is ridiculously powerful. Giving him the Charge + Gungnir combo gives him absurdly high damage output, and Gungnir is capable of piercing through resistances. He is an excellent choice for the final dungeon as well due to many of the enemies therein being weak to electrical attacks, including the Metatron Hordes, the most powerful normal enemies in the game.
Once you defeat Vishnu-Flynn, you can fuse Krishna for yourself, with access to his signature Ragas and Combat Tara. He will proceed to trivialize any enemy not immune to ailments, and the fact that said ailment-inflicting skills double as two-level debuffs also means that he can pull his weight in boss battles. All for only 51 MP per casting (65 if you subtract his affinity discount). Combat Tara is simply Luster Candy with a cheaper cost, at only 42 MP (base 60, as opposed to Luster Candy's 80). To compare, the two-attribute debuffs Acid Breath, Fog Breath, and War Cry each cost 65 MP before affinities.
Matador pulls his weight with his signature skill Andalusia, which, like the previous game's Kannuki Throw, hits a massive number of times — 4 to 12 this time! On top of that, Matador will naturally learn Phys Pierce which lets this attack not get blocked under any circumstance. Stack on Phys Pleromas, augment his accuracy and/or crit rate, add a Charge, and you can really destroy bosses with him. And it doesn't take much effort to unlock him, as he only resides on the 5th (out of 46) floor of Twisted Tokyo.
David picks up his own variation of a game breaker with his signature move 'Haunting Rhapsody'. It acts like Debilitate with a chance of causing panic, in addition to his affinities reducing its cost by an absurd amount. Combined with the fact that he is the first Fiend you can fuse, you can easily reduce many powerful enemies to mere targets.
While they're DLC, Cleopatra and Mephisto are both extremely powerful demons, thanks to their ability to pierce light and dark resistance. Cleopatra in particular, has a skill which covers her weakness, possesses incredible Magic to empower her Signature Move, and another skill which has a high chance to charm the enemy, along with fully decreasing their defense. Add in some Pleromas and they become incredible damage dealers for any situation. And while they cannot be fused via the standard Fusion app, purchasing Demon Fusion Lite allows you to do that, enabling you to pass their otherwise-exclusive Pierce passives to other demons! Of course, if you're strong enough to defeat them, you're probably strong enough to beat anything who isn't Stephenwithout them anyway.
One of the artifacts you can salvage is a thermometer, and the description states the temperature (Nanashi's) reading at 35.3 degrees Celsius (95.5 degrees Fahrenheit) - "a little on the low side." The description is an understatement, as it's barely above the threshold for hypothermia. It also delves into Fridge Horror about Nanashi's not-quite-human state: he apparently has a deathly-cold body temperature all the time.
The Trumpeter Horde is completely accurate to the demon's origin. In the Book of Revelation, there are seven trumpets played by seven angels. At full health, there are seven Trumpeters visible.
Related to the above: The music that plays during the battle with YHVH's second form opens with a Drone of Dreadthat sounds similar to a horribly distorted trumpet repeated seven times.
Of all the bosses where you have to replay other fights if you lose, Azrael is one of the most annoying because of the four-scene long cutscene preceding the two Hordes that have to be fought before Azrael. The fight itself is also a pain due to him switching between Tetrakarn and Makarakarn each turn, leading to having to switch between physical and magical attacks.
Bonus Boss Izanami is not terribly powerful for the earliest part of the game at which she can be fought, especially since you have a secondary partner who has multiple ways to support you. The main problem is that she has Diarahan, meaning that at any time once her HP runs low, she can make your efforts go up in flames by healing back to full.
Whenever Nanashi swings his weapon, he nudges a little bit forward. This can be used to the players advantage to cross poison areas without taking damage since the game doesn't register this as movement, and thanks to the fact the the cooldown period on his strikes are much shorter than in the previous game, it is much easier and time-saving to pull off.
In the game's initial release, an apparent programming oversight meant that if you could get Light Pierce onto White Rider, then his Signature Move God's Bow (instant death to anything that doesn't resist Light) would actually be able to bypass Contractual Boss Immunity. This was fixed in a patch.
Even after the patch, Light and Dark skills can still bypass Contractual Boss Immunity, provided the boss is weak to them and below 30% HP.
Using Imposing Stance and then ending your turn with Energy Drain allows you to act on one of the enemy's Press Turns. This is consistently repeatable and has a lot of uses. Beyond giving yourself more turns, you can also intentionally use a skill the enemy is immune to, which will, because it's still treated as the enemy's turn, remove all the rest of the enemy's Press Turns.
Ho Yay: It's genuinely hard not to interpret some of Asahi's fangirling over Isabeau as a bit Les Yay-y. Especially when she's blushing about being in Isabeau's quarters.
It Was His Sled: Notably, many series fans picked up this game because of these well-known spoilers:
The fact that Satan and YHVH are the true villains became quite well-known quite fast. This is such an open secret that before the game was even out anywhere other than Japan, an Atlus representative on Reddit publicly assured fans that YHVH would not be Bowdlerized in the localization.
Stephen being the ultimate Bonus Boss with the protagonists of the previous four mainline games joining you in battle is right up there with YHVH as the Final Boss as "game's most well-known spoiler."
Dagda is slowly revealed to be one throughout the narrative. Sure, he's abrasive, stubborn about his omnicidal plans and used you to his own ends, but it becomes increasingly clear that he's like that only because the setting's constant, futile cycles have all but broken him. Combine that with the way he consistently holds respect and admiration for Nanashi, brings up nothing but good points about the nature of existing in the SMT universe, and is the ultimate safety net in terms of gameplay, and you'll like him and hate him and feel sorry for him all at once.
Also surprisingly, Lucifer, who was revealed to be, at least in this particular universe, created by YHVH as a false-flag to make the side of Law look better by comparison, something he himself only realizes as he dies.
Magnificent Bastard: Although in the Peace route Stephen, the creator of the Demon Summoning Program, is a sympathetic ally to the Player Character, he shows more ruthlessness in the Massacre route. Siding with Nanashi and Dagda, Stephen aids them with their plan to destroy the universe and create a new one, without reincarnating the demons in the new world. Manipulating humans to join together in a Last Stand against Nanashi, knowing they would be slaughtered, Stephen admits he did this to test his own determination to his goal. Never losing his polite, friendly demeanour, Stephen warns Nanashi to avoid making the same mistakes as the other Gods before leaving, fascinated with the possibility of a world where humanity rules everything.
The fandom plays up Dagda as an edgy teen trying to rebel against his mother. Typical edgy additions are included, such as black t-shirts and Linkin Park. Also, Dagda as a Bad Angel on Nanashi's shoulder constantly encouraging him to kill his friends.
Gaston. Because his name is Gaston. Cue the theme song and all derivations thereof.
"Hate teh break it teh yeh, kid. Yer dead."
"Record Needle Scratch". No, not the sound effect, but rather, the sound effect being written when referring to YHVH instead of using his name.
More than a few jokes have spawned regarding Krishna wearing a fedoraof all things, not helped by a. a few protests from conservative Hindus regarding it (and some other qualities about his apperance) and b. fedoras being part of a meme involving HollywoodAtheists, "neckbeard losers", or the overly edgy.
Krishna being obsessed with the word "Salvation", due to how often and how exaggeratedly he says it.
For this particular game and the previous game, YHVH crossed it when he started the Forever War via Satan.
Defense Minister Tamagami crossed in the Backstory by transplanting demon souls into the bodies of humans to create the National Defense Divinities, and transferring his own mind into the body of an innocent woman while he was at it to cheat death.
In-Universe, almost the entire cast thinks Nanashi has crossed it if you agree with Dagda's plan to recreate the Universe with Nanashi as the Creator God, resulting in you having to battle and kill most of your former allies. Dagda himself crosses it by attempting to push through with his plans and trying to kill you if you refuse him. Conversely, Dagda considers Danu herself to have crossed on Bonds when she creates a new version of him that fits her ideals more when the original turns against the group.
A likely case on Massacre route Nanashi is likely killing Fujiwara and Skins now that his past life Akira isn't holding him back. Dagda even tells you to hold nothing back.
The dialogue triggered by excecuting the final dungeon-exclusive Combination Attack on the Bonds route.
Nanashi: "Flynn!" Flynn: "We'll do this together!"
The sound of the "ENEMY TURN" banner shattering when your partners interrupt the enemy to perform an Assist special, along with the associated lines spoken by your partners as they buff you and prepare to kick ass for you.
Nozomi: "It's still our turn!" Navarre: "On to new heights! You're in good hands!"
The glass-shattering sound every time one of YHVH's aspects is denied during the neutral routes' final battle.
After fulfilling certain conditions, hearing the equipment dealers take on a more friendly tone instead of their usual contemptful lines is quite satisfying:
"It's you! What do you need?" "Heh. See ya, Hunter."
This time, Mido belts out an enthusiastic "WHOAAAAAAAAA!!" to indicate that you've unlocked a new demon for Special Fusion.
In the English version, the static that results from anyone trying to pronounce YHVH's name is replaced with an obnoxiously loud sound that resembles a Record Needle Scratch that kinda kills the whole effect.
The Fiends' pre-battle grunts are basically annoyed sighs more than anything.
The game takes Metatron's robotic angel designs and plays it to its logical conclusion; the Voice of God and the strongest of all the Heralds now has Robo Speak and mechanical whirring noises. Why?!
The YHVH name static does, however, emphasize how truly alien he is, given how even his name isn't something that human ears can properly comprehend.
The Fiends' annoyed-sounding sighs can be taken to mean that they don't see you as a very serious threat.
Never Live It Down: When you gain access to the Ginza member's shop, Nanashi can wear an Elegant Gothic Lolita outfit as a regular piece of armor. As a result of this, he is frequently portrayed as a constant cross-dresser by the fandom.
No Yay: Some oppose Nanashi's two primary love interests (Asahi and Toki) on account of being adopted siblings and because of Toki's behavior when sealing the pot of lust during the Tokugawa Mandala mission, and Innana and Krishna highlighting how she wants to bear his (Nanashi's) children when she's kidnapped in the Cosmic Egg. Note that Nanashi (and Asahi for that matter) is fifteen years old, and it's explicitly revealed that a lot of her more flirtatious behaviors was Innana's influence...
Pandering to the Base: Ooh boy, the game is swimming in references and returning characters from the series older days, even including a DLC where the player is allowed to meet with past protagonists from the series. YHVH's presence was even used to promote the game during its first stream. The story however, with its attempt at character focused writing and themes of "bonds" is seen by some as blatant attempts to pander to the Persona crowd.
On the Massacre Route all your allies bar Asahi and Dagda turn against you, forcing you to kill them, then Flynn, and then a mob of Tokyo citizens, including Fujiwara and Skins. To rub it in for those who have played IV, the battle theme when you fight your former allies is Isabeau's battle theme, which is played during a similar Player Punch in that game.
Play the Game, Skip the Story: Even people who don't like this game's plot admit the gameplay is among the best in the series. Others like both the gameplay and the overarching plot but find themes to be fairly rote.
Just as it was in Shin Megami Tensei IV standard and Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne before it, the demon recruiting system continues to be apparently luck based. Demons you attempt to recruit will ask for answers to their questions, or to give up items, HP, MP, or any combination thereof, and there's still an even chance that they will just leave after you do all that.
Partner Assists are triggered automatically on the next enemy turn once the Assist meter is full, meaning it's possible for an Assist to kill a demon you were trying to scout or to waste one on a random encounter right before a boss that it would've been really useful on. Granted, you can just beat up random encounters to get the meter back to full, but that's super tedious to do. There's also fleeing and hoping you fail (which is guaranteed in Apocalypse difficulty without Trafuri), which somehow skips the Partner Assist from taking place. Of course, that comes with its own problems (like fleeing successfully).
Considering how many elements of the gameplay are tweaked solely to get rid of prior Scrappy Mechanics, the fact Macca Beam remains is quite glaring.
While the fact the Nanashi doesn't have to go back to the Hunter's Guild to cash in non-delivery quests like Flynn is appreciated, what's not is the fact that he automatically completes the quest after the final battle. Meaning if a player is trying to level up a Demon, it might be in their best interest to actually make sure not to use the demon, since if the demon falls in battle, they'll miss out on EXP from the boss and for completing the quest since the player has no opportunity to revive it. Bonus point for if beating the quest causes Nanashi to level up, triggering another Challenge Quest that Nanashi already fulfilled the requirements for creating another quest that the demon misses out on.
Three entire races of demons (Zealot, Famed, Undead) cannot be obtained except by fusion accident or special fusion, which proves to be infuriating for players aiming for 100% Completion on their compendium. A couple of Undead demons can be recruited from random battles, but require the Scout+ app or for the demon to beg for its life, which triggers randomly and infrequently.
While it still has its moments where carelessness and underpreparedness can get you killed, it's not as "kill you right out of the gate" as its predecessor. Additionally, the easy difficulty is available right off the bat and doesn't humiliate the player for itand there's free DLC that unlocks an Easier Than Easy difficulty, continuing after dying comes at no charge making death even more of a slap on the wrist, and your computer-controlled partners can be chosen and are less prone to stupid moments that benefit enemies.
Zig-zagged in that the boss fights in Apocalypse are harder than in IV due to the removal of Artificial Stupidity on both sides, higher MP costs and a severe lack of MP-recovery items, demons now having skill affinities (meaning you'll actually need to use the Squishy Wizard types for some fights), the changes to Smirk status, various apps being tied to player level (such as MP regeneration, which means successive encounter battles can end a player low on MP), and more. In comparison to IV, Apocalypse's difficulty remains even throughout the game, whereas IV was criticized for having a punishing start before a massive decline in difficulty once the player reached Tokyo. And unlike in IV, the player can purchase an app that causes enemies 5 levels or more below the player to ignore them, meaning any random encounter that does pursue the player is an actual fight.
Slow-Paced Beginning: Much like its predecessor, the story really picks up after the second major boss; up until that point your characters are fresh recruits being sent on relatively easy missions, but once Sukuna-Hikona falls and the Divine Powers arrive the cosmic battle truly begins. Downplayed somewhat compared to its prequel though, since we begin right in Tokyo instead of the peaceful Mikado, and the game does begin with you dyingand getting resurrected as a Godslayer.
Take That, Audience!: Show of hands, you felt the sting when Asahi wasted literal hours (in-game, thankfully) picking her Hunter name, didn't you? Even her plea for name suggestions felt a little too close to the RPG player base's modus operandi.
During your trip to Mikado, you can choose to emulate Flynn and take a nap at the lake. This results in hearing most of Issachar's opening speech from IV. Upon waking up, there's a fish hook in your hand when, all of a sudden, the ghost of Issachar painfully tells you to give it to Flynn. While it works out on Bonds, if you choose Massacre, once Dagda revives Flynn after the Vishnu-Flynn fight, he'll destroy the fishing hook, having forgotten all about Issachar.
On Massacre, having to kill your own allies, plus Fujiwara, Skins, and a good slice of Tokyo's population in cold blood will likely make you feel as though you have a heart of stone, especially since the battles aren't even hard. In the ending, the Goddess of Tokyo lets out a heartbroken "Why?" before vanishing. On the same route, picking someone to be revived as your goddess and seeing someone who was once an individual who could think and act for themselves be reduced to your unquestioning personal servant, may make you think twice about your decision to side with Dagda.
Even the otherwise-happy Bonds ending isn't safe from this: after YHVH is slain, Isabeau looks for Jonathan and Walter, who then remind her that, as parts of Satan who is in turn part of YHVH, if the Almighty bites it, they have to go too. After the duo's parting words of promising to reincarnate as friends and rivals, they indeed vanish.
Sukuna-Hikona's signature attacks are medium-strength and hit the entire party, while you won't have access to attacks of such magnitude until at least two bosses later. They also have additional effects, like causing Daze or debuffing your accuracy on top of that.
Titan has sky-high defenses, no elemental weaknesses, and he's your introduction to Critical Eye, a buff that makes his next attack always a Critical Hit. He's thankfully weak to ailments, but you're at the mercy of the Random Number God that they don't wear off at the worst possible time.
Krishna's signature Venomous and Dream Raga skills not only inflict a series of ailments on you, but also double as two applications of Tarunda or Rakunda, forcing you to waste more time and MP undoing the debuffs, assuming you can first rid yourself of these ailments.
On a complete route, you have to fight Merkabah and Lucifer in succession. While they're not as powerful as they were in IV and they now have weaknesses to Dark and Light, respectively, they still have most of their moves and are formidable opponents. And, much like previous situations like this, dying to Lucifer will force you to refight Merkabah.
YHVH can quickly classify as this despite being the Final Boss, and can keep even a max-level party on their toes. Of note is the fact that he resists everything until cut down with Flynn's Godslayer's Sword, has moves that can bypass most resistances, and also possesses moves that can fully debuff your party or fully buff himself while gaining Smirk. And even the first phase, while far easier, still has a couple of nasty tricks up its sleeve like Mouth of God, an ability that just straight up kills one of your demons and whose only countermeasure is hoping for a miss. And if you're unlucky, an event will trigger that puts everyone's HP to 1 and saps sizable amounts of MP. You are expected to hold nothing back.
While you do get to use two full parties on the Bonds route (you and your demons in one party, and Flynn, Jonathan, Walter, and Isabeau in the other), on the Massacre route Flynn's party only has one companion, Satan, meaning that his party only gets two Press Turn icons instead of four. The boss decides to hit them with Authoritative Stance? Flynn and Satan lose their entire turn no matter what!
3/8 Moon is considered to be one of the toughest segments of the game. Terminals are disabled, Asahi is gone for almost all of it, and there are eight major boss fights, the last three of which are fought all in sequence - die to any of them, and you have to start again at the first of the three. To add insult to injury, skipping a cutscene when it's all over can cause the game to not start the cutscenes to proceed to the next day; while easily fixable by exploring a little and triggering the cutscene, it's not hard to skip it, and the game doesn't tell you what to do.
Tsukiji Hongwanji/Konganji, that horrendous teleport maze, is back! While it's no longer an Escort Mission like in IV, the dungeon has been made bigger, ensuring that you will get lost at some point.
Commander Hope, which many feel was wasted in the first game, is even more absent in the second one. Considering how this game rescued Navarre's reputation, some feel this could had been done with Hope too.
Some have expressed slight disappointment over the fact that Abdiel from Demonic Gene never appeared in the game, more specifically, that he was not present in the Explosive Epidemic in Mikado DLC. Reason for this being that he was the reason for the existence of the Demonic Gene, and the DLC diving right into dealing with said gene was seen as something of a missed opportunity for him to make an in-game appearance.
Mastema has no role whatsoever beyond a generic fusible demon. This is despite the fact that the DLC for the original IV reveals he was one of Akira's own demons and helped him found Mikado, both of which would be very relevant to Nanashi's story, and his insistence that God Is Good indicates that, in light of Apocalypse's reveals on the subject, he may well be reporting directly to the Axiom.
Side materials note that one of Dagda's reasons for hating YHVH so passionately is that He apparently used his daughter Brigid (who is consistently established to be one of his children in Celtic mythology) as a pawn by making her a Christian Saint. This is never expanded upon and never explained in the game, and to top it all off, Brigid herself only appears as a generic fusable demon! Not only would an explanation maybe have helped Dagda's motivation, but the fact that he himself is a father is wasted away to speculation as well.
Yay! Flynn the previous protagonist is back! Except he only has two encounters before being kidnapped for most of the game, he's used more as a plot device over a character in most of the story, and when you finally rescue him, it turns out the "Flynn" you rescued is actually Shesha who was impersonating him. He only gets a role during the final dungeon and by then it was far to late for him to get to do anything else.
Some fans have expressed disappointment that there is no option to side with the Divine Powers, feeling their arguments make more sense than Merkabah's and Lucifer's, and even Dagda's in some cases.
Twisted Tokyo. Despite making totally sense that alternative Tokyo being turned into a huge domain due the lack of a "messiah", some fans think this was a wasted opportunity to make an alternative Tokyo setting, considering how Inferno Tokyo and especially Blasted Tokyo from the first game are praised. Instead, Twisted Tokyo is a series of dungeons with the exact same design floor after floor with the color and name changing with each Fiend's section and no lore beyond the few lines that the man at the entrance tells you.
Speaking of which, Blasted Tokyo and Inferno Tokyo are revealed to be alternate timelines in Shin Megami Tensei IV. A prequel telling the story of Akira, Kiyoharu, Kenji, and Flynn's past self would have been a full game in and of itself.
Tier-Induced Scrappy: Gaston is regarded to be one of the worst partners, mainly because he can steal your Press Turns in attacking, and it still counts as your attack if he misses or the enemy blocks it. His awakened passive merely increases his damage output, which is his only saving grace. For this reason, Toki is regarded to be vastly superior to Gaston, mainly because she attacks at the beginning or the end of the turn without using your Press Turns, and the fact that she can inflict instant death reliably. Relatively mitigated when Gaston obtains Gungnir after killing Odin, which pierces resistances, but the issue of him stealing Press Turns persists, especially since he also learns Gungnir Sever which is a Powerful, but Inaccurate attack which can again cause you to take turn penalties. While he can be a powerful and useful partner in the right hands, many players instead prefer to use utility-oriented partners, like Nozomi who can inflict status effects, Asahi who provides healing and Smirks for your team, and Navarre and his powerful buffs, as Gaston only has his damage output going for him.
That shit-eating smirk on Flynn's face when you fight Merkabah and Lucifer really doesn't look like something a human face should be able to do. For bonus points, it's a tip-off that he's an imposter; the real Flynn wouldn't make such a creepy face.
The Yuriko Faction of the Ring of Gaea are treated as a better faction compared to their Maitreyan faction counterparts, but are in reality a bunch of Social DarwinistHypocritestoo weak to actually enforce their worldview, take credit for things they never did, and raise children to be expendable Tykebombs if they survive the Training from Hell. Yet the story expects people to treat them as a perfectly reasonable viewpoint to have. One of them even admits that - by their own rules - the fact that the Maitreyans beat them means that the Maiteryans are right, yet they still fight to unseat them.
The Un-Twist: Mara is the true villain of the Maruology questline. Between the similar names and the traditional Hurricane of Puns starting almost immediately in the first quest well before Mara's first appearance, the only question was whether Maruo was influenced by Mara or if he was Mara - for the record, it's the former.
Viewer Gender Confusion: Quite a few people were confused over the main character's gender at first, thinking that he looked like a tomboyish young girl. Further adding to the confusion is the fact that Nanashi can dress up in both male and female clothing.
Although the game itself remarks in passing that Nanashi might possibly more or less pulling a Sure, Let's Go with That and just not bothering to correct anyone that They're a female.
We're Still Relevant, Dammit!: A common criticism among detractors is that they think the game tries too hard to pander to specific crowds and haphazardly applies concepts without the actual meaning behind them being considered, seemingly in an attempt to seem relevant both to the older crowd as well as newcomers (YHVH, the game's Final Boss and only important at the very end of the game, being used as part of the game's marketing is often brought up). Even early on before the game's release it attracted snarky remarks over its apparent "edginess" as the game tried to appear darker and more mature. In particular, there are several scenes in the English version where the (Japanese) characters use American slang terms (e.g. "homeslice," "totes") that are often mocked.