Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine

So, next on the F2P trying list is Megaten Online: Aeria’s online devil summoner game. If you aren’t familiar with console games, Shin Megami Tensei is a series of Japanese games focusing on ordinary people dealing with demonic beings in often apocalyptic settings. The most famous of these games are the Persona series in which high school students have to deal with demonic invasions of the real world.

Megaten games set themselves apart from the pack in several ways. A big focus is on negotiations with your demonic enemies. You can bribe them, flirt with them, bully them and more. This can lead to them fleeing, being impressed as your familiar, or getting angry and attacking. Another way tends to be much more serious themes than other jrpgs: death and despair are always a part of that world.

Megaten Online is very true to the series. The back story starts right at the title screen. In 20XX, the world is devastated by the aftereffects of nuclear war, and the survivors in Tokyo buils a huge tower for safety. However 3 demonic shards soon surround it, and the demons that were once vanquished start to reappear. The tower is called Shinjuku Babel. Your tutorial plays on this, as you are a rookie demon buster caught up in a horrible accident and awaken in one of the outlying shelters called Home 3.

The graphics are simple, but capture the megaten vine nicely. Imagine basic Ps2 graphics, but in a stylized mode unique to megaten games: lot’s of gray and muted colors. It works well, although many might find it basic. Character design is very basic at start, but it gets rid of the usual cliches: you can dress in civvies, in combat gear, even in dresses.

They also capture the demon aspect well. You can impress demons just like in the offline game, and they act as a realtime pet, fighting alongside of you. The AI seems pretty good, and I saw a wide variety of them. I haven’t scratched too deeply into the game, however.

Combat is a mixed bag. On the plus side it’s a limited sandbox style: you can specialize in melee, ranged, or support, and customize your demon to support you. However it feels off, because you often have to do multiple clicks for some of the actions like shooting.

The worst aspect of the game though is unprofessionalism. A lot of things you take for granted simply aren’t there. There’s no full screen mode in options, and many basic keyboard shortcuts aren’t included. “I” doesn’t open items, and “M” opens the demon screen instead of the map screen. Cash Shop items are sold in regular shops, and a lot of things simply aren’t explained well, like how to impress a demon, how magic works, or if crafting exists.

It’s tough, because while I love the license, those flaws make the game a chore for me. I’d say try it if you like megaten games, but it’s not something that would keep you playing long.

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