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  1. #1
    Lesser Hivemind Node Drinking with Skeletons's Avatar
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    Shin Megami Tensei 4

    Been playing SMT4 for the 3DS since it came out, and boy oh boy, is it a shame that its not PC, as there's a lot about it that would appeal to the RPS community.

    Without getting into a lengthy description, it reminds me almost of a JRPG take on STALKER. There's a mysterious, post-apocalyptic region of the world being fought over by multiple factions, with the player taking on the role of a third-party mercenary-type investigating the area (sort of...there's far more to it than the description I've given). Rather than being a first-person title, however, it's essentially a blasphemous version of pokemon with cuddly little creatures replaced by often very un-cuddly demons drawn from myths, urban legends, and even Nicholas Cage films (the Wicker Man).

    I had played SMT Nocturne and the Digital Devil Saga titles before, but I've enjoyed this one far more. There's a lower difficulty level that mostly serves to eliminate grind, since the battle system hinges so much on exploiting weaknesses and leveraging strengths that levels often feel meaningless compared to appropriate skill selection. The improved fusion menu makes it easier than before to improve your stock of demons without hobbling yourself.

    It's not perfect, especially in that the game is often too vague about what you should be doing next or how to get to where you need to be. I've spent far too much time running around asking NPCs trying to get directions; frankly, I think the game assumes the player has at least a passing knowledge of Tokyo.

    Anyone else playing this?

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Jockie's Avatar
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    Considering picking it up, your point about reduced grind entices me even more as that's one of the facets of most JRPGs that puts me right off them.
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  3. #3
    Lesser Hivemind Node Drinking with Skeletons's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jockie View Post
    Considering picking it up, your point about reduced grind entices me even more as that's one of the facets of most JRPGs that puts me right off them.
    If you are willing to spend a tiny bit, there's a DLC available that explicitly exists to reduce grind. It's an area where the enemies give virtually no xp, but drop items that give a lot of xp (or even a whole level up, no questions asked), ability points, or cash. It seems to exist for people who don't want to grind themselves stupid just to win, since the game is tough enough even on 'easy' that I've never felt it was imbalanced. The sidequests in particular sometimes feel way, way out of whack with my actual power level. I'm not sure what maniac the game was balanced for, but it ain't me.

  4. #4
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    NOw that's the kind of DLC that might be worth paying for.
    God knows, I'd have paid a lot for a Baldur's Gate DLC that autokilled all kobolds as soon as you got within 200m of them and then gave you the XP and loot.

  5. #5
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    Sounds like DLC for every F2P on mobile.

    I rather it be balanced to where the grind does not involve 20 hours to beat the game but still an option for the hardcore to max out. Ni No Kuni with its pokemon type gameplay is like this. You can max out levels on your monsters before they evolve for more stat bonuses but its not required to play through the game.

  6. #6
    Network Hub Koobazaur's Avatar
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    I always wanted to check out Persona 4 since I heard its so amazing but I dont have a PlayStation. Is it about the same? Would it work on a standard non-3D ds?

    Quote Originally Posted by BillButNotBen View Post
    NOw that's the kind of DLC that might be worth paying for.


    Err, I'd disagree. "We made our game grindy and annoying. Buy a DLC to make it actually enjoyable" does not sound nice :|
    Last edited by Koobazaur; 03-08-2013 at 05:35 AM.
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  7. #7
    Lesser Hivemind Node Drinking with Skeletons's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Koobazaur View Post
    Err, I'd disagree. "We made our game grindy and annoying. Buy a DLC to make it actually enjoyable" does not sound nice :|
    Wrapped up the game last night, and I've got a lot of thoughts, so very long post incoming.

    It's not that the game is intentionally grindy. It's a JRPG, and it's entirely in keeping with both the genre and the megaten franchise. I've played a fair number of JRPGs in my time, and it's no worse than the average. The only JRPG I've played that even approached eliminating grind was Chrono Cross. Where something like Ni No Kuni beats it is in disguising the grind. In NNK, the sidequests were well-balanced and had significant rewards. Completing them always involved a lot of extra battling (grinding) but you didn't notice since you were always working towards several small goals with sizable rewards to look forward to. In SMT4, the sidequests are where the developers have put the game's toughest content. They aren't there to make grinding easier, they are the reason why you grind! This makes the main story more accessible for casual/new players, while the series' hardcore fans, who were going to do everything they could anyway, won't find the main story too easy because they'll attribute it to having done the side content (of which there is much).

    The DLC is therefore targeted squarely at those who don't entirely grasp the game's mechanics and/or aren't willing to put in the huge amount of time necessary to grind to get the most out of the systems in place. They didn't compromise the game's balance to create the DLC, they compromised the game's balance by adding the DLC for players who want it. Even making use of it myself, I finished the game with my party at the 70-80 range, and the final boss was level 99. I was playing on the easy mode, and I thought the game was just a touch too easy, not some sort of cakewalk.

    Assuming they release another, similar game in the future, I would probably hold off on similar DLC now that I have a good grasp on the mechanics. If I were to replay the game, I would probably try to limit my use of it. But I thought it was an enormous help in allowing me to learn the game and succeed without slamming my head into the brick wall of the game's steep difficulty.

    Now, there are definitely a few things that they should change to make things better. First, the world map is awful. It was so difficult to figure out where I was supposed to go, how to get there, etc. The game needs something to help you find your way. How about a waypoint for the next major area I'm supposed to get to? The directions the game provides (and it sometimes provides nothing) are extremely vague. It was sometimes worse than Morrowind's directions. And why are there no labels on the map? At any point there may be a dozen or so points of interest, and the only indication for any of them is a little green dot. Is it my fault that I can't remember the exact positions of the half-dozen locations (with Japanese names) that you've introduced in the last half-hour, game?

    And why can't I do sidequests without "accepting" them? This makes cleaning them up a HUGE chore, since if I realize I'm way too weak to handle them (which happened frequently, because as I said they arefar more difficult than the main quest) I have to abandon the quest and start over from the beginning later! I don't recall encountering any where they would have blocked my progress along the main quest, so it really made no sense to me.

    So those are my 2 cents on the matter. Don't know if anyone agrees with me or not, but that's my perspective.

    TLDR: This is a HARD game, and the DLC is for the people who can't handle that.

    EDIT: Additionally, grinding is a problem for this title because they do a very good job of explaining the various systems. You don't have to be a min-maxer to see the benefits of grinding, and the fusion system is one of the most glorious rabbit-holes I've ever encountered in a game. You can't help but pour time into this game.
    Last edited by Drinking with Skeletons; 04-08-2013 at 04:50 PM.

  8. #8
    Lesser Hivemind Node Bobtree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Koobazaur View Post
    I always wanted to check out Persona 4 since I heard its so amazing but I dont have a PlayStation. Is it about the same? Would it work on a standard non-3D ds?
    The main and spinoff series really aren't "about the same" despite sharing many conventions and mechanics. IMHO, unless you're dying for anime high-school drama, you can skip the modern Persona's. I would strongly recommend P3 over 4 though, and I much prefer SMT:Nocturne to them both (more game, less waiting).

    SMT4 is 3DS only. SMT: Strange Journey is on the DS, and it sounds quite good but I never got around to picking it up.

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