Shin Megami Tensei V is a vast JRPG, and anyone starting out especially as a first timer to the series may find themselves overwhelmed. I’ve got you covered with some handy tips that may help you get to grips with the myriad systems and demons you will encounter as you delve further and further into this game’s depths.
This title was teased with the unveiling of the Nintendo Switch, and at least for now is an exclusive to the system. After a lengthy development period, Atlus has delivered what could arguably be one of the best RPGs on the system guaranteeing fans many hours of play time.
This may be obvious since this title does not have an autosave feature. You are only able to save at the Leyline Founts, and I would recommend that you do so at every opportunity. I have often underestimated the strength of an encounter and found myself losing progress and experience on a few occasions because of this.
It takes a few seconds to save, and it may be a little annoying at first but once you get used to saving each time you visit a Fount it should become second nature. Just try avoid complacency as you never know what this game might throw at you!
While it is possible, and sometimes necessary to avoid battle and head to your destination, there is a lot to be found off the beaten path. Hidden secrets, quests, treasures and encounters can be found by taking a little more time to explore.
The maps themselves are often mazelike, and will often tease you by showing something in plain sight with no obvious way to get to it. Usually, the route to said object is far from straightforward, with plenty of distractions and enemies along the way. You will sometimes have to approach your destination from a completely different part of the map.
A handy tip is that Shin Megami Tensei V rewards those who backtrack. The map designers used all manners of techniques to hide things. There are well-hidden pathways just about everywhere. Your minimap will generally clue you in by either showing a loot chest marker, or a climbing point, but not always.
Save Your Glory
Glory is a kind of in-game currency that you acquire from special chests and also from finding Gustave’s Miman, which are little characters that you will find hidden in the most bizarre places. You can also rack some up by defeating Miitama, who will usually drop Glory Crystals – consumables that grant an amount of Glory.
Miracles are useful abilities that are bought at the World of Shadows for Glory
Glory is used to buy miracles, and it can take a while to accumulate enough to buy some of them. It is wiser to sometimes hold off on buying miracles in order to save for the more useful ones that are more expensive and unlocked at a later stage.
Macca My Day
Another tip for Shin Megami Tensei V is that Macca is everything – it is the primary currency for all transactions, and you will need to generate quite a lot of it. You can do this by visiting vending machines to find loot to sell and by selling consumables that you don’t use very often. It’s advisable to keep a few of each item, just in case you might need them, but for the most part this is a solid way to generate Macca.
You also earn Macca when defeating enemies, and with certain miracles you will also be able to shake down cornered demons for even more Macca. The demons certainly aren’t shy when asking for your Macca, so why should you be?
You can also summon demons from the Compendium using Macca when visiting the World of Shadows. That said, if you remember where the demon you need likes to hang out, you can save tens of thousands of Macca by going to recruit them, instead.
Fuse Your Demons
In Shin Megami Tensei V, there are a lot of great character designs. You may find yourself hesitant to fuse the demon because of this. Another important tip is to embrace change, and try always fuse for the strongest demons available at your level.
The demons tend to fall behind in level fairly quickly if you don’t fuse them into newer, stronger demons on the regular. It’s possible to keep their levels up by using Grimoires, and give them better attacks by using Essences, but you will soon find that this becomes very costly and it’s far more economical to bolster your stronger demons.
At higher levels, there are fewer and fewer options available when fusing monsters so you will at this point have to rely on leveling up your monsters. There is no shortage of fusions for you to try, and certain combinations may give you an edge – for insance, you may be able to give a demon that is weak to fire the Null Fire ability and remove that weakness.
Stock Up On Spyglasses
Out of all the items in Shin Megami Tensei V, the Spyglass ranks amongst the most important. This item is vitally useful as it reveals information about enemies including weaknesses and resistances. Knowing an enemy’s weaknesses can make or break an encounter, even a single mistake can be very costly.
Using a Spyglass at the beginning of a boss encounter might mean the difference between victory and defeat. You can always figure out their weaknesses through trial and error, but more often than not a tough boss will punish mistakes swiftly and decisively.
Spyglasses are also useful when encountering Miitama, those elusive enemies that reward you with bountiful experience and valuable drops. These enemies usually escape at the very first opportunity and will block all but one element, giving you only a couple chances at the most to find the right one.
Consuming a Spyglass will ensure that you use the right element every time, so make sure to visit Cadaver’s Hollow and stock up periodically. Having a few of each elemental Shard or Gem will also ensure you’re never caught with the wrong kind of magic available.
Use Your Return Pillar
You receive the Return Pillar a little way into the game, shortly after one of the first major encounters. This item allows you to return to the last Leyline Font you visited at the touch of a button, and is a boon for a variety of reasons.
Sure – it’s possible to heal your party in the field by using abilities and consumables, but erring on the side of caution and returning to the Font, particularly after a tough battle, may just save you another view of the Game Over animation.
This is perhaps another way to reiterate the first and most important tip for Shin Megami Tensei V – save often! Healing your party and keeping them in top shape will also go a long way towards ensuring your survival.
Take The High Ground
A tip about the maps in Shin Megami Tensei V is that they can be surprisingly twisted. Starting over from the Leyline Font can often be more efficient than trying to find your way if you take an unplanned detour to the bottom of the map.
It’s generally advisable to try and stay as high as possible whenever you can. You will inevitably find yourself tumbling to the bottom of a map at some point, and in some case it is required so this is not a hard and fast rule. Just keep in mind as you travel that it’s usually much easier to get down than up, so only abandon your high ground if you absolutely have to.
Get Ready To Grind
No matter how you slice it, SMT V will require you to do some grinding. This may seem like a drag, but it can be rewarding when monsters you once struggled to best go down with a single attack.
Defeating demons also rewards you with Macca, and since this is an all important resource this comes as an added bonus when you’re trying to rack up experience.
Miitama also occasionally spawn in your average encounters, so grinding can also help you stock up on Grimoires, Glory and Gospels – in more of a roundabout way, that is.
In a day and age where many modern RPGs may not require as much grinding as their predecessors, I feel a great tip is for players to keep in mind when playing Shin Megami Tensei V is that this is a game with that particular old-school flavor.
Have A Few Smoke Balls Handy
When exploring new territory, you may find yourself in over your head when encountering new enemies, and it isn’t always easy to get away. Failing to escape a battle is punishing, and with the right combination of critical hits and weaknesses you may find yourself staring at the “Game Over” screen before you can even blink.
The seemingly innocuous Smoke Ball will allow you to escape from battle, so long as it’s a battle you can actually escape from – this excludes boss fights. They also work with encounters generated when close to an Abscess, so they come in handy as a way to conserve HP and MP when trying to take one down.
Do Not Fear The Reaper
There are some cases where, either out of curiosity or overconfidence, you find yourself taking on a boss or an inescapable battle that is a little too hot to handle. Rather than immediately closing the game and giving up, use this opportunity to try and figure out the enemy’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities before you finally succumb to the inevitable.
Using a Spyglass, at least, will give you a snapshot of the boss’s stats. Using the capture button built into the left JoyCon will enable you to save this information for future reference, and give you the information you need to gain an edge next time you take on that particular fight.
With the right information, you might even come out on top of a battle that you otherwise would have lost. Exploiting weaknesses grants extra actions with the Press Turn system, so if you play your cards right you can end up with a total of 4 extra actions.
Negotiate For A Better Price
Shin Megami Tensei V’s Demons are often quite fickle, and will demand unreasonable amounts of Macca to join your party. This can add up quite fast if you are on a recruiting spree. Negotiating is often wiser, you will satisfy most demons with some of your HP or MP. This tip is important, as difficult as negotiations can be – it is not easy to accumulate Macca.
For stronger demons, it’s best to try do this when the demon you wish to recruit is alone. Messing up in your negotiations can be punishing otherwise since the demon may attack without warning.
Sometimes, depending on the monster and the phase of the moon, you will have an easier time negotiating. Some demons won’t respond, even to Macca, so you either run or take them down.
Taking on a game of this complexity can seem like a daunting task at first, and even those who seek the challenge of a less forgiving JRPG such as Shin Megami Tensei V may find themselves seeking a few ideas that will help them along the way. I certainly hope that at least a few of the above tips will help you along the way to victory – feel free to use the comment section if there are any you think I missed!