Anonymous said: Hi I want to play this series but I don't know with which one I should start. Any recomendation?
The question of all questions! How easy it will be to answer will depend on a few personal preferences or interests.
1. How much do you like anime, specifically modern anime? If the answer is anywhere between “a lot” and “I guess I sorta liked that one anime on after-school Toonami a while back,” then try Persona 4. If you have a Vita, P4: Golden is pretty much the definitive version. If not, the PS2 version is totally fine and most of what you’d miss, aside from gameplay mechanic improvements, will appeal squarely to the person who answers “a lot” to the above question.
2. If you’re ambivalent about anime but still really like more traditional JRPGs, then try Digital Devil Saga. It’s split into two interconnected games, so absolutely start with the first. Its two biggest problems are a high random encounter rate (with the potential to be manipulated or nulled) and a skill acquisition system that can favor grinding, but it’s still the SMT game most like other JRPGs. The music is also really good.
3. If you outright dislike anime, have become disillusioned with the Japanese game industry even if you don’t quite know it yet, or by some chance LOVE RELIGION OR MYTHOLOGY… then perhaps the SMT main series is for you. But which one?
- Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne: In my opinion the best game Atlus has ever made or will make (due to the right talent working on it at the right time). But the path I took to come to that opinion was a journey all its own and as such this is a game that has to be recommended to a player already in search of it. And who is that player? The disillusioned one, the player who grew up with JRPGs but matured far beyond they have yet still wants to play something that seems targeted to their own age demographic. It’s over 10 years old and aspects of it definitely look the part, but Nocturne will give that player the freedom to enjoy it as deeply as the player wants to take it. A somewhat esoteric answer for an esoteric game, but the one it deserves.
- Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey: Nocturne’s next of kin, though a bit more modern and easier to recommend. However, and this is important, Strange Journey as a game is probably only recommendable to a first-time player who already likes first-person dungeon crawlers, because Strange Journey is just one non-stop dungeon crawl that wants you to forever be lost in its labyrinth. But if you enjoy them, you won’t mind being tied up within it at all! Plus you get to experience the game’s stunning creativity with mythological themes.
- Shin Megami Tensei IV: Okay, this is probably the one you should actually play because its mechanics are so much more refined and player-friendly compared to the other two…but you didn’t hear that from me.
4. If none of the above categories jive with you but yet by some convenience you like SRPGs, then try the Devil Survivor series. Either Devil Survivor: Overclocked for 3DS (NOT the original DS version) or Devil Survivor 2, currently only for DS but the 3DS port will likely be coming next year. Devil Survivor bridges the gap between Persona’s anime and SMT’s occult themes to varying degrees of success but who cares because it’s a series built on a solid and addictive gameplay foundation.
5. If you like Taisho eras of Japan that are longer than their actual historical counterparts, try Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon. But only if. Sadly, I think the Raidou games leave a lot to be desired, but they are action RPG-ish and if that sounds more appealing than something turn-based, you might like it. Just a shame they attached the good plot to the previous game, Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army, when the sequel is the one that’s actually fun to play.
There’s tons more of course but I wouldn’t stray beyond what I have here until you’re more comfortable with the series. And yes, the series’ terminology for spells and whatnot can be very confusing at first! But if you take it slow and aren’t afraid of experimentation you’ll get the gist of it in no time flat. As you already know, this is a big series with a lot to offer but once you delve into your starting point it’ll seem less intimidating and more like an endless wealth of great games.