If You See the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him - Let's Play Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse

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#1

Shin Megami Tensei IV was the fourth game in the Shin Megami Tensei series of post-apocalyptic RPGs, a surprising arrival in 2013 after ten years had passed since the last numbered entry in the series.

This LP is not about that game, though.

Released in 2016, Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse is a pseudo-sequel to SMTIV, starting right after that game’s alignment split point and proceeding to barrel onward with its own story. There is no Law or Chaos route that will get you through all the content in the game this time, the choice instead falling between two shades of Neutral: Peace (Neutral Good Boy) and Anarchy (Neutral Jerk Boy). Both involve SMT’s traditional long, bloody path to greatness right through the corpses of the world’s legends and religions and both will get their time in the spotlight.

My personal thoughts on Apocalypse are complicated enough to have wanted me to LP it in the first place. Mechanically, it’s one of my favorite MegaTens, improving on almost every gameplay aspect of IV I could ask to have improved. Story-wise? It’s…well, you’ll see.


How This is Going to Work: The List of Important Things

  1. Posting schedule is not set in stone due to various personal issues, but my plan is to burst through the tutorial in the next few days before going into a biweekly update schedule.

  2. Apocalypse has three main difficulties in its English language release: Skirmish, Conflict, and War. War lowers how much damage you give and heightens how much damage you take, while Skirmish does the inverse, and you can switch difficulties at will. This LP will be in Conflict difficulty, save for one very important reason to switch to War later on.

  3. I will be doing all four mission DLCs, as well as a truncated New Game+ run that will show of NG+ only quests and the second alignment endgame. I will not be doing all side quests, though I will try to touch on all of them that have story plots and/or interesting rewards such as unique weapons and demons.

  4. One thing I really want to do is help share the lore behind the demons in Apocalypse, as demons are such a core part of what makes the MegaTen series what it is. There are far too many demons in the game as a whole (it’s somewhere above 400) to do this for every single one, though, so I’ll mainly give exposition on the ones that we end up having boss fights against both in the main questline and side quests.

  5. The spoiler policy for this thread is as such: please try to keep spoilers for the plot to a minimum, as I want to have this thread be as story-friendly to someone who has never played Apocalypse before as possible. As long as you have your spoilers behind the fuzzy bars, however, I’m not likely to complain. Also, by its very nature, this thread will have spoilers for Shin Megami Tensei IV.

  6. This game is a MegaTen game, which means it’s gonna be :nsfw: as all hell. Violence, nudity, and giant penis chariots lie within.


Do I Need to Know Shin Megami Tensei IV to Read This LP?

Nope! Most of the plot of IV gets info dumped right out of the gate in the rather information-heavy tutorial segment of the game, and the game’s own plot mostly stands solo beyond taking place in the same universe after some of the same events. I’ll also sprinkle little tidbits if I feel they are relevant elsewhere.


Important Faces: The Main Cast (Will expand as we progress)

Nanashi: The protagonist. A 15 year old punk with goofy hair and part of John Lennon’s “Imagine” printed on his jacket. Became the undying puppet of the god Dagda after falling victim to the demon Adramelech.

Asahi: A fellow teenager and stepsister of Nanashi who strives to help others in spite of her own perceived weakness. Partner role is healing skills.

Navarre: The boisterous and bombastic ghost of a samurai from Mikado, the land above the Firmament. Partner role is support buffs.

Nozomi: Avid photographer, queen of the fairies, and team mom. Partner role is Gun damage and ailment infliction.

Hallelujah: Nervous and lacking in self-confidence, this 15 year old was raised by the Ashura-Kai and feels a great debt to them. Partner role is warding skills.

Gaston: A self-righteous member of the elite Crusaders of Mikado and younger brother of Navarre. Partner role is Physical damage.

Isabeau: One of Flynn’s fellow former Samurai and the original representative of the Neutral faction in Shin Megami Tensei IV. Partner role is healing, elemental skill damage, and Almighty damage.

Toki: A 14 year old assassin of the Ring of Gaea who has now struck out with Nanashi and co. to find the source of true strength. Partner role is mob clearing.

Flynn: The famed Liberator of Tokyo, crossing paths with Nanashi as the two share an intertwined destiny. You played as him in Shin Megami Tensei IV.

2 Likes

#2


I could never have imagined.

Akira… I want to protect them all…no matter the cost.

No matter how many times you would be forced to die and reincarnate?

Humanity won’t be saved by gods and demons.

I’m counting on you…

Akira…

Well, that was weird. I’m sure it’ll have absolutely no relevance at all later!

Like all other numbered Shin Megami Tensei games, Apocalypse takes place in a demon-infested post-apocalyptic Tokyo.

Meet our protagonist and pal, sleeping and watching a television broadcast respectively inside the dirty loft of an old highrise.

Come on… Get up, Nanashi.

Though, we’re just cadets… Even if we wanted to help, we’d just get in their way.

Plus, you’re tired from doing all those Flynn-related errands today.

Your friend looks away and sighs…

How long’s it been since Nikkari and Manabu went outside? This is boring…

Television is nice and all, but we’ll need to talk to Asahi before doing that since she has a couple of lines of dialogue you have to hear before progressing. Either TV first and Asahi second or vice versa, the game makes you do both.

Right, Nanashi? Can’t stay cadets forever.

COMPs, the devices that are used to summon demons in MegaTen games, have taken many forms over the years, from a handheld computer back in the NES and SNES days to the DS and 3DS COMPS in Devil Survivor and its 3DS remake. Here, they’re cell phones that slot into wrist holders. They are also now a thing only licensed Hunters are allowed to have as well, meaning our protagonists start out with nothing to defend themselves.

Think of all the good we could do! People would see us as heroes, just like Flynn.

…Though, at this rate, that’s not gonna happen anytime soon.

With Tokyo caught in a war between Merkabah and Lucifer, it’s Flynn who seeks to liberate us from both.

It’s up to all Hunters to provide support to Flynn. Together, we will decide the fate of Tokyo.

The newscaster concludes his report on Flynn, talk of the town.

This is more or less a brief rundown of events in Shin Megami Tensei IV. A more blatant plot dump on that subject will happen soon enough.

While you carefree cadets just sit on yours and chat all day? Such a cozy life you lead, Asahi.

This is Manabu, king of obnoxious gits. Whenever you see his text, imagine it being said in the most smug tone possible and you’ll probably be accurate to the voice acting.

It’s not like we have a choice… Give us smartphones and we’ll -

Hey, cut it! Listen. Calling Tokyo ‘dangerous’ is an understatement.

Every street corner, from Tabata to Tennozu, is teeming with demons.

But the cold fact is, there’s no way we can keep living without the food and resources that are out there.

That’s why we Hunters risk our lives scrounging the essentials for the people of Tokyo.

Sure, you don’t stand a chance against demons without one, but there’s still plenty you can -

Whoops! Thanks for the heads up, Nikkari. Shit, my battery’s about to die, too…

Nikkari is the Wise Mentor archetype, as well as a snappy dresser, having an old suit of black Demonica armor under his coat. An artistic carryover from Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, the Demonicas of IV and Apocalypse are a mark of someone who served in the counter-demon forces that were formed soon after the whole business of demons appearing on Earth started.

This was a thing that first came up in Shin Megami Tensei IV a few times. With normal animals pretty much extinct, less intelligent demons have become an alternative wild resource. There’s even a demon race that has rather bluntly been named Food.

Yes, sir!

Finally, time for some action! Think we’ll find some cool stuff today?

Hooray, Indiana Jones time! (Spoilers: It’s nothing near that glamorous)

2 Likes

#3

Well this is a surprise. SMT4A is a pretty dang good game and does a lot to fix the problems original SMT4 had. I hope this encourages more folks to pick it up.

1 Like

#4

I love SMT. I hope this game is one of the good ones!

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#5

Relics are another mechanic returning from SMT IV. These are pretty much any sort of pre-apocalyptic goods that you can sell for macca (demon money, conveniently accepted at all your local post-apocalyptic retail outlets), from socks and shoes to washing machines and lightbulbs. Some of them get…kind of weird. I can only hope the RNG gives us some of the best examples of what I mean by that as we go on our journey.

Before we go out relic hunting, though, let’s see what everybody has to say.

…Or not. All three basically say some variation of this same thing. This happens fairly often, and I’m only showing it this time for posterity.

And now we get the controls actually handed to us for the first time. Like SMT IV, Apocalypse has 3D areas, though if we’re going to be honest they’re usually built like the corridors of older dungeon crawling MegaTens anyway. Players of SMTIV may recognize this as the main crosswalk of Ginza, the big money district. Strange place to start the game in, no?

You can tell where a relic is by the bright green “RELIC” sign on them. They’re either plopped as a trash heap on the ground like this or scannable from the doors of storefronts around Tokyo.

All relics start out like this: given a start rating and a general categorization, as well as an estimated value. You have to take relics to an appraiser inside a settlement to find out their exact identity and actually collect your macca reward.

Moving over to press A on another relic pile, we find…

Asahi is surprisingly restrained here, given how gung-ho she is about becoming a big ol’ hero. Don’t expect that to become a trend.

Chosing either of these options rather than the other doesn’t actually change anything important. You just get to enter your name before Asahi returns rather than after if you choose to poke around.

I couldn’t find Nikkari, so I settled for Manabu.

Gee, thanks… Anyway, Asahi says you found a phone.

Looks busted to hell… Why don’tcha try turning it on?

While you can give yourself whatever name you want here, I’m going to have our protagonist use his own name for reasons that should make themselves obvious in a moment.

Woah, is that thing on? Give it here…

You mean we can’t use it?

Well, the map app still works, but the Demon Summoning Program won’t load.

Better than nothing, I s’pose. Might as well hold onto it until you get a working one.

You obtain Broken Smartphone.

Asahi grabs your arm and eyes the smartphone.

Did it ask for a username? What did you put in?

An alias, like Nikkari goes by? Or did you use your real name?

And here’s where that choice of username gives us a bit of dialogue.

Stickin’ with the same name? Eh, everyone’s used to calling ya that, so I guess it’s better that way.

Okay, that’s enough puppy dog eyes for one day. Better get back to Nikkari.

That’s not what this is! Cut it out! Let’s go, Nanashi.

One fade-to-black later, and we’re in our “cozy” little loft again.

We’ve met our salvage quota. Will turn recovered weapons over to the Hunter’s Association shortly. Out.

Good, you’re back. I’m not quite done yet… Give me a few.

Nikkari continues slicing apart demon meat with expert technique.

Have you been using that since you rolled with the JDSF or whatever?

This blade’s been my companion for over 20 years now, yes.

This confirms what Nikkari’s armor already implied: that he was part of the Counter-Demon Force.

Speaking of, how old are you cadets now?

We’re both 15.

I see. In ancient times, that’s when children would undergo the genpuku coming-of-age ceremony.

Genpuku was indeed a coming of age ceremony in ancient Japan that started around the 8th Century AD, teaching skills that were considered needed for adulthood in those days. Here, it’s more or less the setup to get Asahi’s hopes up…

Whaaaaat…

…And immediately dash them.

There is still much for you to learn.

Like history. In fact, I think a lesson is in order.

It all happened 25 years ago…

The world was hardly perfect before it all went to hell. Global recession, civil wars, terrorism…

Yep, sounds like the 2010s alright.

Nuclear warfare is a common trend in MegaTen games. In the first two numbered entries of the Shin Megami Tensei series, for instance, the god Thor set the Abrahamic God’s plans for a cleansing fire in motion by ordering ICBM launches under the not particularly subtle name Ambassador Thorman.

…thanks to the sacrifice of one young man and the city’s guardian deity, Masakado.

Together, they transformed into the Firmament and shielded the city just before the missiles struck.

This is one of the more controversial elements of SMTIV, as far as online discussions go. A lot of people point to this as evidence of a nationalistic bent in IV, and I can’t really blame them for that. It also makes me really wish we had an SMT: World Tour of some sort.

Now, a certain rumor spread among the survivors, saying that angels were behind the catastrophe.:

And in time, this incident came to be known as “God’s Plan”.

Anyway, while the Firmament saved Tokyo from destruction, it also brought about a new threat: demons, trapped inside along with us.

A nice little teaser of some of the demons that are still in the catalogue for this entry of the series.

Torn from the very pages of myths and legends, they wield unimaginable powers used to kill and devour humans.

So humanity’s struggle for survival continued from within Tokyo.

The Demon Summoning Program allowed us to command demons, fighting fire with fire.

The mysterious program appeared online just before “God’s Plan” came to pass.

No one knew where it came from, but we had little choice but to use it.

The Ceiling is what most denizens of Tokyo refer to the Firmament as. The fact that Nikkari explicitly goes out of his way to call it “the Firmament” is one of those marks that he’s quite the knowledgeable Hunter.

We kept digging, day after day… Several years later, we finally got through to the outer surface.

…Only to retreat immediately.

Turns out there were people already living atop the Firmament.

Those big ominous guys are three of the Four Heralds: Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, and Uriel. They won’t be appearing in this game, as they already did the Fusion Dance with each other to transform into Merkabah, the ultimate Law boss in SMTIV. You may have seen his name briefly mentioned in the newsfeed from the first post.

We fought back with our demons, of course, but we were severely outmatched… Didn’t stand a chance.

So we fled back down the Sky Tower with our tails between our legs.

Time passed, and people started splitting off into disparate factions.

Yep. The Ashura-Kai, the Ring of Gaea…

…and, of course, the Hunter Association.

Though, Flynn took out the leaders of the other two. Ya got that, yeah?

Hunter cadets.

Damnit, Manabu, your pettiness is keeping us from going out and turning gods and monsters into our own personal Pokémon collection already.

Okay, okay – so we can’t use demons on our own yet. I get it.

Oh, for the love of -

Cadets may be limited in the types of jobs assigned, but they’re expect to perform as regular Hunters.

Having said that, both of you have been a tremendous help today.

Really? Thank you! We did it, Nanashi!

Such a softie under all that armor, Nikkari.

Ha. Think so?

Our finds today will help Flynn when he brings the fight to Merkabah and Lucifer’s doorsteps.

A stranger from the strange land of Mikado, now the Liberator of Tokyo.

Ain’t a place in Tokyo not abuzz about that boy. And for good reason.

Yeah, it would!

Right!? It’d be a once-in-a-lifetime deal!

Asahi smiles dreamily.

Nikkari checks his watch.

Time to go.

3:30 in the afternoon… So that “sun” thing should be out right now?

On the other side of the Firmament, I’m sure it is.

Well, I hope when Flynn ends the fight we get to see bright sky for a change.

Fast forward to Kinschicho to turn in for the night!

Watch out, Nikkari!

It’s a Fomorian! These guys are a big part of Celtic mythology, being a tribe of -

…Oh. It’s dead already. Maybe next time, then.

After giving thanks to the guard and the guard promising this shit won’t happen again, we get to finally enter Kinschicho.

And that action completes a quest we didn’t even know we had!

Here, turn in the relics you found. Keep the Macca as allowance.

A live broadcast is airing at the Hunter Association tomorrow morning. Don’t be late. Until then. Dismissed!

We get to see a few very important things here. First off, we get to see most of the layout of Kinschicho, which is our home base of operations – turns out Ginza was just a day trip. Second, that red flag is the current objective. SMTIV did not have any sort of quest markers, so their presence here is a relieving upgrade.

Furthermore, if you have talked to all of the NPCs in a room, the yellow icon on the map fades out like so, regaining full color when they have new dialogue. I won’t be showing every piece of random NPC dialogue, but I’ll post any that jump out to me as I go.

We’ll check out the rest of Kinschicho in the next update, but for now our protagonist is whisked away to sleep. Will he have more strange dreams? Will we get into a fight next time? Only time will tell!

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#6

A quick :tw: , as per forum regulations: this post contains mentions of suicide.

You hear a voice calling you Akira…

If you’ve played SMTIV, these faces will be very familiar to you. Even if you haven’t, you can probably put together that something weird is happening here.

Not yet. I hope he’s not doing anything rash…

What about you, Skins?

Nothing. I asked the boys to check the security footage, but no luck so far. I don’t like it, Fujiwara.

We’re unable to establish communications with either of them.

What about the US?

No good. They’re not responding.

Surveillance satellite detected a missile on course to Japan! ETA five minutes!

This is it…

It’s him! Is he in Ginza?

He’s got Masakado’s Katana… Get him on the radio. Now.

He’s not responding…

Damn it! What the hell’s he doing?

I want to protect them all…no matter the cost.

Come, Masakado.

So, we just had a guy who looks oddly familiar get his head eaten by a demon, which then grew massive enough to body block a nuke. Just your average, ordinary, every day event.

Did he commit…suicide?

What just happened? Someone give me an update!

I-I don’t know. But…it appears something has covered the entirety of Tokyo.

That’s it, I’m going outside. Come on, Akira.

FINALLY… Hurry, we’re gonna be late! Don’t tell me you forgot about the morning meeting…

You wake to find Asahi standing over you. Seems you were dreaming…

Tell Asahi about the weird dream?

Well, of course. Psychic visions of the past aren’t really that weird in a world where you can carry around creator deities in your cell phone.

You tell Asahi about the dream.

Someone who looked like Flynn…killed himself? And then rock covered up the sky?

Sounds like Nikkari’s “history lesson” from yesterday, but what’s this about a guy committing suicide?

I can see why that’d rattle you. Maybe tell the others about it when we get to the Association?

I really like this little scene for exactly what I said a few lines up. Rather than have Asahi dismiss the whole matter out of hand, she accepts the fact that really strange and disturbing things can happen in a world where almost all myths and legends happen to be true. Way too many pieces of media go for the immediate skepticism route.

Speaking of that meeting, though, it’s time to go on a little tour of some of the facilities and objects in Kinshicho that will keep being relevant throughout this journey.

On the other side of this locked gate are three item boxes. Item boxes contain consumable or sellable items, perhaps unsurprisingly. The identity of the contents of these ones will vex us for a while, as that gate isn’t going anywhere for now.

If you see a yellow sword and shield symbol, that’s a black market. This is where you buy new weapons and armor. Right now, though, it’s closed in order to funnel us towards where we’re actually supposed to go.

Item shops sell the same sort of things you find in item boxes. You can decide for yourself what that symbol looks like, but I think it looks like a toolbox myself.

Terminals are teleporters that act as your fast travel system. Visit a settlement, register its Terminal, and never have to worry about walking to that location again.

Finally, you’ve got the local Hunter’s Association bar, all of which have the same yellow signboard map symbol and graffiti’d door. This also happens to be where we need to go to progress the plot.

“Don’t call you ‘Dad’ at work.” Right, right. Boss.

Come on now… If my own daughter can’t get it together, I’m really in trouble.

A little help, Nanashi?

Show your dad some respect.

Asahi’s dad is good people. He’s also closer to Nanashi than even his jovialty might imply. Namely, his design is actually based on the original design for Nanashi, back when the protagonist of Apocalypse was supposed to be an adult rather than a 15 year old. Makes you wonder what could have been, doesn’t it?

…Stupid Nanashi.

Nikkari’s around here somewhere. Better not keep him waiting, cadets.

Now scram. And be sure to give Nikkari your full attention!

Asahi’s dad – Boss – nudges you along.

Hunter’s Association bars allow you to do several things. “Heal” lets you fully restore HP and remove status conditions from your entire party; it’s on the house here in Kinschicho as a perk of knowing the boss, but costs a few hundred or so macca in other bars. “Deliver” lets you deliver items for delivery quests. “Talk” lets you get snippets of dialogue from a bar member or two. And in this case, it’s also our progression, as we need to chat up Nikkari. “Talk to Boss” lets us talk to Asahi’s father, and is obviously only in the Kinshicho bar.

We’ll head out after the meeting.

Shouldn’t be long now. Just kick back and relax in the meanwhile.

You’ve got a little time before the assembly starts…

Want to mention your dream to Nikkari and Manabu?

As much as I don’t trust Manabu with any information of any sort, Nikkari has been nothing but helpful, so we’ll tell him about the dream.

No offense, but your dreams are suuuper boring. Try having cooler ones.

…Don’t mention this to anyone else. And forget the name “Akira”.

Why, what’s the big deal?

Akira’s not a name Hunters like to hear.

Akira ran with Skins and Fujiwara, the founders of the Hunter Association.

Fought alongside both of 'em, back in the day. I hear he was pretty well-trusted.

Awkward… In any case, after this, Nikkari quickly shuts down Asahi’s attempts to find out more about what that statement meant, and a further distraction comes in the form of the meeting starting.

We’ve suffered through “God’s Plan” in darkness for the last 25 years.

Now things have taken a turn for the worse.

Merkabah and his army have taken over the Sky Tower.

Merkabah says he’s following orders directly from God.

And you might remember him as one of the angels of death from 25 years ago.

Meanwhile, Lucifer is quartered at Camp Ichigaya. He plans on taking his troops to intercept the angels.

Basically, we’re about to be right in the middle of a War between Heaven and Hell.

That’s the bad news. But it gets better.

If you’re guessing that the goods hands it is in are Flynn’s, you’d be right. Flynn is planning on slaying both the Law and Chaos final bosses, as Neutral heroes are wont to do, and everyone in the bar is cheering as Skins announces Flynn’s plans and the Hunter Association’s intentions to put their full force behind Flynn on air.

Once upon a time, we humans made it to the Ceiling.

We made it, and they knocked us right back down to tear ourselves apart.

Tokyo was left to fend for herself from the corrupt Ashura-Kai and the anarchists in the Ring of Gaea.

A bit of backstory, since these groups are both almost out of commission by the time Apocalypse starts. The Ashura-Kai were SMTIV’s a lesser Law faction in SMTIV, more or less a bunch of authoritarian yakuza aided by the angel Mastema (unbeknownst to either the other angels or most of the Ashura-Kai). The Ring of Gaea, by contrast, were full-on “survival of the fittest” Chaos monks in service of the demon Lilith. A few members of both organizations are still limping around, but the actual organizations themselves are crippled.

I think surviving this long has earned us the right to live above the Ceiling.

Our freedom depends on our victory, and our victory depends on Flynn.

Unsurprisingly, this speech gets the Hunters at the bar in an uproar again. The remaining bit of the speech instructs all Hunters to keep to their assigned duties until they are given specific tasks in “Operation: Drop Everything You’re Doing and Help Flynn”.

For all I’ve ribbed at the verboseness at the start of this game, it really does do well at hammering in the atmosphere of being a small part of a bigger whole. Even though Nanashi is the playable character, it nonetheless feels like Flynn is still the actual main character, even without having seen him face-to-face yet.

Our mission is just outside Kinshicho’s north entrance, in Kinshi Park. More importantly than food, though, is that this is the first place we can actually encounter hostile demons.

These blue pixels indicate a demon fight. Go up and whack 'em in the back with X to get a first strike for some free minor damage.

Alright, it’s our first battle! It’s against a lone Katakirauwa, a measly level 1 demon of the Food race. In Japanese lore, this critter’s a ghostly black pig with one ear ripped off and glowing red eyes. If it runs between your legs, it can steal your soul. Fortunately they haven’t taken the opportunity of giving it that ability in-game.

Attacks in Apocalypse can have one of eight elements: Physical, Gun, Fire, Ice, Electric, Force, Light, and Dark. All we have right now is a basic sword and pistol, so Physical and Gun are all that we can deal.

Fortunately, that isn’t a problem, as Katakirauwa is weak to literally everything except Gun and Dark, so a mere bop on the head with a regular Attack will deal massive damage.

You may have also noticed that hitting its weakness made the little man in the right upper corner of the screen light up. That’s a Press Turn. This means that we’ve gotten a free extra action on this turn as a result of hitting the enemy demon’s weakness. Press Turns get more complicated (and more important) later on, but right now it means that we only need two turns to turn this porker into bacon bits in spite of our weakling body and starter gear.

Slaying another Katakirauwa after this will get us the prompt to go see Nikkari, who is behind some weird spiky wood nearby:

This thing’s a wormwood barrier. You have to slash the gem-looking core to destroy it and pass freely, which means hitting the back of it is useless. Surprise surprise, they happen to frequently be pointing away from you when you encounter them, indicating that you need to open it up later on in the area as a shortcut back to the start.

Was fighting hard, Nanashi?

Nah, no big deal.

You really held your own out there.

What the -

Horde battles are a special type of battle wherein all the demons on screen are technically one demon, but can still be hit multiple times by a target-all attack. They appeared in the first dungeon of SMTIV as well, but something’s a bit off about this one…

Shit, we’re surrounded!

Why’re there so many?

One of the demons emerged from the crowd and approaches the group.

One of the demons of the famed Dictionnaire Infernal, Adramelech is both president of the demonic senate and the guy in charge of Satan’s wardrobe. It’s likely that he is a demonization of Adar-Malik, a Mesopotamian sun god. And yes, he does happen to be a guy with a mule’s head and a peacock’s tail in the Dictionnaire. The makeup and jewelry, though, is pure Doi.

Masayuki Doi, to be precise. Doi has been an Atlus artist since Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, and the main designer of both the characters and new demons added in Apocalypse, including Adramelech here. He also had the task of making new art for all of the demons that were added in SMTIV and kept for Apocalypse; since those demons were all created by guest artists rather than traditional series artist Kazuma Kaneko or Masayuki Doi, it was felt that they needed a fresh coat of paint to match better with older demons in the series.

There’s been talk of Merkabah’s descent from the Sky Tower. We came to see.

Of course, after such a long and arduous journey, my soldiers and I find our stomachs howling with hunger.

I digress. Word is you humans have started feasting on the flesh of demons.

It’s a dog-eat-dog world, after all.

Adramelech looks over his shoulder at the other demons.

Besides, you don’t expect us to wage war while famished, now do you?

Get ready, here they come!

Which means weaklings like you will be food for the strong.

If you couldn’t guess, we are insanely outleveled by these guys. Hell, we wouldn’t even have that 1 HP if this wasn’t a scripted scene.

Manabu shields Asahi from the flames…

Goodbye, Manabu, I will probably forget your heroic sacrifice in about half an hour.

Hah!

Nikkari slips in close and slashes at Adramelech.

What in the world? It bet that blunt butter knife couldn’t even cut through paper.

Adramelech looks down at the broken sword, then knocks Nikkari back.

Hmm. Quite the fighter, aren’t we?

Nikkari managed to bury his knife into Adramelech just before getting knocked back.

Adramelech casually yanks the knife out of his chest and spares it a curious look.

For all Adramelech’s boasting, the fact that Nikkari is still standing is a pretty big testament to his strength. Adramelech is level 68, way above anything we could even scratch.

One must constantly strive to embrace the new, the future. And chaos is what will bring it.

Damn it… You monster!

You must find this all so unfair.

In truth, it’s no different than you consuming the flesh of demons.

It’s merely…a law of nature.

No, no, that won’t do either. I don’t much care for giving chase…

And as Adramelech turns his fire on us, Nikkari pulls the same move Manabu did.

I’m sorry…I dragged you both into this…

Nikkari dies.

You are surrounded by enemies.

What are we gonna do?

And so ends our first boss fight: dead in a pool of our own blood.

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#7

So the first boss, and I’m guessing a fairly important boss that will haunt the party for a pretty good chunk of the game, is a Peacock Horse Man who serves Satan. I’ve never gotten into SMT because the gameplay doesn’t seem to be my thing, but I’ll be damned if the aesthetics and tone aren’t on point.

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#8

Well that was a nice game! A bit on the short side, but I’m glad we got to meet so many colorful characters in that time!

hyuk hyuk hyuk

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#9

Thank you for doing this and sparing me from doing it myself.

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#10

Man, now that Nanashi’s dead and in the afterlife the “no hell below us, above us only sky” on his jacket must be really awkward.

Ah, another lost soul… There’s nothing for you here…

The only way forward is down this winding, narrow roller coaster painted with blur effects.

Yomotsu Hirasaka is the downward slope heading into the underword of Yomi in Japanese mythology. It’s at Yomotsu Hirasaka that the god Izanagi escaped from Yomi, sealing his corpse wife Izanami and the other denizens of Yomi within by shoving a boulder over the entrance at the bottom of the slope.

You hear a faint voice calling from farther ahead.

Racing along the track further and further, we eventually reach the light.

In Shin Megami Tensei IV, Flynn would reach the shores of the River Styx upon death, bargaining with the ferryman Charon to return to the land of the living. In Apocalypse, we’ve traded a Greek figure of the underworld for a Celtic one: Dagda, or the Dagda if you are wanting to be all proper-like. Dagda was a god of many talents, with a harp that could change the seasons, a club that could slay many men with its tip and bring them back to life with its handle, and an ever-full cauldron. He was father and lover, wise man and warrior, and generally a big deal in the Irish pantheon. Apocalypse’s Dagda is a bit more…single-minded. But at least he has some nice sarcastic lines.

Hate to break it to you, kid – you’re dead. And that friend of yours is next in line.

You’ve accomplished nothing in the admittedly short span of your life.

But together, we could change that. Work for me, and I’ll return you to life.

Nothing could possibly go wrong by signing your soul over to some random god you just met! More importantly, if you try to say no he just tells you that there’s no other choice, so you kind of have to say yes.

Dagda’s at least kind enough to level us up from 1 to 4. Not enough to fight Adramelech on even terms, or even his level 20 Horde for that matter, but better than nothing.

_Here are our statistics: _
1. Strength boosts your normal Attack and Physical damage skills.
2. Dexterity boosts normal Gun Attack and Gun damage skills.
3. Magic boosts elemental and healing skills
4. Agility boosts accuracy, dodge chance, likelihood of moving first in the turn order, and likelihood of successfully running from a battle.
5. Luck ups the chance to land critical hits and shrug off status ailments.

I plan on raining wizard death upon my foes, but there’s not really anything wrong with choosing to go with a Strength or Dexterity build either. Using Attack and Shoot while your demons utilize elemental forces helps save up on MP early if you are just picking up buff and heal skills rather than elemental damage ones, and there are some pretty decent skills for Physical and Gun damage later, including one I might pick up for my Nanashi in spite of his wizardry.

While it has no effect mechanically, it is also of note that our protagonist’s race is listed as Godslayer rather than Human. It’s a bright flashing signature of the fact that we aren’t a regular mortal anymore. Dagda is all too happy to explain:

From this moment forward, you’re nothing but a puppet. MY puppet.

Just know, obedience isn’t optional. Keep that in mind.

And with that rather ominous sendoff, Dagda brings us back to the life.

He even fixes our busted up smartphone screen. How nice of him.

You may notice that the new fancy green markings on Nanashi tend to coincide with where his most grievous wounds were. Dagda is nothing if not fancy with his necromantic artwork.

As you look around, you spot Asahi surrounded by demons.

Have to fight - !

Shit, shit, shit… App’s locked! I can’t summon any demons!

This is how you humans summon demons? With this…machine?

You hear Dagda’s voice, but he’s nowhere to be seen…

Down here, in your little demon-summoning device.

Good as new. As god of knowledge, fixing such a thing is but a simple task.

Now you can summon demons, just as your friend there tried – and failed – to do.

Dukes up, kid. Didn’t bring you back to keep dying at the hands of some scrub.

You position yourself between Adramelech and Asahi.

No bother. I’ll just kill you again!

Another present Dagda’s given us is a free demon! Centaur is a level 4 demon of the Yoma race, with a resistance to Gun and Fire being offset by a weakness to Electric, Force, and Dark. It also has a weakness to the Poison Ailment, meaning it will get poisoned more frequently than other demons

It has Bufu, the standard weak damage single-target Ice attack. And that green +1 next to it? That is a skill affinity, something new to Apocalypse’s demons.

A demon’s affinity for attack and ailment skills can go from -9 to +9, while healing and support skills go -5 to +5. Attack skills lose 10% of their damage for each negative step of affinity, and for positive steps they gain +10% damage at levels 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 9 and -10% MP cost at levels 2 and 5.

Ailments are almost the same as attack skills, save for swapping out damage percentage for an increased percentile chance of afflicting the ailment. Heal and Support skills, on the other hand, have their MP cost increase by +10% for each step down and decrease by -10% for each step up.

Centaur in particular has +2 to Gun, +1 to Ice, -1 to Ailment and Support, and -3 to Electric and Force.

No need to kill Adramelech, which we probably couldn’t do anyway. Beat his cronies up enough with that nice weakness-targeting Bufu, get a critical hit or two, and he recognizes our newfound power.

Seems I’ve lost my appetite. Think I’ll take my leave now.

And without another word, Adramelech’s gone. For now, at least.

…. I… I…

Asahi starts sobbing uncontrollably.

After taking the time to console Asahi – you can choose not to, but what kind of an Anarchic jerk would do that? – the task falls upon Nanashi to inform the Hunter Association of Manabu and Nikkari’s untimely deaths.

Wait, you were able to summon demons. I guess that phone wasn’t broken?

I couldn’t even get mine to work.

…I know what I need to do, now, Nanashi. C’mon, let’s go see my Dad – boss.

One explanation to Boss later…

A valid request, but probably not the greatest time to make it.

Nanashi can summon demons. And now I have Nikkari’s phone! I can fight!

We need to become Hunters, if only to honor Nikkari and Manabu.

Either a pained face or preparing for that He-Man meme.

Come on now… I can’t do that. You’re still kids. That’s no life for you.

You’ll need all the Hunters you can get.

This back and forth continues for a number of sentences until Asahi storms out, as teenagers are wont to do.

And of course we say yes. If you couldn’t guess by now, I’m going to be going for the Peace route on this playthrough, and most binary questions have a clear “be a friend” or “be an asshole” bent to them.

I’ve made up my mind.

We need to prove ourselves. Show my dad we’re not just kids anymore!

Uh… Got any ideas?

Once again, there’s a yes or no that is more or less “say yes or we’ll railroad you”. In this case, our idea is…

We could recruit our own demons?

Knew I kept you around for a reason!

Ah, good. It’s finally time to get some demons of our own, without Dagda’s help.

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#11

I really like Dagda’s design, him and his weird mask face/skull thing that he’s got going on look cool. Points for the Ganon beard as well. I also appreciate that he doesn’t play coy; it doesn’t take a genius to figure out this deal’s gonna go south at some point.

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#12

It not he has any reason to be dishonest. Better to get the terms of the deal out there early.

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#13

Yeah, no point in deceiving someone when you already hold all the cards. Lay it out straight from the start and at least there won’t be any nasty misconceptions about who’s holding the leash later.

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#14


After the death of Nikkari and Manabu, the game opens up for us exponentially. One of the options available to us now is shopping for goods and wearables. Black markets sell weapons and armor, while former Ashura-kai shops sell consumable items. You’ll find them in almost every subterranean settlement, so learn their locations and get yourself some macca to buy stuff with.


In order to get to Kinshi Park again, we need to get past this guy, and he’s not budging until we get consent from our superiors to leave the safety of Kinshicho.


Fortunately for us, the guard at the west entrance is a huge softy (probably not hurt by the fact that Nikkari saved him from that Fomorian yesterday), and we can go right past him into the Kinshicho shopping district.


Starting with the shopping district, we have different demon pixel shapes. Once you get a feel of what kind of demons are in the area, these shapes can give you a pretty good idea of what’s going to be in that encounter: a humanoid pile of pixels will have some sort of human-shaped demon as at least one of the combatants in its encounter, a bird-shaped one will have a flying demon, etc.


Regardless of which set of pixels you slap, though, the first demon you encounter in Kinshicho’s shopping district will always be this lone Sudama. It’s our prerequisite negotiation tutorial demon, a role that usually falls to the series favorite demon Pixie. Selecting “Talk” and then “Scout” allows you to start a negotiation.


As long as you are the same level as the demon or higher and don’t have that demon in your stock already, you can attempt to recruit it. Demons follow certain “personalities” that result in specific types of questions they will ask and what responses they favor. These can generally be condensed down into a word or two to describe them, such as “old gentleman”, “child”, “speaks gibberish”, “seductress”, or “is named Jack”.

Why do you think?

Really?

The hell if I know. But it might actually be true.

If you want to learn more secrets about the world, gimme something.

Demons also happen to be greedy little shits. The idea here is to at least give them a bit of what they want, but don’t look like a pushover, because then they will stab you in the back. 16 macca is a drop in the bucket, so we’ll let this weird bubble boy have the cash.

Comply

I’ll take a slurp of your HP.

Refuse

Roar!

I could use 21 macca.

Comply

You’re pretty cool.

I’ll become your ally!

And with that, Sudama’s on our team. Just as you’d expect from a Japanese forest spirit, Sudama’s weak to Fire and Ice, and resistant to Electricity. You know, like trees are well known to resist electricity. Its affinities are +1 to Electricity and Ailment, -1 to Support, and -3 to Fire and Ice, and it comes with the weak single-target Electric skill Zio.

Don’t feel too bad if you mess up negotiations in Apocalypse. In this game, talking to the same demon species through multiple encounters can actually cause it to become fond of chatting with you, at which point it will join you without negotiations.

After getting Centaur and Sudama by order of the narrative, you’re on your own as to what demons you gather for the quest. What demons you can find in an area will be covered in a segment called Hunter’s Notes, found after the main post of each update.

Another basic mechanic you’ll be seeing a lot over the course of the game is leveling up; it is an RPG, after all. Each level up we get nets us five points to allocate into our attributes.

Demons also level up, unlocking learnable skills listed near the bottom of their information page. For Centaur, it’s Needle Shot. This is our weak single-target skill for Gun damage.

If you level up a demon to the point where it has learned all the skills it can learn by leveling up, it can perform a Whisper. Whispering lets you give Nanashi most of the skills demons have, with a few exceptions that we’ll cover when they come up. If Nanashi already has the skill on his list, the demon’s Whisper effectively gives Nanashi a +1 affinity for that skill and that skill alone.

After collecting another demon of any kind, Asahi compliments us on our demon-collecting skills, notes that she’s figured out how the whole summoning app works, and inserts herself into our party as a partner. Your partner is AI-controlled rather than under player control like Nanashi and his three demons, and each partner you’ll get over the course of the game falls into a specific role. Asahi in particular starts with a pixie that can cast Dia or perform a regular attack, but her lack of control over it means there’s a good chance it will ignore her orders.

That means I can fight alongside you!

Should be enough, for now. Let’s go see if this gets Dad to change his tune.

Asahi’s phone suddenly gets a message.

It’s a message for Nikkari. Should I… Might as well open it, right?

2,000 macca? It may not seem like much, but for broke-ass kids from Kinschicho it’s a fortune.

The Sky Tower’s not far from here. Let’s go help.

You can choose here to help the Hunters or abandon them to their fate as part of the continued minor accumulation of Peace or Anarchy points. Either way, we’re going to that Tower through the power of But You Must Do It, so might as well agree with her rather than get dragged along.

Since you aren’t on an actual timer, you can collect more demons in Kinshicho or go back and buy equipment if you wish. For this LP, that means some time to go over some more basic mechanics you’ll be experiencing throughout the rest of the game.

One big thing you need to learn about in combat is Smirk. This is a special condition that can happen when you make a preemptive strike, score a critical hit, or nullify an enemy’s attack, and lasts until you make an attack or take damage from an enemy. Smirk makes your attack have a 100% chance to hit and get a critical hit on top of that, lowers critical hits from the enemy to normal hits, and maximizes the benefit of casting a buff skill. There are also certain skills that get extra effects when Smirking. Long story short: Smirk is great, always be Smirking. Of course, just like extra Press Turns, enemy demons can get Smirk too, so watch out.

Item boxes like this will have consumables in them, in this case a couple of small incenses. Small Incenses increase the stat they are labeled under by 1 and aren’t really worth it to sell, so feel free to burn them by stuffing them in your face as soon as you get them.

Kinschicho Shopping Center also gives us our first encounter with the game’s third type of item merchant.

I know all about you. Ah, don’t let that trouble you.

I am just a merchant who loves collecting jewels…

Would you be interested in exchanging any jewels for some items I have?

This is Saint Germain, a character who appeared in the previous MegaTen game Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. the Soulless Army. His name is a reference to the Comte de Saint Germain, a strange European aristocrat from the 1700s whose eccentricities included claiming he was nearly five centuries old. Unsurprisingly, he became big in later occult literature and theosophy.

Here, Saint Germain is willing to give some of the best healing and recovery items in the game in exchange for diamonds, emeralds, and garnets. As we have none of those on our poor selves, he’s just an oddity to make note of at this point.

Oh, and one store we always have access to from the pause menu is the app store. Apps are upgrades to your COMP’s functions, bought with App Points. You get 10 App Points each time you level up, as well as more from certain items and from the rather grim action of tagging and reporting Hunter corpses you find scattered around the world. For the start of the game, I’m buying Demon Charmer (friendly negotiations are easier), Fundraiser (you can negotiate with demons for macca), and Scout Recovery (regain a bit of HP when you successfully recruit a demon).

Regardless of what Apps you are carrying at this point, the hardass guard at the entrance to Kinshi Park is willing to let us through once he sees the SOS on Asahi’s phone.

You can see the Sky Tower in the distance. Quite spiky, isn’t it? There’s one more thing I want to do to end off the tutorial segment of this game before we head there, though.

Ah, you must be a new user. Congratulations on activating this application.

My name is Mido, the master of the Cathedral of Shadows app.

Mido, master of the Cathedral of Shadows, has been around since the first Shin Megami Tensei game; as you can see from the image above, he was looking a bit more corporeal back in those days. The Mido of Shin Megami Tensei IV and Apocalypse has eschewed his physical form to become a digital entity who never has to stop fusing for trifling mortal concerns. Guy just loves fusion, simple as that.

Glad to make your acquaintance.

This app’s primary function is the forbidden art of demon fusion…

Fusion is a commonplace core of the MegaTen series. The long and short of it is that you sacrifice two or more demons to meld their essence into one new one. This is one of the best ways to create stronger demons, as they can inherit the skills of their ‘parent’ demons plus any ones unique to that demon. There are a large number of demons that you’ll never encounter in the wild and can only attain through fusion, as well as a number of ones that you will probably be able to fuse before you can find them to negotiate with.

A problem some people had with SMTIV’s Cathedral of Shadows was that you were forced to use the Search function to find out what demons you could fuse, not being able to just simply look at your current stock and smash together whatever could be smashed together. As you can see from the image above, Atlus apparently listened to those complaints, as Basic Fusion is back in.

Actually fusing any demons will have to wait for the Hunter’s Notes, though. Next time, we head for the Sky Tower.

1 Like

#15

Oh, a hunter. is a phrase that you heard constantly in SMT4 and I was saddened that they didn’t reuse that little voice clip.

Mido is always very excited to do fusions.

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#16

Now that it’s completed, here’s all of Kinshi Park as a reference. The elevator to Kinshicho’s down at the bottom, and the exit we’re facing is to the overworld. Speaking of, let’s head there now.

People who were frustrated with the confusing overworld map of SMTIV should be happy with the fact that they have now added place labels and the all-important goal marker.

Only those with permission may enter. Transgressors must be executed.

C’mon, he barely stuck his head inside.

Degree is irrelevant.

You all flout the Lord’s orders. For this, you shall be smote.

This is oppression!

What should we do? There’s no negotiating with this thing!

We can’t just leave 'im here!

You can technically choose to not fight the angels, but this option just sends you back to the overworld map to “prepare” for the fight.

Help the Hunters against the angels.

Yeah, can’t just stand by and do nothing! Let’s go!

Asahi steps between the Hunters and angels.

Who’re you?

Hunters, like you.

Lord Merkabah’s orders are absolute. Those who do not comply must be killed.

With pleasure. You keep the Power, we’ll take on the regular Angel.

Yep, a regular Angel. The lowest of the nine ranks of the Heavenly Host, utilizing the rather scantily-clad design she’s been rocking since Devil Summoner. She’s got Dia and Hama, the latter being the Light equivalent of Mudo. While she has a high Magic stat for this point in the game, Hama still isn’t a huge worry assuming you don’t have anyone weak to Light on your party. It’s honestly more annoying when she decides to heal herself and you have to waste time redoing some damage.

Just like an Angel you could fuse up yourself, she nullifies Light damage entirely and is weak to Electricity and Dark. So Nanashi and Pele will be hucking Zio Stones and Zios respectively while Nadja and Kabuso are some extra damage per turn and act as acceptable losses if anyone has to go unhealed.

And with four or five turns, it’s over. Honestly, as long as you don’t have demons weak to Light and at least two sources of Electricity damage, you should do fine. Kabuso will be remembered as a valiant meat shield.

Well shit, Asahi jinxed it. Aniel here is an archangel tied to the planet Venus, and by association love and beauty. Occultism also has him being the master of the light of the sun. Regardless of what you associate him with, he’s a big-time divine being.

Shit, that’s the archangel Aniel. We don’t stand a chance against him.

Allow me to explain.

The angel speaks with Aniel.

I see.

Mere humans defy the laws laid down by our Lord’s own messengers?

Unclean Ones, I shall dispose of you in His honor.

Yours lives shall serve as recompense for your sins.

And with that rain of lightning, the Hunters we came to help are thrown to the ground and near death.

I will purify all Unclean Filth.


Boss Battle!: Aniel :crossed_swords:

Unclean Ones, your presence sullies the world our God wishes to create.

Nothing says “you’re up shit creek now” like a +6 Ziodyne right out of the gate, instantly taking Asahi out of the fight. This is why we bought those Yellow Warclothes, by the by.

Aniel is normally a level 90 demon of the Herald race. This one is weaker, at level…71. Yeah. Still way above our level. The goal here isn’t to actually beat him, though, but to manage to survive for several turns. Once those turns have passed…

We’re not…strong enough…

Asahi falls to her knees, a look of resignation spread across her face.

Demons… Angels… Why is it always like this?

What do we do?

Things may look grim, but no turning back now.

You grit your teeth and stare down your enemy.

Someone joins the fray.

Right. We’ll deal with this quickly.

Meet Isabeau and Flynn, SMTIV’s Neutral representative and protagonist respectively. We’ve heard a lot about them, and now they’re here to show us firsthand why the people of Tokyo have put their faith in them.

The reason to put faith in them: massive damage to the face. A sword slash and one Megidolaon from Flynn, and Aniel is barely hanging on. If you have nearly depleted a demon’s health, boss or otherwise, their sprite will glow red like this when you target them.

Basically, just keep swatting at Aniel while Flynn and Isabeau break his shins (assuming he actually has any shins, it’s hard to tell with his wing placement), and eventually one of your tiny punches happens to be the one that acts as the final blow.

And with that, Aniel shatters and dies.


Our Liberator! The angels don’t stand a chance against the likes of him.

Who’s that woman with him? She’s amazing…

I can’t believe someone so cool even exists!

Isabeau, let’s get them out of here.

I wouldn’t dream of leaving someone here to die.

Would you two mind lending us a hand?

As usual, we say yes. This transitions us back to Kinshicho, where medics at the Hunter Association come to tend to the wounded and heal us up while they’re at it.

Can’t believe we got out in one piece.

Oh yeah! We should show Dad our demons and prove to him we can be Hunters!

I’m sure that will go absolutely swimmingly.

But… We collected demons… And…

Being a Hunter isn’t a joke, Asahi, or a fun little game. It’s dangerous business!

Pardon me, but from what I’ve seen, these two are already accomplished hunters.

Flynn!

We would have never made it in time if not for them. One can only imagine how many lives they saved today.

My kids helped you…?

You should be very proud of them.

I…

Our first great act of heroism: acting as a meat shield in time for the real heroes to arrive. Also, this is the first time we get informed that Nanashi is Asahi’s brother and the Boss’s son.

Yes. We’re not kids anymore. We can fight.

And this is what you want, too, Nanashi? To be a Hunter?

Guess there’s no use fightin’ it…

Again, Boss is honestly one of my favorite characters in this game. He’s just a nice dad in a world gone mad, trying to make sure his kids have the best life they can. He may be a bit heavy-handed, but this is a post-apocalyptic ruined city filled with monstrous creatures.

R-really?

You can thank Flynn and Isabeau’s glowing recommendation.

Awesome!

Asahi’s dad looks wistful.

We did it, Nanashi!

We are bona fide Hunters!

With Aniel now behind us, the game is done with throwing intentionally unfair boss fights in our faces (for now, at least). From here on it’s just regular SMT-style unfairness.

Oh, and there’s this guy hanging around. He’s not important.

Well, let’s get you two registered.

I’ll use your new phones for registration.

Let me have a look at them.

You and Asahi hand your smartphones over.

Gotta jot down the serial numbers.

You can change your Hunter username here if for some reason you didn’t use the one you wanted to when you first got your phone.

Yup, keepin’ that!

I’ll register you under that, then.

And what about you, Asahi?

It’s finally time! I’ve been thinking about my Hunter name since I was five.

There’s no actual mechanical difference between any of these, so don’t worry about getting a situation like the start of Soul Hackers if you know about that. You can only pick three, but through the magic of reloading the save file I can share all six of them here.

Pascal?

That’s it! Though… Does that sound like a dog’s name, to you? It’s kind of strange.

Pascal was the name of the protagonist’s faithful hound in the first Shin Megami Tensei. He is remembered for his jaunty theme tune and being fused with a demon to become Cerberus.

D?

Hm… I know I pitched it, but to be honest I don’t even know what it means…

Ten-ryu?

…Looks better in writing than it sounds.

Jeanne?

Hmm… It definitely sounds cool, but I’m not sure it works for me.

Black Rose?

Hmm… Nope, thumbs down!

Valkyrie?

That’s what I was thinking! Though…I’m not really sure it’s a good fit for me…

Asahi stares at her phone, groaning.

One fade-to-black timeskip later…

Fine, fine.

Asahi pouts like a dejected child.

This scene kind of hammers home that Boss is totally right about Asahi not being ready to be a Hunter, even though she can (sort of) command demons. Asahi wants to be a big hero like her dad, and even if she understands the dangers of being Hunter on a logical level she still has that subconscious element of treating it like kids playing superhero. It’s hard to tell if Nanashi would be any more mature or not, given that he’s now an undead slave who literally can’t die due to a Celtic god punting him back into the land of the living any time he falls in battle, and has thus been robbed of the opportunity.

Leaving so soon…?

Yes, shortly. Thank you for the supplies.

Give our regards to the wounded.

Of course. Hey – you two got somethin’ to say to the people who saved your butts?

“Miss”…? Thank you, Asahi. I hope we meet again.

Me too!

Asahi beams, looking quite pleased.

I wish there was more we, the people of Tokyo, could do to help you, Flynn.

Just know we’re behind you 100 percent.

When you’re ready to end this, let me know. I’ll send some of my best to aid you.

You have our thanks.

Remember that big rock in the middle of Ginza we saw way back when we first got a view of the 3D worldspace? That’s what’s left of Masakado. While we’ve heard the story about how he became the Firmament several times in the game already, let’s use Flynn’s comment as an opportunity to talk about both the real Masakado and his demonic form.

Taira no Masakado was a real warlord who went on a spree of familial conflicts and conquest of much of the northern Kanto plains from 935 to 939, culminating in him declaring himself a new emperor. Unsurprisingly, all this fuss caught the intention of the imperial court in Kyoto, and troops led by Masakado’s cousin Taira no Sadamori killed him in the following 940. According to legend, Masakado’s decapitated head went flying through the night, eventually settling in the fishing village of Shibazaki (what is now Tokyo), where he became deified as a wrathful guardian deity.

Both the legend of Masakado’s head and his wrath translate themselves into his appearance as a demon in the Shin Megami Tensei games. In both his earliest appearance and his appearance in SMTIV, Masakado is a monstrous floating head, and in a good number of his appearances he is classified in the Fury or Zealot demon races. Surprisingly, his daughter Takiyasha has never appeared in any MegaTen games, in spite of being portrayed in certain stories and artwork as a powerful witch. She even appears as the summoner of the giant skeleton Gashadokuro in the painting most widely associated with said immense bony specter.

Anyway, back in the bar, we’ve got quests!

Like this one, which we are way too low profile to be able to accept!

Or this one, which we are also way too low profile to be able to accept!

And…uh…this.

…Is this a joke? It’s written so poorly. Look at all these typos…

Well, it’s the only one we’re qualified to take right now. Gotta start somewhere.

I’m just gonna accept it, okay?

Heading outside after that strange text, we see the green bean again. I may have been lying a bit when I said he wasn’t important.

Y-y-you… You can see me? Right?

Oh, thank heavens! Finally! Someone can see me!

I am the pride of the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado, a Samurai! …Or at least I was.

I fought with Flynn! …We even fought alongside each other, sometimes!

Alas, that was before my untimely death. Now I have no place to call home

If you couldn’t guess, Navarre is a braggart and a liar. His role in SMTIV involved him being a brief antagonist in the first dungeon before nearly dying to a flower demon and then promptly disappearing from the story. He’s back, having had some sort of event to be revealed later that actually did put an end to his life.

I shall be coming with you! No buts!

Navarre forces his way into your party.

Uh…are you talking to yourself?

For all his bragging, Navarre actually is pretty useful. His partner role is learning buff skills, and he starts out with both Tarukaja (ups Physical damage) and Makakaja (ups Magic damage).

Oh, and thanks to Boss upgrading our phones to officially licensed Hunter gear, we now have access to Notes and Inbox. Inbox shows emails from other Hunters, while Notes collects information on various subjects. These subjects range from major characters and events such as Flynn and God’s Plan to stuff like this:

With all that taken care of, Ueno awaits.

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#17

EDIT: It’s been decided, the fusions and locations will be put in separate posts.

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#18

I would say keep the fusions and other stuff in a separate post to prevent breaking up the flow.

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#19

I agree with keeping fusion stuff in separate posts.

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#20

Welcome to the first Hunter’s Notes! As stated before, these will be supplementary posts tied to the latest update, showing “wild” demons, new demon fusions (as in demons we haven’t seen in the wild and I plan on utilizing), and anything that I happened to catch that I had missed before.

Mechanics I Missed

While collecting demons for fusion, I had this Fomorian suffer both Panic and Sick, and then beg for its life after its ally died in a horrific conflagration (fun fact: each type of damage has a specific kill animation for non-boss demons, the one above being for Fire). This is a thing that can happen if you have severely beaten up an enemy force and the one remaining demon is scared out of its wits by your might, and basically acts as a free negotiation. Getting the Threatening Aura app makes these beggings more likely to happen.

Equipment

Heading back into Kinshicho, it’s time to get a new wardrobe. All of the Warclothes provide +21 HP over the +10 our base outfit has, as well as resistance to one element: Fire for Crimson Warclothes, Ice for Blue Warclothes, and Electricity for Yellow Warclothes. I got the yellow one due to Aniel.

The Warclothes for the other parts of the body also cost 880 macca, so there’s no way we’re buying them right now. All three of the Warclothes pants have +21 HP and +3 Agility, compared to the +10 HP and no Agility boost our regular leggings have. Warclothes headgear has +11 HP (our regular hair has +5), with varying appearance and stat boosts for each color: +2 Magic and +2 Luck for Crimson, +1 Magic and +3 Luck for Blue, and +3 Magic and +1 Luck for Yellow.

Wild Demon Encounters: Kinshicho Shopping Center

Slime is a level 2 Foul, and basically useless as a combatant. It’s weak to every type of damage other than Gun and Dark, and on the affinities end it gets +2 to Ailment, -1 to support, and -3 to all of its elemental weaknesses. It does have an early HP drain ability if you want that, but that’s about it.

Caladrius, if you recall, was Manabu’s demon of choice. It’s weak to Gun and Dark, with its affinities being +2 Healing, -1 Support, -3 Dark, and -4 Gun. It starts off with Dia, which heals a little bit of HP for one party member, but that doesn’t save it from being aggressively mediocre.

Legion on the left is is a level 4 demon of the Spirit race. While it’s weak to Electricity and Light, it resists Dark, and it starts out with two skills: Lunge (a weak single-target Physical skill that has low accuracy but a high chance of getting critical hits) and Dream Needle (effectively Needle Gun with an added bonus of a 70% chance to put the targeted foe to sleep). You can also level it up to get Zan, the weak single-target skill for Force. Its affinities are +2 Ailment, -1 Healing, and -3 Electricity and Light. There are honestly worst starting demons you could pick than this guy. I didn’t pick one up in this fight, but grabbed one later before leaving the area.

Goblin, over to the right, is a level 3 Fairy. He has one of the highest Strength scores of any of the demons around here, as well as a +3 Physical affinity, meaning that he’s not bad for a pure Phys bruiser. Unfortunately, he’s weak to both Gun and Electricity, and his only skills are Gram Slice (basically just Attack but with an MP cost) at the start and Lunge at level 4.

It’s worthy of note that sometimes Legion will come flanked with two Slimes rather than a Goblin. This does not, in fact, make a scarier fight. Similarly, Goblin sometimes runs with a Sudama rather than a Legion.

Mandrake’s a pretty simple demon. It’s only weak to Fire, and its affinities are +3 to Ailment, +1 to Healing, and -3 to Fire. The fact that it was willing to become my demon without any negotiations whatsoever was a good choice on its part, as I made it my goal to get a Mandrake one way or another.

Mandrakes have a relatively high Luck and Agility stat letting them hit fast and strike often. It starts out with Shibaboo, which has a 50% chance of inflicting the Bind/Paralyze element. Bind is annoying in that it has the bound individual just skip their part of the turn for as long as they keep the ailment.

Onmoraki is an average low-level demon. It’s got a weakness to Gun and Ice, its affinities are +2 to Fire, -3 to Ice, and -4 to Gun, and it starts out with Agi, the Fire equivalent of Bufu, Zio, etc. It also gains the skill Mana Bonus at level 6, upping its max MP by 10%. It’s not necessarily the best passive skill in the game, but it’s nice to have early on when some of your demons don’t really have that much MP to work with.


As I was starting to note earlier, Fomorians are a clan of monstrous warriors in Celtic mythology that oppose the gods and demigods of the Tuatha de Danann. Fomorian is weak to Fire but resists Ice, has a +2 to Physical and +1 to Gun for its positive affinities, and most importantly it knows the move Head Crush from the get-go. This is a weak single-target Physical attack that can inflict the Daze ailment. While some MegaTens have Daze/Dizzy drain MP like Poison drains HP, in this one it’s basically just a variant of Bind.

Wild Demon Encounters: Kinshi Park

Other than Katakirauwa, Caladrius, and Fomorian, all of the things in here are new encounters for us.

Decarabia’s presence here is…really weird. If you’re familiar with MegaTen games, you’ll know that Decarabia usually shows up as a mid-level demon with a dickish tendency to cast blocking skills and waste your time. Here, it’s just an unimpressive Magic-focused starter demon that is weak to Gun and Light, resists Dark, has +1 Ice affinity but -4 Gun affinity, and has the skills Bufu and Agi.

As far as early Magic-based demons, you could do worse than Nadja. She’s the first demon we’ve seen that starts out with Zan rather than learns it later. She can also learn Dia and Posumudi, the latter being a healing skill that removes the Poison or Sick ailment. She is weak to Ice but resists Force, and her skill affinities are Force +1, Healing +2, and Ice -3.


As a vampire, you probably won’t be surprised that Strigoii has Life Drain. Perhaps more surprising is that he’s the demon that gives us our first medium damage attack, at a point where very few demons have that kind of damage output. Poison Claw is a medium Physical damage to a foe, with a bonus of having a 70% chance of inflicting Poison. He can also learn Mudo at level 8. Mudo is a weak single-target Dark attack, and if the user is Smirking they also gain a 30% chance of instantly killing the foe.

Kabuso, the demon on the left, is a level 6 Beast with a weakness to Electricity and resistance to Ice. It starts out with Bouncing Claw, a weak Physical attack that deals one to three attacks on a single foe, and leveling up gets it Poison Claw at level 7 and Dia at level 8.

Porewit in the middle’s a level 7 Wilder who is weak to Ice and resists Fire. As it has Agi as a starting skill and learns Lunge at level 8, it’s not particularly amazing in spite of the glorious weirdness that is its design.


The guy hanging out with the Fomorian and Strigoii here is Garrote, a level 7 Spirit. He resists Gun and Dark but is weak to Fire and Light. Combat-wise, Garrote is another Ailment-heavy demon, with a +3 Ailment affinity and the skills Cough (90% chance of sickening one foe) and Dormina (90% chance of Sleep) as the two he gets without leveling up, Poisma at level 8, and Binding Claw (Medium physical damage on one foe with a 35% chance to inflict Bind) at level 9. You can also find this ghastly twitching spirit in the overworld around Kinshicho and Ueno, hanging out with Jack the Ripper.

Finally, we have Mamedanuki. As a tanuki, the way it’s making that cyclops head above its real one to fool you is via its magic scrotal sac. Lovely! It’s weak to Gun but resists both Fire and Ice, and has the affinities of Ailment +2 and Gun -5. Mamedanuki’s starting skills are Lunge, which we’ve seen before, and Pulinpa, which is an Ailment infliction skill with a 90% chance to inflict Panic. Panic makes the sufferer have a chance to use a random skill or skip their turn rather than do their intended action. As you might guess, it’s more annoying on an ally than it is when you inflict it on an enemy.

Wild Demon Encounters: Overworld (Kinshicho)

There are also some demons that appear in the overworld map around Kinshicho and Sky Tower that we haven’t met yet.

Hooligan’s a level 10 demon of the Foul race. This guy has a weakness to Ice and Force, but resists Gun and Electricity. He’s interesting in that he actually has an alternative basic attack, dealing two Gun attacks on a target rather than the usual single Physical strike most demons have. This, combined with his high Dexterity, will make him a workhorse in these early areas that have a fair number of demons weak to Gun. I had already fused one before I encountered this one in a blown-out crater.

On top of innately coming with Madness Needle, leveling up Hooligan gets him Toxic Sting (weak Gun damage plus a 70% chance of Poisoning the target) at level 11 and Attack Knowhow (the demon can use damaging consumable items just like Nanashi is innately able to) at level 12.

Dybbuk is weak to Ice and Light, with a resistance to Dark. What may surprise you is that while two of his affinities are +2 to Ailment and +1 to Dark, he also gets a +1 to Healing, making him one of the few Dark-Chaos demons that is interested in helping as well as harming. Dybbuk comes pre-packaged with Mudo, and gains the skills Hard Worker (the demon gets a bit more Experience Points from battle) at level 11 and Patra (heal one party member of any Ailment other than Sick or Poison) at level 12.

The ever-active Gremlin has a weakess to Fire and Force and resistance to Ice and Electricity. It starts out with Bufu, gaining Dream Fist at level 9 and Zio at level 10. All of its stats are slight above-average, so you could probably fuse one up with pretty much anything besides a Fire or Force skill and it’d do okay. It also deals one to three Physical attacks rather than just one as its normal attack. This is not as great as you’d think, as its Strength is completely unimpressive.

Fusions

Fusing Mandrake and Decarabia gets us this handsome gent. His starting skill is Tetanus Cut, the effects of which you can see here. Sick is a rather nasty ailment that drops the afflicted’s Physical strength by 25% and bottoms out their evasion. By leveling him up, you gain the skills Mudo (a weak damage single-target skill for the Dark element, with a 30% chance of instantly killing the foe if Jack is Smirking) at level 9 and Light Life Aid (gain a little bit of HP back after a battle is won) at level 10.

The origins of Jack the Ripper are written in cold, blood-stained facts rather than mythology and folklore. This infamous serial killer murdered sex workers in the Whitechapel district of London during 1888. Not only did he strike fear into the populace in the heat of the moment, the lack of a confirmed identity and the grisly mutilation of his victims has given him immortality in the form of numerous attempts to puzzle out his true name and motives, stacks of documentaries and literature concerning the Whitechapel murders, and numerous appearances in works of fiction. In Shin Megami Tensei, he has taken on a more cartoonish appearance to match the other demons in the ‘Jack family’ such as Jack Frost and Jack-o’Lantern/Pyro Jack

The fiery Pele was an instrumental part of our stall-victory over Aniel. Through leveling up, she gains the skills Hard Worker (get a bit more experience points from battles) and Healing Knowhow (the demon can use healing consumables just like Nanashi can) at levels 8 and 9 respectively.

Pele is the Hawaiian goddess of fire (especially volcanoes) and storms, the latter being a force of nature whose dominion is shared with many of her sisters. She is a respected goddess for her might and her control over aspects of the Hawaiian islands that can either bring forth life or rain down destruction.

Fusing a Caladrius and Katakirauwa together makes Fuxi. Not a spectacular demon, but I needed one for a recipe.

Mythology-wise, Fuxi comes from the Chinese classical text Shan Hai Jing, being an omen of war and strife. It dwells upon Mt. Tai, a place filled with spirits.

Jack the Ripper and Goblin create Dwarf. Dwarf is strong and your friend, and the combination of Dwarf getting Head Crush at level 10 and inheriting Jack’s Tetanus Claw allows him to do some lovely things with that Strength score of his.

You probably know of dwarves by now. Born akin to maggots in the flesh of the primordial giant Ymir, these legendary Norse beings were master smiths and craftsmen that dwelled underground.

_Porewit and Fomorian gives us Mothman. I love this goofball so much. Look at his widdle face. :3: _

Mothman is a cryptid that was purportedly seen in and around Point Pleasant, West Virginia, in the late 1960s. It had a bird-like appearance and huge glowing red eyes. In spite of its disturbing appearance, Mothman was never directly associated with any purported attacks on people, and some even claimed it was some manner of omen for the Silver Bridge collapse. Of course, in reality, it is most likely that these reports were of misidentified cranes or owls, but why let that put out the fire of a good monster story?

Fuxi and Decarabia form Zhu Tun She. It, like Fuxi, is part of the continuing chain of fusions for an end-goal that probably won’t happen until the end of the current quest.

Another beast of Chinese mythology, Zhu Tun She is a strange furry pig-lizard, an anomalous creature without any deeper lore behind it.

Combining Mamedanuki and Nadja, we create Agathion. It’s a pretty useful demon to have at the very beginning of the game like this, given that its level ups have two pretty good Electricity spells: Zionga at level 14 is our single-target medium damage Electric attack, while Mazio at level 15 is weak Electric damage to all foes.

Agathions are familiars, or familiar spirits, from occultist lore that can take the form of a human or animal, and is tied to talismans, bottles, or rings. It appears during the day rather than at night, and its powers are strongest at noon.

Finally, Centaur and Garrote makes Preta. It gets Mudo at level 13, and Mabufu (the Ice equivalent of Mazio) at level 14. One of its innate skills that I didn’t actually put on mine is Bad Company, a skill that summons the highest level demon from your stock into an empty slot for 15 MP. If you like that sort of thing, feel free to take it, but it’s not really my style.

Found in Buddhism and Hinduism alike, the preta is a rather pitiable ghost with a distended stomach and tiny neck, forever hungry for grotesque substances such as fecal matter, corpses, or blood. Their suffering is karmic penance for tremendous greed or jealousy in life.

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