Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse is both a spin-off and follow-up to Shin Megami Tensei IV released in Japan under the title Shin Megami Tensei IV Final. The game is coming to North America this summer, and Zach Welhouse got to try it out for a brief time at E3 in Los Angeles.
Most of the hustle around Atlus's booth was focused on Persona 5, but its sister series wasn't forgotten. Players of Shin Megami Tensei IV will recognize many of its characters and demons from Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, but they'll also encounter new ones. The game starts near the end of the story presented in 2013's battle between law and chaos. From there, it tells a new story with new foes. The version on the show floor was a complete version rather than the canned demos that many publishers provide, befitting the game's summer 2016 release date.
The time I spent with Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocaylpse was brief, but confirms the game continues the Shin Megami Tensei traditions of challenging turn-based combat, monster collecting, and silly moments sprinkled through a dark story. As Nanashi, a surly green dude, I ran through war-torn city streets and ambushed demons. Guards had set up protective fences protecting a shopping district, but beyond there I was on my own. It was just me, the demons, and my demonic pal Centaur. It was good that last guy was with me, since his Bufu ice magic was effective against the zone's monsters. It was so effective that several times he started smirking, gaining a status effect that boosted his damage output and protected against his weaknesses. I could have helped him out, but I was more interested in understanding the demons' problems and winning them to my side. This ambivalence almost killed me, but it did provide some spots of humor in the grim, warring future.
I tried talking to the demons to recruit them, but they were an unpredictable lot with curious whims. One of them, a giant boar, thought humans were too loud. I opined that not all humans were bad, selecting one of three options from a list, but he misheard me. A second demon wanted to play, so I threw him a bone; the happy monster bounced away, making the remaining battle easier. I was unable to collect or fuse any monsters in the demo time allotted, but the demo guide assured me there would be plenty of chances to recruit Shin Megami Tensei favorites including Ixtab and Mara. After recruiting these curious beasts, I could add them to my party or fuse them with my allies to strengthen them. Sadly, the limited time I had with the game prevented me from getting too much into the ins and outs of everything.