Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse Game Poster Image
Dark, mature RPG is complex but a bit repetitive.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

General "good vs. evil" theme, defending, justifying existence of humanity. But also heavy religious overtones with main backdrop of heaven, hell, gods of other beliefs waging war over ultimate fate of world.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters, particularly deities, all seem to have hidden agendas, ulterior motives. Still, some characters have deep sense of honor, faith, hope. Even demons operate within strict set of rules, unique moral codes.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, turn-based combat more a matter of strategic planning. Complexity comes in managing your demonic forces via training, fusions, figuring out best ways to recruit/create best versions of creatures to add to your army.

Violence

Combat central to game; players pit teams of demonic creatures against those of enemies. Fair amount of blood shown both in, out of combat, sometimes shown splattered on characters' outfits, pooled up around dead bodies.

Sex

Some demons shown in risqué outfits (or a lack thereof) that showcase their cleavage, occasionally show their bare breasts, buttocks; occasional sexual references in demon descriptions.

Language

Frequent use of "s--t," "a--hole."

Consumerism

Pseudo-sequel/tie-in to Shin Megami Tensei IV. Also part of popular Shin Megami Tensei series, which has spawned many titles in main series, numerous spin-off titles. Also includes many anime, manga titles, various other merchandise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse is a role-playing adventure game. Throughout the game, players interact with a variety of "demons," recruiting the creatures to their cause, training them for battle, and fusing them together to create new demons. Some of the demons and deities are shown in revealing and risqué outfits, which occasionally show partial nudity. Some descriptions of the creatures also include sexual references, while the dialogue is peppered with language such as "s--t" and "a--hole." The game features a fair amount of violence and blood.

User Reviews

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What's it about?

SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI IV: APOCALYPSE is a pseudo-sequel/spin-off, picking up and splitting off from Shin Megami Tensei IV near its finale. In Apocalypse, players take on the role of Nanashi, a teenage Hunter recruit whose job is to drive back demonic forces and recover technological relics from a postapocalyptic Tokyo that's been sealed off from the rest of the world. After a mission goes wrong and Nanashi is killed, it's not the end of his story but the beginning. When a powerful demon named Dagda offers to resurrect Nanashi in return for becoming his "Godslayer," Nanashi agrees. Now it's up to Nanashi and his friends to build an army of demons and take the fight for humanity's survival to gates of both heaven and hell. All the while, players will work to uncover the true motives of the Divine Powers, a group of various gods and goddesses seeking to overthrow the current rule and to free humanity.

Is it any good?

This dark and mature role-playing game is complex and deep, and while it has some repetitive moments, the strength of its story will keep you playing. Apocalypse picks up near the end of the events from Shin Megami Tensei IV, but its story diverges from that game's multiple endings and continues in a direction all its own. Continuing with that "end isn't quite the end theme," the player character dies and gets resurrected during the opening moments, setting up the epic plot. In fact, the entire story is filled with so many twists and turns, secrets and revelations, and other mind-boggling curveballs that you never quite know what's waiting around the next corner.

Still, it pretty much follows the same formula as the previous games. First off, the content is a bit more graphic and frightening, and the story's overall focus on demons, angels, and various deities is definitely too dark for kids.  For older gamers, there's a fair amount of repetition as you battle against and negotiate with demonic creatures, trying to recruit them and add them to your collection. It's a bit of a grind but also a necessary evil, since you'll quickly get outmatched if you don't spend the time upgrading your forces. Still, it's fun to see what sorts of creatures you come across, and the story is worth putting up with a bit of repetition.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about mythology and religion. What are some of the ways that mythology and religion affect people's lives, and what are the best ways to respect the beliefs of others?

  • Talk about dealing with mature content in games. What are some examples of content in games that would not be appropriate for children? What are some of the effects this content can have on younger kids?

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