The best way to describe this series to newcomers would be to imagine a more horror themed version of Pokémon for mature audiences. Shin Megami Tensei V dives even deeper into this concept. Instead of cute and cuddly critters perfect for kiddie cartoons and toy shelves (though there are a few of those), players here build their collection of creatures from the darker side of their imaginations. Some are elegant in their appearance while others are nightmare fuel, but all are powerful and packed with potential. This is a double-edged sword though because, as powerful as these demons may be when they're on your side, they're just as powerful when they're fighting against you as well. In fact, they're often more powerful. The game doesn't shy away from its steep difficulty curve. In order to progress, much less succeed in battles, players will need to spend a lot of time tweaking and enhancing their creatures' abilities, elements, and more, even bulking them up before offering them up as a sacrifice in a fusion ritual. In a series known for its demon management, Shin Megami Tensei V cranks it up to a whole new level.
All of the Shin Megami games have a unique presentation, and this latest entry is more gorgeous than ever. A least it is while everything is static. In motion, the game's animations feel unnaturally stiff. It doesn't really affect the gameplay at all, but it does create a bit of a disconnect from the rest of the game's artistic appeal. The story, while interesting and engaging, can be a bit hard to follow. As an added quirk, you don't always know how a decision you make in the moment will affect the gameplay and story much later down the line. In spite of this, it's still a treat to watch as everything unfolds. Plus, the gameplay elements are extremely well-balanced. Sure, players might need to roam a bit to pick up specific demons, but new features like the passing of the lunar phases mix things up and keep the players from falling into too much of a repetitive loop.