Shin Megami Tensei V (Switch, 2021) Review

It's taken me way longer to clear this game than it really should have. From very early on it always felt rather unpolished to me, but I still enjoyed it a great deal. Navigating through the Chiyoda region was pretty annoying and whatever region came before that was somewhat bland, but all in all I really enjoyed exploring the game maps. The game world overall has a great atmosphere to it. People often compare this entry to Nocturne, but I feel that Shin Megami Tensei V is it's own unique experience.

Combat

I enjoyed the combat system in general, but it's not without its flaws. Especially technically it feels really sluggish compared to the smooth combat feel of SMT IV on 3DS. It's awkward that auto-battle can't be turned on during enemy turns. Even when auto-battle is active it's not as smooth and fast as its been in previous games.
While new skills and Omagatoki specials add new depth to the combat, it's also become ridiculously easy to completely break the game. Equipping any demon with the mightiest skills in the game has become a complete no-brainer. It's similarly easy to cover demon weaknesses now. At this point the game desperately needs an almighty instant kill skill for bosses so that they can actually kill and potentially upset any decent players' flow.
Not only due to how strongly level factors in damage calculations, bosses later on die in just a couple of turns when you know what you're doing. Superbosses on the other hand I wish weren't so tight encounters that you need specific skills on your demons to deal with them. It sort of breaks the RPG spirit in my book because being able to develop my characters however I like is really important to me. Combat animations are in general horrendously slow. Good thing they're skippable, but ideally they'd just be shorter so they could provide eye candy while not taking up so much time between actions in combat.

Story

My opinion here is the popular one that the game would have been better off with a lot more "show, don't tell". There are good ideas and most characters are fine, but there is so little time spent on the characters and their developments that it's difficult to feel with them. The nuance the true neutral ending added to the story wasn't explored enough. In general there's this feeling in the air that the writers made things up as they went along.
I'm also in agreement that having one or two choices at the end of the game solely decide the ending is pretty lame for any game featuring multiple endings.

Visuals

Characters and demons have a distinct glossy and artificial look to them that I'm not a fan of. There's also something distinctively bland about the open world environments' look and feel. But honestly the game looks fine regardless, especially character faces make up for the otherwise somewhat cheap look. It just lacks the sort of character Nocturne brought to the table with it's unique cel-shaded style.

I'm also not a fan of the designs of most interface elements, but managed to get used to the look anyways. It's not a deal breaker I suppose.

Sound

Overally the soundtrack didn't impress me much compared to that of SMT III or IV, but it's still solid and has a lot of great tracks. The Taito region's background music and the Shiva battle theme stuck out for me in particular (but that's not to say these make up the entirety of gems the soundtrack has to offer).

Summary

My biggest gripes with the game are honestly the protagonist's design (especially when transformed) and that the fiends and ultimate super boss are bound DLC. It's a solid game that just needs polish around its corners. Personally it ranks somewhere next to Shin Megami Tensei IV, righ below Nocturne. I'm looking forward to what's next in the series.