Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance Developer Interview Discusses New Characters, Mechanics

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Famitsu had previously published an excerpt of a developer interview for Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance from this week’s issue of Weekly Famitsu magazine #1839. With the release of the issue today, the full interview featuring director Shigeo Komori and character designer Masayuki Doi has been released, and the translated version can be read below.

New Story Scenario

First of all, please tell us about the process involved with planning Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance.

Komori: It seems players enjoyed the previous work, Shin Megami Tensei V, more than we had expected. We received a lot of positive feedback from both within Japan and from international audiences. As players delved deeper into the game, we started to receive feedback that there was room for improvement, and we took a look at those issues.

Doi: For example, we received praise for the quality of models for the demons that were bought into 3D for the first time for the first time since the mainline title Nocturne, but we also had comments stating that there should have been more demons.

The total number has certainly increased. Furthermore, it seems that this work also includes an “expansion” that goes further than just improvements.

Komori: In the previous title, there were many details and background behind the story, but many of these were not touched on in the actual narrative. This was simply because there was no compelling reason to delve deeply into those aspects for depicting the story of the previous game. However, when this project began I started thinking about how to bring these elements into focus. A story about another possibility which could have occurred… This is the idea behind the “Canon of Vengeance” arc.

It seems that players are prompted to choose a route at the beginning of the story, but which should they choose first? 

Komori: If you haven’t played the  previous game’s story, the “Canon of Creation,” it’s perfectly fine to start with the “Canon of Vengeance.” Both stories share the same beginning, but over time various changes will occur in events, conversations and with battles taking place in different locations. Even if you clear one route and then start the other, you will start to feel like the two stories are becoming more and more out of sync, despite following the same world and timeline.

What is the reason for choosing “vengeance” as the theme, as indicated in the title? 

Komori: In the previous work, the “Canon of Creation,” the story revolves around creating a world, and in the background to that, there is the “Snake God” and the “Ox God.” The story of the previous work was, in some aspects, told from the perspective of the Ox God. When you dig deeper into the Snake God, you find legends where it is subjugated by the Ox God and its followers.

Some of these relationships were hinted at in the nuances of the dialogue and designs of the demons, but this was not a main focus of the story. So for Vengeance, we wanted to structure a story from the Snake God’s perspective, a tale of revenge by the oppressed. Our planners, including Doi and the development team then suggested which demons would be appropriate for this approach.

New Characters and Character Changes

Leading this is the four female demons known as the Qadištu, right? This might be an unfamiliar name to many readers, but please tell us how you interpret it in this work.

Doi: The Qadištu is a demon that I strongly proposed and was eventually incorporated. The original “Qadištu” is a Sumerian term, referring to those who served the gods of that era or those in positions similar to priestesses. There are various interpretations of what the Qadištu actually did, but in this work, we interpret it as “the oppressed,” intertwining it with the theme of the story. In expressing the chaotic elements focused on the Snake God, I believe that by introducing demons that tempt people, lead them astray, and bring about ruin would add depth to the story.

Chaotic elements… That’s intriguing. Currently, only Lilith, the leader of the Qadištu, has had her name revealed. May I inquire about her design concept?

Doi: In terms of concept, we aimed to embody the primal form of the female demon as described in the Jewish Talmud and Zohar. We infused the design with defiance against the creator and Adam, along with seductiveness, beauty and ugliness intertwined, typical demon traits, and the dignity of a female demon leader.

How about the new human character called Yoko?

Doi: Actually, there was a time during the development of the previous game when we were considering having Yoko appear. Ultimately, we decided against it, but she plays an important role in depicting the revenge story in this title, so we are very excited to have her included this time.

Along with her interactions with the Qadištu, the addition of new characters to the relationships among the main characters will reveal different aspects of the existing characters compared to the “Canon of Creation” arc. In some cases, the presence of Yoko and the Qadištu may trigger significant changes in the relationships with existing characters as well.

I see. Watching the released PV, Tao’s dialogue seems to suggest that…?

Doi: Tao in the “Canon of Creation” arc appears to be the typical honor student type, but what kind of aspect she will show in the “Canon of Vengeance” arc… I would like you to experience that in the game itself.

Komori: In the previous title, there were many comments expressing how they wished the relationships between characters would have been explored more in depth, so we addressed that in the two main scenarios and additional quests in this game. Through each scenario, you should be able to gain a deeper understanding of each character’s inner workings and motivations

New Mechanics

I assume the evolution of mechanics and new elements will be gradually revealed in future updates, but could you give us a few examples? For instance, in the PV, the protagonist is seen running through the air…?

Komori: That’s the “Magatsu Road,” a feature that makes field exploration more convenient. By finding these locations, you can create shortcuts in your journey and discover new demons, quests, and other enjoyable surprises.

I’m also curious about the special passive skills added to all demons.

Komori: In the previous game, certain demons had unique skills, and we have added to those this time, but there’s also another aspect akin to “traits” that all demons possess. This allows for weaker demons from the previous work to find new utility, or combinations with specific skills might make them strong. It encourages players to try out different compositions than in the previous title.

I see. It seems like a feature where those who enjoy tactical thinking will feel the changes the most.

Komori: Additionally, we’ve added a feature for doubling the battle speed to increase the game tempo, and we’ve revisited level scaling (where enemy strength varies depending on the party’s level), allowing for lower-level parties to defeat stronger enemies with strategy. We’ve adjusted various elements to accommodate different play styles.

Are these system improvements reflected in both main scenarios? 

Komori: Yes, the scenario of the “Canon of Creation” arc has not been changed, however systems have been updated to be similar to the “Canon of Vengeance” arc.

That’s reassuring for those who are playing “V” for the first time. Finally, could you please give a message to players who are looking forward to the game?

Doi: Fans have been waiting for a long time since the release of the previous work, however we are finally ready to deliver this new title. We have prepared a dark and bitter story that emphasizes the essence of Shin Megami Tensei along with its captivating demons. We would be delighted if you could support us in anticipation until the day when you can experience a new Nahobino journey yourself.

Komori: By including new systems which we have not yet been revealed, we have once again placed an emphasis on the existence of demons, and created a game where you can raise and interact with them. I think the finished product is something that I can confidently recommend to fans, so please look forward to it.

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance will be released on Nintendo Switch, PS4/PS5, Steam, Xbox and Windows PC on June 21, 2024 worldwide.