Shin Megami Tensei 5 is one of the most anticipated games of 2021, and along with a remaster of Shin Megami Tensei 3, fans series have a lot to look forward to this year. After all, it’s no secret that Atlus had a phenomenal 2020 with the massive success of Persona 5 Royal and the PC port of Persona 4 Golden.
Looking to replicate last year’s successes, Atlus could make 2021 a definitive year for the Shin Megami Tensei franchise if it markets the series right. For the first time in publisher history, Shin Megami Tensei 5 will be a simultaneous global release meaning Western fans won’t have to wait for a localization. With this in mind, it’ll be exciting to see where Atlus decides to take the Shin Megami Tensei series in 2021.
Although Shin Megami Tensei has been around for three decades, it wasn’t until recently that Atlus made an effort to translate and bring the games to the West. The Shin Megami Tensei games used to form the core of the series, while games like Persona and Devil Summoner were considered spin-offs, at least until Persona began making its own name for itself. Although the Shin Megami Tensei games share certain elements with its spinoffs such as recruiting, fusing, and summoning demons, the games usually have a heavier emphasis on dungeon crawling and combat mechanics.
Shin Megami Tensei is very different from what Persona fans might be accustomed to. Featuring a much darker, post-apocalyptic tone and higher difficulty, the Shin Megami Tensei series has often drawn comparisons to the Dark Souls franchise. While the Persona series is split between dungeons and character building via social links, Shin Megami Tensei series opts for longer dungeons and a more robust combat system.
Though it isn’t as popular as the big JRPG franchises like Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, Shin Megami Tensei maintains a strong following in both Japan and the West, and has generated critical acclaim. Shin Megami Tensei 5 will be the first mainline game in five years, and 2021 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for fans of the series.
At this point, it’s evident that the Persona series has far eclipsed the popularity of Shin Megami Tensei, particularly in the West. Despite original being a spinoff of Shin Megami Tensei, Persona has proven to be a lot more accessible with its lighter tone and lower difficulty. In order for Shin Megami Tensei 5 to reach the level of success that Persona 5 achieved, Atlus will need to find strategies to market the series properly.
Beyond just comparisons to Persona 5, Atlus should try to play off the strengths of the Shin Megami Tensei series as well. Catering towards a demographic that enjoys retro-style difficulty and dungeon-crawling mechanics can go a long way in reaching a larger audience, and highlighting the difficulty of the series as a strength like the Dark Souls franchise is also important. Over the years, the Shin Megami Tensei series has also become known for its mature content and thought-provoking stories. Marketing the game around these strengths will likely help Shin Megami Tensei 5 attract newcomers to the series.
One important thing to note is that Shin Megami Tensei 5 looks to be a Nintendo Switch exclusive. This shouldn’t be surprising for fans of the series considering the dungeon-crawling mechanics are more suited for handheld consoles and the past few mainline Shin Megami Tensei games have all appeared on the Nintendo 3DS. Although PC and PS5 owners might be disappointed, it’s important to note that Atlus’s stance on ports seem to have shifted in the past few years.
Following the massive success of Persona 4 Golden on Steam, Sega has stated that it wants to bring more Atlus games to the PC and is more receptive to the idea of ports as a whole. In fact, Atlus recently released a survey asking players about their interest in Nintendo Switch ports of series like Persona, Shin Megami Tensei, Etrian Odyssey, Catherine, Devil Summoner, and more. Although Shin Megami Tensei will likely not appear on other consoles at the time of its release, Atlus appears to be more open to the idea of ports and remakes.
Another big reason why 2021 may be a definitive year for the Shin Megami Tensei series is because Atlus announced a full remake of Shin Megami Tensei 3. Known as Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne in the West, it was originally released 17 years ago for the PS2. The game was released to both critical and commercial success and, as a result, was the first mainline Shin Megami Tensei game to be released in the West. It generated a cult following in the years after its release and is often considered a classic in the JRPG genre.
The Shin Megami Tensei 3 remaster will be in full HD and has a release date of spring 2021 for the PS4 and Nintendo Switch. Given the recent success of Persona 4 Golden, there have also been rumors that Shin Megami Tensei 3 will appear on PC later on. For players new to the game, Shin Megami Tensei 3 tells the tale of Demi-fiend, a high school student in Tokyo who gets caught in the middle of the apocalypse. Demi-fiend soon runs into the devil, Lucifer, granting him the ability to control demons.
The Japanese version of the Shin Megami Tensei 3 remaster was released last year in October. Including a number of new features such as fully voiced cutscenes and additional difficulty settings, fans can expect the English release to have similar changes. The most interesting change is the new “Merciful” difficulty setting which makes the game easier for players who just want to experience the story and different endings. With this option available, Shin Megami Tensei 3 will be a lot more accessible to newcomers, and there’s a good chance that Shin Megami Tensei 5 will feature a similar option.
With the announcement of both Shin Megami Tensei 5 and the Shin Megami Tensei 3 remaster, 2021 may be one of the most important years for the Shin Megami Tensei franchise. Looking to replicate the recent success of the Persona series, Atlus has made Shin Megami Tensei more accessible and marketable leading up to both releases. If Atlus plays their cards right, Shin Megami Tensei 5 has the potential to be massive, and the future of the franchise will depend on its success. Along with the announcement of Shin Megami Tensei 5 as the first simultaneous worldwide release for Atlus, fans and newcomers to the series will have plenty to look forward to in 2021.
Shin Megami Tensei 5 releases in 2021 for the Nintendo Switch