One of 2021's best JRPGs escapes the Switch with a Personal 5 Royal-style expansion in Shin Megami Tensei 5: Vengeance, with updates that will eat 80 hours of my life

Shin Megami Tensei 5 Vengeance Nahobino
(Image credit: Atlus)

2021 was stacked for JRPGs, yet Shin Megami Tensei 5 still managed to win a spot in my personal picks for the year alongside the likes of Bravely Default 2 and Tales of Arise. So it's immensely exciting to see Atlus giving the game a shot in the arm with Shin Megami Tensei 5: Vengeance, an expanded re-release of sorts that should sound familiar to anyone who played Persona 5 Royal. 

Announced at this week's Nintendo Direct showcase, Shin Megami Tensei 5: Vengeance is coming to Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC on June 21, 2024 – the same day as the Elden Ring DLC, to the dismay of my calendar. This is arguably the biggest news since the original game was locked to the Switch, meaning many more players can finally enjoy it. 

Vengeance updates SMT5 with a new storyline said to add 80 hours of content primarily to the middle and final third of the story, as well as sweeping combat and quality-of-life updates that can be enjoyed throughout. It's billed as the "definitive version" of the game, and like Persona 5 Royal – slightly less like Shin Megami Tensei 4: Apocalypse, which followed an alternate timeline entirely – it seems to basically be the same game, but more. However, where Royal simply added an extra chapter to the end of the game, Vengeance features one big decision that essentially splits the story into two routes with different endings. 

Also like Persona 5 Royal, Vengeance has drawn some criticism for offering limited options to players who already own and played the base game. Atlus and Sega are, after all, selling the updated version exclusively as a whole new thing instead of an a la carte add-on. In this case, you can't transfer your save file at all, but you can transfer a whole three demons to the new game's Compendium collection. You'll also get some minor bonuses if you have save data for the original game, but frankly I care way more about playing this on a new-gen console or PC than I do any of that fluff. It looked and ran fine on Switch, in case that's your only platform, but I distinctly remember some occasional choppiness and a few prolonged load times, and SMT5 really deserves better. 

The good news is that, whether this is your first time through or you're coming back for more like me, Vengeance does genuinely sound like a big upgrade to an already great game. The new route – the Canon of Vengeance, as described in a Japanese deep-dive stream with English subtitles – introduces four female demons known as the Qadištu, a group that "stands against the protagonist in order to achieve a certain goal." There's also a new ally character named Yoko Hiromine, who joins up with our returning high school hero and also participates in combat. 

Gameplay improvements are many and varied, too. Here's a quick roundup:

  • All ally demons have a new unique skill
  • You can now interact with your ally demons out in the world 
  • There are more quests, and more freedom in exploration 
  • The Da'at overworld has been updated with a new dungeon, plus new features for "smoother exploration" 
  • Over 40 new demons to defeat, fuse, and/or collect 
  • A chibi take on the protagonist's demigod form is also available as a collectible demon called Nahobiho 
  • "More features to improve the strategy aspect of battle" 
  • Improved auto battle behavior

In a Q&A, director Komori, who previously worked on Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne, explains that Vengeance incorporates many ideas that had to be cut during the development of the original SMT5, with a renewed focus on the demons themselves. He describes Vengeance's new route as "a tale of revenge by the oppressed" that adopts a demon's point of view. It's SMT goodness all the way down, the nearest I can tell, and it's been long enough that I feel ready for a trip back to Da'at. 

The latest entry in the best-kept JRPG secret finally leaves Japan this year.  

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.