SMT really should not be afraid to tell stories post by u/KazuyaProta
SMT really should not be afraid to tell stories
They have worsened instead of improved.
Now that SMT V is out, the overall consensus is that mechanically and graphically, its the ultimate Shin Megami Tensei experience. But that the plot is lacking...even by SMT standards.
Unlike his most famous spin-off Persona, SMT isn't know for doing characterization, but even when compared to other games, SMT V is...odd.
But this isn't a issue started on V, but rather is a issue carried somehow...since the SNES era.
SMT I and II have some of the most ambitious stories ever told in a SNES game, the amount of stuff in those games is massive and notorious. The destruction of Tokyo, the Great Flood, Tokyo Destinyland, the rise of Tokyo Millenium and its graphic social division, Zayin's rebellion, Aleph's travel to the Abyss, the rampage of Kuzuryu, the Meggido Ark destroying Earth and a New Eden.
A lot of those moments are iconic and have continued to be rehashed on other games...and that is the issue.
A lot of SMT IV and V rehash the past games a lot.
Nocturne and Strange Journey got praise by telling original stories, even with my own complains over them.
I don't even have issues with IV rehashing some plots of the first games, as IV was openly a sort of "grand return to the basics" and IVA, while criticized for its overuse of anime tropes, actually did the impossible and actually added more stuff to the franchise' lore by explaining more about the setting instead of leaving it on vague lines spoken by a boss.
You expect the writers of V to avoid the issues of IVA of using too much of a lighthearted tone on a mainline SMT while keeping a engaging story, right?
No. Most bosses are basically checkpoints as you advance on the story. You can beat the Minotaur/ Matador equivalent of the game and even then, you don't even get a clue of what's up. Its only after several hours of game where you actually get the stuff happening.
And when watched back to back without the open space of gameplay and sidequests (many of them telling larger stories and character arcs that our own protagonists), the story is...amazingly rushed.
The new Alignment reps are Dazai, Yuzuru and Yakumo.
Of them, the only one that genuinely has an arc is Dazai, who is one of the most clear examples of Unintentionally Sympathetic that I've seen.
The game does a lot of things to paint Dazai badly, from admitting that he allowed his crush to be bullied out of fear and his loyalty to Abdiel being shown as him openly renouncing his free will. Heck, even his transformation into a full Law follower is basically the game admitting that they don't know how to handle Law without being antagonistic towards it.
Dazai starts to scream about how Humanity needs a single God and that he wants to provide them with that, he throws his hat and sickles his head as Abdiel gives him a unexplained holy glow-up to turn Dazai from a dorky youtuber into a anime villain Chad face before he does a evil laught.
SMT does portray Law negatively, but Dazai doing a evil laught as he plans to take over the world is so over the top even by those standards (and weird, as Law usually is characterized for their stoicism and coldness).
And yet he became popular because he is the only character with a actual arc. Its that weird.
Leaving V alone because the rant is not about V itself, SMT is a frachise that feels...self crippled.
SMT 1 and 2 had some of the most wordy stories on the SNES with some cutscenes matching the scope of their plots. But since then, the franchise refuses to attempt this sort of grand storylines.
Nocturne is deliberately minimalist, so we can allow that, I guess. IV rehashes a lot of I and II story elements, but tries its own things regarding the whole Backstory of Tokyo and Mikado, IVA does a lot of Shonen stuff, but at least tries its own stuff, so we can give them that.
V seemed like a grand chance to try to reach a grand storyline that would put the game in the radar to be discussed for a long time by using the lessons learned on the IV duology (ie. Mixing a focus on a good setting and backstory with longer dialogues while avoiding the overuse of shonen tropes)...but nope, we're discussing the ethimology of the terminology more that the story itself.
This is why Persona has overcome Mainline, Persona actually bothers to tell stories. Yeah, I know its because the social links and the waifu simulator, but...man, I think that we discussed more the P5 lore that the SMT V lore.
...This is sad.