Another year, another abandoned Shin Megami Tensei game, haha. I played about halfway through Persona 3 last year, and I've been hacking away at Shin Megami Tensei IV for 3DS ever since it was released four (!!!) years ago. For this game I got about two thirds of the way through before I had to give up on it out of complete boredom, which I guess is a bit better. :p
I got the game originally because there was a Club Nintendo (R.I.P.) bonus if you bought it and Fire Emblem Awakening, in anticipation of the crossover of the two series which was unnamed at the time but eventually was released as Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE after a lot of delays. I've played bits of earlier games in the series, but although I played through all of Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers I've realized that they're all extremely similar. You could say that of many RPG series, I suppose, but I don't notice it nearly as much as these games. This game uses the 3-D dungeon exploration of its predecessor (called Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne in the US) and the Persona series, and the demon designs, setting, negotiation mechanics (whereby you can recruit demons), and press turn systems are the same as in many of the other games.
This game includes full voice acting, which is great, and it also lets you pass demon skills to your character when your demons level up. It also lets you choose skills to pass onto your fused demons. This helps a bit in making you a little more attached to them, but my main complaint about the series is still that since you're only ever using your demons for a few level ups and always looking to fuse them into more powerful demons there's not enough to make them feel really unique or make you care much about them. Aside from this, everything, even the story, felt overly familiar. The first few hours were pretty fun, but after the extended prologue the game settles into a very slow grind of battling, fusing demons, and running around to get to the next quest, with a regular drip of boss battles to break things up.
Aside from all the complaints that the game doesn't change things up enough, at least not for someone like me who isn't super hardcore about the series, I also have to agree with a lot of the other general complaints, namely, that the overworld map is hard to navigate and it's hard to figure out where you're supposed to go next, and that the characters and graphics are pretty bland. After playing quite a few games in the series I'm much more appreciative of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE's colorful palette, more interesting dungeon designs, and break from series conventions. Apparently the direct sequel to this game, Shin Megami Tensei IV Apocalypse, addresses some of the issues, including making improvements to the overworld navigation, but I'm definitely going to take a pass on that. Instead, I'll probably go back to the tactics game Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor first and then get back to TMS. But don't be surprised if I don't see the end of those games either. :p