Shin Megami Tensei IV is the fourth main entry in Atlus's Shin Megami Tensei series of role-playing games and the first to be developed for the Nintendo 3DS. It will be released in Japan on May 23, 2013, in North America on July 16, 2013. The European release followed over a year later in September 2014 as a download-only title released at budget price. The game was initially announced during E3 2010 under the name Shin Megami Tensei 3DS on a list of titles in development for the platform and was officially announced as Shin Megami Tensei IV on May 30, 2012.
Further details were divulged by Atlus consumer software head Naoto Hiraoka in a Famitsu interview, who said that the game will feature a proper evolution of series mechanics and gameplay along with a battle system that will retain influence from past titles. The game is being directed by Kazuyuki Yamai, who had previously directed the Maniacs edition of Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne as well as both Raidou Kuzunoha entries in the Devil Summoner series. Other members of the team behind Nocturne Maniacs are also involved in the game's development. Demon designs are being provided by a collection of designers that have previous experience designing characters for tokusatsu action series such as Kamen Rider and Super Sentai, including Yasushi Nirasawa, Tamotsu Shinohara, Yoshihiro Nishimura, Keita Amemiya, and Aki Kyouma. The human character designs are being provided by Masayuki Doi, who previously worked on the art and character design in the Wii title Trauma Team.
A preview trailer for the game was included in the 3DS remake of Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers, which was released on August 30, 2012 in Japan. This trailer was the first look at the game and revealed the game's third-person map exploration, comic-style cutscenes, and voice acting.
Shin Megami Tensei IV tells the tale of a group of samurai that live in the fictional nation of East Mikado, a nation that shares similarities with Europe of the middle ages. The player takes the role of a samurai wielding a gauntlet that allows him to summon demons in order to explore a demon-infested Tokyo. The dynamic between that of Mikado and Tokyo and how the two are related forms the crux of the game's storyline.
Characters include the silent protagonist and his fellow inhabitants of East Mikado: Walter, Jonathan, Isabeau, and Navarre. In an extended trailer released at Tokyo Game Show 2012, it showed Steven, the wheelchair-bound Stephen Hawking analogue from Shin Megami Tensei I and II who bestowed the demon-summoning COMP to those games' protagonists.
The game will retain the series tradition of branching alignment paths that will change the outcome of the story based on player choices. Characters that are presented as central to the story and the alignment system are Tayama, head of a demon negotiation group in Tokyo; Kaga, prodigy of the chaotic Ring of Gaea; and the Black Samurai, the liminal figure with knowledge of Tokyo and East Mikado. The designs and dispositions of the hot-headed Walter and demure Jonathan also seem to frame the two as the Chaos Hero and Law Hero respectively.
Similar to most games in the series, Shin Megami Tensei IV's combat takes place from a first-person perspective. The battle system is based on the Press-Turn System found in earlier Megami Tensei titles, including Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne. Enemies are depicted as animated sprites, similar to Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey. The game will feature over 400 demons in total, a series record.
Demon negotiation plays out more similarly to Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne's style, in that demons will foremost ask for items and an opinion instead of success hinging entirely on ontological questions with random correct responses as in other titles like Strange Journey and Soul Hackers. Demons will learn extra skills upon leveling up, as in Nocturne. Skill mutation also returns, but is tweaked in that demons will reveal what the mutated skill will be ahead of time instead of the result being left to chance.
Should the player's party be wiped out in combat, the game includes a new feature that allows purchase of another attempt from Charon, ferryman of the dead in Greek myth, with a certain number of Play Coins or Macca. In addition, an optional easier difficulty can be selected after multiple game overs.
A new feature in Shin Megami Tensei IV's battle system is called "Smirking," which provides a new twist on the Press Turn system. Friends or foes may activate this Smirking state by either making use of their own passive elemental voids or exploiting enemy weaknesses. Until their next turn, a Smirking unit will be given both a damage boost and make them nearly impossible to target with an attack. HP and SP are fully restored if all active party members achieve this state.
The series' defining demon fusion mechanic returns as an app for the protagonists gauntlet, allowing anywhere-fusion like Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers and Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey. Released trailers have shown the use of up to four demons at once during fusion. Though not tied to the traditional location, the Cathedral of Shadows' Master appears within the app as a disembodied head avatar. The application will give players a readout of currently available fusion results, similar to Soul Hackers and the Devil Survivor series, and also recommend demons to use. The traditional compendium feature will also be available to repurchase allied demons.
Additionally, some demons are capable of evolution via level growth, similar to Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne.
The main mechanic allowing the main character to expand his skill set, Whisper Events let the player learn new skills from demons who are already part of the active party. Upon leveling up, the allied demon will approach the main character similar to a conversation event and initiate the copying of one skill from the demon's moveset, working similarly to Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne's Magatama system, though more free-form. Players are restricted from learning passive, summoning, and map skills from demons, but offensive, healing, and buffing skills are unrestricted. The player can also learn as many skills from a single demon as he or she wishes.
Besides weapons and accessories, Shin Megami Tensei IV's protagonist can equip different costume pieces on his head, body, and legs. Aside from defensive benefits, donning these costumes will change his appearance on the world map. Similar to Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers and Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, this equipment will also determine the protagonist's elemental resistances and weaknesses.
Different types of costume sets will include original designs, armor of specific demons such as Cu Chulainn, Yoshitsune, Camael, and Siegfried, and special DLC armor sets. The Japanese release will also include exclusive costumes available by preordering from select Japanese retailers including Lawson and Tsutaya. The North American release will feature similar retailer-specific preorder costumes from outlets such as Gamestop and Amazon.
World exploration takes place from a third-person perspective in fully 3D environments that offer more interaction than previous games in the series. Enemy encounters are also visible on the map, rather than purely random.
Over 100 side quests are available in the form of "Challenge Quests", wherein players are free to pursue requests from demons and other non-playable characters.
The Japanese release of Shin Megami Tensei IV will feature a special limited edition 3DS XL bundle with the the game software pre-installed on a system adorned with images of the new demon designs occupying the negative space of a monochrome color scheme. Separately, Famitsu will release a special "DX" version of the game with a wallscroll, t-shirt, postcards and clear file folders.
A "Sound and Art Collection" will also be available as a first-printing bonus for early purchasers of any version of the game. It will include twelve pages of concept art and a one-disc CD of eight selections from the original soundtrack, including music used on the official website.
In addition to the Lawson and Tsutaya costumes, other Japanese retailers will offer their own exclusive pre-order bonuses including posters, wallscrolls, and other incentives.
The first pressing of Shin Megami Tensei IV in North America will include the game, a specially selected music CD that may differ from the Japanese preorder bonus, and a 176 page full-color strategy guide by Prima, all enclosed within a slipcase adorned with Masayuki Doi's cover art.