Which Version Of Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance Should You Play?

Which Version Of Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance Should You Play?

One of the most impactful decisions you’ll make in Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance comes right at the start of the game. Standing at a literal crossroads, you see a girl suspended in the air. Ominous voices explain that she will lead the world into chaos and ruin, and if you take her hand, you will enter into “a world yet unknown.” The game then asks you if you’ll take her hand, but what, exactly, are you getting yourself into with this decision?

The decision to take the girl’s hand will determine which story path you’ll take in Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance. If you refuse to take her hand, you’ll embark on the Canon of Creation. This is the story that was featured in the 2021 original version of Shin Megami Tensei V, albeit with some new quests and quality of life changes. However, if you do take her hand, you’ll experience the Canon of Vengeance instead. This is the new story path, in which this mysterious girl will change key story beats and ultimately affect the outcome of the plot.

The game will explain all this after you make your choice, and it will give you the chance to alter your decision after explicitly telling you which path you’re about to take. However, once you make your decision, it’s set in stone for the rest of the game.

Screenshot: Atlus

Can you play the Canon of Vengeance first?

If you’ve already played Shin Megami Tensei V, you’ll naturally want to play the Canon of Vengeance right off the bat. But if you’re new to Shin Megami Tensei V, is it okay to start with the Canon of Vengeance?

As per Atlus themselves, both of the canons are completely standalone stories that you can play in whatever order you’d like. Vengeance doesn’t rely on the player having pre-existing knowledge of the Creation path, so you’re free to pick whichever option sounds best to you.

I can personally attest to this, since this is my first time playing Shin Megami Tensei V, and the Vengeance path has been perfectly comprehensible so far. Nearly every plot point has been properly explained, and in the rare times that I’ve felt confused by the plot, I’ve often received an explanation within an hour or two of gameplay. Shin Megami Tensei V can occasionally feel vague, but rest assured that this is by design.

Screenshot: Atlus

Is the Canon of Vengeance better than the Canon of Creation?

I’m hesitant to say something as subjective as one story is “better” than the other. You’ll find Shin Megami Tensei fans who say the story of the fifth game was a disappointment, while others will say it was just fine. Nonetheless, I’d suggest new players choose Vengeance if they want the superior first experience, simply because of one neat gameplay gimmick.

Exclusive to the Vengeance story are Guest characters. In short, you can occasionally use the other human characters you travel with in your party, complete with their own sets of skills that they can learn as they level up. For instance, in the opening areas of the game, Vengeance has you travel with Yoko Hiromine (that’s the girl whose hand you took). She can hit three different elemental weaknesses, has a heal skill to use in a pinch, and she can even debuff the enemy’s Attack stat. Also, her passive ability lets her automatically revive any demons at the end of combat as long as she’s in the party.

In other words, Guest characters are really useful! If you’re still wrapping your head around the team-building aspects of Shin Megami Tensei V, you can almost always rely on your guest party members in a pinch. They don’t take up slots in your party list either, so you can still construct your own army of demons to use if you’d prefer. Even as someone who really enjoys fusing the perfect monsters to counter specific boss battles, I found myself using Yoko a lot in the early game of the Vengeance story.

For this reason alone, I’d say Vengeance is the ideal choice for first-time players of Shin Megami Tensei V. If you’d like to experience the stories in their release order, then you should start with the Canon of Creation. Otherwise, just follow your heart and choose whichever option sounds most appealing to you. You can’t really go wrong either way.


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