Nearing end of game! The game gets insanely tough later on, especially boss battles. There is some DLC available, and more in the works, but I haven't added anything other than the Amazon.com coat (which is not really all that useful past level 8 or 9). I wanted to present a review of the core game. I have heard that a couple of DLC quests are repeatable for massive exp, so I didn't want to add those and change the balance. On a subsequent play through I will load most of the DLC.
One thing to remember is to NOT GIVE UP. Some battles are tough and require balancing or adjusting your party. I HIGHLY recommend adding extra slots for demons. This is probably one of the best ways to keep reserves for both battles and for fusion.
If you got the pre-order with the bonus book, do not read the book at all if you want to contain the surprise of the story. There is a ton of spoilers, even within the location concept art. Just be aware of this. I would say about an hour after beating Minotaur is a good time to look at the book and not spoil some of the surprise. Also, the story does have a lot of interesting twists and turns. The English voice cast is excellent, the sound editing is spot on, much better then Soul Hackers.
My only problem is the difficulty which sometimes is easy (even on the harder setting), but if you aren't careful, even weaker groups of foes might get lucky and wipe out your party. All it takes is a few key hits on your party's weak points and the enemies gain extra turns. Also, enemy groups might be hiding reinforcements. Always dangerous. The game does offer you two options for if you are getting creamed: you can revive your party with macca after you get game over. You can actually do this for free if you keep negotiating with Charon. The other option is that after you get game over a couple of times, the game prompts you with a lower difficulty setting. I did not choose to lower the difficulty, and if you have played games in the series, I recommend also keeping the tougher setting. It's worth it. Since you can save (nearly) anywhere, it's not a big deal if you die. Just keep saving!
----------------------------- Original Review:
The 3DS is an interesting system. Love or hate the 3D (I am not a fan), it's tough to argue with the quality of games being published. Shin Megami Tensei is one of those games that bears solid roots in classic RPG styles, yet has fresh and up to date touches that keep each new release interesting. The previous SMT 3DS release was Soul Hackers, a re-release of a PS1 (and Saturn) game. This is the first original SMT game on the 3DS, and I hope it won't be the last.
I haven't spent too much time with the game, but I wanted to put down a few initial impressions based on my time playing this and virtually every other SMT title (all the way back to the Famicom original). There are a few interesting changes from previous games, but I feel this game bears a little more similarity in style to Persona 4 than previous SMT titles. Mainly this is interface and gameplay, not story and theme of course.
Speaking of the story, the game starts off interesting in a fictitious future based on a feudal style Japan yet modern in time. Suffice to say, like other SMT titles the heroes become caught up in the battle between good and evil using demons as their scions. It's like a grown up Pokemon. Demons are either light or dark and this makes for interesting strategy and team building. And the demons are mostly familiar for fans of other SMT titles. Although the attitude level has been ratcheted up on a few! Looking at you Wendigo! And the spell names are the same (mostly) as previous SMT games as well. So fans of the series will be familiar with the names, but those who aren't might not know what Bufu, Dia, Agi, and other spell names refer to. But there are descriptions of each in game.
The pre-order bonus was a great plus. The design book was mainly a strategy guide with just about 10 or 15 pages of design works. The soundtrack is also a nice bonus. But for those newer to the series, the strategy guide will help players through the initial portion of the game.
The main storyline is very interesting, but a welcome addition is the side quests. There are many to undertake and rewards very from a little macca (money) to rare weapons and items.
So far the game has not let me down. I will update the review further as I play more deeply into the game, but my main response is this: if you've played a Shin Megami Tensei game, then expect more of the same great style and story. If you're new to the series, this might be a good starting point, but perhaps playing a Persona title first might be less shocking unless you are familiar with this style of RPG.
Highly recommended. And the $30 Nintendo e-shop bonus was a nice plus for purchasing this and Fire Emblem. I used it to get Animal Crossing for $5! Win win!