So, last Saturday I did my first stream of Persona 5 for the PS4, and was really enjoying it. So, that made me think; what are my favourite games in the Megami Tensei series as a whole? I mean, I’ve been playing the series since the original PlayStation days, so I’ve played a large amount of them.
However, it is a huge series, so I definitely haven’t played them all. That’s why I won’t go as far as to say that the games in this list are the absolute best Megami Tensei games; instead, they are my favourite Megami Tensei games. So, let’s take a look!
7. Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine
We are going to start this list off with the game that stands out from the rest of the series; Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine. Originally called Megami Tensei Online: Imagine, this was the only real MMORPG in the Megami Tensei series. You created your character and entered into a post-apocalyptic Tokyo filled with demons. It was a great addition to the series whilst it was still live, even featuring the reoccurring gameplay mechanic where you can negotiate with the demons rather than fighting them.
This made it very unique in terms of MMORPGs at the time, and that really pulled me in. In terms of the rest of the gameplay for Imagine, it felt like a very typical MMORPG, but the fact that they successfully took the uniqueness of the Megami Tensei series and built an MMORPG around that was really impressive.
6. Persona 3
Next up we have the game that, honestly, propelled the Megami Tensei series into true popularity in the West; Persona 3. Coming into Persona 3, I was really shocked at what I saw; it was a massive departure from the previous Persona games, as well as the Megami Tensei series’ gameplay as a whole. Up until the release of Persona 3, the games had either been first-person dungeon crawlers or more traditional J-RPGs. However, Persona 3 changed all of that.
Suddenly, we had a very stylised game with additional gameplay elements like Social Links, where you actually had to make friends with other characters in order to boost various stats and other aspects of the game. This meant that there was suddenly a lot of side missions and quests to do. However, the fact that the game relies on a single dungeon of multiple levels is why it doesn’t manage to get higher up this list.
5. Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army
Moving on, we have one that many people don’t seem to know about, which is a real shame. The name is horrible to remember how to spell, but don’t let that give you the wrong impression; Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army is a phenomenal game. Rather than using the more typical turn-based battle system that the majority of Megami Tensei do, Raidou uses an action battle system, which makes the game more hectic to play.
Also, it is set in 1931, which means that you get to see some really cool level designs in the game. The plot revolves around an investigator who ends up involved in an incredibly dark yet comical storyline that will keep you entertained throughout.
4. Persona 4
Continuing with the Persona side-series, the next game in this list of my top Megami Tensei games goes to Persona 4. The developers at Atlus took everything that was great in Persona 3 and ramped it all up. The dungeon design was a huge improvement as well, as were the Social Links and battle gameplay. They did a wonderful job on creating a sequel to a game that really just exploded into the wild.
The characters are all memorable, each with realistic problems that they have to face. On top of that, each of them feel fleshed out and realistic in the way they interact with each other and the various lifestyles they live. Add to this a story of mystery and intrigue, and the fact that you have to climb inside of a TV in order to access the various dungeons, and you have one of the best games on the PlayStation 2 and PS Vita!
3. Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne
And so we are at my top 3 Megami Tensei games that I have played; Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocture (or Lucifer’s Call in Europe). The game starts with the world literally being turned inside out, similar to that scene in Inception (although years before the movie was made). From there, you get turned into a demon and are sent on a quest to save the world. However, to do that you need to recruit other demons, as well as merge them to create yet more demons.
The battle system is also unique, using a Push Turn system where you can actually make your enemies missing their turn by exploiting their weaknesses. However, they can do the same thing to you. This creates the need to strategise and not just the option to do it.
2. Digital Devil Saga
Second place in this list of my top 7 Megami Tensei series goes to Digital Devil Saga for the PlayStation 2. This is a game that will shock you almost immediately with its subject matter and gameplay design. For example, in order to satiate your characters’ hunger, you need to devour your enemies. The thing with this is that your enemies are humans who have been turned into demons, just like your characters. In other words, you need to resort to cannibalism in order to survive.
That, when I first played Digital Devil Saga, really freaked me out when I thought about it. However, because of the way the plot of the game plays out, it actually makes sense that you would need to do such a thing. The game is incredibly fun to play, with a strong storyline as well!
1. Persona 2: Eternal Punishment
So, here we are; my favourite Megami Tensei game to date – Persona 2: Eternal Punishment. Unlike Persona 3 and 4, Eternal Punishment is a far more traditional J-RPG in terms of gameplay. However, what really makes the game (and it’s predecessor, Persona 2: Innocent Sin) stand tall is the storyline. Taking place over the course of both Persona 2 games, it is incredibly dark, but the events of Eternal Punishment take this up a notch.
You play as an investigative reporter who gets caught up in a case involving a serial killer who uses demons to murder his victims. The game goes from strength to strength, with the storyline keeping you guessing all the way through. It’s a truly amazing game for the story, and the improvements from the previous Persona games were amazing! I really can’t sell how great Persona 2 is without writing an entire post on it (which I might do in the near future), so I will say that it is wonderful!
And That’s All Folks
Those were my top 7 Megami Tensei games. The series as a whole is wonderful yet incredibly dark as well. If you enjoy J-RPGs, then Megami Tensei games could be the perfect new series for you to get into.
Have you played any Megami Tensei games? Let me know in the comments below!