Top 10 Shin Megami Tensei Games [Best Recommendations]

If you’re an avid player of Japanese Role Playing Games you have at one point or another played one of the Shin Megami Tensei or shortened to SMT, games. Spawning dozens of games from as far back as the Famicom system, Shin Megami Tensei has had overwhelming success in not only Japan but in the West as well. With so many titles and so many variations you may have missed or never seen some of the best the Shin Megami Tensei franchise has to offer. Well you’re in luck today. We here at Honey’s Anime have spent thousands of hours leveling up and battling demons to find you the top ten best Shin Megami Tensei games.

These titles have all been seen as amazing by fans for a reason. Maybe they have a dark story or maybe dynamic new gameplay mechanics, each has a reason to be on our list. Even more some of these titles have been so well received, they have had anime adaptations! Now to avoid any more delay let’s enter the world of SMT with the top 10 Shin Megami Tensei games.

10. Shin Megami Tensei

  • Release Date: 1992
  • Publisher: Atlus, Sims
  • Developer: Atlus
  • Platforms: Super Famicom, Turbo CD, Sega CD, Playstation, Game Boy Advance, Wii Virtual Console, IOS

When your nameless protagonist checks his email one day, he discovers a strange application that allows for demon summoning. Downloading it and venturing outside shows that Tokyo has run into a situation that has led to demons spawning all over the city from a place called the Abyss. Now you’re charged with surviving using your demon app to ally yourself with the same enemy you’re fighting. Go forth and face the demon threat to gain a future you want. Welcome to the first Shin Megami Tensei game.

Everything that has been a staple to the Shin Megami Tensei games of current owe it to this literal first entry. The concept of summoning demons, the multiple endings based on choices you make and the turn based combat have been refined and honed from Shin Megami Tensei’s first game. One just has to look at the list of available platforms to realize this title has been made to survive with each passing generation of console to ensure it remains as a classic JRPG. With an interesting plot, fun gameplay, multiple endings and a classic art style this is the best place to start for those who want to experience a classic JRPG at its finest. Naming your character will be your first challenge.


9. Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE

  • Release Date: 2007
  • Publisher: Marvelous Online
  • Developer: Atlus, CAVE
  • Platforms: PC

With Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE, players could create their own characters and set them out to gain demons and fight against the horde of rogue demons who have destroyed the planet. You are a DB or Demon Buster your job is to choose a side, Law or Chaos, and fight with that side to create their ideal world. Alongside others you will travel around a destroyed Japan and level up in a MMORPG. Unlike the other Shin Megami Tensei games you aren’t alone. The fate of the world doesn’t just lie in your hands but in others as well.

Unfortunately while Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE had an impressive run as being a free to play MMORPG, it closed down in 2014 in the west and 2016 in Japan. This equates to being unplayable but IMAGINE has to be put on this list for venturing into a format for the first time and having a good run. Having impressive visuals and remixed songs from older Shin Megami Tensei games, it was hard for people not to get hooked to IMAGINE. We were sad to see such an impressive game go offline but as many known online games tend to come with a life expectancy. We will remember the great moments and mourn its closing.


8. Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers

  • Release Date: 1997
  • Publisher: Atlus, NIS America (EU)
  • Developer: Atlus
  • Platforms: Sega Saturn, Playstation, Nintendo 3DS

In Amami City the digital network reigns supreme. You, a nameless protagonist, are a member of Spookies a group of young hackers who are trying to get into a beta for a new online world called Paradigm X. However, he soon learns the truth of the beta. It is meant to steal souls for a mysterious organization named the Phantom Society. Your friend Hitomi Tono meanwhile gets possessed by a demonic entity named Nemissa who wishes to help you stop the evil society for her own reasons. It’s up to you and your new found power in the form of a demon summoning gun, to stop Phantom Society and save the lives it took.

Boasting some amazing graphics for its time and a catchy soundtrack Soul Hackers was a blast of fun to play. While only having two endings unlike most Shin Megami Tensei games, Soul Hackers was a fun romp from beginning to end with a simple turn based mechanic and first person dungeon style format. The remade Nintendo 3DS version is the best way to go as it has several upgrades including music and gameplay. Soul Hackers is a fun title that really started showing a more anime intense feeling than previous titles. Did we also mention, it’s portable.


7. Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon

  • Release Date: 2009
  • Publisher: Atlus
  • Developer: Atlus
  • Platforms: Playstation 2

Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon takes place shortly after the events of the first game. Our main character Raidou Kuzunoha returns to his post as a secret devil summoner protecting the Capital of Japan. When tasked by his agency to help a young woman find a man by the name of Dahn, Raidou learns that once again a new threat looms in the Capital. Wielding his demons and his trusty sword and gun, Raidou will do battle once again against the forces of darkness. Raidou’s new adventure begins anew.

Unlike most of the SMT series, Devil Summoner 2 treads away from some of the common tropes. The main protagonist actually has a name, though is for the most part still mute in terms of speech. The other main difference is in combat which has a mixture of real time combat and turn based elements. However, the impressive music and art style of the SMT games is still a staple of the franchise. Devil Summoner 2 is a great title for those who prefer a more action heavy SMT game and we won’t complain about that.


6. Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker

  • Release Date: 2015
  • Publisher: Atlus, Nintendo (KOR)
  • Developer: Atlus
  • Platforms: Nintendo 3DS

Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker follows our Protagonist and his friend Daichi Shijima. Daichi shows the main protagonist an app that shows a video of the moments before a person’s death but most think it’s just a hoax of an app that is meant to be entertaining. However, when Daichi and his friend on their way to the train station run into another character, Io Nitta, their apps go off showing a video of their deaths at the hand of a derailing subway train. They learn the video does predict the future and get hit by the train. Facing death, the protagonist is given two choices, to die or to live. Choosing survival, the protagonist is given a demon and is thrown into a fight. Though their problems become worse when they step outside to see Japan facing a crisis of mass proportion.

Devil Survivor 2 has always been a very successful sequel even boasting a thirteen episode anime. However, Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker, an updated game to the original is easily deserving of a spot in this list. Adding not only voice acting to the characters, an extra female character, and a new scenario leads to a truly enhanced game. Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker is a fun game with multiple endings and hours of gameplay. Easily a great portable game for those to pick up and play in their own time.


5. Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey

  • Release Date: 2009
  • Publisher: Atlus
  • Developer: Atlus, Lancarse
  • Platforms: Nintendo DS

When a black hole appears in the South Pole and grows larger with each passing day the world begins to mobilize. Sending an investigation team to explore the black hole which gets named Schwarzwelt, the investigation crew learns that the black hole is actually a world in of itself. Once they enter, they learn of a demon world that will soon encompass their world if left unchecked. Using suits called Demonica, the player soon learns of newly gained powers that include summoning demons. What will you do now is up to you, save the world or allow the black hole to take over the world your strange journey begins now.

Strange Journey is easily one of the best handheld Shin Megami Tensei games. Going for a more sci-fi orientated story unlike the other titles. Players will use the classic first person dungeon crawling of the older games alongside the ways of negotiating with demons to get them to join your side. What separates Strange Journey from the others on this list is the strong dialogue and a unique story. For those who may want an updated version, there is a planned remake of Strange Journey set for 2017, but for now the original is a prime example of a great Shin Megami Tensei game.


4. Shin Megami Tensei IV

  • Release Date: 2013
  • Publisher: Atlus, Nintendo
  • Developer: Atlus
  • Platforms: Nintendo 3DS

Players assume a once again nameless protagonist who is living in a society reminiscent of the samurai era. Passing an exam called the Gauntlet Rite, he is allowed to become a samurai. However, samurai of this world are also demon exterminators and using your new found power you will venture forth with a mission. During this quest you will learn the truth about the world. Once again your actions will determine the fate of the world so go forth and choose your path of law, chaos or neutral.

Having improved upon all the qualities of the gameplay from past titles, IV was a great return to the series. Voice acting, strong visuals, a strong story and strong gameplay elements all make it feel vastly superior to the ones before. Like previous titles, you don’t need any prior experience with the first two of the series so newcomers can enjoy this without any issue. Yet despite the improvements, one of the previous games does beat it slightly and we’ll explain with the next entry in this list. There is a sequel to this called Shin Megami Tensei IV Apocalypse for those who wish for more after.


3. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne

  • Release Date: 2003
  • Publisher: Atlus
  • Developer: Atlus
  • Platforms: Playstation 2, Playstation Store

On his way to visit his ailing teacher, our protagonist gets lost in an event called the apocalypse. Learning he will die in his current form, he is given a power by Lucifer called Magatama. Using this power the player must now fight to save not only himself, but his several friends caught in the apocalypse. As a side note, your player is also given the ability to alter the world to whatever they feel is correct. What path will you take?

Boasting one of the darker stories of the series, Nocturne really has moments that lead the player to making some harsh decisions. A new change that will be mimicked in later games is the press system, where players can attack a weak point on an enemy to gain an extra turn during combat. Another change is this is the first time we see a Shin Megami Tensei game using third person exploration. Shin Megami Tensei: III: Nocturne is a great example of a series changing things up and being an inventor for later titles. We all agree though…this is easily the hardest entry in the series in terms of difficulty so be prepared JRPG veterans!


2. Shin Megami Tensei: Avatar Tuner (Digital Devil Saga)

  • Release Date: 2004
  • Publisher: Atlus
  • Developer: Atlus
  • Platforms: Playstation 2, Playstation Store

In an area called the Junkyard, two tribes are in constant war with one another. You play as Serph, leader of the group called the Embryon. You and your tribe venture to remove an egg like artifact. Yet things turn bad when the egg like artifact unleashes strange beams of light that pierce through you and several others. Now cursed with a demonic ability that causes people to want to devour each other, Serph and his team will learn the reality of the land and a Nirvana that will lead to apparent paradise.

Shin Megami Tensei: Avatar Tuner notes a departures from the traditional elements of the SMT series. No more are demons in your party, players have the ability to transform into a demon like form instead. Players are forced into mixing regular battle elements with a move called devour to gain more skills and power. Shin Megami Tensei Avatar Tuner is easily one of the most recognizable titles of the spin off series for good reason. While there are two games available in the story, the first is superior but if you want the full story you will need to play both games.


1. Persona 4

  • Release Date: 2008
  • Publisher: Atlus, Square Enix (EU)
  • Developer: Atlus
  • Platforms: Playstation 2, Playstation Store

A young man is sent to live with his Uncle and cousin in the country town of Inaba. There he learns of a slew of murders taking place with seemingly no evidence to be found. Hearing about something called the Midnight Channel that can only be seen on rainy nights on the Television, our protagonist soon learns of a hidden world inside the television and even more so learns of a hidden power called persona. Soon our protagonist will meet others who are also persona users and together they will aim to solve this murder mystery before any more die. Welcome to Persona 4.

Persona 4 is famous and in many ways is why Shin Megami Tensei got even more popular in the west. Boasting a myriad of gameplay elements, players will balance fighting against the enemy known as shadows all while making sure to go to school. Building friendships will allow the player to gain stronger persona and even allow possible romance from one of the several girls in game. Persona 4 needs little explanation as most JRPG fans know of its legendary status boasting several spin offs, two anime, and merchandise. Persona 4 stands as easily one of the best Shin Megami Tensei titles.


Final Thoughts

Shin Megami Tensei has had a long career of making fantastic JRPGs. The series has success on virtually every form of medium in terms of home console, mobile systems and even PC. These titles however stand the test of time and show that the series will most likely continue to only grow. Though we here at Honey’s Anime know that with so many titles maybe one of your personal favorites didn’t make the list. That’s why we implore you to leave a comment down below letting us know or to just scream your love for Shin Megami Tensei. Stick around to Honey’ Anime for more great articles and top ten lists!

Aaron

Writer

Author: Aaron

Hey everyone I’m Aaron Curbelo or Blade as I’m called by my YouTube Subscribers. I’ve been an anime/manga fan since I was a young kid. In terms of anime I have watched nearly a thousand shows and have read hundreds of manga series. I love writing and honestly was so happy to join Honey’s Anime to get a shot to write articles for such a wonderful site. I’m a firm believer in respect in the anime community being the most important embodiment we should all have. We all love anime and we have varying opinions of series but we should respect one another for those differences! Life is too precious to spend it making needless arguments in a community that should be the shining example of loving an amazing medium. I hope as a writer for Honey’s Anime I can bring you folks some amazing articles to read and enjoy!

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