5 starsNewsRatingsReviews

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance Steam Deck PC Review – The Ultimate Version of a Fantastic RPG

Having played the original Shin Megami Tensei V over four times on Nintendo Switch, I clearly loved the game despite its few flaws. Back then I wondered if we’d just see it ported to more platforms eventually with all DLC, or have to wait for the Switch’s successor for any sort of re-release. Maybe we’d get something like Persona 5 Royal that was built on the original, or something like Shin Megami Tensei IV Apocalypse. I didn’t expect Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance. Having spent over 170 hours with Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance mostly on Steam Deck, but also on Switch and PS5, I can safely say that I’m glad Atlus handled it this way.

I’m going to cover how Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance feels for those who played the original and also for newcomers who likely are going to experience Shin Megami Tensei V for the first time through Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance. This review will not have any story spoilers for the base game or the new Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance route. I will also be covering how Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance feels on Nintendo Switch compared to the original, which platform you should buy it on if you’re new to the game, and more.

It feels weird writing about Shin Megami Tensei V as a new release but here we are. After more than four playthroughs of the original, I wanted to keep playing more, but I decided to wait for potential ports or a re-release. Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance isn’t just a new enhanced port for current consoles and PC, but a dramatic improvement in just about every way over the original. After having beaten Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance twice and currently halfway through my third full playthrough, I can safely say that this is one of Atlus’ best games for replaying. I just love spending time in the world, so what exactly was changed or fixed in this new version?

Before getting into the story content, if you didn’t enjoy the open zones and general structure of Shin Megami Tensei V, that has not changed here. If you enjoyed everything the original had aside from its overall narrative (or lack thereof with many characters poorly developed or just tacked on), this Vengeance route is a huge improvement, but it also has many changes to the narrative. In a lot of ways, playing the original route in Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance feels like an enhanced new version of a game with quality of life features and all the technical improvements. The new route in Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance feels like a remixed take with new story content, new characters, lots of new voice acting, fantastic new music, new areas, changes to the original story, and its own different endings. Yes, Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance’s new route doesn’t have just a single ending.

When you start a new save in Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance, you get to choose which route you want to take soon after. Taking the girl’s hand results in you being on the Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance route, while not taking her hand results in you being on the original game’s route, but with the new features and quality of life improvements. If you play Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance on Switch, you get to carry over three demons into the compendium, some items, and additional items based on the endings you had in your save file. I laughed when three of my maxed out level 99 demons were carried over into Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance on Switch.

When it comes to the story, my issues with Shin Megami Tensei V weren’t that it wasn’t in your face throughout, or that I wanted more social elements. My issues were that some characters just showed up randomly during important moments when you don’t even remember they exist. One specific character seems to be super important, but I barely even remembered they existed until the ending of the game. The true ending in the original game also involved doing some missable quests that you wouldn’t even bother looking into unless you were going to complete every quest it had. I’ve done every quest the original game had on Switch with the DLC, and really thought they should have handled many aspects of the characters and story better.

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance’s new route fixes most of this. Not only are there more interactions, but you actually see the cast grow with you and the world changing. Everything feels like it is part of a cohesive story that isn’t full of holes anymore. The new character interactions, additional dialogue in older scenes, remixed bosses, changes to cut-scenes, and more all come together to make Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance feel like the actual main game. I even enjoyed having Yoko in older story moments with new voiced dialogue and more context to specific situations. Barring Yoko, the major new story addition is the Qadistu. I won’t reveal too much about them, but they definitely served to improve Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance’s story a lot, and I enjoyed every interaction I had with them.

I can’t comment on every ending Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance has, but the ones I did get I liked. I did like the change to going for different paths here compared to the original. Knowledge from the original does help in a small way, but be prepared to have Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance surprise you both mechanically and narratively.

Before getting into the visual and performance improvements and other technical details, I want to highlight some of the gameplay changes in Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance. I can’t say for sure if this was only because of some of the new features, or because I knew every older map in and out, but I found Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance easier overall. Being able to save anywhere and using the sky view made exploration much less stressful here. Beyond that, the combat changes and additional negotiation options make Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance feel more complete. The only thing I dislike is the change to the Estoma ability that uses Magatsuhi gauge here instead of MP. You can’t spam it like you could in the vanilla game, and I got annoyed at the amount of enemy encounters in one specific map here. The challenge mode is also a lovely addition because I enjoy taking on older bosses or enemies again. I didn’t finish it all because it feels like a lot of it is meant for min-maxing.

If you’re new to Shin Megami Tensei V in general, I think the new Vengeance route is basically better than the original in every way. I’m curious how people who play this route first and then play the original will feel about the story across both. If you already played Shin Megami Tensei V, playing the Vengeance route will feel amazing with the story additions, changes to existing aspects of the game, and all the new boss fights and music. Even if this release just included the Vengeance route and was only on Switch, I would’ve been satisfied. Thankfully, Atlus and Sega have brought Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance complete with the original route and prior DLC to all current and last generation platforms.

Visually, Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is a huge upgrade over the vanilla game since I focused on playing it on Steam Deck. Aside from the massive image quality and frame rate improvements over Switch, the new areas in the game are gorgeous. You saw some of these in the “New Locations" trailer, but seeing them in game at a high resolution is really something. When it comes to character models and new demons, I think Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is one of Atlus’ strongest releases in years. It has an impeccable aesthetic that oozes the Shin Megami Tensei vibe I love from Atlus. This also carries over into its music.

I’ve never hid the fact that Shin Megami Tensei V has a sublime soundtrack. I listen to it regularly even years after it was originally released. Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance’s new music feels like a blend of Ryota Kozuka looking to deliver something that lives up to Shin Megami Tensei V, but also reaching back into his Shin Megami Tensei IV vibe. The new boss themes in particular are amazing. I can’t wait for the full new soundtrack to be released. Outside the music, the new voice acting in Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is very good across the board. Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance might be my favorite Atlus re-release yet, and I don’t say that lightly.

I’ve been playing it on Steam Deck, Nintendo Switch, and PS5. On Steam Deck, Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance arrives Steam Deck Verified. This isn’t always a guarantee of something running well, but having done more than two full playthroughs specifically on Steam Deck, I’m very impressed by how Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance looks and runs.

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance Steam Deck settings, graphics options, and features

If you play on a Steam Deck OLED, Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance can hit 90fps (and even higher on both Steam Decks when played docked) in many areas of the game, but it isn’t locked 90fps. At the default preset by turning a few things up and shadows down, I only saw it drop below 60fps in a few specific situations, but it almost always runs well above. The menus are capped at 60fps though. On my Steam Deck OLED specifically in handheld mode, it regularly runs at above 80fps even while exploring. The major area I noticed frame drops below 60 was the Fairy Village. You go there quite early on. Even the new locations hold up really well including the more open areas.

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance on PC doesn’t have 16:10 support, but it has Steam Cloud support and full controller support. If you aren’t happy with the image quality at 800p, I recommend forcing 1080p for the internal display and playing at 30 or 45hz with some drops for the most crisp handheld experience. Speaking of handheld experience, Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance even on its default PC settings at 800p on Steam Deck is a huge upgrade in visuals and performance over the docked Nintendo Switch version that rarely held a stable 30.

I also played Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance on my 1440p 144hz display to see how it felt there. 1080p 60fps isn’t really possible on Steam Deck. I also tested 1440p and 4K and you can imagine how that went. I stuck to playing at 720p even docked to see how the game held up at frame rates above 90fps. Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance can easily hit above 100fps on Steam Deck at 720p even in some open areas. It just isn’t consistent and you’re better off locking it at 60fps or playing with a 90fps target and fluctuations. VRR would’ve helped a lot on the Steam Deck OLED’s 90hz screen in Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance. You can play at a lower resolution of course, but I didn’t want to settle for under 720p here.

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance’s PC port lets you choose button prompt options including an auto option, adjust keyboard controls, rebind controls for field and menus, and adjust a few graphics options. You can toggle ambient occlusion, motion blur, and anti-aliasing. The display options let you adjust screen mode (fullscreen, borderless, windowed), resolution (640×480 to 4K), toggle v-sync, and use a frame rate limit (30, 60, 90, 120, 144, unlimited). There are no additional options, and I was hoping to see draw distance and other features we see in Unreal Engine PC ports. Hopefully this can be added in a potential update.

Overall, Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is an absolute joy to play, and it might be my favorite console to PC conversion that I’ve played on Steam Deck alongside Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth for 2024. The load times are also very fast on Deck.

Shin Megami Tensei V Vs Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance on Nintendo Switch

Having beaten Shin Megami Tensei V on Switch multiple times years ago, I was curious to see how this new upgraded version of the game felt on the same platform. There are now a few more post processing options even on consoles like anti-aliasing which you can toggle on. It just can’t handle the game and drops from 30fps even indoors on Nintendo Switch both docked and handheld. I got used to it and put over 30 hours into the game on Switch OLED. If you played the original and enjoyed it on Switch, you will not have trouble playing this new version.

Comparing Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance to Shin Megami Tensei V has some visual changes. Even the FOV seems a bit different in the wide option the game has compared to the original. Beyond that, the new post-processing option toggles are not present in the original game either. I didn’t have enough time to test every location to compare because I was focusing on the Steam Deck version for this review, but it feels like Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance isn’t going to be much different in terms of performance compared to the original. If you are ok with that and want to play the new route on the same platform, this version is fine.

On the PS5 side, I can’t remember the last time I was this impressed by the glow up a game has seen moving from Switch to PS5/Xbox Series X. Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance looks incredibly crisp, runs flawlessly, and loads instantly on PS5. It even has PS5 Activity Card support.

Having played it on Steam Deck (main platform), Switch, Switch Lite, PS4 on PS5, and the native PS5 version, you might be wondering how the Xbox version is. Well, I didn’t take a code on that platform because I pre-ordered it there already. If there’s a notable difference between Xbox and PS5, I’ll update this review in the future.

Should you get Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance on PS5 or Switch?

At this stage, the only reason I’d recommend anyone play the Switch version is if they have no other platform to play it on and want to exclusively play in handheld mode. The downgrades compared to current platforms are just too big right now. Obviously this wasn’t an issue back at launch, but for those who have multiple platforms, keep in mind that every other version is better right now, and it absolutely shines on both Steam Deck and PS5. Hopefully Atlus can do an upgrade for the Nintendo Switch successor for those who buy Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance on Switch right now.

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance isn’t just the definitive version of a game I loved years ago, but one of Atlus’ best RPGs in a long time. I always enjoy revisiting games I love every few years, but Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance is just an incredible upgrade and release on its own. It is one of the best games you can play on Steam Deck in general, not just for this year.

Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance Steam Deck Review Score: 5/5