Shin Megami Tensei IV Review Log: Music
Posted on Friday, July 12 @ 20:41:22 Eastern by Daniel Bischoff
While Shin Megami Tensei IV continues a long tradition of excellent Atlus soundtracks, I think it stands apart from the rest by blending new and old almost seamlessly. This track plays during Mid-Boss battles and splashes with every attack, cast, and heal. I love the frothy drums and cymbals and the old-school synthesizers. When you're playing the game the menu sound effects sort of layer into the track, adding a higher-pitch rhythm that you control selecting moves or items. I like this track a lot, but it's one of many battle themes you'll get stuck in your head.
This song plays whenever you're facing off with a quest demon, a spirit you've tracked across the Unclean Ones' territory all because Burroughs logged that one quest and now it's all you have left before moving on with the story. This is probably my favorite battle theme if only for the feverish rhythms and the coasting synthesizers. It feels like there's a finality within your reach, but it'll take another turn to bring the demon down. Listen for the long drum fill at the end too.
Tracks like these make me happy I played 1997's Soul Hackers before jumping into SMT IV. Once you know what to expect, you can sit back, relax, and let the bouncy beats and whole-note synths transport you to a world where there's a giant dome over most of the population and demons run rampant. This track plays over a part of the overworld where I got lost a lot. A LOT. Seriously, I was stuck there for easily two hours, but by the time I found my objective I was coasting through battles. Listening to it now, I only think to myself "Bring it, Demon."
Another stellar overworld track that seems to cast tense, high notes away from the player as they mill about, searching for dungeons. On the overworld, there are several points that don't really serve a purpose but to give you a spot to farm relics for sale in you home base of Mikado. I'll always remember this track for greeting me after defeating the demon locking down a valuable item. In particular, 1:50 through the end is so evocative of that "Where to next?" feeling you'll get when you're lost in SMT IV, but more on the overworld in a later post.
If you're like me, you like exploring each and every option you have at your disposal when fusing demons in an SMT game. In SMT IV, you can do this anywhere on the map thanks to your gauntlet's on-board AI, Burroughs and all of the apps she can install throughout the course of the game. Again, more on that in a separate post. In your Mido app (that's what it's called) you'll combine demons for greater power, greater ability, greater stats, and greater levels, but experimenting here is really key. That means I spent an unhealthy amount of time comparing stats and which abilities my new demons could inherit from their "parents". At first I didn't like this track, but it did grow on me over time.
It's got this Frankenstein-vibe that comes through in the pipe organ and its teetering assent to the top of the key. In the end the track is almost too appropriate, because while many of the monster designs look cool, some are quite horrifying. Smashing two ugly demons together to get an even more grotesque and sadistic demon really sells this track.
Here's another bouncy track I really liked. It plays whenever you're hunting down items for a delivery quest. The turn around the 40 second mark is so fucking badass.
Of course there are some tracks I didn't like, including the song that plays in Mikado Castle. It replaces the SMT-standard synths with bagpipes, and as someone who got a little too into character and always slept at home in Mikado castle as opposed to the slimy dungeons or Hunters clubs, it got annoying. It's clear what effect the developers were going for with that track, but it did wear thin as a sore thumb sticking out of all the techno-beats and synths.
Overall, I really love Shin Megami Tensei IV's soundtrack so it'll definitely get a positive mark on the report card. Remember, you can follow our Review Logs for the game by checking out the tag page for those here. I'll be back with more on next week's big RPG release this weekend.
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