A Shin Megami Tensei post: Defending Chaos

I decided to post about Shin Megami Tensei again, and being as it’s somewhat responsible for my love of chaos, I gotta say I’m one of few people actually defending the Chaos path in the games. Let me show you why.

Those who don’t know about the games should probably look up the series first before reading.

First, my criticism of the Law path.

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Arcadia, the Law city in Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE

I don’t understand why anyone would support it. If you take the Law path, you support a world of peace founded on a total loss of freedom and liberty under God. Yep, that God. Usually this comes in the form of the Thousand Year Kingdom, in which individuality, passions, and desires are gone so that a world of peace and order is achieved. And guess what, only those who believe can enter. The rest get the runner-up prize of being annihilated.

Then my criticism of the Neutral path.

A poster for Shin Megami Tensei II, albeit the Playstation 1 rerelease. The game follows the presumed Neutral outcome of the previous game.

Neutral seems quite appealing and appears to support freedom of choice through the rejection of both the Law and Chaos paths, walking a tightrope between them. Except that Neutrality tends to restore the status quo and only creates a stalemate in the war of Law and Chaos that only lasts for a couple of years until the problems of the next game show up, and whatever ideals you have, in the continuity of the games they will always go unfulfilled, unless of course you have no ideals. Sure, you get cool stuff in the older games, and maybe more EXP for fighting all the bosses, but that’s not the point for me.

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Louis Cypher

Now some would argue that by supporting Chaos, I’m supporting unfettered demonic hellholes, but I’m actually supporting Chaos with very human concerns, even in Strange Journey. Chaos values freedom, even at the expense of social order. It appears as a socially Darwinist world, but that’s just an interpretation of what that kind of freedom would mean. I never believed that Social Darwinism is what Chaos was actually about. And of course, true freedom requires some strength and power, or you’ll end up losing it. Chaos’ values seem in line with my own, in fact it inspires them. Besides, I’d pick a world of freedom and power over a stalemate any day. Chaos also seems more moral than the rest, at least with regards to what you have to pick from. I mean, Law wants to complete the reign of a dictator, and Chaos wants to stop that and enable freedom. What could possibly be wrong with that? And Neutral seems very noble with its freedom of choice but in the end it never lives up to whatever ideals it appears to have or you give it. Neutral ultimately is just that: neutral. Plus, my favourite kinds of demons/monsters/gods are there, even Shiva’s in on the party.

Some would argue that you could not live in a world of Chaos, but that ignores one fact: you’re a Shin Megami Tensei protagonist. By the end of the game you’re a badass demon-summoning warrior how can take anyone down, and no one can stop you. So why would you be worried?

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2 responses to “A Shin Megami Tensei post: Defending Chaos

  1. I get what you’re saying. The chaos path in Shin Megami Tensei does have a real appeal to it. I think that’s more because of how SMT approaches the western idea of God, though. By their reading, YHVH is absolutely a tyrant and not a guy I’d want to work for or live with, and Lucifer is kind of a tragic hero. I guess it’s a good thing SMT I and II were never released over here! In any case, in the world of SMT I think I’d pick the Chaos path too.

    I liked how in Nocturne, there was more of a choice between three philosophies that didn’t perfectly line up with the Law and Chaos factions. All three Reasons in that game were pretty bad (I’d say Isamu’s was the only half-decent one) but I enjoyed the change of pace. I still went with the true Chaos choice in the end, of course. Who could pass that kind of chance up?

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