Final reflections on Shin Megami Tensei IV

After playing Shin Megami Tensei through to my 4th cycle (the 1st was Chaos, the 2nd was Neutral, the 3rd was Law, and the 4th was Chaos), I have been reflecting on the game. And I have grown closer to the idea that in that game Chaos isn’t all bad in this game if you take it allegorically. What the game is trying to show you that whatever ideals you follow you ought to be prepared for the consequences of your choice. Whether you want to preserve the status quo and destroy the old order, the consequences are your actions are heavily, and if you are truly committed to your ideals you must face them. Granted the same then must apply to Law, but those who support Chaos don’t have to worry about that.

That said, however, this is undone for the Neutral path. In order to unlock the Neutral path, you have to precariously balance your alignment all the way to the last alignment-related choice in the game, and when you pick one of the few middle choices in the game Burroughs accuses you of being unable to form an opinion. I mean why? And at the final alignment choice, you aren’t even given a third option other than “I don’t know”, which basically does nothing other than take you back to the selection of choices (“Will you return the world to naught?”). Rather than allowing you to stand up for a third ideal besides Law and Chaos that you believe in, you have to be wishy washy with both Law and Chaos and make sure you stay on the fence until the end, and the only way to do that is to deliberate your choices, and then after the alignment lock you have to do a series of Challenge Quests in order to activate a plot device The Great Spirit of Hope. I get that they wanted to make Neutral harder to achieve, but what was the point of doing it that way. What purpose does it serve other than make the Neutral path frustrating?

I agree that Neutral might be the better ending path, but I prefer Chaos from an allegorical standpoint. As far as the game’s story is concerned, you’re still doing for more for the cause of freedom than the Chaos path in Strange Journey. You’re taking the path of freedom, and there is a price to pay for that. Are you willing to pay for it?

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