Words About Video Games

How Shin Megami Tensei IV Gets Consequences Right

This is a game about feeling small, impossibly small. A pawn in a game played by powerful players who demand that you choose a side.

In a masterstroke of videogame storytelling, the game shows you how the two most likely of your choices will play out, before you're even fully aware of the choice you must make. It attaches faces and names to the people who will live or die based on what you do.

To find a solution that is not what these powers expect requires either great care or complete nihilism. You must be willing to see the universe destroyed, or else be cunning enough to resist.

Structurally, it succeeds everywhere Mass Effect 3 failed, managing to make me perceive and care for in personal detail the consequences of world-altering choices. Thematically, it's dense and thought-provoking. A game that caused me to examine my own values, and that still speaks to me in the moments when I feel frustrated and powerless. There's a way forward, not the ideal way, not the perfect way, but there's a reason to keep striving. You know their faces. You know their names.