Recent leaks suggest upcoming game Monark could be a lot like the Shin Megami Tensei games, but it has some ways that it can stand out.
By Stan Hogeweg
Published Jun 08, 2021
Summer is the season of game announcements, which means the months leading up to it become the season of game leaks. The?Persona and?Shin Megami Tensei franchises have managed to go relatively leak-free in 2021, but it seems that another game in development by?Megami Tensei?veterans suffered a leak just before it was supposed to be announced. That game is?Monark,?a previously unannounced title that now has a mysterious teaser website active, as well as official social media accounts. Although?Monark was apparently intended to get announced on June 10, the trailer for the game briefly appeared a few days early on Japanese game developer and publisher FuRyu’s YouTube channel.
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Not much information has been gleaned from the trailers brief appearance, and?Monark’s teaser website and Twitter don’t offer specifics either, but evidence suggests that the game will be an RPG pretty similar to?Shin Megami Tensei and?Persona.?That particularly stands to reason since the?Monark website reveals a few specific ex-Megami Tensei developers who are now part of?Monark.?Although the talent behind?Monark is promising, the premise of the game does need to stand out in one way or another.?It needs to lean into some potential unique qualities in order to really compete with the games that inspired it.
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At the start of June, an issue of Weekly Famitsu revealed that a “new school RPG” would get announced on June 10. All signs now indicate that that game is?Monark,?especially based on some screenshots that savvy Twitter users got that shows the game’s school themes. One image shows the presumed protagonist of?Monark,?a white-haired teenager in a high school uniform. School RPGs are very popular among JRPGs, and?Persona in particular has a long history of starring high schoolers as the main characters.?Persona’s rising popularity was probably a major contributor to motivating?Monark’s developers to lean into that genre.
Monark’s relationship with the supernatural also sounds a little bit like the?Megami Tensei family of games. Although strictly speaking any supernatural elements in?Monark haven’t been revealed, a secret message in the website’s source code mentions the player’s “ego”, which rings faintly of a Persona, and could suggest a summoning mechanic similar to?Persona’s lore or?Shin Megami Tensei’s demon commanding. The aforementioned screenshot also has a headshot of the?Monark protagonist in a much flashier outfit that might remind some of a Phantom Thief’s transformation in Persona 5’s?Metaverse. In spite of a relatively small amount of information about?Monark,?there’s lots of evidence that?Megami Tensei is a major inspiration here.
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Naturally,?Monark probably doesn’t want to just copy?Megami Tensei wholesale. It needs unique elements to attract fans, or they’ll just stick to other games. One thing?Monark could do is explore darker themes than?Persona largely does without using the post-apocalyptic conceit that?Shin Megami Tensei is famous for. A mysterious phone number on the?Monark website gives callers a chance to hear a creepy interaction between two unidentified figures, which makes it clear that?Monark’s tone won’t be light. If?Monark walks a middle ground between?Persona’s tone and?Shin Megami Tensei’s conventions, it’ll already be exploring something a little newer.
Combat is a major area that?Monark can stand out.?Shin Megami Tensei?and?Persona famously swap a lot of notes in terms of combat, sometimes even sharing ability names and basic mechanics.?Monark’s combat has the chance to be completely different from the?Megami Tensei?games since it doesn’t have that luxury of sharing mechanics. It could come to the table with totally a totally different spell system, unique weapons and equipment, innovative resource systems, or any other number of innovations.?Monark might not even be a turn-based game; it could be an action RPG with real-time combat, ultimately playing nothing like?Persona or?SMT.?
June 10 is already an exciting day for the game industry. Summer Game Fest starts that day, with Geoff Keighley and IGN promising some announcements. Plus, it’s the day before E3, so it’s practically the last chance for major leaks to upheave the industry ahead of the conference. Monark is one more interesting announcement to add to everything that’s already going on on the 10th.?Fans of?Shin Megami Tensei?and?Persona should probably keep an eye on the game, considering the experience that’s going into?Monark’s development. Once it’s released properly, the?Monark trailer ought to clear up some questions about where the game is going.
Monark?reportedly releases in Japan on October 14, 2021 for unspecified platforms.
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Shin Megami Tensei