Shin Megami Tensei III demon reviews
Our first review covers 4 demons from the Foul clan, who get to share a page because they are close to being palette-swaps of each other. While Atlus could have just given each one a different colour and called it a day, they did take the time to give each of these demons different particle effects! That was a nice touch. But, there's no denying that their 'skull-like face floating in an ominous cloud' designs are very similar.
Foul Will O'Wisp
"One of the more famous names for the mysterious lights seen over swamps. They are the souls of those who fail to go to the afterlife and instead wander the wilderness, misleading travellers."
This sinister little pink cloud is the first enemy you'll encounter in true combat. (It's not the first demon you'll see in the entire game - we'll come to that one about 50 updates down the line.) In motion, this demon has a static 'core' of pink cloud, with blue cloud and white specks constantly rising upwards.
Its soft pink pastels are strikingly pretty for something with such a contemptuously angry face, and its blue hues are about right for burning methane gas, which is supposedly the cause of many real-life 'wisp' sightings. Despite its simplicity, it's a solid little design that marries the scariness of wisps-as-myth with a grounding in their probable true source.
"Spirits of those who could not ascend to heaven in Japanese folklore. Some have evil intent, but they are fairly weak."
In motion, Mou-Ryo is constantly cascading red, with some dark flakes falling off.
The Megami Tensei wiki tells us that Mou-Ryo's name comes from the Chinese 'Chimi-mōryō'. Wikipedia tells us that Mōryō are "said to eat the dead, have the appearance of a child, stand on two feet, have dark red skin, have red eyes, long ears, beautiful hair, and a voice that resembles that of a human" (a description that oddly lacks any arms).
That would make Mou-Ryo's floating head-ness an odd design choice, but the US version of the SMT III Compendium tells us: "Some have evil intent, but most are not that powerful. They are often depicted as flaming balls." I don't know what the source is of the flaming ballage, but if it's true it makes Mou-Ryo's in-game model fairly apt. With its stylish red-and-gold palette (which I guess is quite Chinese too), I give it a:
"A common type of ghost seen in western cultures. They are apparitions made up of the negative emotions of people."
Phantom's face is barely visible, but it's just about there. This demon's model is made up of spinning green clouds, with blue cloud constantly rising upwards and arcing blue specks. There's not a lot to say about this one. 'Phantom' is such a broad type of monster that there's no fixed or expected appearance for it, so there's nothing wrong per se about a green cloud. It's just not particularly memorable or interesting (though it's kinda pretty).
"It can transform into any person it sees. It is said that whomsoever it meets will die within a few days, and much folklore stems from this creature. They may also become physical incarnations of psychological ailments."
This screenshot unfortunately doesn't do a good job of showing Phantom's particle effects: it has a constantly descending tail of purple cloud, and arcing purple 'comets' (specks with contrails). However, I think it's actually scarier-looking in this static screenshot! It's a hovering malevolent cloud that's just there, without any contrails to catch your eye and distract you. For that reason I have to give Phantom a low score: there's nothing inherently bad about a ghost being a purple cloud, but if your design looks better static than animated, that's an un-necessarily animated design.
Images sourced from the Megami Tensei fandom wiki
except where stated otherwise.