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I took like 30 minutes typing a tl;dr hypothesis, but I decided to google "Shin Megami Tensei timeline" and came across this:
I'll let you all read it. Suffice it to say, Nocturne (Lucifer's Call) explains the existence of the Amala Universe-- a multiverse in which there are multiple realities. He also suggests a pretty ballsy notion that ALL endings are canon, but only certain endings lead to other entries.
SMT (Neutral ending) > Imagine > SMT II
SMT (Law ending) > ???
SMT (Chaos ending) > ???
I STRONGLY recommend this link to you canon snobs out there, because it's totally legit. The guy knows his stuff (i.e. "has no life", has taken a TON of psychedelics in his life, etc) and it'll totally rock your SMT worldview. Not to mention teach you a thing or two.
It's the really long one. A guy (?) called Kenji, I believe. 3rd or 4th from the top. You can't miss it.
¯–¯ Look at post 4 in this topic.
The official Loki of the Shin Megami Tensei IV board Official tsundere fan of the NDF