Strange Journey Redux Review: Shin Megami Tensei Repackaged Fun
The call to save mankind has never come at a greater cost.
Originally released in Japan in 2009 on the Nintendo DS, Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey joined the sci-fi, post-apocalyptic RPG series Shin Megami Tensei with its own unique storyline. While not as popular as some series, the Shin Megami Tensei series possesses a strong following nonetheless. Like its predecessors, Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey is recognized for its imaginative animation, masterful gameplay, and heart-pounding music score. Atlus didn’t skimp on any aspects of the game, and it made for a memorable voyage of good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, and man vs. demon.
Perhaps that’s why, nearly a decade later, Atlus made the decision to port the notable adventure to another system. Through the 3DS, Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is born, bringing the best parts of its original game and even more adventure.
Strange Journey Redux: Travel to Schwarzwelt
When a dimension full of demons appears in Antarctica, the United Nations moves swiftly to find answers. As this spatial anomaly, called the Schwarzwelt, threatens to engulf Earth and put an end to mankind, a special team is put together to go in and investigate.
As the pressure to save humankind and the world is often the fundamental motivation for the main character of any RPG game, you play as a courageous United Nations soldier who agrees to join the team established to uncover the mystery. Aboard the Red Sprite, one of the three ships venturing into the unknown land, you answer directly to Commander Gore, the overall commander of the Schwarzwelt Investigation Team. As a member of the Strike Team, your role will, of course, be the game changer.
Along with meeting Commander Gore, you will meet Zelenin, a hopeful Russian scientist and first lieutenant of the Monitor Team, whose sole responsibility is to study the Schwarzwelt. She, along with other scientists, is on the third ship, the Elve. You’ll find Zelenin’s role may change as the game progresses into more dangerous territory.
Another key character you'll meet is Jimenez, who serves on the second ship, the Blue Jet, and is also a member of the Strike Team. Many characters in the game do not see eye to eye with Jimenez because of his cynical and somewhat insensitive regard of the overall mission. However, as the situation changes, Jimenez mostly stays the same, but he offers refreshing speech nevertheless.
With on-board AI Arthur, the commanding unit of the Red Sprite, and other commanding units operating to get the ships into Schwarzwelt with ease, the mission cannot help but be successful … except everything goes wrong from the very beginning. Underestimating the anomaly, the ships end up crashing before they can even begin.
When the dust settles, the crew of the Red Sprite find themselves in a ship without power. But if the ship has no power, how can the door of the deck open? The startling answer to this question becomes clear almost immediately, as supernatural beings, known as demons, begin to wreak havoc on the crew. Through much effort and the use of the Demonica (DEMOuntable Next Integrated Capability Armor), a suit specifically made to function in the Schwarzwelt, the crew manages to fend off the attacking demons and even regain power.
Sadly for the Red Sprite, their troubles are only beginning. Trapped in Schwarzwelt, the crew must battle demons as they make their way to different areas of the Schwarzwelt, with no real surety that home will be their final destination. As if the stress of fighting demons and the uncertainty of never returning to Earth aren’t enough, the protagonist has to deal with the sudden appearance of an angel-like being who claims to be a messenger from God, and a mysterious girl by the name of Alex, who tears through the protagonist during their first meeting as if she were picking lint off a sweater.
Strange Journey Redux: Key Points
While the game is essentially an adventure RPG, Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux sticks to classic movement. It is not seen through the third-person, and there is no free-range movement. You never see your character, and movement is stiff and mechanical. This forces you to make sure you take your time whenever you’re trying to change your direction; otherwise, when you’re trying to move backward, you might find yourself facing and moving forward, so beware.
This tactical single-player RPG is essentially about demon collecting. When the time comes to venture off the ship and into the demon-infested world, you will be approached by a demon who wants to join you. From this demon, you will learn how to get other demons to join your party and fight alongside you. As there are 350 fusable demons available, you’re not limited to just the demons you can convince, for a fee, to join your party.
When interacting with other characters, as well as demons, it’s important to pay attention. At random, you may be faced with a choice or question. This helps form characters’ opinion of you and ultimately helps in shaping the fate of the world. Not to mention, if you thoughtlessly answer a demon who you are trying to convince to join you, you may find yourself missing much-needed HP and MP because of a sudden fight sequence.
Is the Game Worth It?
With new demons and new dungeons, even if you played Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey once upon a time, you won't be bored or disappointed with this updated version of the adventure.
Even if you’re unfamiliar with the Shin Megami Tensei series, this game is definitely worth checking out. It has all of the elements that make an RPG extraordinary, such as seamless gameplay, unique leveling features, an interactive plot, unforgettable characters, and emotional scenes. Sure, the mechanical movement is a little off-putting at first, but it's easy to adapt to once you get into the game.
Who knows, this game might be the gateway into the whole series for you. It’s worth the time! Get out there and save the Earth!
[Note: A review copy of the game was provided by the publisher.]