SMT: Strange Journey Redux Review
It’s the 25th anniversary of the Shin Megami Tensei series and guess who gets to review SMT: Strange Journey Redux? ME! The Mega fan over her at Kuzokuent and when I say mega fan I remember watching my Big brother playing the 1st game on a Super Famicom in the 90s. Extra kudos to those that know what year that game came out. My artistic hero designed and laid the basic art style people would see for years for this game series.
Fanboying aside, I played the original game in 2010 and let’s just say this game is a total rework. All new art, voice acting and a new route of my natural SMT style to play thru. In this one there is a new character named Alex but we’ll get into her during the story portion of the review. Here, we’ll talk about the story Gameplay, what I liked, hated and overall rating I’d give it as a game.
As a whole, the game is pretty much the same there is a Black hole that shows up in the south pole and grows daily. Worried the world nations gather together and send a team of their elites to find out what’s going on in what is called the Schwarzwelt. This is a place filled with not only demons (which no one knows before sending people into it) but with layer upon layer of different dimension also. Each “Sector” as they call them represents the earth and or human conflict and effects on said earth. These were things like greed, destruction, materialism, chaos and a reset of the earth from the Schwarzwelt.
You play the Nameless Protagonist, an American soldier which I can only assume is Japanese in the Japanese version. He is a member of the Red sprite that you yourself will be going through these sectors to follow one of the 3 paths. You wear the Demonica suits, a suit that will be seen in another game. Without going too deep into the story you will eventually meet a character named Alex who is there to stop the story from carrying out as the Original game from 2009/2010. And you should be wary of this character as it seems she is there to kill you to stop her future from happening and will be able to use her Heritage(SPOILERS) to stop you depending on your route.
Long story short you Play the hero on a mission that is basically a suicide mission to stop the world from forming into something you don’t know what at first until further into the game’s story.
So, Strange Journey is a 1st person dungeon crawler that utilizes features from many other SMT games like the Moon Phase system which affect all aspects of the game. The battles can be taxing if you don’t pay attention to the weakness and strengths of demon you are fighting with and against. Fighting a demon against Agi with fire is your best bet to use spells of that nature otherwise you’ve basically skipped an attack and possibly fueled the enemies’ health or gave them the chance to reflect the attack back at you dealing damage to yourself. Which can be a hassle until you’ve fought a demon and analyzed it which shows up as a pixilated mess that you can’t even talk into becoming your demon. But, if you can figure out weaknesses of the demons you are fighting you get what is called a co-op attack which is 2 attacks for the price of one. The fighting system is basic turn-based for SMT games and that is nothing overly new but well-polished enough that it isn’t stale and will be easy to pick up for new players.
Now SMT games have a heavy choice function in the games, your actions matter. Helping someone that is Chaotic or Lawful will sway what they call Alignment and this can affect what Demons will join you or how hard it can be to get them to join you. Personally, I always try my best to go Neutral to give the other side a big covering of shade to the warring groups in the game, which doesn’t affect demons joining you as much as picking a side. Some demons you can fuse using the demon summoning programs fusion app while others you’ll have to talk to and “negotiate” to get them on your side.
Outside of that, you are outfitted with The Demonica, or “DEMOuntable Next Integrated Capability Armor”. It is a device and a set of equipment featured in the series that allows you to add apps and or abilities for you to use. Some apps allow you to see needed materials and others will allow you to talk to demons on a full moon to get them on your side. While Apps you have plenty of space for, you have to manage what Sub apps you have as space is limited. Apps like the Demon summoning program takes no space while apps like gaining an extra item after battle do take up space. I figure Apps that allow you to see your enemies and unlock doors and such are seen as a bit more important than getting an extra item or mecca (the money in the series).
What I liked
I loved the choices in the art direction, the update in the graphics feels refreshing and on par with SMT IV which in my opinion, it had some impressive graphics for a 3Ds game. The music for the game is amazing too, with its remastered style it came out still ominous, uplifting and action packed when needed to be. I did in fact like the battle system, as a fan of the series it was nice to have a little change in design layouts when compared to the other games like SMT: IV and Soul Hackers. Each having their own little tweaks but keeping things the same so people can pick it up easily and for longtime fans to still know what they are doing. There wasn’t much I didn’t like about the game as a longtime fan, most of what I loved was from features they kept as mainstays that to this day are used in a lot of the SMT series games and the spin-offs.
What I hated
The one thing I hate which is a part of the battle system and that is the new demon encounters. When you meet a demon for the first time they are all pixilated as stated above and while it is an interesting way to go about it, it can leave you wide open to a game over and I’ll explain why in a second. Now, this doesn’t happen with bosses which are great, as you can look at a boss and try and guess what their weakness is. But, with New demons they are pixelated and no this isn’t a new feature, It was in the old game as well. I hated it then and I hate it now. The reason it’s a bother and I hate it is because this game has OVER 300 Different demons, most you will see over the span of the game others you’ll have to fuse together to make. That still goes without saying it is a major burn when you die to a demon that has a weakness to some ability you have but didn’t use because you couldn’t tell what it was. Other than the possibility of death from the unknown (which is rare, to be honest) I didn’t hate much at all. Well other than the characters you’re not supposed to like.
All in all, this game was great, I enjoyed my time with it and I plan on playing it again. Even more so if the Switch allows cross-play for DS games which I Honest to god don’t know why they wouldn’t allow DS ports to the switch. But you know that’s a topic for another day.
I give SMT: Strange Journey Redux a 4 out of 5, and that’s only because it has some issues with me as a player of the series as a whole that I believe could have been worked on. Although, by keeping it the same as the original game but improving it’s graphic, music and adding more to the story wise made me love it even more. If only they would have made strange journey like they did with SMT: IV…. it would be a 5 out of 5 best game! (Laughs) either way, if you’re a fan or someone new to the series this is a good game to play to start or a great game to play for older fans of the series. You just need patience and an urge to explore to get thru it and it 70+ hours of content that isn’t just story.