Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux Review

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Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux on 3DS

Atlus’ MegaTen games tend to make you feel awful for being part of the human race, and no other game in the series does that quite like Strange Journey. Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is an HD port of the original 2010 DS release, and if you missed it the first time around, you can now play it on your 3DS instead.

Unlike other games in the series, Strange Journey Redux is not set in a futuristic or dystopian version of Tokyo. Instead, the game takes place in Antarctica. The world is in turmoil, a mysterious plane called the Schwarzwelt has opened up in Antarctica and the demons are starting to run wild. To save Earth, the United Nations has set up a strike force to enter the Schwarzwelt and find a way to destroy it. Although Strange Journey is not set in Tokyo itself, the dungeons of the Schwarzwelt are designed to resemble various locations and neighborhoods we would see in real life. One dungeon looks like a red light district, while another looks like a mall. After spending some time in this demonic world, you start to feel like the demons themselves are aping the way humans treat the Earth. There are comments about humans ruining the environment with pollution, consumerism, capitalism. You had the idea.

The international attack team is made up of people from different countries and backgrounds, which is rare in SMT games. Players take control of an American soldier aboard the Red Sprite, one of four ships that have been sent to Antarctica. This, in turn, also makes the lack of an English dub even more noticeable. Unfortunately, Redux only supports Japanese voice acting, which is a real shame. You can turn off the voices if they’re too distracting, but this will also turn off the demonic sounds.

Like other SMT games, the characters you encounter on your journey are generally quite flat and two-dimensional. Strange Journey Redux features three different endings (with modifications, if you choose to pursue the new content) that depend on your character’s alignment: Law, Chaos, and Neutral. Russian scientist Zelenin is the embodiment of Law, as evidenced by her reluctance to associate with demons during the mission. On the other hand, your fellow soldier Jiminez is the embodiment of Chaos, and he displays it in his reckless bravado in everything he does. Don’t expect any significant development or growth from either character; they are more philosophical ideals than anything else. While more or less a staple of the SMT series at this point, it’s still disappointing to see the Law and Chaos options portrayed as extremist ideals in the game, which makes Zelenin and Jiminez even flatter as characters. . It’s par for the course, yes, but that doesn’t mean it’s engaging storytelling. Either way, your character will have to make decisions that affect your alignment, which will decide which ending you get.

However, the ending isn’t the only thing your alignment will affect; it also plays a vital role in how your party functions in battle. Strange Journey Redux continues the SMT tradition of allowing the main character to recruit demons for the party by trading with them. If your alignment matches that of the demon, he will be more gracious to your requests. If you’re complete opposites, they might be a little more abrasive, or they might not even want to talk to you at all. In combat, Strange Journey Redux also ditches the Press Turn system in favor of an alignment co-op attack. Simply put, if you manage to hit an enemy’s weakness, other party members who share the same alignment will follow up with an extra attack. It’s not as sleek as the newly introduced Smirk system in SMT IV, but it does force players to think more carefully about the types of demons they want to have in their party. Combat is turn-based, as you’d expect, and the key here is to exploit the enemy’s weaknesses while protecting your own.

Speaking of caution, it should be noted that Strange Journey Redux is not for the faint of heart. Although the usual difficulty of the 3DS port has been toned down from the original release, it’s still a very grueling JRPG to get through. The difficulty increases a bit towards the start of the game, and you’ll need to think critically about the demons you recruit and merge along the way.

Dungeons are explored in first person and random enemy encounters will trigger after clearing a certain number of steps. For the most part, the dungeons are pretty well designed, with tricks and mechanics you’ll need to understand in order to progress. The second dungeon, for example, has holes in the ground that you can walk through to reach part of the previously inaccessible area. Sometimes you’re also forced to find hidden doors and passageways based on clues you can glean from the demons hanging around the area. Similar to the Etrian Odyssey games, your 3DS’ lower screen maps out the dungeon layout for you, allowing you to track unexplored areas and trap tiles. There are usually enough well-placed save terminals around the dungeon, so you never feel like you risk losing too much progress if you die. But if you die in battle, there is no Retry option. So be sure to save regularly.

On the other hand, there are also dungeons that border on exasperation rather than challenge. Strange Journey Redux features an all-new dungeon surrounding new character Alex, and this one was definitely a chore to get through. The Womb of Grief is a sprawling map with tons and tons of directional tiles that dictate where you can go. Add to that teleport tiles and a staggering encounter rate, and you have one of the most frustrating dungeons in the entire game. It’s completely optional, of course, but if you want to unlock the new ending variants and find out who Alex is, you have to tackle it. Fortunately, the payoff ends up being worth the torture. Alex is an intriguing character who immediately captures your attention the first time she shows up. The reveal surrounding her true identity may be a little divisive for some, but she’s definitely a meaningful addition to the story, and Strange Journey Redux is worth a second look just for that, even if you’ve played it before. original.

The rest of the game remains largely unchanged. The Red Sprite serves as the main operations command, where you’ll receive your next goals from the talkative AI robot Arthur. The Lab is where you can develop new gear and sub-apps, while the Infirmary heals your party to full health. This is where you can spend resources to strengthen your character and make the game a bit easier for yourself. While exploring dungeons, you can also collect Forma, which is used for laboratory development. Sub-apps are installed in the character’s cool-looking Demonica costume, and they are used to enhance your abilities in various ways. For example, you can make it a little easier to negotiate with demons or give yourself the option of talking to them during the full moon. An under-app even lowers the encounter rate, which I highly recommend when you’re just trying to progress quickly through a puzzle dungeon. While the original release limited players to the number of sub-apps you could install at any given time, Redux removes that limitation, making the game a bit easier.

Redux also includes a few other quality-of-life improvements that veterans will surely appreciate, such as the ability to choose which skills to pass on to a demon upon fusing. There’s also been a slight bump to the game’s visuals and graphics, and a few new cutscenes have been added for some extra story impact, which is nice.

Atlus didn’t make as many significant changes to the story, and that’s fine, considering the original plot was pretty strong on its own. At the end of the day, Strange Journey Redux is still a solid dungeon-crawling RPG that fans of the genre will thoroughly enjoy. Despite the occasional poor dungeon design, it strikes a good balance of difficulty without ever feeling unfair. The extra story content added to the game is a nice touch from Atlus, and it increases the replay value of the game even further. Just in case you need more quality RPGs for your 3DS library , that’s an easy recommendation.

Rating: 4/5 – Excellent


Advantages

    • Alex is a fun new character that adds a bit to the story.
    • Some quality of life improvements that keep the game from feeling too outdated and archaic.
    • The combat is tough, the dungeons are well designed for the most part.
    • Good replay value that comes with the different endings.
Smallest Editor's Choice

The inconvenients

  • The Womb of Grief feels like a dungeon designed specifically to annoy players.
  • Secondary characters are always flat.

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