Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux brings you back to the golden age of SMT games. for better or for worse. While the SMT team still provides a solid narrative with a focus on player choice, the combat begins to feel repetitive for long-time players of SMT games.
The story of SMT: Strange Journey is fairly straightforward. You are a random strike team member in an expedition into an alien void realm that appeared over Antarctica. As with any good expedition, the four ships sent into the void have crashed and it is up to the survivors to figure out how to escape. Also, there are demons.
“Also there are demons” is pretty much the theme of any good Shin Megami Tensei game. The plot can involve a murder mystery where people are pushed into TVs or a post-apocalyptic end of world scenario, but there will always be demon enemies, demon allies, and demon fusion. Strange Journey is no different.
Strange Journey has the usual assortment of demons that you can convince to join you to fill up your four person party. One interesting twist is that certain demons will not talk to you if you are the wrong alignment. If you are too good, the evil demons won’t talk to you. If you are too evil, the good demons won’t talk to you. And if you are too neutral, enjoy all of those uninteresting neutral demons.
The less interesting effect of your alignment choices on combat is in how critical hits are treated. In other SMT games when you hit an enemy with their weakness the you are either given an extra turn or the enemy skips its next turn in combat. In Strange Journey striking an enemy’s weakness causes similarly aligned demons to perform a follow-up attack. In theory, this makes sense. If you’re evil, you’ve only recruited evil demons so every strike should feel more effective. But a large part of the SMT games is demon fusion and two evil demons will often fuse into a good or neutral demon, thereby limiting your power.
Your enjoyment of the gameplay loop of Strange Journey is going to be dependent on how much you enjoy grinding. You will either be over-leveled and spamming the attack button or under-leveled and using your constrained mp to cast magic that hits the enemy weaknesses. When you have finally built an awesome team, the game can feel empowering – that is until you replace out your demons with something stronger.
In addition to the original dungeons from Strange Journey, Strange Journey Redux includes the Womb, a seven layer challenge dungeon with its own slightly related plot. The Womb provides some added difficulty, but it did not feel like it added a lot to the story by focusing on a few minor side characters. It does offer a fourth ending, though, which is fairly worthwhile.
Strange Journey shines less in its plot and more in its world building. The real world is painted as evil and corrupt with a strong focus on murders and drug trafficking. One of my favorite parts of the story is how your character fits into it. You are not the savior of the world and you are not the only person capable of accomplishing any given task. You are literally just a random part of the strike team and you are generally interchangeable with the other strike team members. It at once gives the game a broader scope and a more personal focus on your journey as just one of many.
Strange Journey is not the best of the Shin Megami Tensei games – that accolade is saved for games like Nocturne, Persona 4, and Persona 5. But Strange Journey give you everything you want from a Shin Megami Tensei game. The improvement in graphics and sound design makes it run like a modern DS SMT title instead of a game from almost 10 years ago.
Interested in picking this title up? You can find it here:
Note: Atlas provided us with a review copy of this title in exchange for our honest review.
Shin Megami Tensei - Strange Journey Redux
- Dark Vision of the World
- Interesting Twist on Alignment Mechanics
- Tried and True Demonic Pokemon Formula
- Extra Dungeon Doesn't Add Much to the Story
- Gameplay Can Feel Stale for Players of Previous Games in the Series