Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is a remastered port of the original Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey released on the Nintendo DS back in 2010. I remember playing this game way back when not realising it was related to a much bigger umbrella of game’s, with it being my first experience with a Shin Megami Tensei title. Don’t let that last sentence put you off though, this game is a self contained spin off and is very welcoming to newcomers of the series but also contains many systems and game-play elements that Shin Megami Tensei veterans will master quite quickly.
The main plot of Strange Journey Redux takes place in an undisclosed year in the 21st century (supposedly in the near future) and revolves around a space anomaly that has manifested at the South Pole. This anomaly is referred to as Schwarzwelt and has been known to the United Nations for some time who have been feeding lies to the public about it’s existence via the media for a while. When Schwarzwelt continues to grow, destroying anything it touches, the United Nations put together an elite task force made up of top tier soldiers from around the globe to travel into the mysterious portal and investigate. Inside they discover more than they bargained for. A nightmarish mirror version of Earth, crawling with demons that threaten the real world.
At it’s core Strange Journey Redux is the same game from 2010 but it’s had some of it’s systems modernised to help bring it in line with what we expect from games in 2018. It’s also had a bunch of new content added in that makes the end-game drastically different from what we got 8 years ago.
These new upgrades include full Japanese voice acting, three different difficulty levels that really even out the difficulty and help minimise the amount of grinding the later half of the original game required, better visuals with brand new artwork by Masayuki Doi famous for his designs on the Persona and Devil Summoner series, 20 save slots with more generous options permitting you to save just about anywhere and new story content featuring a new character, Alex that can lead to one of 3 new endings for the game.
This new content justifies playing through the game again even if you spent numerous hours playing it in the past. The play-time of the new content alone lasts longer than some complete games, although is assisted in that feat by some dungeon padding and repetitive battles.
Strange Journey Redux is a narrative driven, first person dungeon crawler game that could be described to someone that’s never played it as a great combination of two other Atlus properties, Persona and Etrian Odyssey. You’ll spend most of your time travelling in first person to new area’s of each dungeon trying to reveal the map of each sector while also trying to survive as you do so in turn based battles against the hoard of demons inside the Schwarzwelt.
I’m a sucker for turn based battle systems and Strange Journey’s system is fun and addicting yet deep. It’s more than just defeat the threat in front of you and progress to the next battle or zone. You’ll spend a lot of time crafting your own perfect team, and will be tweaking it constantly the further you progress through the Schwarzwelt’s dungeons. With the ability to negotiate with the demons during battle it opens up various options to you, you can bribe, scare away or even recruit the enemy onto your team of demons depending on the speech options you select during the bribe sequence.
Don’t make the mistake I did when first playing Strange Journey though. The demons aren’t meant to be treasured for numerous hours and raised like a Pokemon. Instead you are meant to strategically recruit and fuse them together with other demons you posses to create a brand new stronger demon. This method keeps your team forever fresh and steadily increases the fighting ability of your team as you progress through the Schwarzwelt. You” have 350 possible demons to create through fusions and with the ability to select the inherited skill the demon will posses allows you to craft the types of creatures you know your team may need at any given point in the game. It’s a fun and rewarding system and many of the demon designs are down right incredible to look at.
The most substantial of Strange Journey Redux’s brand new content is found in the new ‘Womb of Grief’ area. Redux contains 3 new endings and the path to getting them involves beating all 7 levels of the Womb dungeon. The main story sequence of this new area is directly tied in with the brand new character featured in this remaster, Alex. Alex pops up from time to time in the main story and it’s very clear she want’s you dead. You’ll find out why the more you play, as her full story and motives are revealed the further you traverse through the Womb of Grief.
This area by the end becomes extremely difficult, even while playing on easy mode for my review I had to spend some time working out what I was doing wrong and re-evaluate my team. The dungeon itself is filled with interesting puzzles and is fun to traverse but is also extremely padded out pacing wise with repetitive battles with the same demons over and over and sections that are quite unforgiving to mistakes resulting in you having to replay entire sections over if you lose and need to re-evaluate your setup or heal.
Nintendo 3DS titles are few and far between these days. But if you’re still enjoying the system and are looking for a mature, dungeon crawler JRPG then Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is definitely worth your time (and you’ll be using a lot of it here). Even if you’ve played through Strange Journey in the past, the amount of new content jammed into this remaster justifies another play-through alone. If you’re a newcomer to the Shin Megami Tensei series, Strange Journey Redux is a great jumping on point and will likely get you invested in other games in the series.
A Nintendo 3DS review code was provided by the Australian publisher for our Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux review.
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