I was admittedly late to the whole Megami Tensei franchise, which includes the beloved Persona series. Having caught up on a handful of games, I’ve found that I’ve been missing some incredible adventures, including Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux. A “remake” of sorts of a 2009 Nintendo DS game, Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is the perfect entry point for new fans to get a grasp of how the now iconic demon recruiting system works, and how the game’s dungeon crawling mechanics make this one of the better RPGs on the Nintendo handheld systems.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux takes place sometime in the near future, and follows the story of a group of soldiers, scientists, and explorers that are tasked with investigating a strange phenomenon over the South Pole. Armed with new tech, including special suits called Demonicas, this group infiltrates the Schwarzwelt, a dark cloud that contains its own mysterious ecosystem, and things go wrong right off the bat. Four ships go in, but only one survives intact.
The player takes control of one of the members of the surviving group, and tries to rescue the others and ultimately escape from the dangerous Schwarzwelt intact. Standing in the way are over 300 creatively designed demons, each with their own personalities and strengths and weaknesses. These demons can be convinced to join your team via text-based negotiations, and soon, finding and collecting as many as you can becomes a driving force in the narrative.
Another key component of Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is the dungeon crawling. Like the Etrian Odyssey franchise, also developed by Atlus, players “map out” dungeons as they explore, battling demons and rescuing crew members, finding needed components for vehicle repairs and upgrades, and more. For classic RPG fans, this game has it all. The battles are turned-based, and use a rock-paper-scissors system. There are two main types of demons you’ll encounter: Lawful or Chaotic, which essentially boil down to good and bad. The player and his or her team of demons can even link their attacks for extra damage or buffs, to help turn the tide of battle. Grinding is key, as raising levels and getting stronger will allow the player to explore deeper into the game’s story.
Since this is a “remake” of a previous game in the franchise, Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux comes complete with additional story elements and characters not in the original title. This gives seasoned veterans a reason to pick it back up and go through it all again, and the adjustable difficulty makes it playable for gamers of all skill levels. And if that’s not enough, there are multiple endings based on decisions made throughout the game.
Graphically, Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux doesn’t differ too much from the 2009 version of the game, which is fine, as the art direction was top notch almost 10 years ago. The Demonica suits look like a cross between Styx’s Mr. Roboto and an Ultraman villain, and the many character designs are decidedly anime-inspired, and fill various archetypes for a game like this.
Strange Journey Redux has a full musical score and voice acting in native Japanese. The translation is well done (with a few light-hearted moments peppered into the drama) and the various voices help to give each character their own personalities. Like most RPGs, this is a text-heavy game, and exposition is key to understanding the plot as the hours build up in the Schwarzwelt. I’ve enjoyed the adventure so far, and look forward to playing more and more, as, like last year’s Persona 5, I’m completely sucked in now and am driven to see it to its conclusion.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is a perfect opportunity to pick up a game that many may have missed and finally see what the fuss is all about. While other Shin Megami Tensei games take place in Tokyo, or in more modern and urban settings, Strange Journey Redux gives players a whole new world to explore, as well as new mysteries to uncover on their way to completing the mission at all cost. And with a new main character and story to tackle at the completion of the main quest, this is a game that will reside in my Nintendo 3DS for the foreseeable future. Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is a wonderful adventure that will take gamers on a strange journey indeed.
This review is based on the Nintendo 3DS version of the game. A copy was provided by Atlus.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux gives players another chance to play a wonderfully-crafted RPG. Even if you took the plunge nearly a decade ago, there's still reason to jump back in.