When it comes to the Shin Megami Tensei series, my thoughts always default to the Persona series (third game and onwards). I think of building strong social links, supernatural plotlines involving kids saving the world, and maxing out my stats so I can eat the Mega Beef Bowl. I never consider the other side of the Shin Megami Tensei series, the dark, melancholy side, where the happy days of hanging out with friends fades to nonexistence and the world is cast into shadow where you’re one random encounter away from death. Thanks to Atlus I can be reminded how rewarding that experience is with Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is an enhanced 3DS port of Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey which came out for the DS in 2009 in Japan and 2010 in the US. As with the original release, you take on the roll of an unnamed soldier that is part of a special task force. Your unit has been sent to investigate a spatial distortion in Antarctica, known as the Schwarzwelt, which has been steadily growing in size and threatens to consume the world. You and your crewmates will don special suits, known as Demonica, which will help you survive the conditions inside the Schwarzwelt and use special abilities.
Much like the original Shin Megami Tensei games (e.g.Super Famicom era), everything is done from a first person perspective, this includes exploring dungeons and combat. The bottom screen of the 3DS will function as a map that fills in as you explore and as your inventory management to use items, fuse demons, and other helpful functions. As you explore dungeons you will encounter numerous demons that you can either defeat or recruit. Combat is done in a turn based style that is seen in most JRPGs with additional options to recruit demons to join you or negotiate with them for money or items. Defeating demons can be a challenge as you have you to consider what attributes your skills and attacks have compared to the weaknesses and strengths each demon has. Recruiting demons is done through negotiations that require you to give favorable answers to questions but can also be affected by your alignment. You will also interact with your teammates at your base to gain access to side missions, building new equipment, or getting new sub-apps for your Demonica.
While the core of Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is the same as the original on the DS, there have been a number of changes that improve quality of life for game. The first and easiest changes to notice are the improved art style and the addition of voice acting. Voice acting is not necessarily a game changer but it does help add a bit of charm to characters. The only downside is the voices are all in Japanese. The sub-app system has been improved by removing the limit on the number of apps you can have activated at one time and the addition of new apps. While there is no limit to the number apps you can have activated there will be a message to alert you to any apps that interfere with one another. The save system has been improved to allow for 20 save slots compared to having two which allows for you to plan a bit better on encounters that may change your alignment. There is also the ability to save anywhere in the field now which negates having to go all the way back to base just to save. Speaking of going back to base, you no longer have to pay the medical team for healing which will save you a lot of money to spend on apps. With just these minor changes the overall experience is improved and you can build your character in ways that were not intended or impossible for the original version.
The major addition to Strange Journey Redux is the new sector known as The Womb of Grief. The Womb of Grief is an optional area that is unlocked shortly after leaving the first section in the main game and involves the new character Alex. This area is split into multiple sizeable floors each ending with their own boss. Each floor includes new demons to encounter and act as a decent location to grind some levels before moving back to the main story. The Womb of Grief also leads to three new endings that all depend on your alignment. While the new area is interesting, it is sadly full of repetitive fights and puzzles which are only made worse by the large size of each floor.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is a great remaster of the original in every way. The improvement to art and addition of voice acting adds more personality to each character. The changes to the sub-apps,free healing and 20 save slots have made the game massively more approachable. The Womb of Grief sector offers some unique challenges and puzzles that can help you level though it can be a bit tedious. I feel that Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is the definitive version of Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey and would recommend it to anyone that played through the original Strange Journey and to new players that are interested in the Shin Megami Tensei series.
Review Copy Provided by Atlus
Play Time: Over 50 Hours