Game Reviews

‘Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux’ Review

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Quick Take: The new features buried in this large game are welcome additions. A new soundtrack, Japanese voice acting, new demons, a new dungeon, and three new endings on top of the 60 hour campaign make for a large time commitment.

I’ve been playing Shin Megami Tensei games for a long time. My love for the franchise started when Nocturne released on PS2 in 2003, yet somehow I missed the launch of Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey. Maybe I wasn’t following DS games at the time, but whatever the reason I ended up buying a copy and never playing it. It was lucky for me that Atlus decided to release an enhanced port dubbed Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux, otherwise I may not ever have gotten it out of my backlog. Looking back, I regret not ever pulling it out of my catalog, because like most Shin Megami Tensei titles, Strange Journey Redux scratched the itch for the core gameplay-loop I’ve been missing recently.

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux starts off with an anomaly appearing in Antarctica called the Schwartzwelt. This anomaly is essentially a void that breaks down the molecules of anything that breaches its boundaries. Over time, this area has gotten bigger and bigger and threatens to engulf the world. Players take control of a soldier whose mission, along with several other teams, is to breach the Schwartzwelt, discover more about this anomaly, and figure out a way to stop it. As the plot progresses, players uncover dark religious themes, which are reflected in several of the explorable areas. Strange Journey Redux doesn’t attempt to alter any of the main plot points of its predecessor, and that’s a good thing because mature story-lines are Shin Megami’s bread and butter.

Anyone who has played an Etrian Odyssey title should know what to expect from exploration. Players move about in a grid based world, turning left or right and pressing forward is the main propellant around the world, and it is pretty cumbersome. Imagine if players were controlling any characters from Advance Wars’ grid based system in first person and you have a pretty good idea of how movement works. It’s not ideal, but it works efficiently enough, especially since battles are in first person as well. I did manage to get confused a few times about where I was heading before a battle when the fights concluded. I lost a little time this way, but Strange Journey Redux is such a massive game that it feels negligible.

As players battle demons throughout the various dungeons, demons can actually be recruited to the player’s party. There are 350 demons inside the Schwartzwelt that can be recruited, which is more than there were in the initial launch 8 years ago, and most players probably won’t recruit all of them. There are good incentives to attempting to recruit demons though, as they can be fused with other demons in your party to create new demons. This is especially useful when they know certain skills. Unlike the initial launch though, players can now pick which skills they wish their fused demons to inherit, which is incredibly helpful when trying to create the perfect demon.

The biggest addition to Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is a new dungeon called the Womb of Grief. After a certain point in the story, players are transported to this dungeon and are tasked with collecting items and tracking down a key character. This seven floor dungeon is a pretty decent new experience to the package, and it isn’t until later in the game that the rewards for completing it are really apparent. However, completing this dungeon is necessary to get one of the three new endings in Strange Journey Redux, so most players will probably want to finish it for the new storyline.

Visually, Strange Journey Redux definitely feels like a more dated game. Thankfully, the visuals have received a bit of an upgrade over the initial release. Dungeons are varied, and while none of the conversations are animated, and require lots of reading, the hand drawn characters are vibrant and colorful. Despite not being animated, conversations are fully voiced with Japanese voice actors, and all of them sound great with none feeling out of place.

While it is still missing several features that the Etrian Odyssey series has nailed well with exploration like note taking on the maps, the new features buried in this large game are welcome additions. A new soundtrack, Japanese voice acting, new demons, a new dungeon, and three new endings on top of the 60 hour campaign make for a large time commitment. Anyone who enjoys dungeon crawlers should definitely check out Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux as it is easily worth the $39.99 price tag with its mature themes and addictive dungeon crawling.

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is available now for Nintendo 3DS. This review is based off a code provided by Atlus USA.

SCORE: 4.2 out of 5

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