Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey is a role-playing video game developed by Atlus and Lancarse for the Nintendo DS. It was published by Atlus in 2009 in Japan, and in 2010 in North America. It is the fourth entry in the Shin Megami Tensei series, which forms the core of the Megami Tensei franchise.
A mysterious anomaly called the Schwarzwelt has landed in South Pole and expands every day, threatening to absorb the whole earth. To counteract this, the United Nations send a team of specialists, among which is the main character, with the order to investigate what happens inside the Schwarzwelt and attempt to close it. Inside, they find a society built by demons, similar to the human society. The area is divided in sectors, each of which represents a different view of the Earth: corrupted by a negative side of humanity brought to the extreme, before life appeared on it, after life will extinguish.
Why It Rocks
- A Shin Megami Tensei title that returns to its dungeon crawler roots, as well as returning to a first-person perspective after Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne, Devil Survivor and the Persona series.
- The series' staple demon negotiation makes a return in this game, unlike the Devil Survivor games, which had the Devil Auction mechanic.
- Hitting an enemy's weakness will down them, allowing your party to launch a combined attack which, under the right condition, can do tremendous amounts of damage.
- Huge dungeons and environments that push the DS to its limits.
- This is (to date) the only Shin Megami Tensei game not set in Tokyo, which allows for much more variety in the locations and dungeons.
- The plot is very absorbing, and your choices will tie into one of three alignments (Law, Neutral or Chaos), each focusing on one of the five human characters. The player's alignment will also change the story, ending and final boss. Redux also adds a new ending, activated by meeting certain requirements in the Chaos route which also reveals more about the new character, Alex.
- Over 300 demons to recruit and create via fusion.
- Lots of optional quests and side missions (called EX Missions) to keep you busy. Just like the rest of the series, the game also has a New Game + function, which unlocks new content on a new playthrough. The game's three bonus bosses can only be fought by meeting specific condition on a second playthrough and up.
- Unlike previous games in the series, which went for a post-apocalyptic setting, this game takes place in a sci-fi setting, which is new for the series.
- The game is hard, but not so much after you get the hang of it. The UI was revamped from the Devil Survivor series, and there are several quality-of-life improvements, including the ability to save anywhere in dungeons (unlike older games, which had save points in specific locations), and you can heal your party for free at the first sector.
- Badass soundtrack, one of the best ever composed!
- With new skills and new growth elements added, battles have been even further improved to deeper respond to gameplay.
- Unlike the other games, the player (as well as his companions) dons a "Demonica" armor, which allows him to communicate with demons and unlock special abilities (similar to the Mantras in Digital Devil Saga) as the game goes on.
- The Redux remake adds even more quality of life improvements, such as the aforementioned ability to heal for free, difficulty settings, new demons and skills, and voice acting.
- The DS version had a password system which could be used to insert special codes available on the game's website, and obtain special items or demons (including some unique demons, like Demonee-ho - a Jack Frost donning a Demonica).
- The voice acting in Strange Journey Redux felt pointless as it was mostly text. Not to mention, it's only in Japanese, even in the Western version - a move that resulted in a lot of backlash for Atlus.
- You can’t dash in the 3D dungeon.
- There’s no way to divide up your ability changes when the protagonist levels up.
- The number of skills a demon can have has decreased from 8 to 6 (like in Devil Survivor).
- Being manhandled by the EX Missions.
- Some of the demon animations are weird.
- The characters are unmemorable, and several players noticed that the Law and Chaos alignments lack all the nuance and implications they had in previous games (resembling more a traditional good vs. evil conflict), leaving Neutral as the only viable option.
- The previously religious feel of the game has decreased.
- The game was originally supposed to be Shin Megami Tensei IV, however internal conflict between the staff members of Atlus has made the developers scrap this choice.
- The Demonica armor reappears in Shin Megami Tensei IV, as the issue armor for the Counter-Demon Force.
The game has had a positive reception, earning scores of 80% and 80/100 respectively from aggregate sites GameRankings and Metacritic.
Famitsu game the game a score of 36 points out of 40.