Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux (Review) Nintendo 3DS

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux (Review) Nintendo 3DS
Review Score:

After a long wait, Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux has finally arrived on the Nintendo 3DS. What’s different between this release and the original Nintendo DS game, which launched on March 23rd, 2010? For starters, the game sports enhanced graphics and brand-new story illustrations by artist Masayuki Doi. In addition to that, Redux also includes a new dungeon to explore; new story content to experience; and additional endings that were not present in the original game. Plus, a new character has been added to help change the course of the main story. In a nutshell, the 3DS version is more than just an update; it’s an entirely new experience.

The main story has remained the same: After discovering the existence of the Schwarzwelt (a distortion field that is gradually expanding beyond Antarctica), The United Nations sends multiple teams – led by the hardened leader Gore – to investigate (and possibly eradicate) the unknown phenomenon coming from the Arctic region. After the UN teams crash land inside the Schwarzwelt, the story’s protagonist (who the player names) must survive a series of grueling missions to help identify the cause of the Schwarzwelt anomaly and also find a way back home.

During the course of the game, the player can use the Red Sprite – a military space vessel the protagonist and his teammates are assigned to – as a ‘safe zone’ for healing, purchasing items and acquiring new mission objectives. From the action menu, the player can select the ‘Move’ option to visit the Command Center (where new missions can be acquired, when available), Sickbay (a facility where the player can heal injured party members), the Lab (a science lab where health and weapon upgrades can be purchased, and also where Forma can be re-purposed for new equipment upgrades (more on this in a moment)), and the Deck (the only location where the player can leave the Red Sprite).

The game also encourages the player to speak to the various NPCs that are on-board the Red Sprite. By selecting the ‘Talk’ option from the action menu, the player can learn more about the ship’s crew, and also further the story along at certain intervals. There is also a ‘Save’ game function that can be used whenever the player is aboard the Red Sprite.

The game is seen from a first-person perspective, which is a major departure from the 2D isometric environments used in previous Shin Megami Tensei games. The dungeons themselves are comprised of gorgeously rendered 3D tunnels, which scroll smoothly as the player explores the long, ice-laden hallways of Antlia (one of the game’s many dungeons).

The player is protected by a suit called the Demonica, which is short for DEMOuntable Next Integrated Capability Armor. This suit is designed to protect the protagonist from extreme conditions, while also providing features that are vital for survival. For example: The Demonica includes ‘Extensible Applications’; a group of sub programs that help the user investigate their surroundings and find items (more on this in a moment). Later in the game, the Demonica suit will gain a Demon Summoning Program (and multiple sub-apps) that will allow the player to communicate – and then befriend – the various demons that inhabit the game’s many dungeons. From there, any demons the player befriends can be added to their party for use in combat.

Shin Megami Tensei has a crafting system that relies on Forma, a special mineral that is native to the Schwarzwelt. The Demonica suit is capable of finding this mineral, but only when the ‘Forma Search’ app is finally developed, and uploaded to the suit’s OS. (Without giving too much away, the player must complete a handful of starter missions before the app is introduced and then installed inside the player’s suit).

Once the player has collected enough Forma, they can return to the Red Sprite and visit the Lab to create new equipment like Demonica Suit Upgrades (i.e. better armor, etc), Sub Apps (new programs for the Demonica suit) and weapons (swords, firearms, etc). The Lab is also where ‘Expendables’ such as medicine, life stones and anti-poison can be purchased, among others. A good portion of the game is spent inside the Lab upgrading vital equipment to survive the game’s increasingly difficult dungeons.

Combat, like exploring the game’s many dungeons, is seen from the first-person. The player’s party – which contains both the protagonist and up to three demon allies – is displayed on the Nintendo 3DS’s touch screen, along with the ‘Combat’ menu, demon ‘Talk’ feature and the ability to ‘Retreat’. The battlefield and enemies are displayed on the system’s second screen.

Since combat is turn-based, the player must select a melee or special attack for each party member from inside the ‘combat’ menu. When the fighting commences, the player is shown a colorful display of explosions, spells, and melee strikes that brighten up the screen. It’s very dungeon-crawler in feel, and it resembles many classic RPGs from back in the day of gaming (i.e. Dungeon Master, Eye of the Beholder, etc). This process is repeated until all the on-screen enemies are defeated or the player’s party is killed. Like all RPGs, though – the player can heal party members with health items or with demons that possess the Dia skill.

Alternatively, the player can prolong (or even avoid) a fight by using the ‘Talk’ function. After selecting ‘talk’ from the Combat menu, the player can choose which demon to speak to. From there, the creature will ask a series of questions the player must answer. If the demon is happy with the player’s answers, its mood will improve and the option to ‘negotiate’ will appear.

During the negotiation process, the player can ask the demon for items, mecca (i.e. in-game currency) or to ‘join’ their party. These requests have their consequences, though. Before a demon will join the player’s party, it may ask for certain items, mecca or to siphon the player’s life force (i.e. HP) as payment. If the creature’s desires are satisfied, it will join the player’s party and the combat sequence will end without consequence. (This method doesn’t always work, though. Some demons would rather fight than talk.) When the player has enough demons in their party, they can fuse them together by using the available ‘Demon Fusion’ option. During this procedure, the player can fuse up to three demons to create a new one. The player can also decide what spells the demon will use by selecting them from a list.

Graphically, Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is a beautiful game with stunning 2D sprites and 3D backgrounds. The demons all look incredible, as they all animate smoothly with their own uniqueness. Even the dungeons stand out with their colorful, highly detailed textures and moody ambiance. The sound effects are also pleasing to the ears, as spells explode and melee attacks slice through their targets during combat. It’s an experience worth having, especially if you’re a fan of the Shin Megami Tensei series.

As far as JRPGs are concerned, Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux by Atlus is by far the best role-playing game money can buy, especially where Nintendo 3DS games are concerned. It has all the trappings of its predecessors, while also providing an engaging, thought-provoking story that keeps the player captivated until the very end. This alone makes Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux worth the price of admission.

Mike Pittaro
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus
ESRB: M (Mature)
Price: $39.99

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux:

Review Score
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is a beautiful game with stunning 2D sprites and backgrounds.
The sound effects are also pleasing to the ears.
Classic Shin Megami Tensei gameplay at its finest.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux by Atlus is by far the best role-playing game money can buy.
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