Fighting The Dark Side Of Humanity
High A faithful return to the material with new additions.
Low Might be offputting for those who aren’t familiar with the series.
WTF The baby with spider legs still haunts my nightmares.
The Schwarzwelt is a massive black dome of energy slowly expanding over Antarctica. Attempts to see inside the dome have yielded only pictures of strange vistas that don’t make sense — a shopping mall, a land of garbage, and a war-torn city. Anything that’s ever gone inside the dome has never returned. Now, the United Nations has developed a team that will infiltrate the dome with the highest technology available to investigate and stop whatever is causing it to grow and envelop the earth.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is a re-release of a first person turn-based RPG for the Nintendo DS. Players take the role of a strike team member on the Red Sprite, an infiltration ship heading to the dome. Once inside, the team is attacked by demons, and a strange presence provides the protagonist with the ability to communicate with demons in the form of an app that connects to their techno-armor. With this new power, players continue to explore the Schwarzwelt and stop it at any cost to save the earth from destruction.
Players will spend their time traversing the different dungeons in the Schwarzwelt in order to find Forma — material that can be changed into equipment, items, and armor power-ups. As players power up their armor, new areas in each dungeon will be unlocked for the player to explore.
Combat is interesting. Players will choose either melee, ranged, or any number of magic skills (offensive or defensive) to defeat their foes. Each foe will has their own weakness and strengths, so the player will want to have a diverse party to handle every situation — and this is where demon negotiation comes in.
When exploring dungeons, demons the player encounters will ask questions, and the player’s answers may convince them to negotiate instead of fighting. Negotiation can yield items, money, healing, or even convince the demon to join the player’s team… for a price. Demons that join the player can then be recorded and summoned at any time outside of battle. They can be leveled up like regular party members, or fused together to create more powerful demons.
However, demon negotiation does pose a problem because there’s a lot of trial and error to it that’s compounded by a lack of consistency. Demons have mannerisms which normally hint at how players should answer their questions. However, not all demons of the same type will want the same answers. There have been multiple times where I negotiated with a particular demon and had it excitedly join my party without cost, while another exactly like it became angry and attacked me without a chance to retaliate.
So what’s new to this version? The biggest addition is a Alex – she’s a mysterious stranger with her own side story that integrates almost seamlessly into the original story. There are also new demons in each dungeon for the player to interact with, as well a completely new dungeon unique to this Redux version. The additions are unique enough to notice and warrant a second playthrough for those who’ve experienced the original.
Strange Journey was an enjoyable ride. Seeing the different dungeons of the Schwarzwelt and how the motivations of the demons (and how they felt about humans) blended well with each area.That said, those already familiar with the Shin Megami games will likely enjoy this reissue more than series newcomers thanks to its general difficulty and the inconsistency of the negotiation mechanics — it can be a bit polarizing for those who aren’t accustomed to the mechanics.
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Atlas. It is currently available on Nintendo 3DS. This game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on Nintendo 3DS. Approximately 30 hours were spent in single player mode, and the game was not completed. This game includes no multiplayer.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated M and contains Sexual Themes, Violence, Blood, Language, and Partial Nudity. Female demons can be pretty revealing with their dress. There are many moments of demons tearing into the human crew members, nothing on screen, but there are many screenshots of bloody corpses. The language is fairly violent, but I have not heard F*** in the game. Young kids should not play this game. The tone and the issues it talks about are more adult, let alone the content of the game itself.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Dialogue is voiced in Japanese, but also includes subtitles for all dialogue. There are no audio cues necessary for gameplay, and the text cannot be resized. It’s fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: The game offers no remappable controls. Players can use A to select, X to save (while in a dungeon), Y to bring up the menu, and B to cancel. Movement is controlled with either the D-pad or the directional stick.
While Sonic and Street Fighter were great places to start, his first love was Final Fantasy X when his dad bought a PS2. Ever since, that love for gaming has evolved -- there are a number of game worlds out there, and he intends to explore them all. RPG to horror, platformers to casual and everything in between -- if it’s available, he’ll play it.
While his time is short between writing reviews, tabletop gaming, and attempting to start a cheesecake business, he has caught all 806 pokemon and can speedrun Star Fox 64 in less than 40 minutes. He’s always looking for new things to try and new challenges to conquer. You can find him on Twitter -- @eugene_sax.