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[Review] Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux

Posted on May 15, 2018 by (@LyonHart_) in 3DS, Reviews

One of the many big quality-of-life improvements for Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux compared to its original is that Sub Apps – essentially passive abilities that you can obtain through Forma research and equip to your Demonica – no longer have a limit on how much you can equip at once, so players are free to choose which benefits they’d like to trigger as they play through the game. With Forma – a special material only found within the Schwarzwelt – you can upgrade and develop equipment, apps, and more to help you on your way through the demented layer. Another notable improvement in Redux is the ability to be able to save at any time (a big thing for me) whereas before you could only save at Terminals which were spread throughout the map, and back at your Command Room. Other adjustments such as the ability to carry a bigger party as well as choosing which moves your fused demon inherits from its parenting duo are here as well. Something that may come as a surprise that wasn’t in the original is that you can now run by holding down the B button. Some dungeons have absurdly long hallways or open areas, so this becomes very useful, especially if you’re passing through it more than once.

The oddest thing I may have found out of a rather exceptional game is that there is no touch screen interaction in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux. When you press on the touch screen, there is a little bubble that pops up, so it understands the input is being made, but there is literally nothing that happens outside of that. Navigating menus and stuff of that nature that I would like to have used the touch screen for were non-existent, and I embarrassingly found myself on multiple occasions still attempting to select menu options and check my party but to no avail. It’s felt so natural at this state with 3DS games that it’s very odd to me to see it not be utilized at all, despite the fact that a little animation appears. You can sometimes move the map while you’re out in the field with the touch screen, but that’s as far as it goes.

In traditional Shin Megami Tensei fashion, Strange Journey Redux’s story is incredibly captivating, and all the new additions including Alex’s story, the new endings, the updated visuals, cut-scenes, and now being fully voiced make Strange Journey Redux feel whole and immersive. Even though it’s not as free as traditional Shin Megami Tensei games and you’ll be mostly navigating menus outside of battle, everything is connected in a way that is intuitive. The environments have such unique looks that are familiar yet odd, giving this sense of confusion but remaining memorable because of it. Schwarzwelt feels uncomfortable as you play through, and even with some demons being nice, the sense of survival is real, and the mystery that surrounds the Schwarzwelt and Alex entices you to keep moving forward as you uncover the truth behind all and the fate of humanity, and yourself, along with it.

If you’re looking to accomplish everything there is to do in Strange Journey Redux, you can expect to find yourself in well over 100 hours of content. For those looking to just enjoy the story or want to play casually, you’ll probably average out at around 45-55 hours depending on your proficiency. Not once have I felt bored playing Strange Journey Redux, and instead find myself having trouble putting the game down, which says a lot to me because I’m typically not too crazy for first-person dungeon-crawlers, though I do appreciate titles like Etrian Odyssey from time to time.

Shin Megami Tensei never ceases to deliver a stellar experience that, while having roots in mechanics and gameplay we’ve seen before, tends to time and time again be in a league of its own. Strange Journey Redux, much like its 2009 inception on DS, redefines what it means to be a dungeon-crawler in a way that’s equal parts fun, rewarding, strategic, captivating, and story-driven. The way Shin Megami Tensei grabs you and progresses, regardless of which genre it pursues in its plethora of titles and spinoffs, is so incredibly smart and welcoming that I feel newcomers can jump into any game and appreciate it, so long as it’s a genre they’ll enjoy. It has depth and strategy that rewards and incentivizes exploration and creativity and doesn’t fault you for it, and the more you tame your demons and grow and utilize apps, the greater you feel. It’s one of the few series out there that continues to evolve, even with its re-releases and updated ports, and makes the player feel like they’re growing with it.

The Verdict

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is a faithful port with a ton of enhancements to almost make it feel like a remake. With Strange Journey Redux, a heavy emphasis is a put on making the story revolve around the brand new, yet mysterious character Alex who has some odd intentions and is set out to killing the protagonist. You’ll go through new dungeons as well as you experience a new way to play the game. The mechanics are easy to grasp for newcomers but also plenty deep for those that want to feel creative in having unique setups for their Demonica suit and demon fusions. Each dungeon is memorable and morphs before your very eyes as you go further within, with tons of sidequests, Forma, and exploration between each quadrant and level without it feeling too overwhelming or too Metroidvania-esque. Whether you’re a fan of the Shin Megami Tensei series or dungeon-crawling in general – or maybe you’re curious to finally jump into it – Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is another great title in the series. It will hold fans over nicely until the imminent Shin Megami Tensei V on Switch, which, if history has taught us anything, will be a game to look out for when it releases and takes the world by storm much like how Persona 5 did in 2017.

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux review copy provided by Atlus for the purposes of this review.

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