Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux Review

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux Review

Developed by Atlus
Published by Atlus USA
Reviewed on Nintendo 3DS

It is now 2018 and to many the 3DS is a relic of the past. With the rise and success of the Switch compounded by the outdated technology of the 3DS, it seems its days are numbered. Still some publishers like Atlus would say otherwise. On a nearly monthly basis this year, Atlus has been releasing titles on Nintendo’s hit portable system. The newest 3DS title from Atlus isn’t really that new. Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is a glorified port of a 2010 Nintendo DS game. Sadly it was one of those strange RPGs that came out late in the DS’ life, so many missed out on it. So Atlus re-releasing it with some new content seemed like a no brainer, especially with the rise in popularity of the Persona series since the release of Persona 5. But does Redux deliver in the tradition of Shin Megami Tensei as a wonderfully dark RPG, or does it fall flat on its demonic face?

The story takes us to a sci-fi world much different than most games in the series.  You are a new recruit in a strike force where people from all countries have joined forces to investigate a strange phenomenon called the Schwarzwelt. This strange phenomenon appeared in Antarctica where a strange, dark aura started to slowing “devour “the environment. Anything that goes inside it seems to disappear as it continues to expand. It’s your job, with a support crew from your ship the Red Sprite, to enter the Schwarzwelt to see if there is any way to stop it from expanding before it engulfs the entire planet.

The game plays like many other first person dungeon crawlers. You will explore areas in the Schwarzwelt and slowly uncover the map which is located on the bottom screen. While exploring you will find other humans from your ship that you can talk to, save terminals where you can save your game, and heal spots where you can pay money to fill up on health points and mana points. Redux also includes a new dungeon, the Womb of Grief, that adds several hours of gameplay and story. While exploring these dungeons you will encounter demons. These demons will attack you, but you can also talk to them to convince them to join your party. If you make good choices in the various dialogue trees you can then request items from the demons or ask for them to become your demon. Doing this will usually result in the demon requesting something in returns. This can be some of your health, mana or items in your inventory. Once the demon is in your party, you can use them in battle as well as fuse them with other demons to get stronger newer demons. Battles play out like most SMT games. This is a turn based battle system where you uncover the enemy’s strengths and weakness the more you fight them. You can have four party members in battle at once, one being you and the other three being demons you have summoned. You can also use a turn to swap demons out to help in battle. After battles you gain experience in a normal JRPG fashion and level up. When you’re done exploring or complete a story objective you will return to your ship to regroup. Here you will find out you next mission, save your game, heal, and buy supplies. You can also talk to different crew members in different locations like the Lab or Deck to help move the story along.

Graphically the game isn’t going to win any awards. The majority of the game includes amazing artwork by SMT veteran artist, Kazuma Kaneko. Redux also features updated character portraits and a new character, Alex, created by Masayuki Doi (Shin Megami Tensei IV). With Kaneko’s amazing character and demon design, you can tell this game has an amazing style. But that where it ends. The environments themselves are very bland and boring. Being a first person dungeon crawler, you barely see any difference in the environment. Everything looks the same. It ends up being easier to look at the bottom screen at the map for exploring while ignoring the top screen altogether until you encounter a battle. The battles, though have great artwork, also lack much detail. With enemies portraits being low quality and truly showing their age as an original Nintendo DS game. Overall, this game just doesn’t look that good.

The sound design in the game is definitely the high point in the game. The work of composer Shoji Meguro shines here with an amazing classical-like score similar to his wok in Catherine. There are some issues, however, mostly with the lack of variety. Thought the soundtrack is top notch, it seems that there are very little unique tracks in the game so you will listen to the same three or so tracks throughout a majority of the game. Also, the 3DS hardware just can’t seem to handle the music. A lot of the score will sound distorted and wrong coming out the 3DS’ speakers. Plugging in some headphones fixes this issue, but just isn’t practical. The game is also fully voiced in Japanese and has some fantastic acting.

At the end of the day, this is a very plain run of the mill JRPG. The sci-fi story starts off seeming very interesting. It does have long winded conversations and one note characters with no development at all, making it hard to care for any of it. The addition of Alex, the new scenario in the Womb of Grief, and a new ending does offer Strange Journey veterans an incentive to play this version, however. The battle system is very basic turn based system. Even the SMT twist of demon capturing seems dated and boring with no real twist. The boring and bland environments makes this game hard to look at. Hardcore fans of grindy RPGs will get a kick out of this game, but many others will just not care enough to get through it.

 

Graphics
10out of 5
Sound
16out of 5
Storyline
10out of 5
Gameplay
10out of 5

Overview

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux's great style and music can’t save this bland game. Basic combat and a story with no memorable characters makes this a lackluster JRPG.

2.88

2.88 out of 5
Average


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