Loading...

May 31, 2018
Katherine Wright
New Game Plus / Features

Over the years, I’ve had the Shin Megami Tensei series recommended to me a lot by my friends. I’m weak for an in-depth game with a good challenge, and I’m (shamefully) partial to grinding in RPGs. I’d played through a few of the Persona games and enjoyed them immensely, so I was curious to see how I would enjoy the gameplay of a mainline Shin Megami Tensei title. Maybe I also wanted the opportunity to hang out with Jack Frost and Mothman, the most adorable demons, but that’s another story for another day. Regardless of the reason, it was time for me to finally play a real Shin Megami Tensei game.

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is a remastered version of the Nintendo DS title released in 2009. This version features updated graphics and character art (all beautifully upscaled to fit the 3DS), a new ‘casual’ difficulty, a new dungeon with story and ending content, more save points and additional demon slots.

The story, which remains mostly unchanged, revolves around team of researchers and soldiers and soldiers sent to Antarctica to investigate the Schwartzvelt, a spatial anomaly that threatens to engulf the Earth. Upon reaching their destination, the crews find themselves shipwrecked in a bizarre, foreign world populated by demons who prove to be both friends and foes in the crew’s journey back to Earth. Isolated with virtually no human contact, the crew find their moral judgement, decision making and mental fortitude challenged. In case you couldn’t tell, the story is dark in tone, so there’s not too many happy times to be found here.

You will be recruiting these demons, each with their own unique skills and abilities and using them to fight in dungeon battles. You can then fuse them together to create even more powerful demons, transferring skills through fusions to create an unstoppable team. I know there’ll be some SMT fans out there who will be disappointed to see me make this comparison, but it really does reminds me a lot of Pokémon. Instead of Pikachu you can use a henchman of Satan, or a ball of hair with an enormous nose, or any combination of other bizarre and entertaining characters.

The fusion and combat system it is easily one of the most engrossing parts of the game. It adds an enormous amount of depth and potential to gameplay. Given the difficulty, you’ll need to be aware of how to use the fusion system to overcome enemy weaknesses and maximise your team’s potential. Most of your time outside of exploring is dedicated to micromanaging your demons and their abilities, so thankfully the game provides you with an ample amount of tutorials and guidance through the process. It’s a lot of fun, and super satisfying when you finally get the right fusions to wreck your way through enemy mobs.

On top of the fusion system, my favourite part of Strange Journey is these demons themselves, most of whom make repeat appearances in the SMT and Persona franchises. The personalities and variety of design help to offset the overall gloomy tone, injecting some wacky personality and humour into some areas which can become quickly repetitive. The dialogue choices and responses during demon recruitment are entertaining, and the demon dialogue after they level up works to help develop a connection with your allies. Though each type of demon has a shared pool of responses, there’s enough diversity to ensure that talking to the demons doesn’t get boring after dozens of recruits. Often you’ll think you’ve finally figured out how to impress a demon through dialogue choices, only to discover it’ll turn around the attack you anyway; this is often frustrating but ensures you won’t always know what will happen next.

As for the dungeons themselves, the game utilises a first-person exploration system on a grid-based map. As someone who hadn’t played many games with a similar control scheme before, I found it very jarring initially, especially after being so used to free-roam controls. Though once I got used to it it made sense; it works well in the context of the encounters and exploration, as the progress of time and enemy encounters are determined by how many squares forward you move on the map. Narrow corridors and map hazards help to really achieve a claustrophobic feel in each of the dungeons, though I found that each one became repetitive and exhausting after the first few hours, true to dungeon crawling fashion. It didn’t take long before I found myself navigating almost exclusively using the map on the bottom screen, because there wasn’t much of the dungeon I hadn’t already seen.

I was a bit disappointed to find that the game didn’t have much to offer outside of dungeon crawling. When you return to the main hub to turn in a mission, you can’t do much except heal, manage your party and buy new equipment. This is where I felt that the later Persona games offered a great balance, with other activities and social links to complete to help unwind from a tense session of grinding and exploring. There’s still enough breathing room between dungeons for back-to-back grinding to not feel too exhausting, and the game encourages you to take plenty of breaks to heal and gear up during missions.

If you enjoy moody JRPGs with a satisfying challenge, great story and a good grind, Strange Journey Redux delivers the goods. But if you’re averse to repetitive dungeons, backtracking and grinding, you might want to think twice before picking it up. The game is unforgiving — even on standard difficulty – but is hugely rewarding once you find your own personal strategy and team of demons. I’m usually not a huge fan of the sci-fi aesthetic in video games, but Strange Journey’s story and gameplay really grew on me. Strange Journey Redux is a solid game that will give you dozens of hours of grim demon collecting (And in those many hours, did I encounter a single Mothman or Jack Frost? I can proudly say I did – and I can happily say that made it all worth it!)



July 18, 2019

Riding the wave of momentum following the announcement of the Switch Lite, Nintendo have announced a revised Switch model for anyone wanting to grab a Switch, but would want to use it on their TV. While it does keep the same form factor, the biggest change compared to the original model is battery life. The new model will allegedly have up to 4.5 – 9 hours of battery life, compared to the original model’s 2.5 – 6.5, and the Switch Lite’s  3 – 7 hours, all of which depend on the game you’re playing. This revised Switch may also feature some new chips and pr...

July 16, 2019

In what’s been a burgeoning period for the state, the South Australian government has annouced that Sony Interactive Entertainment will be opening an office in Adelaide. The new office will establish 32 new engineering roles, with no indication whether this will bolster local infrastucture or the greater Playstation line of products. What’s helped to attract Sony to South Australia has been the Economic and Business Growth fund created by Premier Steven Marshall’s Liberal Government, which will be providing $480,000 AUD to Sony to establish the office. “South Australia is ...

July 11, 2019

While the Nintendo Switch has enjoyed an unparalled level of success in the two years since its release, there’s definitely room for improvement. Nintendo has addressed that improvement today with the announcement of the Nintendo Switch Lite, which will be releasing in Australia on September 20th, retailing for $329.95 RRP. There are several big differences over the original model of the Nintendo Switch, aside from the smaller form factor. Notably, the console is designed to be used in handheld mode, as it does not support the Nintendo Switch dock or the ability to play games on a TV. T...

July 8, 2019

The Sega Saturn was released in Australia on this day July 8th way back in 1995. Arcades were still a big deal, even if they were in their last few glory years, and Sega was dominating. Games from Sega AM Departments like Virtua Fighter, Daytona, Virtua Cop and Sega Rally were swallowing money at Timezone like a bank during the Global Financial Crisis. Every time my lunch break ended I’d stare back into the arcade and wish there was a way to play those awesome games at home. And then there was. The Sega Saturn. It was big and black and beautiful. Virtua Fighter 2 with fighting sticks, V...

June 28, 2019

With a brand new expansion releasing next week and an exciting future ahead of it, Sony Pictures Television has announced that they are partnering with Square-Enix to develop a TV show based on the popular MMO Final Fantasy XIV. Heading up the production work will be Hivemind Productions, whose work you may have seen in Amazon’s The Expanse and the upcoming Netflix adaptation of The Witcher. While no specific plot for the TV show has been announced, the show will be set in the world of Eorzea, which blends traditional fantasy and magic, with an undercurrent of technology, and its charac...

June 26, 2019

With the second season of the anime nearing its conclusion, Bandai Namco are aiming to continue the One Punch Man hype with the first video game based on the series — One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows. The announcement is light on details – it’ll be a 3v3 Arena Fighter developed by Spike Chunsoft, who have plenty of experience with the genre. It’ll be released sometime in the near future on the PS4, Xbox One & PC, and we got a quick glimpse at some of the roster: Saitama Genos Fubuki (best girl) Sonic Mumen Rider With the One Punch Man anime & manga featuring a bre...

June 20, 2019

If Modern Horizons taught us anything, it’s that Wizards of the Coast likes to revisit classic and powerful cards of yesteryear. Often these newer versions are ‘fixed’ and are thus not always as powerful or fun. In saying that, I for one loved casting Deep Forest Hermit at Modern Horizons Prerelease; and while Cabal Therapist isn’t as exciting as casting a blind Cabal Therapy on turn one and ripping combo pieces out of your opponents hands (did I mention I love Legacy), it does offer new design space for decks. Does a fixed version of a card make it any less fun, exciting or powerful...

June 19, 2019

Since its initial release in 2015, 2064: Read Only Memories has been one of the more popular attempts at creating a cyberpunk universe in the vein of Hideo Kojima’s Snatcher, and available on practically every platform you can think of. After years of ports and major updates, developer/publisher Midboss will be returning to the Read Only Memories universe with a sequel: Read Only Memories: Neurodiver, set to release in 2020. The game sees you play as a telepath known as ES88 as you track down a rogue psychic known as the Golden Butterfly, who is wreaking havoc in the minds of the citize...

June 14, 2019

With E3 2019 wrapping up, there’s still time for new video games to get revealed as Valve has proven. The company has announced Dota Underlords, its official version of the popular Dota Auto Chess mod. Dota Underlords will be a standalone release and won’t require the Dota client. For those unfamiliar with the concept, Auto Chess sees eight players battling it out to take control of the map by assembling and building up a crew in a slate of auto battles. You won’t have to wait long to give this a shot, as anyone who owns a current Dota 2 Battle Pass will be able to start try...

June 11, 2019

Square Enix is a publisher unlike any other. On one hand it has a library of classic Japanese role playing games, on the other it has Western studios making conventional AAA blockbusters. No more was this dichotomy made clear than with the staging: On a raised platform over at East of the stage stood its Japanese studio staff, whilst on the West was a producer from the American office. It was slightly uncomfortable, which is apt given the publisher’s handling of these two halves. Everyone looked to this live show for more details on Final Fantasy VII Remake, and Square Enix delivered. The g...

June 11, 2019

For whatever you think about Ubisoft and the kinds of games it releases, there’s usually one constant: it has always put on an entertaining E3. Whether it’s high energy dance numbers or concentrated doses of cringe, you can reliably count on Ubisoft for having a worthwhile E3 conference. And while there were some highlights this year, Ubisoft delivered something without much spark or warmth, something that was sorely missing compared to last year’s show. Part of the problem was starting with the showstopper. After being leaked last week, Ubisoft revealed Watch Dogs Legion. Set in a post...

Show More Blogs
Latest Videos
Latest Photos & Events