With the Earth slowly decaying due to the unknown void that appeared on the South Pole, humans are afraid of the planet being engulfed by the anomaly called Schwarzwelt. A group of elite explorers are sent out to investigate the anomaly, but what they find is a place where demons lurk. In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, we will embark on a journey where we will meet demons and decide if they can be an ally or a foe. You are the last hope for the Earth’s survival! What you find in your investigation might be the key to the salvation of the human race.
Although you join the government-led crew for an exploration, it ends up becoming a suicide mission. When it comes to a Shin Megami Tensei title, the majority of its games are always a success; will Strange Journey succeed in getting the attention of its fans? Let’s take a look at the HOTs and NOTs to decide.
Many videogame plots over the past few years have been based on an apocalyptic future. By now, the end of the world theme is getting pretty old. What makes SMT: Strange Journey stand out from the other “end of the world” games is the mixture of the apocalyptic world blended with sci-fi and demons. Games that are focused in apocalyptic settings often reveal the world ending in a nuclear blast. With Strange Journey, you will not see a wasteland or mutated creatures but instead an environment where demons are coming to take over the world. This is similar to the majority of Shin Megami Tensei titles.
From the moment you start the game and receive your first order to investigate Schwarzwelt, you will already feel the tension the disaster that has struck the Planet Earth. The world is in a state where all people’s hopes are diminishing and it’s up to your elite team to find a solution and stop the madness. Unfortunately, the story starts very strong but will begin falling apart as you finish the game.
Moralities and Ethics
From the very beginning until the end of your journey in SMT: Strange Journey, you will be asked a series of questions that will test your morals and ethics. Most of these questions come from demons, and depending on the answers you give to them, some will find you interesting while some will attack you. After you name your main character, a series of situational questions will be asked. Based on the answers that you give, the character’s base stats are determined. There is no right or wrong answers, as everyone’s opinion are different and the questions are designed to see where you stand.
Team of Demons
In exploring the dark anomaly that is Schwarzwelt, the investigative team members will be wearing a Demonica, also known as the DEMOuntable Next Integrated Capability Armor. The armor will not only allow the team to see demons but it also helps navigate Scwarzwelt. Similar to past Shin Megami Tensei games, you will have an ability to talk to demons and, depending on what you say to them, they will join you, attack you, or give you items or macca (money currency in the game).
There are over 300 demons in Strange Journey that you can either fight with or recruit as allies. As always, not every demon can be caught in the wild. By fusing two demons, you can create a much more powerful one. I am glad to see some returning demons in this game—mainly the popular Pixie. It is very overwhelming to choose what demons to keep in your party since you’re only allowed to summon up to three.
Another great addition in Strange Journey that will allow you to get more demons are via the password system. By entering long passwords in the game, you can unlock regular or special demons! Since gathering all 300 demons are very time consuming, you can take this route as passwords can be obtained from a lot of ways; trading with friends or just looking it up online!
First Person Exploring
We have seen aspects of the Shin Megami Tensei series evolve from one game to another, whether it’s the battle system or the way you have to explore. In SMT: Strange Journey, exploring the Schwarzwelt is done via first person. It might seem a little weird at first but I find it to be a very unique way of exploring the dungeons. Random encounters will be pretty common while exploring the Schwarzwelt but once any battle commences, it will be the traditional battle system that series veterans will be fond of.
Without a map to aid in exploring the dungeons, there is no doubt you will get lost. However, thanks to the second screen of the Nintendo DS, there is a map that will help you out. Every step you make is represented by one block. There is not really much utilization with the touch screen, except that you can move it around with the stylus. The map will also highlight save points and heal spots that you come across in a series of dots.
There is no towns or merchants to talk to in SMT: Strange Journey except for one of your crews on the pod. Since the mission is a dangerous one and the survival chance is very minimal, you will be locked in exploring dungeons most of the time. In exploring the dungeons, you will be able to search for ‘FORMA’, special items that can be found only in Schwarzwelt. The formas can be turned into items, weapons, and armors that will make your Demonica suit more powerful.
Another great addition that can be found in Strange Journey is the Sub-Apps that you can install in the Demonica Suit. Acquiring rare formas will give you the opportunity to manufacture an application that can alter the way you talk with the demons or a specific enhancement that raises your HP. Before any manufacturing can be done, Macca is required to purchase the upgrade.
Along with the retail copy of SMT: Strange Journey, you will also receive the soundtrack of the game. Meguro’s soundtrack fits very well to the sci-fi plot of the game and it will make you go with the beat of the game. You can tell from the tunes that Meguro did a great job as you will be feeling the emotion and tension as you play through it.
We’ve known that every Shin Megami Tensei game is very lengthy, and Strange Journey is not an exception. Expect to spend more than 50+ hours playing this game, as there are tons of side quests to do in addition to the main story missions. As you go along through Schwarzwelt, you will meet demons that will ask you to do a small errand, and finishing them will earn you either a Macca or a Forma that will help you manufacture more items.
Exploring Schwarzwelt can get very dull. The environments for every dungeon will look the same and it’s easy to get lost without looking at your map. The only good thing that I find in the game except the presentation is that it includes some CG graphics that looks very anime-ish.
Very Boring Dungeon Crawling
After going through half of the game’s plot, you will notice that the dungeons are getting a lot bigger. You will get confused and lost and you will have to remember where on your map you just passed through. You will think of this game as a very massive dungeon crawling, as there will be portals and stairs that will lead to a lot of places you won’t even remember. Despite its big dungeon crawling gameplay, you can also take this opportunity to level up your demons before reaching the final boss.
Fans of the Shin Megami Tensei games will find this game a big addition to the series. Its amazing sci-fi story-telling will make you keep on playing as you will want to find out more about the mystery of the Schwarzwelt. Everything you love from Nocturne and other Shin Megami Tensei games can be seen in this game, except you would have to deal with the first person exploration in a maze of dungeons. Collecting and fusing demons never gets old with this game—fans of the RPG genre should definitely pick this game up.Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Review,