Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey offers a refreshingly thoughtful experience compared to most Japanese RPG plots

  • Review
  • Specs
  • Images
  • User Reviews
  • Buy Now
Atlus Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey
  • Atlus Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey
  • Atlus Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Intriguing and mature story elements, lots of areas to explore and hidden secrets to find

Cons

  • Demon fusion takes trial and error, thematic elements may offend some gamers

Bottom Line

While it's engaging dungeons and mature themes are sure to please fans of the Shin Megami Tensei franchise, Strange Journey suffers from a hit-or-miss Demon Fusion system and a somewhat tired premise.

Would you buy this?

  • Price

    TBA (AUD)

The latest Shin Megami title certainly has an appropriate name. Strange Journey is a strange game for two reasons: one, it's an M-rated DS title, which is exceptionally rare, and two, it's about a futuristic multinational army that ventures to an Antarctica-like dimension to stop an impending demonic takeover of planet Earth. Strange Journey earns its 'Mature' rating not through depicted blood and gore, but by dealing with themes and story elements that could potentially make gamers feel very uncomfortable, something the franchise is known for. The Shin Megami Tensei series has also delved into various mythologies and depending on the choices you make during your time with Strange Journey, you might even end up having to fight the holy armies of the Judeo-Christian God (yes, the Biblical God, not some metaphorical figure). It's a refreshingly thoughtful experience compared to most Japanese RPG plots, but it's not for the easily offended.

The game's odd premise is also a departure from the established norm and it centres on a soldier who leads the expedition as he explores the ice caves and hellish mockeries of human-made locales that compose the strange world; everything plays out in a first-person perspective, similar to Atlus's own Etrian Odyssey series, and along the way, you can actually communicate with and recruit demons to join your team, as well as augment their powers and fuse them into more powerful fighters. You also make several moral decisions over the course of the game that determines which ending sequence you unlock.

Exploration of the varied dungeons throughout Strange Journey is exciting, and the strong enemy encounters force you to think carefully about risks and rewards when going into uncharted territory; it's a nice change from RPGs where non-boss encounters are nothing more than cannon fodder meant to bolster your experience level. While the turn-based combat engine is standard fare, there's still a lot of strategy to recruiting and creating powerful demons and crafting parties that work well together. One thing that disappointed me, however, was the demon fusion system: The previous DS entry, Devil Survivor, had an excellent "helper" utility that provided assistance in finding and planning various demon fusions. This utility isn't present in Strange Journey, and it is sorely missed -- you'll either have to commit the statistical information to memory, invest a lot of trial and error, or have a FAQ on hand.

The other big issue for me is a matter of personal preference. While the "futuristic military" theme is one that hasn't been seen much in the SMT series (or Japanese RPGs in general), it's so widespread in other gaming genres -- particularly here in the West -- that I found myself bored with it almost from the get-go. Some players will certainly appreciate the break from fantasy kingdoms and teenage anime heroes, but I like the "modern-day Japan" settings of SMT titles like Persona and Devil Survivor much more than this.

But while Strange Journey has its issues, it's still a solid game and one of only a handful of titles on the DS that truly is meant for mature audiences. If you're looking for a thoughtful, challenging RPG experience, this is a Strange Journey worth taking; those who take issue with the thematic elements, however, might want to go adventuring elsewhere.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Read more on these topics: games, nintendo ds
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?