Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey offers a refreshingly thoughtful experience compared to most Japanese RPG plots
- Intriguing and mature story elements, lots of areas to explore and hidden secrets to find
- Demon fusion takes trial and error, thematic elements may offend some gamers
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.
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 newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Nokia 6 (2018) review: Simple. Solid. Supreme.
- 2 Samsung Q9F Series QLED: Peak performance from a home entertainment heavyweight
- 3 Hisense takes the fight to home entertainment heavyweights with flagship Series 8 and 9 ULED TVs
- 4 D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD DSH-C310 review
- 5 Ring Video Doorbell review
Latest News Articles
- E3 2018: Every big game announcement and trailer
- Computex 2018: G.Skill draw eyes with new 'Crystal-RGB' RAM and new gaming gear
- Computex 2018: CoolerMaster have new a mouse that can count your kills
- Computex 2018: Everything new announced and shown by MSI
- Computex 2018: Razer open up RGB ecosystem and keyswitches to third parties
PCW Evaluation Team
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.
Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category
The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use
I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.
It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.
- Computex 2018: Everything you missed at Asia's biggest tech tradeshow
- Computex 2018: Nvidia launches new AI-focused hardware and software platforms
- Huawei P20 Pro review: See it and believe the hype
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies