I have not yet finished this game, but I have played enough in to it to know most the in’s and out’s of this game. Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey is considered the fourth game in the SMT franchise but holds no number in it’s title. There are a difference between these games and the Persona games that I like a lot. In fact this game is considered part of the main franchise and Persona is considered a branch off. Anyway I hope to give something solid to this review and not sound like a total fan (even though it may come off that way). I do love to play these games.
The Nintendo DS has a lot of great titles. Some of them RPGs and If you are a fan of RPGs and like me. You’re very picky. I feel that I’ve been burnt out with Final Fantasy. I like them a lot. I still play them time to time but nothing has really stuck out to me as amazing in terms of a console RPG. There are some one hit wonders that have popped up along the years from the Playstation, Playstation 2, Nintendo 64, and even Gamecube that I’ve played. Out of all the ones I’ve had the opportunity to play; Shin Megami Tensei tops them all.
This game on the DS is quite basically, at first, a dungeon crawler. Some people find this very repetitive. Even me. There are some games that are majorly dungeon crawling to the point where I give up on it because it’s the same rooms, the same monsters, and a boring story. This does dungeon crawling right. Each area has it’s own unique look and feel. As well as the demons you fight change a lot. So you’re not fighting the same thing over and over again. Here’s where it mixes it up.
The battle system is turned based. You pick your actions and have them carried out. Then the enemy returns. Now, not only do you fight demons, you can communicate with them and get them to join your side! This involves picking the right things to say in the communication tree and sometimes they don’t make any sense but you’ll have multiple times and chances to talk to the demons again. Once you recruit them you can do two things. One: Level them up and get them in your party. Use them to help you fight other demons. Two: Once they are leveled up however high you want them to be. Fuse them together and make bigger better demons to help you fight.
Once you’ve recruited a demon, whether they’re in your active party or not, if you see that demon pop up in battle talk to it. It won’t attack you. It will either heal your party, give you items, or give you money. You won’t collect any XP for doing that, but you can get some awesome items that way.
If you’re wondering what happens to the demons once you fuse them to make bigger better ones, they do go away. But, you have what’s called a Demon Compendium that allows you to Register the demons you have before you fuse them. And you can summon them out of the Compendium later to refuse or use in your party again…for a price.
The story is top notch, that’s the one thing I like about the SMT franchise. They always deliver on epic stories that border on the Mature so it doesn’t sound like the same cheesy: ‘Let’s go save the kingdom…again!’ Players take on the role of an unnamed soldier assigned to a UN-mandated research team deployed to the South Pole to investigate an abnormal area in the region dubbed as the “Schwarzwelt” (German for “black world”). Basically what looks like a black hole slowly eating earth starting at the South Pole. You go inside and find a whole other world filled with demons and peril. Your job is to find out how to stop the Schwarzwelt from consuming the Earth and make it back alive!
The graphics are decent and soundtrack are very well done. I’ve heard this game has a lot of hours to offer. Especially for a DS title. If you get the game new it comes with the soundtrack CD. ATLUS is always throwing in awesome bonuses like that. Another reason I buy these games brand new, there’s always a bonus item. I think the music in this game set the tone very well and helps suck you in to the icy world. And if you wondering if you’ll run out of demons to collect or fight. You won’t. There’s enough in here to match Pokemon in my opinion.
Gameplay: 9 – Sound: 10 – Graphics: 7 – Replay Value: 10
It’s an awesome game that I highly recommend to pick up if you own a Nintendo DS. In fact it’s not that expensive either. Last I checked you could still get them new from Gamestop for around $19.99. Also to get a second opinion IGN is always a nice place to visit. If you want to hear what they said about Strange Journey, click here. Here are some screens from the game: