Strange Journey Redux is Good Old-Fashioned SMT
This preview covers impressions based on the game’s first two main story dungeons with a snippet of the new side dungeon. Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux asserts itself as comfort food for series fans. This enhanced port offers the sort of content you’d come to expect from a modern Atlus re-release. There are extra difficulty settings, more opportunities to save, extra demons, and new endings. None of this is surprising considering past SMT enhanced ports such as the two Devil Survivor 3DS games.
This extends to the core gameplay systems. If you’ve played any Shin Megami Tensei title in the past decade, you’ll quickly settle into a comfortable groove. Among the familiarity, Strange Journey Redux carries a few alterations. Demon negotiation and the removal of the press turn system are the most significant changes.
Negotiating With Demons
Demon negotiation still functions normally. You initiate conversations with demons and persuade them to join your party through a series of responses. Demons also ask to join your party at random intervals at the start of battle. Much like the main negotiation mechanic, any of them could be lying to your face. This unease and cautious mistrust are fine and dandy, but you want to know what’s different.
I have one word for you: Alignment. Strange Journey Redux actively integrates the series’ trademark alignments into many of its gameplay systems. Decisions you make throughout the course of the journey influence where the player character falls on this alignment scale. Everyone starts off as “Neutral-Neutral” with different alignments also prescribed to demons. A negotiation’s difficulty depends on how closely that demon’s alignment matches up to yours. If you and a demon share alignments, it will dismiss one flubbed response, allowing more wiggle room. You also can not recruit dark-aligned demons until you gain access to a specific Sub App for the protagonist’s demonica battle suit.
The press turn system introduced in Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne is replaced by co-op attacks. Exploiting weaknesses is still a major part of combat, though you’ll no longer receive a freebie for doing so. Party composition dictates how effective co-op attacks are. When an enemy’s weakness is exploited, a party member will only perform a follow-up if it shares the attacker’s alignment. You can easily fuck yourself over in critical situations if you don’t remain consciously aware of this system. It makes bosses significantly easier or harder depending on how actively you incorporate it into the usual compendium-filling process.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux has only just begun to show what it has to offer after nearly fifteen hours of playtime. The new character, Alex, was introduced near the end of the second dungeon. Her role in the story, as well as the extent to which her extra dungeon adds to the gameplay experience, remains to be seen. The little bit I have explored of that extra dungeon, the Womb of Grief, shows promise. The first floor alone contains a more complex layout than either of the first two dungeons’ ground floors. Traversing it felt like a journey (no pun intended). A full review should be coming by its May 15th launch, though it’s safe to say SMT fans will enjoy taking a bite out of Strange Journey Redux.
Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher.