SMT Strange Journey Redux is one of the 3DS titles to be releasing as the handheld enters its golden years. This updated port of 2010’s SMT Strange Journey on the Nintendo DS, is a worthy second chance for a great game that seems to be fated to be overlooked by most.
The plot provides an interesting take on the Shin Megami Tensei with a setting that carries a heavy science-fiction flavor, most notably resembling Stargate. The player is an officer in a military unit that has been sent to investigate a mysterious vortex that has appeared and swallowed Antarctica and is expanding, threatening the entire planet. Upon entering the vortex disaster strikes the unit, and it is up to the survivors to make use of the demon summing app to make demons their allies and fight their way to the source of this monstrous threat to the planet. The characters are well written and relatable, helping to bring the story to life and draw the player into the experience.
The gameplay is true to the classic SMT formula of crawling sprawling labyrinths filled with traps and demons we have come to know and love. The battle system is also true to the series, with random encounters with a multitude of demons to befriend and fight. The combat is tough at times, but never unfair, with strategy being the heart of combat. Throughout the game the player will be faced with moral decisions that lead them down one of three paths, the choices are normally clear enough for the player to follow the alliance they choose. If you are familiar with the series, you will be right at home battling and befriending many familiar faces. However, new players, or those migrating to this game from the Persona series, may find the focus on dungeon crawling and leveling demons to be off-putting.
The soundtrack for this game is a strong presentation. The orchestral pieces make for an amazing backdrop to this world of demons. The dungeon themes enhance the spooky and danger-ridden atmosphere. The swelling and intense boss themes highlight the stakes in these battles. The only major flaw that can be pointed to is that there could be a larger catalog of music.
The graphical presentation is excellent. The main dungeons follow a theme where each one is designed around a specific vice; the background environments are detailed even though they will never be the focus. Where the graphical presentation really shines is in the animated cutscenes; they are stylish, fluid, and vivid. It is a shame that they are so few and far between. This is not to overlook the character portraits, which are amazing as expected from a SMT game. The sprite work is also very impressive. It is very detailed and the animations, though limited, are expressive tough to bring life to each demon and character.
Overall this game is a hidden gem in the Shin Megami Tensei series, long-time fans should have an enjoyable time with this entry. Outside of a few minor flaws, this game is easily one of the best SMT Handheld games. If you are looking for a solid dungeon-crawling game, or are a fan of the series, this game is well worth your time.