Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Review
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey  box art
System: DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Atlus 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Atlus 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: March 24, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Mature 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

The grim soundtrack is a thing of wonder. It is slow and dramatic, and many tracks even have a deep, rumbling chorus that further darkens the atmosphere. It's perfect for a game with no need for "town" music, or "inn" music, or any of the usual light-hearted RPG chords. The player is on a military incursion through a hellish dreamworld, with the earth itself at stake, and the soundtrack drives this point home.

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey  screenshot

While the overall story is interesting, and it's enjoyable to unravel the mystery of the Schwarzwelt, the unique team system and old-school team dynamic means that character development is kind of a no-show. A year from now, you'll never look back and remember the hero of Strange Journey, nor will any of your teammates' "personalities" leave a mark on you. It's easy to forgive Strange Journey for this shortcoming, however, because the demonic recruitment system is fun enough to trump the desire to see the usual team of stereotypical characters undergo predictable developments. Plus, the strange and varied dimensions and levels of the Schwarzwelt actually have more personality than a lot of real human beings I know; in some ways this setup is superior to the inclusion of the nonsensical, "witty" banter between teammates that's so prevalent in Japanese RPGs.

As for challenge, Strange Journey is not easy, but that's not to say that it is unmercifully (or obnoxiously) "old-school". There are a lot of tactics to keep in mind, and plenty of team variations that can go wrong, and taking advantage of a particular enemy's weakness is usually a necessity rather than a bonus - but on the other hand, save points are usually in plentiful supply, so no single mistake is ever going to nullify five hours of grinding. If Strange Journey is someone's first RPG after playing, say, any recent Final Fantasy, then that person would probably find Strange Journey to be unnecessarily difficult. However, it's been my experience that most RPG players are already hard-wired to understand things like resource management, how to maximize a teammate's potential, how to undermine an opponent's weaknesses, and so on; thus, Strange Journey is the perfect challenge for someone who needs a little bit of difficulty and frustration in their life in order to truly relax and enjoy some downtime.

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Expect at least fifty hours of game time, depending on how much you mess around with cooking up demonic combinations. The alignment system and its effects on the story make for additional playthrough potential. There is no online mode, but you can trade demons with your friends. There is no risk of any of these trades unbalancing gameplay, as you can't use demons whose levels are higher than your own. In fact, there are so many demonic combinations, and so many challenging battles ahead, that a little help from fellow demonic chefs would add a great dynamic to the solo dungeon-crawling experience.

By Kyle B. Stiff
CCC Freelance Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.5
Graphics
Interesting locations and a wild color palette keep this dungeon-crawler from feeling like a slow crawl through a featureless maze. There are some really amazing, and dark, monster designs. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of goofy monsters as well.
4.4
Control
There's a lot to remember, but each concept is introduced gradually enough to avoid being overwhelming.
4.7
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Get some headphones that allow for bass, because Strange Journey has an intense, brooding, heavy, and dark soundtrack that demands attention.
4.7

Play Value
Many worlds to explore, tons of demons to fight, recruit, and fuse, hundreds of team combinations to try out, an alignment system that allows for varying playthroughs, and lots of weapons, armor, and accessories to create via item drop combinations.

4.5
Overall Rating - Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Deep system of demon recruitment, fusion, and alignment-based teamwork make for a dynamic combat experience.
  • Old-school combat system perfect for gamers who want a challenge and are tired of modern, all-too-easy RPGs.
  • Subtle alignment system based on law, chaos, and neutrality goes beyond simplistic definition of good versus evil often found in games.


  • Screenshots / Images
    Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey  screenshot - click to enlarge Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey  screenshot - click to enlarge Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey  screenshot - click to enlarge Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey  screenshot - click to enlarge Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey  screenshot - click to enlarge Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey  screenshot - click to enlarge Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey  screenshot - click to enlarge Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey  screenshot - click to enlarge

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