Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Preview
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
A Strange Journey You'll Want to Take
by Amanda L. Kondolojy

December 11, 2009 - The Shin Megami Tensei franchise has enjoyed a serious boost in popularity in recent years. With titles Like Devil Summoner, Devil Survivor, and the Persona series releasing titles in the last year, the SMT franchise certainly has been expanding. However, with all these new spin-off and offshoot franchises releasing new iterations, it seems the core SMT series has been all but forgotten. In fact, the last entry in the series was Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, which was released for the PlayStation 2 in 2005. A lot has changed for the franchise since then, but the newest entry in the franchise seems to be getting back to basics.

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey screenshot

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey is the next entry in the core SMT series, and it will have all of the typical conventions you might expect from an SMT title. The game revolves around a mysterious disturbance in the South Pole, where it seems that a dark void has opened up. Demons are beginning to populate this area, and as you and your team probe the area further, a government conspiracy comes to light, and dire consequences seem imminent.

The plot of the game is going to be very dark in theme, which is on par with most other SMT titles. Another area of the game that is going to fall squarely in-line with other games in the franchise is the gameplay. SMT: Strange Journey is going to feature demon-based gameplay where players can fuse and form alliances with demons and eventually add them to their party.

Each battle party can only have one human (the main character) and three demons, so party-forming strategy will be an integral part of the gameplay. In addition to adding demons based on skills and power level, Strange Journey will add a new element to the demon summoning strategy: alignment. Demon alignment can range from lawful to chaotic, and demons who have the same alignment on a team can join forces to perform bonus melee attacks after an elemental attack has been performed on an enemy that is weak to that specific element. This part of the battle system is known as the "demon co-op" system, and will likely be a very large element of the strategic elements of the game.

In addition to the new demon co-op system, players will also have greater control over the demon fusion system as well as demon negotiating. The demon fusion aspect will be very robust and will include item bonuses in addition to traditional fusion. The negotiation aspect has also been beefed up in this title, and there is no set "formula" for how a demon will react to a specific negotiation tactic, so you'll have to use new tactics every time you try to talk to a demon.

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey screenshot

Another aspect that has been improved for Strange Journey is the weapon and armor upgrade system. Your human character will have plenty of customizable abilities, beginning with their weapons. The main character can wield both a sword and a gun, each with its own uses in battle. The sword is used for melee attacks, and although it is not upgradeable, it can be swapped out for different tactical models with stronger attack and bonus skills.

The gun, however, can be fully customized and is the base of the special attack system. All special attacks will be performed with the gun, and you will be able to equip these skills to the gun as you progress through the game. Your armor suit is also fully customizable, and can be improved with main apps (which permanently affect performance) and sub-apps (which can be switched out). The customization system in this title seems to be quite robust, and it will definitely give strategy-minded players something to be excited about.

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey screenshot

The game experience itself is also supposed to be quite lengthy, with Atlus reps telling us that the main story mode will take players at least 20 hours to complete. However, there are many side quests and extra bonus content that players can participate in that will extend the experience to 40 or more hours. And like previous SMT games, once the game has been beaten on normal mode, a game plus mode will be unlocked.

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey looks like a welcome return to form for the SMT series at large. Though it has been five years since we have had a proper SMT game, Strange Journey looks like it won't miss a beat. With old elements like demon negotiating and demon fusion being combined with new elements, Strange Journey looks like it will be a great entry in the series that fans of both the core series and the recent spin-offs can enjoy.

By Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor

Game Features:

  • Shin Megami Tensei goes beyond - Strange Journey's game mechanics represent a return to the proud tradition of the all-time dungeon-crawling classic SMT: Nocturne, while its story takes players into the near future on a mission to save Earth and to understand humanity's position within the larger universe.
  • A dark turn into science fiction - Who or what is causing the black hole that is engulfing the Earth? A mission to investigate the cause uncovers a whole world of demons that humans knew nothing about. Do they seek your destruction or will you seek theirs? Will you decide to save Earth or choose another path for humanity?
  • Team up with demons - Demons may be friends or foes depending on your ability to negotiate, bribe, and coerce them to join your party. With more than 300 types of demons, you'll have a huge variety of battlefield encounters and an equally large base of options on which to build your party strategy.

  • Screenshots / Images
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