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Preview: Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux (Nintendo 3DS)By Renan At 09.05.2018 16:04

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Atlus has had a solid, if concerning, track record with its remasters. While each game it ports and revises ends up far stronger than its base from a gameplay standpoint, each game also tends to feature new story material and a new character that doesn't exactly mesh with the original's tone. Persona 4 Golden infamously had Marie; Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology added in a character that didn't match the writing style in the main game; and Catherine: Full Body will be adding in a third girl in a game all about the main character's incredibly specific relationships with two girls. It's a trend that doesn't exactly hurt the original's legacy, but it brings with it pacing issues, inconsistent writing, and an almost forced side narrative that ends up taking too much time for its own good.

It goes without saying that Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is no exception. The core gameplay and narrative is all still there, but now it features "Alex," a mysterious woman who the new dungeon, the Womb of Grief, focuses on. While her design clashes with that of the rest of the game and her introduction brings some unfortunate implications to the overall story, she is, by far, the most inoffensive new character Atlus has jammed into a game yet. She's genuinely mysterious unlike Marie; she's written like any other character in the script; and her inclusion doesn't feel too forced past her introduction. That said, though, there is another new character who embodies the worst of Atlus' remasters.

Once the main character reaches the Womb of Grief, shortly after making some progress into Sector Bootes, they are introduced to Demeter, the Greek goddess of harvest, grain, and wheat. Where Alex actually seems like a three-dimensional character with a unique motivation, Demeter is little more than a one-dimensional demon catered to otaku. Her dialogue consists almost entirely of references to harvest, grain, and wheat, making her a terribly uninteresting character to interact with. Worst of all, her character art pales in comparison to the work Kazuma Kaneko did for the original release, a problem Redux has in spades.

In the same way Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology dropped its unique art style for a more traditional anime-esque approach, SJR does the exact same. Where it was mostly harmless in the case of the former, though, the latter's art shift genuinely does hurt the overall aesthetic. It isn't so much traditional as it is painfully generic, especially when compared to Kaneko's phenomenal art design for the original release. There are no two ways about it, the new art design is a downgrade in every regard.

What isn't a downgrade, however, is the actual game itself. Not only is the gameplay left virtually untouched, it's actually improved upon in ways that don't hinder or take away from the base the original left behind. There's a handy difficulty slider that can be toggled with anytime outside of combat along with an option to speed up battles potentially alleviating much of the tedium of grinding; saving anywhere is now possible, making dungeons far less stressful without baby proofing them; and new sub-apps add a host of variety to battles that were already engaging. Gameplay-wise, Redux is the definitive way to experience Strange Journey.

Outside of the Womb of Grief and the new gameplay additions, the biggest change is the inclusion of voice acting. While lacking an English dub would normally be relatively harmless for most games, this is the only Shin Megami Tensei title where the main characters are canonically speaking English sot he lack of a dub feels like a serious missed opportunity. That said, the voice direction itself is well done and the cast does add another layer of immersion to an already immersive game. All things considered, Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is a solid improvement over the original, even if it does seem to fumble in a few areas.

User Comments
#1 Dragon0085 - on 10.05.2018 at 02:00

Is that top pic from the old or new game?  Because it looks horrendous.

#2 Renan - on 10.05.2018 at 14:43

It's from the new game. I'm not particularly fond of it either. 

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