Next week, another Atlus re-release lands on Nintendo 3DS with Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux getting the do-over treatment this time around. As is now commonplace with Atlus, this port is an enhanced re-release which features both new content and other tweaks not present in the original 2010 game. Additionally, much like with Radiant Historia earlier in the year, this is also the first time Strange Journey will see an official release in Europe thanks to the publishing team at Deep Silver.
I've had some time with the game ahead of launch, and I wanted to break down what additions and changes you can expect in the new version:
Alex & The Womb of Grief
In terms of 'new content' in Strange Journey Redux, it all revolves around a new character Alex and a new dungeon area called the 'Womb of Grief'.
While playing through the main storyline, you'll inevitably encounter Alex as she tries to murder the protagonist. At this point in the game, a new dungeon is unlocked for exploration, accessed independently from the game's original dungeon areas. Additional floors of the Womb of Grief periodically become available as you progress through the main game.
These new floors offer a slight bump in challenge from the original dungeon mazes, both in enemy strength and dungeon design. Progressing through the Womb of Grief will not only shed more light on Alex and her goals, but will also reward the player with some new demons and new Sub-Apps not found in the original release.
The Womb of Grief also holds a handful of new Ex Mission side quests. Many of these are 'challenge battles', which place a limitation on the player as you are tasked to defeat a certain enemy group.
Three New Endings
The original Strange Journey had three separate ending you could see, depending on the player's alignment before a key moment near the end of the game. These endings are still available in Strange Journey Redux, but three new endings can also be seen if the player finishes the Womb of Grief.
Without getting into spoiler details, these new endings are still aligned the same way as before, but now you can ultimately choose between the old or new version of the ending of your final alignment - as long as you have completed the Womb of Grief. That means there are six endings in total to see.
New Sub-Apps and Commander Skills
App mechanics have been in several recent SMT titles such as Shin Megami Tensei IV and Apocalypse. Sub-Apps offer a variety of bonuses to the player such as HP regeneration or lowering the encounter rate. In the original release of Strange Journey, the player had a limit on the number of Sub-Apps that could be equipped at any one time.
This limitation is removed in Strange Journey Redux, and now you can simultaneously equip as many Sub-Apps as you'd like (with the exception of Apps that do opposite effects, such as raising or lowering enemy encounter rate). Additionally, Sub-Apps can be equipped or unequipped anywhere on the field, whereas this had to be done at Terminal locations in the original release.
There are several new Sub-Apps with new bonuses, many of which are obtained through the new Womb of Grief dungeon. One such new Sub-App is 'March to Death', which prevents the Game Over screen when the Main Character is KOed, as long as one demon in the battle party is still alive. Several other new Sub-Apps improve the versatility of the game's Demon Co-op mechanics. There is also a Sub-App that prevents encounters with low-level enemies, and another Sub-App that shows you where teleporters will take you.
Some of the new Sub-Apps unlock a new mechanic known as Commander Skills. These are battle abilities that the protagonist character can use in combat, with various effects. One such commander skill is 'Assailment', which increases the attack potency of the rest of the team for one turn. There are also some Auto Commander Skills that activate randomly during any given turn. One such Auto Commander Skill is 'Blitzkrieg', which allows the full player party to attack before the enemy party.
As expected in re-releasing on 3DS, the game has a noticeable jump in visual design, especially when it comes to the game's user interface. While the character designs were originally drawn by Kazuma Kaneko, these have been slightly updated by Masayuki Doi, who also designed the newcomer Alex. Character portraits are also a little more animated, featuring various facial expressions during dialogue.
A handful of event scenes have been added to key story moments in the game. These aren't fully animated cutscenes, but rather still art with some dynamic effects.
Dialogue is also fully voiced this time around with Japanese voiceovers. A handful of new musical tracks are also found in the re-release, mostly centering around the new content.
Finally, the game has a new animated opening for the re-release. Note, while this is the opening to the game, it does in fact contain some spoilers. The opening is also subtitled in the English release.
Several other changes are also made to the game's numerous systems. Note that some of these changes are significant and others are fairly minor mechanical tweaks.
- The original Strange Journey only held two total save slots on the DS cart, and saves could only be made either at the home-base Command Room or various Terminals scattered among the game maps. Strange Journey Redux has 20 normal save slots in addition to a single field save slot that allows you to save anywhere on any map.
- Three different difficulty options can be selected this time around and can be changed at any time during the playthrough. A fourth 'Impossible' difficulty is available on a second playthrough, which cannot be changed once selected. The original Strange Journey did not have an option to change the default difficulty.
- More demons can be held by the player at one time. By the end of the game, you can hold 18 total demons compared to 12 in the original release.
- When fusing a new demon using a Demon Source, the player can directly choose which skills are transferred to the fused demon.
- When a demon wants to change one of its skills, you can now see what skill it will change to before deciding to allow the skill mutation.
- When performing a Special Fusion, component demons can be directly added from the Demon Compendium (rather than having all demons in present in the current party).
- ~30* new demons, obtained via the new content. [Note*: Some of the 'new' demons were available in the original release through in-game password only].
- Now sub apps, player level, and map progress can be carried over into new game plus, which was not the case in the original.
- A demon can be changed in the battle party during combat in one turn instead of two.
- When retreating from battle, a chance of success is given as a percentage.
- You can heal your party at the home base for free, rather than at a macca cost.
- The thumb-pad can be set to either move the player or slide the lower screen map via the config menu.
- You can browse maps of other floors, rather than just the one you are currently on.
- Battle animations can be set to Default speed, Double speed, or Skipped entirely.
- You can 'dash' in the dungeon in the forward direction.
- You can set a toggle to have a final check before starting the selected battle actions.
- You can set a toggle to have doors automatically open with a forward movement, rather than having to press A.
- If there is an open slot in the four-person battle party when a demon is recruited, they will automatically join the battle party rather than going directly to the reserve.
- When a demon in your stock reaches Analysis Level 3, they will offer their Demon Source in the same battle, rather than at the next level-up.
- If a demon's weakness is found before Analysis Level 2, it will be remembered in the Demonica's memory (in the original release you had to get the Analysis Level to 2 to see weaknesses at all.)
- A handful of text/localization tweaks throughout.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux releases on May 15 in North America and May 18 in Europe for Nintendo 3DS.