Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, released by Atlus, is a niche Nintendo DS game that was released in America on March 3, 2010. The release is a first-person dungeon crawler, like Dark Spire, but with a Shin Megami Tensei taste. In SMT: Strange Journey, the player will direct a silent protagonist as he explores the dangers of a gigantic place known as the Schwarzwelt: a mysterious expanding space found at the South Pole that threatens to consume the whole planet. During a mission to investigate the likely threat posed by the Schwarzwelt, the main character will find himself crashing somewhere within it, and the story begins as the main character is introduced to the idea of fighting monsters.
For the most part, Strange Journey is composed of a navigation system and a battle system, with a central hub place to which the player will report between and during stages. You make your way through the maze-like Schwarzwelt while occasionally being interrupted by a random fight. These battles are standard, step-by-step RPG fare in which the player controls a group of monsters to combat different monsters. What differentiates these fights from those found in different Nintendo DS role-playing games is that they start off challenging in every space, so you will have to plan about resource management while exploring, so that you always have enough supplies to survive the trip back to the central rest area.
To the eyes, the game is nice. The character and enemy artwork looks detailed, and even though the enemy artwork is ripped out of previous SMT games, they are much more than would be hoped for considering the gigantic amount of demons you may enlist in the fighting group. The 3D visual effects aren’t anything special when compared to those shown in different Nintendo DS games, though they are not distracting, either. The visual effects perform the job they’re made to and provide little distraction from the real content of the game, but they do not wow either.
The sound effects exist along a continuum from grating to pleasant. Encounters will exhibit obligatory sounds of projectiles firing and fangs slashing and demons yelping. Doors will make clicking sounds as needed, and nothing stands out if it shouldn’t. The score sounds creative, anyway. During encounters and plot scenes, the music will mostly be upbeat, and never invoke the wrong mood. While navigating, however, it is usually nothing more than repeated drum sounds interspersed with the attention-catching vocal grunts, which are poorly done.
Overall, Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey is a strong title. It is in no way likely to let you down, but there is not much to make it one of the best. Taken with the entire library the Nintendo DS games, it is close to the highest rank due solely to the stupendous amount of decent and downright boring RPGs. Placed upon a list of different titles, it would be seen close to the median-quality games. Don’t get me wrong, if you have completed a lot of the awesome Nintendo DS games, or you only thirst for a solid dungeon-crawler, Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey should be moved to the highest eschelon of your to-buy queue, but if you are yet confused about all the awesome Nintendo DS games to be found, take it slow and learn more about what else is out there before making your next purchase.