Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey


posted 1/13/2010 by Tina Amini
other articles by Tina Amini
One Page Platforms: DS
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey finally got its North American release date (March 23rd). Although you can expect a full preview from us soon, we’ll give you a taste of what’s to come in the game to tide you over.

We got to see the game mechanics of Strange Journey with a demonstration from Atlus Manager of PR and Sales Aram Jabbari and Lead Editor Nich Malagos. The demo included an overview of the combat and exploration, as well as the set-up for the storyline including specific localization work that has been done for us North Americans. SMT: Strange Journey holds a generous amount of similarities to not only its own SMT series, but the Persona series, as well. It should come as no surprise, then, that there are numerous mythological, philosophical, and religious references made in the game. A good reference has to be appropriate to have meaning, and Aram quotes the ship’s AI named Arthur C. Clarke as an example of a reference that has relevance in North America.

The first thing to note when looking at the demonstration was that exploration in the game is done from a first-person perspective, similar to the first two SMT games. We won’t know of this too well, as they never made an appearance in NA.

As we wandered Antilia looking for a fight, Aram explained that the “smooth real-time 3D” engine is taken from their own Etrian Odyssey, providing gamers with an immersive experience that you wouldn’t expect from a handheld RPG. The game plays very much like a dungeon crawl, a fact to which Aram references Wizardry. The lower screen of the DS functions as the map, with a green diameter of your search distance with which to explore.

The southern pole of Earth that we have entered is adorned with icicles as expected. Aram, however, describes it as a “parallel dimension” in which the frosty South Pole is also polluted by demons, and more resembles a wasteland or war zone with planes flying overhead. Clearly, the government is right in taking action and sending a unit to explore what phenomenon is beginning to envelop the planet. What super natural element we’re up against, however, is so far unbeknownst to us as we’re still exploring the touch screen functions of the map of Antilia and the menu system.

A JRPG is obviously not all about action-packed combat. A good menu system is essential. I spend loads of my RPG times in the menu screens, so you’ll want something functional to tinker with. You can access your mission log, secondary mission log (side quests), and tutorials all through your demonica suit.

Your main menu is where you’ll be accessing items, too. You’ll find the typical expendable items to increase HP/MP for instance, but you’ll also find your forma. Herein lies another instance of similarity with Etrion Odyssey. Forma are components used to unlock new items similar to components picked up from FOEs in Etrion Odyssey. Your demonica suit is equipped to scan the area for such components.

Forma are an example of sub apps you can add to your suit for specific rewards. Equipping certain sub apps can, for instance, recover HP. We also saw one named “hiroemon” that increases your odds of attaining items at the end of battle. You’ll have to decide which to equip within your restricted frame of slots.

If there are sub apps, there have got to be main apps. Main apps are upgrades to your suit. This will be significant in the game given that progression relies on certain upgrades. Meaning, basically, that there are locked doors that you cannot pass through until your suit has seen some upgrading.

Your equipment – including your armor – will be accessed in the menu screen, too. In your case, as the human, your abilities and special attacks depend solely on your equipment. Demons have more inherent abilities similar to magic that can only be altered or added through leveling.
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