By Laura . July 21, 2009 . 9:54pm
A spatial rift appeared over Antarctica, threatening the seven billion humans who live on planet Earth. Humans call the place it leads to “Schwarz-verse,” and exploring this mysterious dimension is your goal as the protagonist in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey.
As a member of the exploration team sent in order to find a way to counter this unknown factor, you discover that the other world was much harsher than you could have imagined, with demons that only appear in legends and myths appearing before you.
“You” are the nameless protagonist, a Japanese elite soldier who has received harsh training and discipline. Under the orders of the country, you join the exploration team on the ship Red Sprite No. 1. This amphibious ship serves as a base in the unknown world, being the only place you can consider safe. Aside from the Red Sprite No. 1 that the protagonist rides, there also exist other ships, named the Blue Jet No. 2, Elves No. 3, and Gigantic No. 4.
Your crew is a hodgepodge gathering of elite scientists and soldiers from all over the world. The men on No. 1 are the commanding crew, while those on No. 2 and 4 specialize in battle, and the people on No. 3 are scientists. Here is a quick glimpse at some of your crew members:
Captain Gore – The Captain of the Schwartz-verse exploration team. On account of his exceptional skills and leadership abilities, he was appointed to be the leader of the team that determines the fate of mankind. “So long as all in this ship cooperate, investigation is not an impossibility.”
Himenez – An American who has had experience in campaigns. He’s worked his way up from the bottom and, looking forward to the rewards after this is all done and over with, he volunteered for the team. “As long as I get what I deserve, I plan on contributing what I can as long as I’m not dead.”
Selenin – A Russian scientist, she was recruited based on her knowledge related to the Schwarz-verse. “The populace is being deceived with the false information that there is a large blizzard storm, but the truth is…”
The game is laid out in sprawling 3-D dungeons. The top screen shows the world as you see it, in first person. With upgrades that you can pick up through the game, you may be able to discover things you couldn’t see before. The bottom screen reflects the screen on the arm-piece of the Demonica Suit you wear, which displays vital information. Thus far, the only confirmed function is a map, but almost certainly there are several other support options available such as mission log, analyze, and videmonica.
In order for humans to stand a chance against the danger of this new world, they wear the Demonica Suit, state-of-the-art armor pieced together by scientists. Not only does it have the ability to adjust to the environment, but in anticipation of encounters with unknown life forms, it also improves battle capabilities. Various applications are included in the suit, such as the ability to search for enemies that won’t appear at first sight or to confirm unknown life forms, as well as a system for the suit to improve itself. There are other mysteries surrounding this armor and you’ll discover more about them as you customize the suit to your liking.
Essential to the series are the demons, and there are plenty of them in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey. In fact, there are more in here than in any other series in the SMT main series, numbering at 300. Kaneko Kazuma, the artist behind the SMT series since the very first game, returned to create new monsters for Strange Journey. Morax, a humanoid with a bison head (one of the many demons in the Key of Solomon), and the demonic-looking Bugaboo are two examples.
And of course, all of these monsters can be recruited and used to fuse new ones. This is done through conversation. Each demon has their own personality and the correct choices must be chosen in order to convince them to join you. However, sometimes, instead of joining, a monster will just give you an item or heal you instead.
These demons can be used in battle, taking advantage of enemy’s weaknesses or performing combos with fellow teammate demons. Various monsters will also give you quests out of boredom, allowing you to find rare items. Just like core SMT games monsters can also be fused, combining their abilities and gaining even stronger ones.
Also of note is the importance of your relation to your crew members. No matter how many demons you collect, you cannot complete your missions without the cooperation of your crew members. With their help you can create new items. Based on your answers in crew conversations, the story may move towards a happier future for mankind or an apocalypse. You decide.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey is scheduled to come out in Japan on October 8. A North American release has not been announced at this time.