It has been eight years since Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey was released on the Nintendo DS in North America. With such a gap, people returning for Strange Journey Redux may need to take a moment to find their footing. Or, those coming to the game for the first time might not know exactly how to get started. Fortunately, the game is rather balanced. While your first walks through Antlia will keep you from finding lots of helpful fusions, options open up once you step into the second floor of this first area.
The second you can start combining, your level and the sources you have accumulated are the only limits. Strange Journey Redux keeps you from getting too far ahead of yourself by only allowing you to recruit and create demons who are at or below your level. If you spend enough time with one in your party, you get a source that gives you access to their skills for future fusions. When you then fuse a new character, you can add a source from a completely different demon to allow you to alter their skill set. Combining this with the Relax Spray sub app, which forgives one wrong answer during a conversation with a demon, and Tea Amity sub app that makes them join you no matter what if they reconsider after a negotiation is complete, and you can guarantee full and strong ranks of otherworldly allies.
One of your first orders of business should be making sure you have a good healer on hand to keep your party alive. Pixie, the first demon you get, is a decent start. But as soon as you can, you should try and sway a Leanan Sidhe over to your side. This chaotic demon will have Media and Patra available right from the start. If you come across her in the Womb of Grief, she should talk to you and join even if you are Lawful, though it is possible to fuse her through other combinations. If you do fuse her, then I recommend tossing an Acheri Source if you can, as that will let you give her a Life Drain skill that will let her heal herself and take advantage of her high magic stat and allow her to inherit Posumudi, which will let her remove poison from allies.
Another priority is finding a bruiser that is strong against basic attacks and ready to deal a lot of damage with skills that require them to expend HP. The Oni is one of the earliest examples of this, as he is strong against physical attacks, has decent defense and is great at using Rampage to deal damage to a group. But the next step up to go for is Momunofu. This is basically the Oni big brother, removing the electric weakness in exchange for being strong against both physical and gun attacks. He is slightly tankier, with the focus on the vitality stat, but also has admirable strength. He comes with a Charge that helps buff up his physical and gun attacks. If you have a Morax Source, it pairs well with him, as that lets Momunofu learn Megaton Press and Rampage, two strong physical attacks.
A mage is the final piece of the puzzle. A lot of the early enemies from the Antlia region focus on fire attacks. Once you get to its second floor and add more diversity for fusion fodder, options open up. Hua Po will probably be one of your strongest initial magic users, but she has only Agi and Maragi at the start. Now, even though you will be inundated with fire creatures, getting a Pyro Jack from the Womb of Grief is a good next step. If you take him and combine him with a Frost Source from Jack Frost, you can add Mabufu to give him an additional elemental attack, Resist Ice to cover his ice weakness, and offer him the Dream Fist physical attack that could put foes to sleep. This gives you a strong spell caster. (Though, if you prefer Jack Frost, you can go with him and add a Pyro Jack Source to supplement his moveset with fire attack.)
But the best part about Strange Journey Redux is how it lets you fall back on a Strange Journey save, if you have one. There is a password system within the game. This lets you take codes from other people or your original game, enter them, then recruit the demon tied to them. It is a great way to pull reliable characters in for what could be a more extensive adventure. Now, I am not far enough in the game to provide an endgame capable character just yet. But for those finding their way through Bootes, this code will give you a handy, healing, level 13 Hathor that will help keep a character safe:
Be advised that some passwords might not work. I had the best luck using passwords for demons that were my level or under. But even then, there were one or two which did not seem to click in again.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux keeps getting bigger and better as you go along. The creatures you bring into your party can cover all sorts of needs. The further you go, the more options you get. But even when you are just finding your footing in Antlia and Bootes, you can find some really good characters who can fill major roles on your team. Your party can always be strong and safe, which is quite a comfort when you are just starting to fill your ranks.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is available for the Nintendo 3DS.