Welcome students, Professor RPG here! Need help understanding the Equipment Fusion system in Tales of Zestiria? Perhaps you would like a more deep dive into the history of Ivalice? What in the world does the Intelligence stat do in that game you like? Stick around and let Professor RPG clear up the mysteries and help you in on your quest.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey was originally released back in 2010 in the west. Adopting the series’ more traditional first-person perspective dungeon exploration and demon combat, you are tasked with exploring a strange event happening at the South Pole. Now in 2018, Strange Journey REDUX comes to the west with enhanced visuals, 50 additional demons to negotiate with and recruit, new endings and a giant new dungeon with its own story and the mysterious character, Alex. I wasn’t really into the SMT series back in 2010 when the original game was released, so I was incredibly excited when REDUX got announced for a stateside release. The more mature themes and difficulty of the mainline SMT games have increasingly attracted me to the series the past few years. It has that addictive monster-taming feel that other large franchises have but with a much darker and complex story.
If you are new to the series or haven’t played the original game, this primer will provide you a spoiler-free helping hand as your dive into the world of Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey REDUX and the Schwarzwelt!
- Nintendo 3DS / 2DS (All models)
In the near future, an unexplained phenomenon manifests in the South Pole…
The Earth is now home to over 7 billion people, pollution has eroded what’s left of the ecosystem, the disparity between rich and poor has never been wider, and as a result, mankind suffers from environmental catastrophes, geopolitical conflict, wars, chaos, and disorder.
All of this destruction manifests itself as the Schwarzwelt – a subspace anomaly that suddenly appears in the South Pole and begins rapidly growing in size, obliterating all that it touches. In response to this new and mysterious threat, the United Nations create a secret elite team tasked with making sense of and handling a situation beyond human understanding. Humanity’s last hope, the “Schwarzwelt Investigation Team,” couldn’t have imagined what was waiting for them. In order to prevent the extinction of humanity, the Investigation Team must risk their lives and press on into the danger of the unknown. They discover what some would call “Angels” and “Demons”, creatures only heard along myths. Are they friend or foe?
During their investigation, a mysterious girl appears in front of you, wearing unfamiliar equipment who travels the Land of Ruin by herself, then she suddenly becomes hostile. What is her objective? Ultimately, your choices and decisions will affect the fate of humanity.
You (aka the unnamed protagonist):
- A USMC officer who underwent intense combat and command training between tours of duty. He was transferred to the Schwarzwelt Investigation Team by U.N. request. As a member of the strike team, his duties include off-ship missions and providing security for the expedition. He is on the crew roster for Ship 1, the Red Sprite.
- A Russian scientist recognized for her research on the Schwarzwelt. Her position as the First Lieutenant of the Monitor team was one of the first appointments made. Her chief duty is to research the Schwarzwelt’s true nature alone with her crewmates on Ship 3, the Elve.
- Another member of the expedition with an American military background, Jimenez began his career as an enlisted man and is now a private contractor, attracted to the expedition by the promise of financial gain. He serves on Ship 2, the Blue Jet, as a member of the strike team.
- The overall commander of the Schwarzwelt Investigation Team. He was originally a military officer serving a large country; the leadership abilities he displayed during his service earned him the top position on the team that now holds the fate of mankind. He commands the Red Sprite directly in addition to overseeing operations on the other three ships.
Alex (new character to REDUX!)
- The girl that suddenly assaulted the protagonist during the investigation of the Schwarzwelt. She wields technology that is unknown to man and shows her hostility to the protagonist, trying to kill him.
- A support AI and administrative program with a pseudo personality, Arthur provides logistical support and backup to the Investigation Team. Arthur’s operating system is linked to the Red Sprite, and his computational power allows him to rationally develop plans across an array of unforeseen situations.
If you are familiar with more traditional RPG fare but are new to the Shin Megami Tensei, the spell names will most likely be hard to follow. I know I had issues with keeping all the KAJAs and UNDAs straight. The trick that I found helped me keep track, was to think of each spell name as a whole composed of three parts, a prefix (that would denote if it the spell was single or multi-target) , the body ( what the spell element or effect is) , and then the suffix (denoting the strength).
- MA = Hits all targets (I think of MA as in a large “MAss” of targets)
- BODY : Elemental Spells
- AGI : Fire
- BUFU : ICE
- ZIO : LIGHTNING
- GARU : WIND
- HAMA : LIGHT
- MUDO : DARK
- BODY : Buff / Debuff Spells
- TARU : ATTACK
- RAKU : DEFENSE
- SUKU : HIT / EVASION
- SUFFIX : Elemental Spells
- DYNE : Strong
- ON : Strong / more likely to hit (Light and Dark elements only)
- NOTE: The medium strength of these spells are each unique because things can’t just be easy and fit the formula.
- AGILAO : Medium strength Fire
- BUFULA : Medium strength Ice
- Zionga : Medium strength Lightning
- Garula : Medium strength Wind
- SUFFIX : Buff / Debuff Spells
- KAJA : Increase
- UNDA : Decrease
- Examples of spell names:
- Matarunda : Group attack debuff
- Mabufudyne : Group strong ice spell
- Rakukaja : single target defense buff
- All about Demons!
This game, like many of the other Shin Megami Tensei games, revolves around the idea of recruiting demons to fight alongside you. You want to be the very best like no one ever was. To recruit them is your real test, to train them is your cause! You will have to travel across the dungeons, searching far and wide, making each demon understand, the power they can provide. POKEMO- oh…wrong game. Well, the principle concept still stands, but instead of trying to recruit cuddly yellow creatures or rocks with faces on them, you will be going after angels, demons, and a giant penis-tentacle monster that rides around in a chariot.
There are three main avenues that you will need to take advantage of to grow your Pokedex, I mean Demon Compendium. (In all fairness though, the Megami Tensei / Shin Megami Tensei predates Pokemon by almost a decade, with the original game, Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei released back on the Famicom in 1987)
- Demon Negotiation
Demons and angels are fickle creatures, nothing comes for free with these creatures. In order to grow your team, your main method is going to be through the SMT staple system of demon negotiation. Each demon will have one of three possible alignments that will affect their temperament, they are Neutral (white text) , Chaos (red text) , and Order (blue text) . When you negotiate with a demon, you will have to answer a few random questions that the demon will like or find annoying, if things go well, you will be able to request to have it join your ranks, give you money, or give you an item. Ask for an item or money and it will give it freely, ask for it to join your team and you may have to fork over items, health, or magic to bribe it to your side. Of course, things can also go badly, and they can run away, just be mad, or suddenly get a turn and attack your party…
- Demon Fusion
Finding your demons aren’t pulling their weight in the latest dungeon you got to? Sounds like it is time to get use them as an ingredient in creating a new formidable creature with the Demon Fusion system! With this, you will be able to combine two of your demons to create a new one. The resulting demon will have slightly different attacks depending on the parents you used to fuse in summoning the new demon.
When you fuse demon’s together, you will have the option of using a Demon Source (more on that in a moment) in order to add additional skills to your new demon and select which specific skills and abilities you want to be transferred over from each of the parent demons. In addition to the normal summons, there are also special summons that requires more than two demons to summon that must be specific demons too. Occasionally during a fusion, you will encounter a fusion accident, which will result in a different demon fusion result from what you expect. The demons and any source you used will be lost.
- Demon Compendium (found in the Fusion tab)
Once you have successfully negotiated or fused a demon, it will forever be registered in your Demon Compendium. For a fee (money only) you will be able to re-summon them without having to worry about finding and negotiating with them ever again or hoping for the right fusion. This allows you to easily, albeit expensively, create an optimized and powerhouse party of demons. Additional features of the compendium are that you can update the stats of any demon in it, so that the next time you summon that demon, it will retain the skills, levels, and stats, by rewriting the registered version of the demon.
Have friends that also play Strange Journey REDUX? In the Rewrite menu, if you scroll down you will notice a purple area labeled “Password Demon” they can give you passwords of their specific registered demons for you to use yourself! You can view your demons passwords in the “Demon Comp” menu after selecting the demon whose password you want to view.
NOTE: Passwords from the original Strange Journey are NOT compatible with REDUX.
- Demon Sources
Once a demon’s Analysis Level is maxed out from encountering them or using them in combat, they will gift you their Source containing some of their moves. These Sources can then be used in demon fusion to impart additional skills to your new demon you are trying to create. This is incredibly important as you will be able to select all of the specific skills from the parents and the source that you want your new demon to have, giving you the most choice and customization when creating your ideal demon. It should be noted however that you are only able to have a single of each source at any given time, and when you use it, it can be a grind to get another. In order to get another source from a demon, you will have to level them up and hope that they will give it to you at each level up. The chance is low though.
- Moon Phases
I’ll just get this out of the way first, the only phases that matters are the full moon and new moon. Unless you have the “Lunatic” app, you will be unable to speak to demons during a full moon. If you have the app though, this is the only time you can try to negotiate to get dark aligned demons. Demon fusion accidents are more likely to happen during a full moon and new moon.
- Co-op Attacks
This is a really simple mechanic but one that will make your life much easier if you work to take advantage of. There are three different alignments in this game that you and your demons can be, Neutral, Chaos, and Law.
Neutral = white names
Law = blue names
Chaos = red names
If you or one of your demons hits an enemy’s weakness, then any of your party that is currently on the field that shares a color (alignment) with whoever attack will do a follow-up attack. The damage can further be boosted by sub-apps you can unlock as the game progresses. USE THIS FEATURE! While you can make it through the game without using them, the additional damage done can be a real life-saver.
- Affects how much damage you do with your Sword and Gun attacks and skills. Higher the value, the stronger they are.
- Affects the maximum amount of MP you have, the damage your spells do, and the amount of damage an enemy’s spell does to you. The higher the value the more MP and magical damage you do, and lower damage you take against enemy spells (Fire, Ice, Wind, Electric, and Almighty skills)
- Affects your maximum amount of HP and the damage you take from an enemy’s physical attacks. The higher the value the more HP you have and the less damage you take from enemy physical attacks.
- Affects how soon you act in combat, the likelihood of your attacks hitting the enemy, and you dodging enemy attacks. The higher the value the sooner you will take your turn in combat, the more likely your attacks hit the target, and the more likely you are to dodge enemy attacks.
- Affects the chance of you inflicting status effects, the chance of dodging enemy attacks, and the chance of attacks being critical attacks. The higher the value, the more likely you are to inflict status effects on enemies, improves the odds of your dodging attacks, and the more likely you are for your attacks to be critical.
- The likelihood of Light, Dark, and enemy status effect spells and attacks hitting are affected by three things:
- The base percentage chance each skill has to take effect
- The resistance of your character/demon
- Your character’s / demon’s Luck stat.
AILMENTS AND ATTRIBUTES:
- First and foremost for anyone that is new to this series, the most important tip I can give is to NOT FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR DEMONS! Shin Megami Tensei games are not Pokemon games. Developing a close and personal bond with each individual creature is not advised. Your demons and angels should only be kept around for as long as they prove useful, then once they no longer are and become weak, use them as fodder to fuse new more powerful ones. You will be greatly hindering yourself and be making life much more difficult if you decide to keep earlier demons around and strictly raise their levels.
- Research the “March to Death” Subapp as soon as possible! This app is available fairly early on, and it will make it so your game doesn’t end if the main character is killed. Instead, you will only game over when the last demon in your party is K.O.’ed.
- Do sidequests! You can get items that will unlock some really helpful sub apps!
- Demon source farming can be a bit annoying but here is a trick I used to help get them! Using the new in-dungeon save feature, save before a monster levels up. If the monster gives you another source when they level up, great! If not, reload your save and level him up again. Rinse and repeat until you get the source.
- Need those new demons in your party to become fully analyzed and snag their sources? Make sure the demon you want to be analyzed is in your active party and go to the first dungeon, find a low-level mob, and then just have all your characters defend. Do this 15-20 turns and you should get your desired demon fully analyzed!
- At the beginning of the game, your Demonica suit will ask you a series of questions that will determine how your stats will grow, each will prioritize a stat.
- Attack Support: Prioritizes ST
- Technical Support: Prioritizes MA
- Physical Support: Prioritizes VI
- Speed Support: Prioritizes AG
- Luck Support: Prioritizes LU
- For a breakdown of which responses will result in which style of support, you can consult THIS handy breakdown.
- Buff, debuff, and status spells are incredibly powerful in this game and very much matter. Having designated demons that specializes in these areas will help you immensely in all the tougher fights.
I hope that this Basics Primer will give you a better understanding of Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey REDUX ! With this you should have a better understanding of the complex mechanics at play during combat, allowing you to prepare yourself better for the difficult fights to come. For those unfamiliar with the mainline games that may be coming from other popular spinoffs (such as Persona), the mainline titles can be an intimidating mountain to tackle. Don’t be put off though as REDUX is a great entry to get started with. Once you grasp the core ideas and gameplay of one game, you will have a much easier time adapting to other entries.
Are there any mechanics or areas you could use more clarification on? Sound off down below or tweet @IrrationalPod #ProfessorRPG and let us know!
Are you a fan of other Atlus games and are struggling with their previous game, The Alliance Alive? Check out the last Basics Primer for Alliance Alive HERE!