Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey

Although a spin-off game, Strange Journey is true to the feel of the previous games and a newcomer in scope. (Cut: I really want to praise this, but...) Following an international team after a series of deadly and bizarre events of increasing intensity wreck havoc across the globe, the game puts you inside the high-tech anti-demon combat suit known as a DEMONICA (Cut: Should I explain what that is? Also, I ask again why I couldn't be a dudette? It would have made that one line in negotiation even funnier! Wah...) and asks you, with your compatriots, to do all you can to defend the earth.

It then asks you what that means. (megaten gotyay)

Though a return to the classic dungeon-crawler roots of Shin Megami Tensei, and the nail-bitingly hard difficulty of games like Wizardry, Might and Magic, and Bard's Tale, Strange Journey takes all the best features introduced in Nocturne - from a similar concept to the Press Turn system, where landing a hit on a weak point allows all allies of similar alignment to attack in concert - to the ability for your demon allies to level up and become stronger, once again allowing you to keep your favorite demons relevant, either through re-fusion or careful choice of level and skills.

Although a dungeon crawler of the old-school, perhaps the most notable feature is the plot, which seems to become more relevant by the day. With an older and more grizzled cast then the previous games, not all characters are immediately likable or relatable, and rarely at all times. The story repeatedly asks questions and poses moral or ethical dilemmas without clear cut questions, and lets the player attempt to find a solution to them. Though fantastic in scope, the end result only makes the thrill of the player arriving at a new 'sector' more intense, and the weight of the crew's mission feel heavier after every failure.

In addition to the classic standards of Macca as currency, the player discovers rare Forma they can use to create better equipment to explore the strange entity known only as the Schwarzwelt. Sub-missions are issued from command that allow the player to strengthen themselves or find unique information or equipment, and the classic alignment system makes this a canon game in all but name, and a suitable play for veterans and newcomers alike.

Though only released officially in Japan/the NTSC region, Strange Journey can be imported and played by anyone who owns a Nintendo DS.