So now that I’ve got some coffee in me… For note, I have cleared the original DS Strange Journey, and on the whole I really like a lot of what it does.
SJ is a terribly paced game. Remaking it could only improve it.
It has a really strong start; encounters are reasonably challenging, things are happening in the story that are hard to understand, the atmosphere is very oppressive and strange. It still feels like the most classical SMT game since the original two, and I definitely want to say its the best successor we’ve had to those. (Nocturne is kind of doing its own thing but honestly I wish they’d taken more lessons from it!)
Around the fourth zone, Delphinus, it starts running out of steam and grinding the player down with unnecessarily long zones, a boss you have zero investment in by the time you get to it, and the gimmicks aren’t very interesting paired with its highly linear nature. Proceed, fall down a pit, groan, climb back up, repeat until you chose the correct path (or your map is completed, depending on the kind of player you are). And then the boss is kind of a jerk and requires a gameplan somewhat perpendicular to the way the entire rest of the game operates. Which isn’t bad but feels more like something that’s a better fit for an optional boss than a required one.
Fifth zone, Eridanus, is basically where most people stop. It’s long, it’s non-linear, it feels like a final area, it builds up to probably the toughest boss fight up to that point, it’s satisfying, the story beats are good.
It also feels like the end of the game.
After this, the last three(!!) zones are far less mysterious than the previous ones, feeling more like Demonic Office Dungeons than representations of the sins of humanity, and at this point the player feels more like he’s going through the motions than really doing anything different from what he did earlier. They’re long and just kind of tiring. The story beats are more about setting up the Law/Chaos divide in concrete terms and honestly are not at all interesting in how they go about doing it.
Most people I know who played the game gave up either during or just after Eridanus.
The kidnapping scene near the end was probably the most interesting one but it also affects your ending choice the most dramatically of anything in the game. But, of course, the law/chaos paths are gatekeepered by a boss that, if you’re not prepared for, will probably be just about impossible, so if you wanted to do those you could be in trouble.
It just feels anticlimactic.
Add to that:
- Atlus’s remakes haven’t played with pacing much, which doesn’t seem encouraging to me.
- did we really need a skintight suit lady to be added
- Even though the protagonist doesn’t speak and his face is not even visible most of the game, we still do not have a female protagonist in a mainline SMT game.
- SMT4 really ramped up the nationalism and this is likely the same team, after they finished with Apocalypse.
and … Eh? We’ll see.