A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
This is a dark game with adult issues. Everything from prostitution to the devastation of global warming is presented in news programs you watch in cut scenes. However, if you and your crew proceed and work together, you will be able to save the world from demons and an ever-expanding hole in Antarctica. Ultimately, the power of optimism wins out.
Positive Role Models
There are very bad demons in the game and tone of sadness and depression. But they are tempered by the optimism and nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic of your team.That said, this is a game about killing demons.
Ease of Play
While this is a hardcore role-playing game, there are very detailed tutorials presented during gameplay throughout the first hour of play. It's not an easy game to play, but you'll get used to it after that first hour of hand-holding.
Violence & Scariness
While the game is rated M, it's a light mature when it comes to the violence. You won't see the gushing blood and guts that you see in console games. Rather, you see death in more of a still frame. And the death is not big; instead, it's a small sprite that expires. You will see in the frame pools of rich, red blood. In text, not audio, you read, "Ahhhh" when the character expires. The guns and weapons are used in turn-based fashion. So there's no constant "rat-tat-tat" and rag doll physics that show a body flying when being hit. However, when your character dies, things go black.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some of the female demons show their human-like, strangely nipple-less breasts. You'll find that some of the monsters also have heads shaped like penises. The text outlines the fact that some of the evil demons rape men and women while they slumber.
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The language is of the medium variety with words like "a--hole" and "s--t" of being used in text, not audio.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey is one of the rare Mature-rated games for the Nintendo DS. This is a dark role-playing game filled with gloom and depression that pervades the Earth, and it's hard not to be affected by that. The game has sex and violence, but it is tempered by the lower-technology of the DS. You don't see animated blood and guts when people die. Instead, you see a frame or two of the character bending over and falling. Then, there's a pool of blood, again, not animated. You'll see characters that look like human sexual organs and there are sexual themes, especially when you read about some of the proclivities of the demons.
Is It Any Good?
Here's a game that will probably provide you with 100 hours of gameplay. It can be annoyingly slow-moving as you press the 'A' button through thousands of lines of science fiction-based dialog. Yes, there is violence with pools of blood. And yes, some of the demons resemble sexual organs. And, yes, you eventually enter the gates of hell. But much of this is presented in still frames and in text, not with animation and audio. Somehow, that lessens the severity of the mature themes.
As you kill demons and level up, your and your Demonica space suit grow stronger. What's really cool here is that you can communicate with the demons and try to convince them to help you out in your journey. If a demon agrees to your request, you then have all the powers of the demon to help you through the strange world. Also included in the package is a bonus CD with the game's orchestral soundtrack. Despite the slow-moving story, if you stick with Strange Journey, you'll be rewarded with some very innovative gameplay in a science fiction offering that's well worth the price of admission.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.