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Video Game: Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey
aka: Strange Journey

The outset of the 21th century... Earth is a planet teeming with life. Mankind, 7 billion strong, continued to prosper.

However... This prosperity had a price. To a species unable to halt the environment's destruction... the Land of Ruin would inevitably appear.

Even so... mankind, desperate for salvation, clung to hope. A brave few begin their mission... To the enigmatic Land of Ruin. Little realizing this harsh Journey will decide man's fate...
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey opening.

The DS incarnation of the Shin Megami Tensei series. It was released for the DS in Japan on October 8, 2009 and March 22, 2010 for the United States.

In the year 20XX, a strange zone of pure blackness appears at the South Pole and gradually begins to expand outwards. Dubbed the "Schwarzwelt", this phenomenon swallows up everything it touches, and all attempts to analyse or explain it end in failure, as do attempts to halt its advance.

With no other option, the U.N. assembles four elite teams comprised of the most talented soldiers and scientists from around the world. Armed with the most advanced technology available, including the DEMONICA Power Armor and four massive exploration vehicles, their mission is to physically enter and explore the interior of the Schwarzwelt, and find a way to stop it before the entire world is consumed.

You take the role of a decorated soldier on-board the Red Sprite, one of the four exploration vehicles sent into the Schwarzwelt. After a crash landing into the Schwarzwelt, the Red Sprite is separated from the other vehicles, and you soon discover that the interior of the Schwarzwelt is crawling with invisible demons eager to tear you and your comrades to pieces. Fortunately, with the help of a mysterious software program downloaded into your Power Armor, you can perceive, converse with and recruit these demons to your side.

Cut off from the real world, all you can hope to do is push further into the Schwarzwelt... for some answers, and for a way out.

Compare Etrian Odyssey by the same company, which Strange Journey shares a number of elements with.

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey provides examples of:

  • Adaptive Armor: The DEMONICA suit, designed to continuously improve your performance. You don't gain levels. The suit does.
  • Adult Fear: This game is designed to strike fear in those who are concerned about the Earth's many issues, from overpopulation to the dastardly results it has on the global environment.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: The Schwarzwelt's earthly boundaries are delimited by a wall of plasma that destroys anything it touches. The Schwarzwelt is constantly expanding. So don't worry too much about all the people being swallowed up by the Schwarzwelt if the mission fails —everyone will be vaporized before it happens.
    • The role of the wall is to "disassemble" everything at the molecular level so it can be properly reconstituted as whatever the Schwarzwelt thinks it would best fit as. The outside world is the "crime," the plasma wall the verdict, the Schwarzwelt the sentence.
  • Affably Evil: Mitra and Captain Jack.
    • Demons with the "gentleman" personality are unfailingly polite, even if negotiations fall through. Instead of angrily telling you to piss off like other demons will, "gentlemen" demons will simply politely request to return to the battle.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Jimenez in the Neutral path. Even before the fight, he expresses regret that things have lead to a Duel to the Death due to your bond with each other, and after the battle, as he dies he acknowledges that you were always better than him.
  • Ambiguously Evil: The Joint Project. As secretive government types they're rather shady, but they nevertheless seem supportive of the mission and mean you no harm. Over the course of the game, however, you learn that they sent the team with some rather... interesting equipment, including a gun that brainwashes people and an atomic bomb, and around the halfway point they attempt to destroy the Schwartzwelt with the team still inside, which would strand them in the demon world forever. Whether this was a case of You Have Outlived Your Usefulness or a simple miscalculation isn't particularly well explained.
  • America Saves the Day: Subverted. Red Sprite and the other ships do have members from the USA, including the main character (who is Japanese in the Japanese version), but many other crew members come from other parts of the world.
  • Anti-Grinding: As per Megami Tensei tradition, overleveled demons or protagonist will stifle experience point rewards. Rather annoying in that on a New Game+, bringing in your endgame party at the start of the game will greatly stunt your level growth.
    • Not that you really need your endgame party, as an end-level sword and decent armour allow the player to get through a decent chunk of the game without using demons. If your armour is good enough, it can even be done on auto battle!
  • Apocalyptic Log: Transmissions from unmanned drones sent into the Schwarzwelt. And the reports found in the Demonicas of the slain crew members.
  • Arch-Enemy: The vampire Kudlak and his hunter, Kresnik, who first showed up in Devil Summoner, return again in this game. They're still pretty much at a stalemate.
    • Barong and Rangda of Balinese mythology are also represented, with Barong sending you on a sub-quest to issue a challenge to his eternal enemy Rangda.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The main character is the leader of the Strike Team, and the one who does most (if not all) of the fighting in the mission.
  • Awesome but Impractical / Useless Useful Spell: Tetrakarn and Makarakarn, which grant Single Use Shields that repel physical and magic attacks, respectively. Not only do they cost a lot of MP (45), but they only last for the current turn, making them inefficient at best on high-speed demons and an outright waste of MP on low-speed ones.
  • A Space Marine Is You: An RPG example, but still.
  • Badass Normal: The Strike Team, with the Main Protagonist being the most notable. Only demons can wield magic, whereas you need to rely on the Demonica and your firearm to substitute for it. Doesn't stop you from steamrolling and subjugating supernatural beasts.
  • Bandit Mook: Demons who can use the enemy-exclusive Macca Beam or Wastrel Beam are the number 1 cause for premature baldness in gamers. Especially since they don't make you drop a preset amount of Macca, but a percentage of your total, so if a piddly little Preta from the second sector hits your endgame-level party with Macca Beam, you'll probably have to reload just from losing hundreds of thousands of Macca.
    • Or, god forbid, your new-game plus party.
    • It's almost as bad when a Kangiten hits you with Wastrel Beam just before heading off against the final boss.
  • Base on Wheels: The Red Sprite, the Blue Jet, the Elve, and the Gigantic and the Lightning. A couple of stories tall, heavily fortified, can emit plasma shields, amphibious, and come with VTOL jets for short-distance flight. The interior is equipped with sickbays and laboratories, and each vehicle is run by an autonomous A.I.. Also qualify for Cool Ship with a mix of Tank Goodness. They can also split in half, each with its own VTOL capabilities: the bow carries the main command bridge, living quarters, and sickbay; the aft contains the manufacturing lab, power core, and auxiliary terminals for Arthur.
  • Barrier Change Boss
  • Berserk Button: Some responses to random-encounter demons' questions will simply make them go away (or on rare occasions, the demon will brush it off and forgive you). Some other responses, however...
    "The demon suddenly attacked!"
    • There are some (incredibly obvious) answers that will always force a demon to attack you. Some can be quite hilarious to see unfold.
    Female Demon: "What is that mask for?"
    Hero: "It lets me see wrinkles."
    The demon suddenly attacked!
  • Better to Die Than Be Killed: Should you choose to do nothing and show mercy during The Holy Dragonslayer EX Mission then Mother Harlot will have her Dragon devour her so that she will no longer be a tool for the Angels to use.
    • Which, incidentally, seems like a Shout-Out to Revelations, 17:16.
  • Big Eater: Horkos, daaaamn. He points out humanity isn't very much different from him, and that they consume and eat endlessly in their world of luxuries.
  • Big Labyrinthine Building / Greed: Sector Carina is a huge shopping mall with escalators and sliding doors, and rows and rows of bizzare products, and it also serves as a meat packing plant, as conveyor lines carry endless sides of meat to unseen kitchens where they are prepared for Horkos. It's also one of the more memorable areas of the game, as many characters are simply astonished by the appearance of a shopping mall in a different dimension, but apparently it's not so foreign, as Chen remarks that the sector is simply a copy of a real mall on Earth (although how many shopping malls routinely carry heavy military ordnance is anyone's guess). In the game's story, riots and lootings are trailing though South America due to shortages, likely stemming from the severe economic imbalance of the game's Crapsack World.
  • Blatant Lies: And how! This is a key conversation piece, such as you're a beautiful woman, the Demonica is part of your body/the latest fashion... it gets utterly hilarious with Relax Spray, because if they didn't believe the first time, the Demonica forces them to believe it, and they won't even care if they know your program is forcing them to change their opinion.
    • Oddly enough, any demon with the "old woman" personality does realize she's being brainwashed when you use Relax Spray on her. She still doesn't care.
    • Not to mention the answer to the question at the beginning of the game (Will the mission succeed?). Unless you do neutral.
    • Some demons pull this on YOU: they ask to join you and then will take advantage of your lowered guard. Catch them in the lie and they're impressed enough to let you go.
    • At one point a certain demon is described as a "beautiful and voluptuous goddess." Said demon? Mara.
    • Also the MC himself will receive macca, items, and even demonic fighters just by telling them what they want to hear.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: In some SMT games, Law and Chaos are downplayed to "live freely" or "live for others." In this game, they're taken Up to Eleven: Law is "mindlessly worship the holy authority" and Chaos is "degenerate into bloodthirsty savages that are basically the same as demons." There's no way either of them could be construed as "good," because they take it way too far. Playing Neutral will have you feel like you're the Only Sane Man.
  • Bonus Boss: On the second playthrough, you get to punch out the Gnostic Demiurge, a level 99 kick in the nuts.
    • Also, EX Missions given to you by demons or crewmen can lead to these.
  • Boom, Headshot: One particular gun has a skill called Headshot, which inflicts mild Gun damage with a chance of a One-Hit KO. The effect is simulated by applying a light chance of Curse-elemental damage.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Most demons that require the use of the Enemy Scan can qualify, as they're usually much stronger than other enemies in the area. As an added bonus, some of these demons can turn out to be Fiends such as Matador (remember him from Nocturne?), and Fiends are almost bosses in their own right.
    • To clarify, most of the fiends are generally hidden in areas where the enemies are notably lower in level. The first fiend that you will ever fight is David and he is both the first and the weakest that you fight. While he is not as much of a challenge as the other fiends, he is justified because you can CHOOSE when to fight him and he certainly is not scary when you bring the team that you used to beat Horkos. What becomes scarier is that once that happens you unlock the rest of them and they do not warn you on when they will appear.
      • You'll probably miss Matador the first time around (as he is not a horseman) and by the time you get back, you will not be that scared of him because he doesn't have many skills and his taunt skill will make him easier to defeat (if you have equipment and demons that void or even reflect phys, the job pretty much does itself for you).
      • The first real fiend that most will encounter is in Delphinus which is the White Rider. And boy when he appears you will be scared stiff. Not just that, he packs quite a punch too. He follows David's pattern of inflicting fear on your demons and then going all out. If you plan on fighting head on, White Rider can be even scarier than Asura because he can eject everyone in your party so that you will have to fight him alone (unless you waste turns recovering demons). The rest of the horsemen follow suit but special mention goes to the Pale Rider and the Trumpeter.
      • The Pale Rider shows up in Grus and his main strength is in his ability to attack you with heavy equipment until you die. You also better have something that nulls Curse because he loves to cast Mamudoon which is instant death with an 80% accuracy tag. Ouch. But he shouldn't need it as he can probably kill your party with bare blades anyway (unless you start buffing).
      • The Trumpeter has an incredible amount of health, and will instantly kill you unless you refresh an instant kill protection spell every turn. He also spams random status effects which are almost guaranteed to hit. When he gets low on health, he chain-casts the powerful spell Megidolaon.
  • Boss Room: Often pretty noticeable in the map. Sometimes even marked with a bright red "!" once you've discovered them.
    • *ping* "Warning: Powerful demon detected..."
  • Boss Rush: In Sector Antlia on a New Game+, a strange device allows you to fight the sector endbosses back-to-back. Doing so allows you to grind levels like nobody's business in the span of minutes.
  • Boss Warning Siren:
    • When you're approaching a sector endboss, your Demonica alerts you and pinpoints the location of the boss room.
      • Subverted in Sector Bootes, when you approach Mitra's lair and get this warning, but when you enter, you're simply greeted with a speech and get escorted back to the Red Sprite afterwards. The warning doesn't trigger again when you approach Mitra's room a second time to assault him, but since you now know his location, it's not necessary.
    • Late into the game, in Sector Fornax, your Demonica warns you on multiple occasions that a powerful demon is nearby but cannot pinpoint their coordinates. Proceed further and sure enough, you face the One-Winged Angel form of one of the first four sector bosses.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Well, your gun's magic costs you MP, but otherwise it's got infinite ammo; for its default attack, it requires 0 MP, so you effectively do have an unlimited amount of regular bullets.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Mixed with Lampshade Hanging. If you attempt to talk to a Dark-aligned demon (which cannot be recruited through normal negotiation) who has the "little kid" personality, they'll admit outright that the only reason they won't talk to you is because the game mechanics for Dark demons won't let them.
    • The hero does this in a subtle way. If you talk to Jack Frost or Pyro Jack, you have the special answer "Mascots aren't scary". Jack Frost knows he is ATLUS mascot, so he throws himself into your party (you can't say no to him) to get even more famous. And Pyro Jack knows he isn't the mascot, that's why he will get angry and attack you!
  • But Thou Must: Played straight and subverted in a hilarious way on a mission for Anthony. When he says that his luck with women is horrible and asks for your thoughts, you are given the following choices: "I don't know...", "If you ask me..." and "Maybe...". The subversion is that all three choices all lead up to him changing his mind and asking you not to tell him because his self esteem would be shot.
    • The last question you must answer when you first get the Demonica is: "You have been sent to the Schwarzwelt, where conditions are expected to be harsh. Yet you have advanced equipment, a strong ship, the latest tech, and dependable comrades. Will the Schwarzwelt investigation mission succeed?". The only valid answer is "Yes".
    • Played straight at the end of the Neutral path: "Transfer your power to Arthur?" The game doesn't even give you a "No" option.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Averted! Unlike most previous Megaten games released in the past ten or so years, physical attacks in Strange Journey run off of MP, not HP. Though this means that your physical attackers won't kill themselves by punching the enemy, it also means they might not be able to do their special moves too often before you need to hit them with a Chakra Drop.
  • Character Alignment: Invoked. It's even Color-Coded for Your Convenience. Blue is Lawful, red is Chaotic, white is Neutral. It's important for several reasons; if you strike an enemy's weakness, all party members of the same alignment smack the enemy for bonus damage. It's also difficult for a Lawful or Chaotic player character to recruit a demon of the opposing alignment (they're ambivalent if you're Neutral, and Neutral demons don't care what alignment you are). That said, once you've got them working for you, there's nothing stopping you from having party members of every alignment. Due to the fact that it shuffles weaknesses on a whim and it has an attack that will return all demons of one alignment to your Demonica, this is recommended for the final boss of the Law and Neutral routes.
    • Even Jimenez and Zelenin's Demonicas are telling you their alignment. And their skin color, too.
  • Chekhov's Gun: You didn't seriously think the Gigantic would just stay gone, did you?
    • You will encounter a statue of Asura before the demon manifests in it. And you know you'll have to deal with it before long...
  • Clothes Make the Superman: The Demonica suit, which is the actual thing gaining all the levels and allowing you to speak with demons. In fact, in this game, demons are completely invisible to the naked eye without the Demon Summoning Program! Taking off the suit in the Schwarzwelt is a sure way to die, too; it may look like an Earthly environment, but the demons forgot to reproduce that pesky thing called "air."
  • Coincidental Broadcast: As the Schwarzwelt Joint Project looks at pictures captured by their probes, the broadcast shows crimes related to the sector they show. Antlia is shown with a war with Eastern Europe, Carina is shown with lootings in Central and South America, Bootes is shown with sex crimes in Tokyo, and Delphinus is shown with pollution in Central Asia. This is one of the reasons they initially think there's some kind of transmission error when they see what looks like Earth-like terrain in what's supposed to be an alien dimension.
  • Continuity Nod: As in recent Shin Megami Tensei games prior to this, the first mandatory demon you recruit (and who gives you the whole Negotiation Tutorial in the first place) is a friendly Pixie.
  • Cool Ship: All ships sent to investigate the Schwartzwelt. All five are several-story tall tanks with VTOL capabilities, an obscene amount of infrastructure supporting them and their crew (bleeding-edge sickbays, construction laboratories capable of mantaining Powered Armor suits, processing new, hitherto unknown forms of matter and creating incredible new technology, plasma shields, nav AIs, engines that require a Tokamak reactor only to get started), dimensional-crossing technology and plasma armor. The most advanced and retrofitted of the line, the Lightning, even has limited reality-warping technology. Of course, it's too energy-consuming to even allow it to move while in use, but still...
  • Copy Protection: Almost to EarthBound levels. Playing this game on emulator or a flash cart results in no random encounters, which makes proceeding through the game difficult. Even if you managed to get past that, the game performs a different save routine resulting in corrupt save data, which is then deleted upon attempting to load it! Get past that, and the game begrudgingly lets you play, but still crashes at random every so often.
  • Cosmetic Award: In the menu, you can find a list of various things you've accomplished, an amusing description to go along with it, and a title or "medal" case that serves as nothing more than bragging rights. Some of the things you have to pull off are impressive, like beating hidden bosses. Others are silly, like slamming into the walls 255 times (which you'll likely do a lot by accident anyway).
  • Cosmic Egg: While it's never stated whether or not the universe itself hatched from them, the Cosmic Eggs of the game have the power to remake the Earth as a world of absolute Law or Chaos. They can also be detonated in order to destroy the Schwarzwelt instead.
  • Crapsack World: Although not immediatly obvious, you eventually realize that this game's version of Earth has serious problems even without the Schwarzwelt bearing down on it.
  • Crazy-Prepared: In some instances, Arthur brings up tech that the crew had saved for just such an occasion e.g. "mental parasites"; given where you are, being that prepared is a necessity. One of the ships even has a nuke on board.
    • Lampshaded by Tyler: "We've got a way to fight diseases no one has ever seen? Wow. We're so prepared it's scary."
  • Creepy Child: Wouldn't be a Megaten game without Alice. Doesn't looking at her skinning, salting and devouring a living rabbit make you want to Die For Her?
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: The World of Law gives off this impression.
  • Dark World: What Schwarzwelt means in German!note 
  • Dark Is Evil/Light Is Good: Technically, Light and Dark aren't even fighting in this game; a "Light" demon is one that can't be encountered or obtained except through Fusion, and a "Dark" demon can be encountered and fought but can't be negotiated with (so to get them, you also need to create them via Fusion). Light and Dark demons can be either Chaos or Law-based, too. That said, most of the Light demons tend to be based off of more benevolent deities and mythological critters, and Dark demons and humans mostly share a mutual hatred, which is why they refuse to talk to you in most instances.
  • Death World: If the demon-filled hell gate doesn't kill you, maybe the thousand-meter-tall plasma storm surrounding the gate will. And make sure you have your helmet on at all times. And don't eat the food! And mind the demons!
  • Degraded Boss: Orias. Normally, he should be around level 27. When you first encounter him, he's level 7.
  • Demons Speaking English: Played with. Even with the Demon Summoning Program installed in the Demonica OS, demon speech will sound as utter gibberish until the Demonica has analyzed the demon at least once, allowing it to translate the back-and-forth banter between the demon and the Protagonist.
    • Played with even more with all demons getting several types of speech patterns. Yes, you may have to negotiate with a valley girl demon, a disgruntled southern gentleman demon, a street punk demon, or demons that can only speak in pidgin English.
    • Even lampshaded by a lot of demons who will ask you why you can talk with them. They accept different answers every time though.
  • Diegetic Interface: Part of the suit
  • Difficulty Spike: Just about every new level ramps it up from the previous one by a huge margin, but once you enter Sector Eridanus, the gloves officially come off. See That One Level and That One Boss on the YMMV page.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: When in the second stage of conversing with a Data-personality demon, such as Sudama, it may ask you what the mask of the Demonica is for. If you answer "It analyzes ROMs": "That is, taboo of taboos! And this, is punishment!" {free round of attacks for the demon's party}
  • Disc One Final Dungeon: Sector Eridanus. Particularly notable in that it does not cause an Interface Spoiler since it pretty much fills up the rest of the map, and with the exception of one minor area the rest of the game takes place on a separate map.
  • Disc One Nuke: The Frost Cannon has great power and can hit 3 elements and can be obtained from an easy EX mission early in the third sector. It can last you until very late game, even up to the 7th sector.
    • Black Frost and Frost Ace are level 30 and 34 respectively, and both come with Bufudyne (and Black Frost has Agidyne); few other demons around those levels have high-level -dyne spells. In addition, neither one has any weaknesses and both have several resists and immunities.
    • The Jackal gun is also greatly overpowered, mostly due to its insanely accurate Stone Bullet skill —and very, very few enemies (most of them bosses or Fiends) are immune to Petrification.
    • Around Bootes you can also fuse Morax with a source to cover up his weakness, and the special fusion and source leave the possibilty of him having all four elements.
    • The Uber-Pixie you can get through a Password provided by Atlus themselves starts at Lv 1, but has a magic stat of 10 (normally, Pixies have a 3) and a luck stat of 99 (compared to the usual 5). On top of this, it has the spells Megidolaon and Mediarahan for heavy damage on every enemy and full HP Recovery for every ally respectively! Granted, you have to pay a very huge ammount of Macca to summon it from your Demon Compendium, but once you can afford it and level it up accordingly, hooooo boy... The password itself is: Madoka Ueno
    • If you shuffle your compendium around, you will see a large variety of skills pop up. Some of them are negligible. Then you get to Palibsag with Grand Tack. Proceed to destroy nearly every demon with it if you have someone with high enough strength against anything not strong or immune to gun. Once you get to level 55, you get the even more broken RIOT GUN from Kresnik.
  • Down in the Dumps: Sector Delphinus, a sprawling and poisonous garbage dump full of moving floors, pitch-black hallways, a nasty parasite that drives those infected by it to violent insanity, and some fairly nasty demons. Ironically, this sector is ruled by Asura, who intends to "polish" the human spirit by reducing the entire world to a state of savage barbarism. In the game's story, riots have started in South Asia due to the catastrophic spread of pollution.
  • Earth Is a Battlefield: While the upper portion of Antila is a Slippy-Slidey Ice World supposedly set deep in the bowels of the Antarctic, much of the lower levels of the sector are set in a burning urban landscape ruled by Tyrant Morax, who believes the best way to kill humans is to mimic how they kill each other: through modern warfare. One character even comments the area looks like it came out of a World War instead of a more recent conflict, and in the game's story, a prolonged war is going on in Eastern Europe.
  • Eldritch Location: The Schwarzwelt is an exponentially-expanding quantum... hoozit. It is more specifically:
    • Negative Space Wedgie: An exponentially-increasing quantum gate thinger...
    • Ironic Hell: and a monument to all your sins.
    • Another Dimension: A alternate land that exists alongside the Earth where Mem Aleph resides when it isn't engulfing the Earth. It takes the ideal energy of the Earth and sentient lifeforms that evolve into it to become a beautiful realm, but becomes a Death World as the negative energies created by polluting the Earth come into it.
  • Encounter Bait / Encounter Repellant: Both abilities exist as sub-apps in the Demonica, each with two levels of effectiveness: Enemy Welcome and Enemy Challenge for the former, and Enemy Begone and Enemy Lullaby for the latter. After beating the game once, you also unlock Red Carpet, which turns off random encounters entirely.
  • "End of the World" Special: Subverted in the neutral ending; you have Arthur destroy the Schwarzwelt instead. Played straight in the other endings; you throw the Cosmic Eggs into the Vanishing Point and create a world of Law/Chaos.
  • Enemy Chatter: Shin Megami Tensei's signature Demon Negotiation is taken above and beyond the series' standards. Particularly amusing ones often cross into Crowning Moment of Funny, such as scaring "young women"-type demons with ghost stories or getting a legendary man-eating serpent to protect you after convincing it you're a beautiful woman.
  • Enemy Detecting Radar: The Demonica HUD includes a moving bar at the top of your field of vision: blue for standard situations, yellow for "alert: demons nearby," and red for "attack is imminent."
  • Enemy Scan: Another function of the Demonica suit. However, in order to fully analyze a demon, including type, weaknesses, HP, skills, et al, you must encounter them and defeat them several times; if they're already in your party, their actions can also be analyzed by the Demonica and boost the scan rate.
  • Energy Economy: It's not certain if the demons regard Macca as energy, but since you're humans and therefore completely outside the demonic market, energy is almost all it's good for (besides bribing opposing demons to join your side). See No Hero Discount below.
  • Eternal Recurrence: This is not the first Schwarzwelt to wipe an advanced civilization off the face of the Earth... and unless something is done about its origin, it won't be the last. Or, worse, it will be the last, because it will have succeeded in its original task of forcibly kicking the Law "taint" out for all eternity.. Naturally, the Law Path has its own ideas on how to end the cycle.
    • It takes a bit of thought to realize it, but the first four Sectors and their ring connection are what demons see as an inevitable recursion in humanity. Antlia: Warfare; subjugation, conquest, and appropriation of something/someone else. Bootes: Victors turn their attention to unnecessary luxuries, since nothing can actually imperil their survival. Carina: The luxurious begin extracting luxury ingredients and transforming them at breakneck pace. Delphinus: All you've got now is worthless, unusable waste...not even necessities. How to get those necessities? Easy—back to Antlia's warfare, which leads to Bootes again...Given that Eridanus and Fornax aren't so much symbolic as the Schwarzvelt's control center, and Grus is a melange of the ABCD cycle components, we have Horologium as Mem Aleph's idea of a solution to this Vicious Cycle. Namely, make existence so frenetic and harsh that nothing can even slightly calm down to begin thinking about luxuries. Basically, an irrevocable Death World on par with Greenscale's dominion, crossed with Antlia.
      • Eridanus actually is symbolic in that it represents how some demons like Ouroboros Maia see the new world would be like: A perfect garden where science and nature coexist without humans around to trample it.
  • Messy Pig: Horkos and his cronies. Which he will sometimes eat. This restores his health and confers any status ailments his food is currently suffering.
  • Evil Counterpart: Jack Squad. They even use pitch black Demonicas in contrast to the Team's golden ones.
  • Evil Makeover: Arguable on the "evil" part, but par for the course amongst Shin Megami Tensei games. A couple of times, you see an important character leave behind their humanity and they gain a radically new appearance which is simultaneously badass and off-putting.
  • Evil Twin: Dopplegangers, true to their name, are nothing more than grinning shadows of the protagonist.
  • Expy: Arthur (see Shout-Out below) to HAL 9000. Especially at the end of the Neutral path, when he confesses fear before performing his Heroic Sacrifice. By the same token, the ascended Gore is Arthur's counterpart —an expy of David Bowman.
    • While it's in the same game as what it's an Expy to, Demonee-ho is a joke on the main character. Sort of like Raiho.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Horkos, rather befitting the fact that Sector Carina manifests as an outsize shopping mall. There are numerous conveyor belts ferrying a constant stream of sides of meat to unseen kitchens, which are never enough to slake Horkos's hunger. And the first time you see him, he's busily eating the Elve. In battle, he may take a grisly bite out of you to restore his health (Taking a Bite), or he'll use Grocery Run to call up one of his minions, so he can eat them. And his minions are demon pigs, too. Do not obstruct his meals if you know what's good for you.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Not that Jack Squad were friendly allies to begin with, but at least there was some cooperation and willingness to help the Red Sprite's crew as long as it didn't interfere with their goals.
  • Faceless Goons: What most members of the Strike Team are reduced to, thanks to their Demonica helmets. You may know their names, and they may sometimes have individual field sprites and battle stances, but you'll only see the faces of a select few. It seems to work against them, as many Strike Team members end up getting killed rather quickly.
  • The Fair Folk: There's a recurring series of side-missions where you help a Fairy Pixie build a Fairy village. These ones are generally pretty nice to you since you recruited them; enemy fairies, on the other hand, can be very mischevous and cruel.
  • Final Boss: Mem Aleph on the Law and Neutral paths, Pillar Zelenin on the Chaos path.
  • Final Exam Boss: Ouroboros in its second form will require a pretty much flawless defense to defeat, as it possesses insta-kill magic, an elemental attack, a heavy physical attack, and can inflict every single status ailment.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Five-Token Band: In the JP version, there's an Asian one, a Hispanic one, a White one, and a Black one. Instead of a disabled one, we have a robot.
  • For Science!: Once they've gotten over their reservations and initial fear, Irving and Chen are positively thrilled at devising new and exciting equipment with the Forma (Schwarzwelt-borne materials) you scavenge for them.
    • On a less pleasant note, Jack's Squad.
  • Four Is Death: The Schwarzwelt is ruled by four "Kings" and four "Mothers".
  • From Bad to Worse: How the Schwarzwelt expedition kicks off. And how it continues afterwards.
  • Fun with Acronyms: DEMOuntable Next Integrated Capability Armor
  • Fusion Dance: As per Shin Megami Tensei tradition, you can fuse demons with one another to create another one, which can inherit skills from its progenitors. However, since demons don't learn skills by leveling up (all they do is replace existing skills or drop their Demon Source), feel free to fuse fuse fuse with abandon.
    • Jimenez does one with Bugaboo to save its life.
  • Future Badass: The Protagonist in the conclusion of the Madness of Yggdrasil EX Mission.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: This is what the Schwarzwelt is initially assumed to be—an onslaught of (later-proven-to-be-demonic) antibodies to protect Earth from human corruption. Afterwards, the Schwarwelt will rebuild the earth after consuming it as revealed in the chaos route.
  • Gaiden Game: One of two direct spinoffs to the mainline Shin Megami Tensei games, the other being Shin Megami Tensei If.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • Averted in one instance with Jimenez and Bugaboo. After defeating Horkos, you search the remains of the Elve for parts. Jimenez manages to recover Bugaboo's forma/D Source, and uses it with the data registered in his Compendium to resurrect Bugaboo offscreen. He even mentions that because he's using the Compendium data, he has to teach Bugaboo English again.
    • Played straight when you fight Jack's Squad members. The game treats Soldiers as separate demons for combat purposes, meaning that you can still talk to their demons. All of the demons Jack's Squad uses are Dark, so you can't negotiate with them, but "friendly demon" reactions still occur...
    • Averted again when enemies hit you in the middle of a cutscene. The battle HUD shows up and everyone takes damage. As in, their Hit Points decrease. Granted, it's not a big deal in terms of gameplay since you can just heal the damage and it isn't lethal, but it drives home the point that you're dealing with an entity you do NOT want to mess with.
    • When you fight Zelenin in the Neutral and Chaos routes, one of her attacks is the Mind Control song that Mastema has such big plans for. It, naturally, inflicts Charm.
    • Averted when trying to speak to Jack's Squad soldiers in combat. Doing so might net you insults and hostile remarks, because you're using your Demon Summoning program to speak to the them when you use the talk command, instead of talking to them normally. Jack's soldiers are all humans and can communicate with the player without having to be in their suits, as they are only fought in an environment that is safe for humans.
    • Averted with the battle with Asura. The Hate Plague he's been inflicting on your squadmates? It takes the form of Asura Roga, an attack that inflicts Rage upon random party members.
  • Gender Bender: Asura/Asherah
  • Genre Savvy: The Jack Frosts and related enemies are this. Attempting to make one of them your demon will, at times, make them accuse you of trying to make them a cute company mascot or allow the player to point out that he is a mascot, Ho!
  • Get Back Here Boss: Horkos flees each time you hit him with the Horkos Buster.
  • Glass Cannon: Asura can kill you like a traditional Mega Ten boss can, but will go down quickly if you can avoid that.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: As a callback to the early Super Famicom games, many demon sprites have these, usually flashing red and black or red and white.
  • God Is Evil: YHVH Himself doesn't put in an appearance, but the Three Wise Men are presumably acting on His orders, and they aren't any nicer than he is in earlier installments. There are hints they're actually acting on their own initiative as YHVH has been broken into pieces and the only one remaining is too weak to do anything, but, aside from SMT2, angels don't usually have a history of that in SMT.
    • Two New Game+ quests more than imply that Metatron and Demiurge are Pieces of God who lost to the Mothers before the story began. The Piece that takes Metatron's form even says that God forgot his love for humans and humans stopped believing him in return. Even after fusing with the Demiurge piece he implies that he hasn't changed at all. Luckily you have a chance to seal him away for good thanks to a mysterious female entity who is not aligned with Law or Chaos. This leads to the question of whether the Angels are actually acting on their own agenda or were following the Piece that took Metatron's form.
  • Golden Ending: Arguably, the Neutral ending is the most sane and optimistic of all three endings, with the Schwarzwelt being obliterated and Earth returning to normal. And this is on top of Neutral being the Path of Most Resistance (and having a bullshit Final Boss), as per SMT tradition. See Nightmare Fuel in the YMMV tab to see how the Law and Chaos endings fare in comparison.
  • Gratuitous German: The Schwarz (black) welt (world).
    • One demon conversation has the demon translate it as its probable intended meaning, "Black Horizon," which the Schwartzwelt certainly is; a zone of blackness enveloping the Earth.
    • There's also Commander Gore, who becomes the "ubergestalt."
    • There's an endgame almighty-gun skill called Freischutz, which means "The Marksman" or "The Freeshooter".
  • Green Aesop: A driving force of the entire plot. Earth at the very start of the game has turned into a hellhole of pollution, famine, and insanity, and this is highlighted in the sectors Carina, Delphinus, and Eridanus. Carina reflects mankind's greedy and endless desire for resources and wealth, Delphinus reflects the results of mankind's greed, depicting endless trash and pollution, and Eridanus depicts what Earth will be like when the Schwarzwelt removes the humans from Earth. It also is an important part of the endings. The Neutral ending implies that the surviving crew will have the responsibility of teaching mankind about what they witnessed, so the Schwarzwelt doesn't manifest itself again; the Chaos ending explicitly states that, in its Social Darwinist world where only the strong survive, Earth will revert to a wild and untamed world and Mother Nature will be free to flourish again; finally, the Law ending states that, with every last living thing on Earth in the thrall of Zelenin's Song, mindlessly singing God's praises for all eternity, mankind won't spoil Earth's bounty and the environment will recover gloriously.
  • Guide Dang It: You can get through most of the game without needing special outside assistance, but there are several demons that can only be unlocked by entering special passwords. There's no in-game indication of any of these passwords; fortunately for completionists, Special-Password-Only demons don't count towards or against how much of the Compendium you've finished.
    • They are, however, very cool. You can summon Demonicas of each alignment for an all-human (well, sorta) party! Or use special passwords to even use the co-protagonists in battle!
      • There's even a Jack Frost Demonica.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Every major boss gives one based on the theme of their sector. Your response to these lectures (including agreeing with them) heavily swing your alignment one way or the other.
  • Hate Plague: The Delphinus Parasite.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Ryan, after Captain Jack's death.
  • Hell Gate: Yeah, what did you think the Schwarzwelt was really gonna be, given what franchise this is?
  • Herald: The name for the Seraph clan in this game.
  • Heroic Mime: As per franchise standard. You also define his beliefs via decisions in-game.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the Neutral path's ending, and is referred to as such by the surviving crew.
  • Holier Than Thou: Even mentioned by Jimenez
  • Hopeless Suitor: Poor Anthony...
  • Horny Devils: A side-quest sequence has a crew member who's got a severe crush on one female demon after another; granted, some of the more humanoid ones are very pretty, and the dialogue with them can sometimes get very flirty.
    • And then there's the outright hypersexuals among them. Incubus also embodies this physically (q.v. his stinger and brow).
    • Lampshaded by the game itself as each and every time the crew member reveals a new crush, even the music stops to show the Protagonist's mute horror. It gets more complicated for the crewmate when he tries to invoke tropes such as Really 700 Years Old and Defrosting Ice Queen, much to his intended's disgust. At this point, it's obvious that this quest-line is both an acknowledgement and admonishment of certain people who fetishize the demons in the franchise.
  • Hot Scientist: Zelenin is the team brain and is considered extremely attractive, and in fact it's implied she worries her male colleagues see her as just "the eye candy."
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: The Myrmecolion is "the result of a lion and ant mating". Wrap your mind around that one.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Many demons will be quick to point this out, and the Schwartzwelt itself is essentially a hell on earth, with half of it being a mockery of modern human society and the other half being a tribute to the power of the demons. The more wild/bloodthirsty demons clearly state how awed they are by the bloodshed and destruction humans produce with a grudging respect/obvious distaste, though of course, demons are just as big as hypocrites as humans are. It's still possible to convince some demons that mankind isn't so bad, though. Jack's Squad plays this trope straight; Negotiation with them in battle will only earn you insults, even though you're a human just like them, and they experiment on demons for profit and personal gain, not to mention how they kidnap and successfully fuse Jimenez with Bugaboo.
  • Humans Through Demon Eyes: And like the above, this is particularly evident in the Negotiation sequences.
  • Humans Are Warriors: Quite a few demons will end up being impressed by the strength the humans hold, particularly yours, as the main character. Also, Morale is a song mostly attributed to the humans, and it's a triumphant military theme.
  • 100% Completion: It'll take you a hell of a long time to do it, but it can be done. A more localized hundred percent completion focuses on fully analyzing demons you've got: it's how you get their Demon Sources (stuff that provides extra skills to demons you fuse) and makes them much cheaper to summon from the Compendium.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: It's pretty much a given that a fair number of the demons wandering around can't see humans as much more than tasty treats. Hariti used to be this way, but renounced it quite some time ago (although she does need human-flavored underworld pomegranates to temper withdrawal every now and again).
    • Hariti's story in the game actually parallels her story in Buddhist mythology.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: There's a Jack Frost in a Demonica suit as a special-password demon. Its name? Demonee-Ho.
    • There's also the New MegaTen Sub App. Both "true"note  and "new" can be pronounced shin.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Occasionally at the beginning of an encounter, one of the enemy demons will offer to join you free of charge. Most of the time, its legit, but sometimes its actually this, and they'll actually call you out for falling for it.
  • Item Crafting: You obtain most of your items, as well as weapon, armor, application, and accessory upgrades, by having the Red Sprite's lab manufacture them by mixing together Forma scavenged during exploration and combat. You can't even buy much more than the most basic items without using up Forma of some kind, so you have to kill many demons and investigate every Forma Search blip on your radar you see.
  • It's Personal: This is what greets the Protagonist upon reaching the central chamber of Fornax, and the Tyrants he defeated in the first four sectors proclaim their vengeance towards him.
  • Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: Jimenez. His heart of gold starts to shine through once he finds a demon he becomes personally attached to, though, but he's still a major jerk to everyone except that demon and you. It's clear that "look out for number one" is his motto. When he fuses with Bugaboo to become a demon himself, he's pretty much able to use it as an excuse to say "Screw you guys, I'm going to do what I want" and leave.
    • Though after leaving he does come back by to give you a forma for helping him.
  • Kill 'em All: As is tradition for SMT, the Neutral ending has only you, Arthur and a vague number of crew members survive, and even then, Arthur's personality ends up almost completely wiped.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: You're basically under orders from Irving to pick up every single thing you see. Lampshaded in one EX Mission, where a demon yells at you for getting on his case about taking something when you've been grabbing anything that catches your eye.
  • Klingon Promotion: Ryan's promotion to Jack's Squad Commander. He really didn't want that promotion. At the time.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Somehow, Jack Frost and Pyro Jack know who the mascot is supposed to be. Pyro Jack actually corrects you and then realizes he doesn't know what a mascot is.
  • Last Name Basis: Unlike in other Megami Tensei games, which use the opposite, you and your fellow crew are addressed by last names; even the in-game menus address you as such. However, a few of the crew will call you by first name when in more informal situations.
  • Late to the Tragedy: When the Red Sprite's crew finds the Blue Jet crash site.
  • Leitmotif: The melody of the opening theme "The Eternal Throne" gets reprised in "Take the Shield, Raise the Spear." The Law and Chaos themes also get a remix each.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: If you say something about portable videogames to a demon, one might respond with "I'd make one that folds open and has two screens!"
    • You can call the Jack brothers mascots. This does not go well with Pyro: "Hey, you've got the wrong Jack!"
    • Some demons will ask you what your favorite kind of video game is, and if you answer that you prefer the old classics, some will get angry at you for being stuck in the past and ask if you're sure there isn't anything about the new ones you like. Given the debate over "old-school" vs. "new-school" Megaten games...
    • Trying to talk to a demon while you have the same demon dead in your party: "If you let my pal down, I'll take you down too! Huh? It'd be game over if that happened?"
  • Liberty Over Prosperity: This is the demon's path; not to be confused with the "bad" path, the game makes it fairly clear there is no bad or good path, the demons want everyone to be free in all things, which would result in a dystopian planet with no society because everyone would do what they damn well want, and the angel's path leads to a world were everyone is happy, because they have no other choice but to be happy, and are brainwashed into so. You can also Take a Third Option.
  • Line in the Sand: The Point of No Return between the various Multiple Endings. At a certain point, a character forces the Protagonist to decide which faction he will support —earning enmities and alliances depending on his choices.
    • A lesser version occurs earlier, when the half-demon Jimenez and the angelic Zelenin state their ultimate positions before leaving the Red Sprite for good, convincing several crewmen to follow them along their respective paths.
  • Lost Food Grievance: The Side Quest involving Cerberus and Orthrus.
  • Louis Cypher: This time taking the appearance of a young woman, disturbingly similar to a certain famous young girl from a previous game in the franchise. The name she actually goes by is Louisa Ferre.
  • Mad Scientist: Mitra
    • And Captain Jack, who is what Mitra would be like if he was human. And, you know, irredeemable.
  • Magitek: As with many other Mega Ten series entries, you are able to communicate with and control demons thanks to the use of computers. Your "magic" in this game is also limited to the kinds of guns you equip yourself with (which actually uses the physical skill) and expendable items that mimic spells (that actually use your magic stats), but given that they are constructed out of the leftovers of demons combined with human science, they probably ARE shooting magic bullets.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Quite possibly you. Demon negotiation is the fine art of lying your ass off to get demons to do what you want, after all.
  • Marked Change: After fusing with a demon and becoming half-demonic, Jimenez' strange tattoos stand out visibly through the pitch-black substance that flows over his body. Notable in that he already had them before the fusion, but they were hidden discreetly under his clothes and were easily overlooked.
  • The Masquerade: To prevent the populace from falling prey to panic, the world's governments, acting through the Schwarzwelt Joint Project, cover up the existence of the Schwarzwelt as "a ferro-magnetic blizzard" that forced the "withdrawal of nearby bases." This doesn't last too long, though, since the Schwartzwelt is too huge to hide forever and is growing. Eventually, the demons begin invading Australia and South America through the ocean while the humans back on Earth fail to close the Schwartzwelt with an endless rain of nuclear weapons.
  • The Maze: Naturally, since it's a Dungeon Crawler. Also contains some nasty Mobile Mazes.
  • Money Spider: Minibosses found through "Enemy Search" always drop extremely valuable Forma. You will need to save a few of these to assemble new equipment, but you'll probably need to build that particular item only once, and random encounters yield so little money that Enemy Search Forma becomes your best, and primary, source of income.
  • Monster Compendium: Two kinds: Demon Analysis lets you review the stats, attributes, and skills of any demons you've encountered on the field. The more traditional Demonic Compendium only keeps track of demons that have joined you, either by negotiation or fusion, and you can register your customized demons for summoning them as many times as you want (for a price.)
  • Mood Whiplash. The first several Anthony missions are silly and hilarious, but the Skogsra one is poignant and a little sad.
  • Morality Pet: Bugaboo, to Jimenez
  • Multiple Endings: Law, Neutral and Chaos
    • In a similar fashion, each faction has alignment-specific missions that yield different equipment, and since they're placed after the Point of No Return, it automatically means you can't use the other faction's equipment until a new cycle.
      • Unless you equip them and then change your alignment. Weapons like the Amanomi Sword are acquired before your alignment is locked so you can change your alignment to Law, equip it, and then change it back to whatever it is you were before. It will stay equipped until you use another weapon.
  • Mysterious Antarctica: The Schwarzwelt is here. Word of God says that Antarctica was chosen for international appeal (contrasting the standard Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe) because of the series' growing western fanbase.
  • New Game+: Despite your best efforts, you won't be able to get 100% of this game finished the first time through. Besides, don't you want to see the different endings?
    • You can't access half of Grus prior to New Game+ (and it's large and confusing enough to have been its own sector.)
    • You also get some neat Sub Apps on an NG+: Red Carpet (removes Random Encounters COMPLETELY), 7-Card Hand (lets you wield any 6 other Sub Apps regardless of their sizes), and New MegaTen (okay not really, it just congratulates you for buying the game or crashes without doing anything). You'll also be able to pick up some sweet accesories, such as a ring that repels physical and gun attacks, and a ring that repels all four standard magic attack elements.
    • In Antlia, you can find a Boss Rush device that can't be used on your first playthrough.
  • No Hero Discount: Justified. There is a store on the exploration ship, but it's really more like a fabrication lab; they're using the demon money "macca" as energy and the raw materials you find to craft things. So there's no "buy" or "sell" option, just "manufacture" and "disassemble."
  • Nothing Can Stop Us Now: Some of the strike force are this way after you C4 a boulder blocking the way to a wrecked ship, as though this is evidence that the Schwarzwelt's denizens can't stand up to them. Cue Curb-Stomp Battle from an Orias legionary. A much weaker than usual Orias legionary (they usually start out at L27. This one's at L7.).
    • Happens several times as the team makes progress only to find more trouble, again and again. Eventually they get used to it, or go crazy.
  • Nuke 'em: This is the Schwarzwelt Joint Project's response to the threat, with the excuse that it would further destabilize the already unstable particles of the Schwarzwelt and nullify it. As you might expect, it doesn't work... from the outside.
  • Obliviously Evil: Many demons don't see anything wrong with killing humans, and some humans see no problem in exploiting the demons. See Playing with Syringes for an example.
  • Only in It for the Money: Why Jimenez went from "warrant officer" to "Schwarzwelt attack participant". Given the rest of his personality pre-Bugaboo, this isn't too surprising.
    • Also Captain Jack and his men, who are so blatant about it that they actually make the demons look like nice people.
      • A note on the demons though, not all of them are complete monsters. Most of the guys you can recruit are just there and while you have the genuinely disgusting folks like Basilisk and Seth who would love nothing else than to tear you apart, you also have folks like Heimdall who is good, just not on your team.
  • Order Versus Chaos: An important part of the basic gameplay; demons are either Lawful, Chaotic, or Neutral and this affects how well they co-operate with you and each other. Order and Chaos have battled in many previous Mega Ten games (there's even a Shout-Out to it in Digital Devil Saga 2 with the division of the Karma Society) but it's been a long time since it had such an overt impact on the gameplay. Given Ouroboros's condemning humans as "prisoners of matter" and "sinful clumps of matter", and her spin on Morax and Asura's claim that humans must be reborn as demons being that humans must be returned to disparate atoms and molecules drifting in space, there may also be a (Dead/Inert) Matter Versus (Living/Free) Energy/Spirit dynamic at work.
  • Organ Drops: Quite a vast variety of Forma obtained (randomly) from demons consists of body parts, from the mundane ("Oh, a feather!") to the squicky ("Is that an angel's heart?") When found in the field, on the other hand, most of the illustrations of Forma appear to be crystals, which possibly lessens the squick factor.
  • Our Demons Are Different: In this franchise, "Demon" is actually a catch-all term for any supernatural being ranging from goblins and fairies to gods; even angels are technically one specific type of demon (though they'd probably be very angry at you if you called them that). Demons in general are still very bad news for unwary humans, despite not all being horned monstrosities straight out of a Doom game.
    • Well, that's what the word "demon" (or, if you want to be picky, "daemon") originally meant: "spiritual being". The negative connotations were mostly Constantine-onwards Christianity apologists trying to explain away outside religions.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: One hapless teammate named Norris gets turned into a shambling corpse in Bootes. He's "just" a demon-corrupted human who fights like an animal. A much more different zombie is the Ubergestalt, who's situationally benevolent and not rotten.
  • Ouroboros: The rather hard boss of Sector E. Apparently it represents the will of the planet or something. Ouroboros also classically represents infinity itself, as several demons point out to you, so did you expect an easy fight?
  • Path of Most Resistance: Story-wise, the Neutral route, where both Heaven and Hell are out for your blood, as per SMT tradition. Gameplay-wise, however, it's actually Law, as it requires you to fight both of the absolutely brutal path-specific bosses. While you don't have to deal with Zelenin like in the other two routes, the Neutral Commander Gore (who has absurdly high HP and spams devastating physical attacks) and the Chaotic Mem Aleph (hello, 100% accurate instant kill!) make that rather cold comfort.
  • Petting Zoo People: A few of the demons are like this (e.g. Nekomata, Halphas), but it rarely reflects to their personality.
  • Playing with Syringes: In an exceptionally creepy part of the early game, you can find reports on demon experiments done to your crewmates. All of them died quite terribly, but the demons don't mind. They're just happy to have removed humans of their ability to suffer. Then, when you confront Mitra, you find out why Fomorian was so gleeful about his experiments. As far as Mitra and his goons are concerned, everything they were removing—blood, organic thought (q.v. brain), air, sane diet, protection from the Schwarzwelt—was pointless. Were they trying to strip humans down to their "proper" essence? One wonders if the demons have any respect for physical matter. Ouroboros's reference to humans as "prisoners of matter" and "sinful clumps of matter" doesn't help the situation.
    • This gets turned around later when you find out what Captain Jack and his men are really doing in the Schwarzwelt. Let's just say that the demons are actually portrayed in a sympathetic light for once even as they curse humans for being mutilated, torn apart, and put back together. It actually tugs at your heart when you turn off the cultivation tank they're in and put them out of their misery.
  • Pokémon Speak: Bugaboo.
  • Power Born of Madness: The Chaos alignment is all over this. Asura condemns order and calm as the very things contributing to the Earth's decay and miseries by interdicting the growth of strength. This is important because he personally generated from his soul the Delphinus Parasite, which "polishes" humans into demon-like rage elementals. Translation: Eternal madness is the proper order of things in his eyes. Moloch (as in, Morax after undergoing rebirth and power boosting via Tiamat) glories in the fact that his power is such that his sanity is fleeting. And if you choose to side with Chaos, after Jimenez deploys the Delphinus Parasite throughout the Red Sprite, he's joyous that everyone's been freed of sanity's oppression.
  • Power Limiter / Power Nullifier: Alilat.
  • Powered Armor: The Demonica Suit.
  • Preorder Bonus: Preorder it and get the game along with the soundtrack CD, a cardboard case and a mini-poster.
  • Psychological Torment Zone: Sector Grus. Imagine the first four Sectors' worst parts, merged together in a haze of illusion...
  • Puny Earthlings: Humans this time around lack the unexplained magic powers they had in previous games and a lot of faceless soldiers get killed very easily throughout the course of the game. In addition, the Demonica suits are the things gaining levels and getting stronger, not the wearers themselves. With the exception of Captain Jack and his men. The soldiers and sergeants working for Jack have tons of HP, and Jack and Ryan are absurdly powerful in combat.
    • As a minor note, though, it's possible that Jack's men are so strong because their technology is simply that much better than the tech that the men on the first investigation team were sent in with. They may be just as paper-bag-like outside of it as the other humans are, as evidenced by Demon!Jimenez tearing a hole straight through Jack's chest after you defeat him.
  • Pure Is Not Good: As per Shin Megami Tensei tradition, this is why neither Law nor Chaos classifies as a good guy club. It doesn't help that each faction thinks "pure" and "good" are perfect synonyms. Another way to put it is that Law regards calm as the primary good that outweighs all others, including free will, and Chaos regards strength as the only real good. Strength that rejects anything that could possibly constrain it, at that. Anything less just stunts and corrupts existence.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: As "Metatron" (actually a shard of God) reveals after you defeat Alilat, this already happened. Humans and God abandoned each other, and the mothers (who had been suppressed by God) decided to take their revenge. Hence why the piece of God who said this wants to be "whole" again (cue Demiurge EX Mission, where you fight another piece of God...)
  • Really 700 Years Old: Invoked by minor character Anthony to cover his attraction to a Moh Shuvuu, a "young-looking" female demon. Unfortunately, she seems to have the mindset of a child when you speak to her.
  • Recurring Boss: In an interesting variation to the trope, later in the game you fight "upgraded" versions of previous bosses, who look very different but still have the same elemental weaknesses.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Goes hand in hand with the Glowing Eyes of Doom for most demons. Most strikingly, however, the viewports in the Demonica's helmet (see illustration above) produce this effect quite effectively.
  • Red Shirt Army: Most of the crews of the four ships wind up dying horribly really quickly, though this peters out as time goes on; the toughest (or luckiest) survive until the end in a grim but rapid example of natural selection. The game is also very vague on exactly how much crew complement you have at any given time, but it's likely that each ship was actually overstaffed with redundant crew just to be safe.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Maia Ouroboros, Tiamat, and Maya all share the letters MA, which is an Indo-European root for mother. Mem Aleph refers to the two Phoenician letters that would eventually become MA.
    • MA is also the name of the Mem Aleph's most devastating attack.
    • Amaterasu also comments she was drawn into the Schwarzwelt, with the feeling she was supposed to be one of the mothers.
  • Rule of Three: Each of the three factions is, itself, led by three primary representatives for you to join or antagonize: a governing/driving entity (the World Council for Neutral, the Three Wise Men for Law, Mem Aleph for Chaos), an ideological sponsor (Commander Gore, Mastema, Lucifer), and an executor (Arthur, Zelenin, Jimenez), who ultimately ends up as your partner in your chosen path.
  • Running Gag: Anthony falling in love with demons. And causing all sound to stop as a result.
  • Sarcasm Mode: The Compendium profile for the Zhu Tun She:
    A monster snake said to be sighted around the Song dynasty.
    It is about three feet long, has four legs, is covered in fur, and squeals like a pig. Because there is no animal that remotely fits the description, it is believed to be a completely unknown creature.
  • Science Is Bad: Averted, subverted, inverted, and kicked until it runs screaming. With the smörgåsbord of human sins that is the Schwartzwelt, technology is a major exception, and indeed, many demons seem to like it. In less common instances, demons will complain that science allows humans to play god, but such complaints seem to be directed to the humans using the technology, not technology itself.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Demiurge. At the end, you can spring him so he can join you (only in the Law path), or shove him back in there.
  • Secret A.I. Moves: No Macca Beam or Bite the Dust for you!
  • Sequence Breaking: Gate Search E is unlockable through a sidequest that can be completed before you even begin the sixth sector. By this time you won't have Gate Search D available just yet.
  • Serial Romeo: Anthony.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: It's not immediately obvious or pointed out, but the different areas of the Schwarzwelt follow this theme (it should click by the time you get the demonic shopping mall, though).
  • Shout-Out: The translation team, stuck at what exactly Makurein was meant to be (as it could have been "McClain, MacClane, MacLaine or any of several other Scottish surnames") went with the assumption is was a shout out to Die Hard. Two AIs are named Arthur and Verne.
    • Crewmen Blair and Norris are references to The Thing (1982), as is one of the EX Missions where you have to weed out which of the fellow crewmen are "normal". Dent possibly refers to the other Arthur.
    • Among the guns available to you is the Reaper Colt.
    • Some demons have an ability called "Bites the Dust" that has a chance of giving the bomb status to any party member, which will K-O them if hit again by a physical attack.
    • A cheat code you can enter to unlock a certain demon is ISHTAR FIGHTS TAMMUZ ANGELS.
      • Not to mention TRUSTIN SCALY. Remember that the second line is all dashes.
      • Almost as old, almost as classic, it's HELP ME!
      • Also, MTDQD serves much the same function as its counterpart.
    • Aliens reference: One of the strike team members you are attempting to save in a certain EX mission shouts something along the lines of "Game over, man!"
    • A sidequest in Sector F has you going "down a rabbit hole" (a trapdoor, but same difference) to chase after a rabbit at the behest of Alice. Yes, THAT Alice.
    • Captain Jack could be a reference to Sparrow or Harkness, or both.
      • Alternatively, Captain Jack and his lieutenant Ryan could be a reference to Tom Clancy's character Jack Ryan.
    • The demon Asherah can only be created by a special fusion of Asura and Valkyrie; a feud between Asura and a Valkyrie was part of an important Side Quest in Lost Kingdoms II.
    • A possible one to Claymore. One of Demon Jimenez's racial names is "Awake." "Awakened Beings" in Claymore are humans mixed with demons who are insanely dangerous and powerful.
    • Irving, after upgrading your Demonica for the first time, says "Got 'r done!", possibly as homage to Larry The Cable Guy
    • The first rare forma you find, Lemegetonite, is named after one of the alternate names for the Ars Goetia, Lemegeton.
    • There is an almighty-gun skill called Freischutz, the name of a german play. It was also the inspiration for Freikugel, a physical-almighty skill in a different game.
    • In the room where you fights Horkos, you can see among the pile of various objects behind him a TV with a yellow screen.
    • The room that the Three Wise Men pull the Protagonist into, in order to discuss their plans, is designed after the "hotel room" from David Bowman's journey into the monolith.
    • One of Mem Aleph's skills is called "Reason's Start", which seems to be a reference to Orochi from King of Fighters—its Leitmotif is called "The Origin of Mind", and Mem Aleph shares a fair bit of philosophy with it.
      • "Reason's Start"(originally 始祖の理, Shizo no Kotowari, "Founder/Originator's Reason") also refers to Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, where a Reason (kotowari) is a philosophy of creation proposed by a god, which the Demifiend must support, in order to bring forth a new world after the dissolution of ours. Throughout Strange Journey, the goal of Mother Goddess and creator of mankind, Mem Aleph, is to usher in a new world under her philosophy.
    • Mastema's pleasure that Zelenin can say "shibboleth" properly is a reference to events mentioned in The Book of Judges where the fleeing Ephraimites pretending to be from another group were forced to say the word. If they couldn't they were killed.
    • One of the Rare Forma needed to progress is Ice-10.
  • Shown Their Work: A lot of EX Missions, demon designs, and even item drops pay very close attention to the demon's particular background, from the Lady of the Lake, to Cú Chulainn, to Tlaloc's appearance, to Hariti's culinary tastes. Par for the course with Atlus.
  • Side Quest: The EX Missions. They make up a lot of the game's content, and some are necessary to make certain demons-even certain types of demons-available for fusion. The toughest Bonus Boss is also confronted in one of these.
  • Snowy Screen of Death: Since you (as the Protagonist) are seeing out through the Demonica's display, death in combat yields this.
  • So Last Season: Just as you've installed new and exciting Main App upgrades to discover hidden doors, open locked portals, or visualize dark zones, you'll run into doors and zones that make them obsolete and require additional upgrades. Sometimes within minutes.
  • Social Darwinist: Asura.
    • It should be noted that noted that not only do Chaos aligned characters show Social Darwinist tendencies, but also Law aligned characters. After the defeat of Mother Maya, the Three Wise Men mention that the weak willed will be purged and only the strong willed will be allowed to live in the new world. At least in Strange Journey, being a Social Darwinist isn't exclusive to Chaos.
  • Some Kind of Force Field: The last wrench the Schwarzwelt tosses in the Protagonist's path, after the Dark Zones, conveyor corridors, dimensional pocket spaces, warp tiles, and pathways in the air, is a single-room maze filled with invisible walls that become briefly visible when bumping directly into them.
  • Southern-Fried Genius: Irving.
  • Spiritual Successor: to Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers where the "apps" system comes from.
    • Not to mention that many of the game's sprites for the demons come from the Devil Summoner games.
  • The Stoic: The Main Character, to the point where he's actually complemented for not being fazed by anything... and people get shocked in the Chaos route after Gore is killed "Did...did you just laugh?"
  • Stable Time Loop: Happens in one particular Extra Mission. In an earlier battle requested by the Disir, you'd have been killed by Yggdrasil if it weren't for the intervention of someone more powerful: Yourself from much later on in the game, sent back by the Norns who used to be the Disir who made the request.
  • Super Prototype: The Lightning, rebuilt with technology (and weaponry) far more advanced than the Red Sprite and its brethren.
  • Suspicious Video Game Generosity: Uncharacteristically for a mainline Megaten game, you'll find Terminals (Save Points that can teleport you back to home base) relatively near Sector bosses, and often with a Fountain of Healing nearby. The Demonica is even generous enough to advise you when you're getting near "a powerful demon," even those that lay hidden in ambush in Sector F, who are nice enough to camp out right after Terminals and Fountains.
  • Sword and Gun: The Protagonist starts off with a standard-issue combat knife and machine-gun, then goes off from there.
  • Techno Babble: In the form of both Reverse Polarity and Scotch Tape.
  • Theme Naming: The various Schwarzwelt sectors are code-named from A to H as the Red Sprite navigates them. In turn, each initial denotes the name of a constellation, like Antlia, Boötes, Carina, Delphinus, and so on. And if that wasn't enough, the sectors that occur after you locate the Vanishing Point (Fornax, Grus, and Horologium) are all the names of constellations in the southern hemisphere, while the first four sectors' titular constellations are located in the northern hemisphere!
    • The Red Sprite, the Lightning, Elve, Gigantic and Blue Jet are all named after atmospheric phenomena.
    • The Mother Goddesses which rule Sectors E, F, G, and H all have the syllable "ma" in their names: Maia Ouroboros, Tiamat, Maya, and Mem Aleph. The proto-Indoeuropean root ma means breast and is the origin of the word "mother" in modern languages. Also, it isn't just Mem Aleph's initials (and the name of her MA attack) but Mem, the Phoenician for waternote , is itself also derived from proto-Semitic ma. At one point, even Amaterasu, the Japanese Sun goddess and often considered a Mother Goddess as well, wonders why she felt drawn to the Schwarzwelt.
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: Amaterasu and the Tamashiro Mirror.
  • There Was a Door: The resurrected Tyrants in Sector Fornax like to burst into scene by plowing through walls. Which would be quite fearsome and intimidating if the Demonica hadn't warned you about their presence minutes beforehand.
  • The World Is Not Ready: In the Neutral Ending, you wind up having to erase most of the data on demons and Forma that you found in the Schwartzwelt because, as amazing as the discoveries were, they would just as easily issue forth a horrible demon-based arms race in the world. Considering the plot of Devil Survivor, where people able to summon demons start to turn on each other like crazy after only a week, you may see the point of this.
  • Those Two Guys: Irving and Chen, your inventors in the laboratory. Well, Chen is technically a woman, but the trope is otherwise played straight.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Sector Horologium, the center of the Schwarzwelt. Not only does the area resemble primordial earth, as one character notes, but it's also where Mem Aleph, the Big Bad behind the Schwarzwelt, lives. This is also where the SMT games' traditional alignment-locking event happens.
  • Tragic Monster: Norris
  • Translation Correction: While not the main intent, making the PC an American solves the issue of being an elite soldier from a country not known in recent years for fielding elite troops.
  • Unexpected Character: Among the Fiends, we have the Revelation Fiends, and of course Matador and Alice. However, we also have David, who only showed up as an obscure 1/256 chance boss fight in Shin Megami Tensei I and unlike most demons in the SMT repertoire, had only appeared once since then.
  • Unexplained Recovery: About midway through the operation, Gore is actually restored, and will be your main ally in the Neutral scenario. Not that he'll live past that, but...
  • Ungrateful Bastard: One of the most annoying things that can happen to you in the game - a demon takes your offerings in negotiation when you ask it to join you, looks at you again, and then changes its mind and leaves! This only happens with Law or Chaos demons that you don't share alignments with, and the "Tea Amity" Sub App will make them reconsider and join you with perfect reliability.
  • Urban Segregation / Lust: Sector Bootes takes place in a shabby red-lights district inhabited by demons, but the primary landmark of the sector is Mitra's Palace. The palace itself towers over the other buildings in the city, and is full of lavish decor and beautiful feminine figures in the background, though several levels are actually torture chambers where Mitra carries out his experiments. In the game's story, there are a string of sex murders going on in Tokyo as humanity grows more and more depraved.
  • Verbal Tic: Horkos bellows "BUONO" whether things are going well for him (gorging himself) or not (getting shot with the Horkos Buster).
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You can stop Alice from torturing and eating the Hare of Inaba, leading to an instant battle. If you do so, the Hare thanks you with a Bead Chain.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Mitra when you confront him in his palace, and Mastema in the Chaos path.
  • Villainous Glutton: Horkos. Dear god, Horkos. His entire megamall-themed stage appears to be one giant assembly line designed to feed him, and immediately before you encounter him the first time he manages to force down one of the expedition's lost ships. Pretty much the entirety of his area's quest after that point is to find a way to break through that ship's defense shields, which now surround Horkos and make him invulnerable.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Orias will teach you that yes, you DO need to plan your Demon Co-Ops if you want to deal any significant damage to bosses.The fact that by then you are restricted to two demons and your basic equipment makes it all the more unforgiving.
    • Ouroboros'
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: In the same vein as recent Mega Ten games. Protagonist dies, Schwarzwelt swallows Earth, game over. He is the only thing that is tying those demons down and once he kicks it, there is nothing stopping the demons from calling it quits right then and there and just ditching your dead body to the enemy, even if they are on the lawful side of the spectrum.
    • While demons can be revived as often as needed with revival beads, resurrecting dead humans seems to be impossible by conventional means, as quite a lot of human characters bite it over the course of the story.
  • Weird Moon: As another MegaTen tradition, during a Full Moon, demons are too deranged to negotiate with you. However, this time you can install a Sub Application in the Demonica that allows successful negotiations during Full Moons, even with otherwise unrecruitable Dark demons. Unfortunately, they're still drunk on moonshine, so whether or not they like what you have to say is pretty much a coin flip.
  • We Need a Distraction: When the Protagonist needs to infiltrate Mitra's Palace to rescue Zelenin, the rest of the Strike Force mount a frontal assault to distract Mitra's forces. Unfortunately for them, they're stranded with damaged Demonicas and need to be rescued before the demons can get to them.
  • Wham Episode: In the final sector, Gore, having been reborn as an Ubergestalt, reunites with the Red Sprite, where the most alignment-important scene in the game takes place. If you are devoutly Law or Chaos, or answer Gore's questions in a non-Neutral manner, Gore deems you irredeemable and fights you to the death. Following his death, the Command Room is shown to be in shambles, Arthur suffers a terminal error in his personality matrix that forces him to self-terminate, and whichever sidekick you're aligned with invades the Red Sprite and brainwashes everyone into worshippers of God or beastly-minded savages.
  • The Wild Hunt: It's a demon of the Night race here.
  • The Window or the Stairs: In Mitra's palace, there are several areas where you have three hallways to choose from. On the floor in front of them, you find a message saying, "Take the long road". The shorter hallways either have a trapdoor that will drop you to the floor below or are lined with damaging floors.
  • World-Wrecking Wave: The result of the Schwarzwelt swelling up unchecked, as the wall of plasma races across the surface of the world, annihilating everything and everyone on it.
  • You Bastard: Between Gore doing a complete 180 and turning you, to Arthur's gut wrenching death, and Jimenez/Zelenin turning the remaining crew into gibbering manchildren/soulless drones while they tearfully beg him/her to stop, its really hard not to feel guilty for taking either the Chaos or Law path.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: All demons show up as static in the Demonica's display until you've encountered them, or fused them, at least once, and until then you can't even understand their speech. Taken even further with Mem Aleph, an entity so unbelievably powerful that you can't even try to analyze it until a traveler of the Schwarzwelt grants you with the "brilliance" to see it.
    • Also spoken in so many words by Yggdrasill the first time it hits you with it's time-bending powers.
    Something nearly imperceptible happened to Hello, Insert Name Here!
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: The Red Sprite finds the Vanishing Point atop Sector E, and is about to leave the Schwarzwelt, when their plans... hit a snag, so to say.

> The Main Mission Visit Unabridged Version has been completed.

Shin Megami TenseiUsefulNotes/Nintendo DSDevil Survivor
Shin Megami Tensei if...Creator/AtlusDevil Survivor
Devil SurvivorTurnOfTheMillennium/Video GamesShinobi
Shin Megami Tensei III: NocturneEastern RPGShin Megami Tensei IV
Shin Megami Tensei ImagineMons SeriesShin Megami Tensei IV
Shin Megami Tensei ImagineFranchise/Shin Megami TenseiShin Megami Tensei IV

alternative title(s): Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey; Strange Journey; Strange Journey
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