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Live Blog Sinclair Drake Vs.The (Demon) World: Let's Play Strange Journey!
HamburgerTime2013-05-30 14:26:11

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Chapter One: Do I Know You?

This is my first liveblog. It's about Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey. It's a New Game+. I suck at introductions. So here it goes.

The outset of the 21st 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...

Drake: My name is Sinclair Drake. Ex-USMC, and, so I've been told, altogether unremarkable. Also, I don't like to brag, but I saved the world yesterday. At least, I thought I did. Y'see, mankind has been destroying the planet for so long, that it was only a matter of time until it started destroying itself. This... thing appeared, a black hole serving as a portal to an unbelievable place, in the Antarctic, and the inhabitants of that place got loose to slaughter humanity for its excesses. Myself and many other people selected from the world's most elite organizations ventured into this world, made some of the strangest, yet most loyal friends we'd ever make, and in the end finally sealed that world off from out own.

...Or perhaps I dreamed that, because today I woke up to be called, once again, for duty as a member of the Schwartzwelt Investigation Team. The Land of Ruin is still there, or appeared again, or did I simply imagine destroying it in the first place? Well, I suppose there's nothing left for me to do but my duty...

Well, it seems Drake's gotten himself into a bit of a bind, hasn't he? Is there really any hope to save the planet? We'll just have to play the game to find out.

The first several minutes of the game is essentially one looooong extended cutscene explaining the details of the Schwartzwelt, also known as the Land of Ruin, the thing engineered by the planet itself to wipe out those pesky humans. As such, I won't really be going into detail, as Drake gave you a more concise version right there. The aforementioned Schwartzwelt Investigation team is taking state-of-the-art land/air vessels into this new world four in total: the command ship Red Sprite, the scientific ship Elve, and the combat support ships Blue Jet and Gigantic. Inside are the world's most elite fighting men, engineers, and scientists, equipped with the amazing DEMONICA exploration suits. It'll be quite apparent to you viewers, soon, that the DEMONICA can do anything. Their mission? Save the world at any cost.

Drake: I sometimes wonder if, had the budgets that had gone into making these terrifying, omnipotent suits gone into environmentalism, we'd even have a Schwartzwelt to deal with, period... Wait! Is that...? The Commander! And Z- Zelenin! But that's... impossible! They can't... Maybe it was a dream... But I'd never seen these two in person before, so how could I dream about people I've never met? What is going on here? Zelenin, your incomprehensible Info Dumps are like music to my ears. Even Arthur's here! Yes, of course I'll shake you hand, Commander, and yours too, Zelenin! It's wonderful to see you again!

...ugh, I'm sounding like a sugar-high schoolgirl. I don't think I should let them know that I feel this way, or what I've seen, just yet. May give them a heart attack if I spring it all on them at once...

So, now that's over you can finally play the game. Not that it's much of a "game" at this point as you only have access to the Command Room and the Deck of the Red Sprite. You're pretty much hand-held through this first bit, so all you can do is head to the Deck for the briefing. So let's do that!

Drake: Jimenez is still here, too, that's a relief. Last time he... didn't exactly go down a very pleasant path. Is that the reason I'm doing this again, to prevent... what happened to them?

So now we've met our four principal characters: Drake, our blank-slate protagonist, Zelenin, our Law Heroine, Jimenez, our Chaos Hero, and Big Good Commander Gore. After another Info Dump from the cynical Jimenez (who seems convinced the entire team are a Red Shirt Army being sent to their deaths by the brass) we get a series of hypothetical moral dilemmas that your character, in this case Drake, is asked to solve. The answers you choose determine your stat growths. You can shoot for a particular stat growth pattern if you like, but given that moral choices are a theme throughout this game, as in all SMT games, I choose to have Drake answer them as I would in Real Life.

Drake: Attack support... I think I was a mage last time. Or something. Maybe I can fix things by making slightly different choices?

By the way, when Drake said the DEMONICA can do anything, he meant it. It can store files and equipment, protect from extremes, open doors, scan dark areas, and store your... friends. We'll be meeting them shortly. It's kind of terrifying how nigh-omnipotent this suit is.

Drake: This sword... the one I got from that baboon guy. It's still here. So this really did happen to me...

If you're playing a New Game+ you have access to endgame equipment from the get-go, so the early parts of the game are kind of a cakewalk...

Following this, Drake returns to the Command Room, where he discusses the possibility that intelligent life exists in the Schwartzwelt with Zelenin. If only she knew. If nothing else she's a woman who likes her Info Dumps. It's now time to head into the Land of Ruin.


YEOWCH! That looked painful. The ships suddenly are hit, and have to make crash landings separate from one another. An unconscious Drake meets three mysterious men...

Drake: This happened before... this was the first bad thing that happened. I remember them, too. They sent this ships off course last time. I have to change things.

The three men, clearly not human, mark Drake as an object of interest and send him back to the real world. The ship's power is shot, and we need to restore it. This is where the actual game begins. It's time for the first combat mission of the game, as the ship has been breached by that lowliest of Schwartzwelt inhabitants, the Slime. An unknown party sends Drake a new program for the DEMONICA, the ominously-titled "Demon Summoning Program" (see, I told you it could do anything). Now it's time to fight the Slimes. On a New Game+ with endgame equipment, these guys are a snap. On a regular game... they're still a snap. They're surprisingly effective against Red Shirts, but Drake has PROTAGONIST POWER, baby!

But there's still trouble, as the demons have kidnapped several important crew members, and the only way to save them? Go out there.

Into the Land of Ruin.

Can Drake change the future and save Zelenin and the others? What choices will he make this time? Why was he sent back? Why are the Red Shirts so weak? Stay tuned to find out the answers to some of these questions!


May 30th 2013 at 4:10:25 PM
I'm enjoying this. Drake is a pretty enjoyable character already.
May 30th 2013 at 4:36:09 PM
Thanks a lot! Sorry if he sounds like a bit of a mope here, he'll be more fun once he gets his Compendium back next installment and has some demons to play off of. Like most SMT protagonists, he's a total cipher for the player, after all. Running jokes with him will be a.) how utterly bland he is, and b.) his paralyzing fear that the DEMONICA is going to rise up against him.
May 30th 2013 at 9:20:38 PM
This looks like fun, but it's sad that we know he won't be able to change things.

What path did you take the first time by the way?

May 31st 2013 at 7:18:28 AM
Neutral. Probably going to take it this time, too. Gore's big speech toward the end of the game convinced me that path was right, and like I said I want to make the choices in this game based on how I'D make hem.
Jun 7th 2013 at 2:58:56 PM
This looks like it'll be fun. I like the dash of humor: it will help lighten up the whole doomy-gloomy atmosphere present in the mainline-SMT games.
Jan 23rd 2014 at 2:37:13 AM
Thought I'd read this while I wait for an SMT 4 update. So far, so good.