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Headscratchers / Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey

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  • Is it just me, or is Mastema's role as an antagonist in the Neutral and Chaos routes inconsistent? I mean, in the Neutral route he does the classic We Will Meet Again line and buggers off, but in the Chaos route he flies into a shrieking, ranting rage and tries to butcher you. What the heck?
    • My guess is that in the Chaos route, you're basically siding with Lucifer, the enemy of God. The Neutral route has you saying 'screw you' to both sides, but at least you weren't siding with Lucifer.
    • Also, in the Neutral path, you're trying to stop the Schwarzwelt's eternal recurrence by killing Mem Aleph. Mastema and the Three Angels don't believe you have the slightest chance, so they're willing to wait for you to die in the battle, let the Schwarzwelt wash over Earth, and wait for another cycle to pass before reenacting their plan... and finding another crew of gullible saps to manipulate.
      • And if you do win that battle by some chance then they're down one more enemy. They have very little to lose by just letting you be in the Neutral path.
      • Let's not forget Mastema is an immortal creature that lives beyond time. Neutral success is a setback, but there's always the opportunity to try again later, perhaps in another age of man. Chaos success is the total and irrevocable undoing of all possible hope for Mastema's cause for the rest of time and space; he won't ever get another chance if the MC isn't stopped.
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    • Also there's the fact that he does return, in Shin Megami Tensei IV, and from the sounds of it the Neutral path is canon. Add that the Gaians worship Mem Aleph, the presence of a Black Samurai who wears Jack's Crew Demonica and the Cosmic Egg's true form.
  • Is it really fair to say Arthur died in the Neutral ending? Since he's an AI, shouldn't it be possible to install a new personality into him? Of course, this also begs the question as to why No one thought to make back ups of him in case he ever has to pull off a Heroic Sacrifice or is otherwise irreparably damaged.
    • There's probably Arthur-style AIs back home, but they won't have the personality or arcane knowledge gleaned by the Arthur who went on the mission.
    • Also, a crewman says they should just make a backup, but Arthur himself says that he can't —and shouldn't— return to Earth with all the knowledge he's gained (heavily implying that, like Gore, he has gained insight into mankind's future) because humanity would rely on him and abuse that knowledge. And he can't just delete it either because he needs it in order to successfully collapse the Schwarzwelt with the bomb and the Cosmic Eggs. The only "safe" backup they could bring back would be one without any knowledge of the Schwarzwelt... which would just be a pre-mission blank-slate, and pointless to collect.
  • Just how did Captain Jack and his men get their hands on the Demon Summoning Program? Their having more-advanced technology is understandable, given that it's all Super Prototypes, but everyone else in the Schwartzwelt either got it A) directly from the Three Wise Men, like the crew of the Red Sprite, or B) downloaded it from a crew member of the Red Sprite. No one in Jack Squad had an opportunity to contact anyone from the expedition before their first meeting in Carina, which rules that possibility out. Even more confusing since, if this troper recalls correctly, no one seemed to bat an eye at the fact that a bunch of cold-blooded mercenaries with no (known) affiliation to the Joint Project managed to obtain such an unearthly program.
    • It's possible that their advanced Demonicas just allow them to actually see the demons. Didn't Jack say that they learned about the demons (and, one concludes, about them being invisible) from the transmissions between the Red Sprite and the Joint Project? If they can see them, they can fight them. If they can fight them, they can capture them, torture them, and enslave them, all done at gunpoint instead of using the program. Once they have their demon slaves, they have no need for demon fusion, demon summoning, or even negotiation at all. After all, they still have to use cultivation tanks to (try to) fuse demons together, and even THAT is beyond their capabilities until the protagonist comes along and hooks up his Demonica to their equipment.
      • Jack's Squad gets the Demon Summoning Program from the PC. Since they have much nastier weapons than the Red Sprite, they probably just fired in all directions when unseen weirdos started attacking. Alternately, somebody hacked together a "see demons" filter back on Earth and they got by until they obtained superior equipment in the Schwartzwelt.
      • However, it DOESN'T seem like they have the program. The demons that Jack's Squad use and fight with are ones that according to their source mythos, are artificially constructed, and since they are doing Mitra style experiments, it makes sense that they found a way to make demons in a crude, rudimentary sort of way, so it's Nightmare Fuel meets Fridge Brilliance that all of their demons are mythological constructs, and since you wind up having to fight them not long after you meet them, either they didn't get the Demon Summoning Program and are still using their construct version of making demons, or they did get it after meeting the PC and have yet to utilize it.
  • A personal What Happened to the Mouse? that bugs me: the Schwarzwelt is filled with friendly, or at least sympathetic, demons, like the Fairy Village, Thoth, the Dwarf Blacksmith, and others. But at least two of the endings have you destroying the Schwarzwelt or using it to transfigure Earth into a Law-only club. Even the Chaos route doesn't guarantee their survival. Did you end up nuking that grateful and happy little Fairy Village by going Neutral?
    • I get the feeling that the Schwarzwelt is only a portal to another dimension, so you'd simply be sealing it up again.
      • It is a portal. In the starting dialogue (which is fairly long so no blame there for missing it), it is mentioned that the Schwarzwelt more or less allows access to alternate dimensions/allows them to intersect with Earth.
  • The game goes out of its way to make clear the Schwarzwelt exploration team is a joint operation from everyone in the world, and yet, you can't pick your own nationality, having to set for being an American. It'd be a nice detail, and not uncommon considering other SMT games add small stuff like this all the time.
    • To be fair, it is possible to be Japanese. Of course, it has to be the Japanese version of the game, though.
      • Which makes sense, actually. 'YOU' are American if you bought the American copy of the game, after all.
      • What about those of us from Canada?
      • Well... you're still NORTH American.
      • And if you imported it because it wasn't released in Europe? (seriously, wtf)
      • That means you shouldn't have imported it from America.
      • America is a mixed nationality, so it's possible for it to fit with any nation.
  • Exactly how long did the team spend in the Schwartzwelt?
    • Unclear, but as you progress through the game, your superiors back on Earth give you increasingly bleak status updates of demons swarming out of the Schwartzwelt and overrunning much of the world, it seems at least a couple of days go by.
      • The Gravitic Radio specifically has to charge for about a day between each ten-minute two-way conversation with the Joint Committee, so there's at least a few there. Maybe about a week? One day for each sector, plus the all-out, no-holds-barred dash towards the end by H? Then again, since we don't know how fast the Schwartzwelt grows, it might be as much as a week or a month per sector, since we don't know how subjectively large the pocket-dimension sectors are (or, more pertinently, how close the Red Sprite's landing site is to the target... or, even more pertinently, how well-supplied the Red Sprite is and/or exactly how many of the basic amenities of life such as water and oxygen can be made in the lab using macca and forma). I pick smaller numbers because they don't mention each of the sectors filled with earthlike phenomena as being huge (Carina is just a shopping mall, not a Super-Mega-Hypermarket), but it's all just speculation.
  • The Schwarzwelt disintegrates all matter on the outside that comes in contact with it. The Law and Chaos endings have you expanding the Schwarzwelt to cover the whole world in order to create a new world of Law/Chaos. So, if the Schwarzwelt disintegrated everything in the process, how can humans still exist in the new world?
    • The Law faction specifically states that those "judged worthy" would be allowed to exist in their paradise, so there's that. And with Mem Aleph dissolving herself into the Schwarzwelt in order to better control the process of creation, it's possible that she did the same. The force of creation within the Cosmic Eggs seems to change the nature of the Schwarzwelt itself; as evidenced by the Law and Chaos endings, the World-Wrecking Wave that engulfs the Earth not only "disassembles" (as the original plasma wall did) but also reconstitutes into the winner's image. If you get hit with the Chaos wave, and you're judged strong enough, you're reassembled in the new world, while getting hit with the Law wave would judge your worth and remake you into a mindless worshiper.
  • Why doesn't your automap work in dark areas? The software should be able to tell where you've moved, and isn't that exactly the sort of situation a mapping utility is meant to counteract?
    • Meta-wise, it's a gameplay element from the Etrian Odyssey games (whose engine Strange Journey uses) to make the game more frustrating.
    • On the topic of the darkness, why is there no night vision in the Demonicas to begin with? You'd think, of all the things you could possibly prepare an all-purpose combat suit for, darkness would be one.
      • What we call "night vision" technology uses either by amplifying infrared light, or by thermal imaging. And considering the Joint Project was prepared enough to consider mental parasites, they probably even considered imaging tech based on other types of radiation. But the Schwarzwelt being beyond our understanding, and filled with materials humanity has never encountered, it could be that the Dark Zones truly ARE completely devoid any emissions that the Demonicas can detect and amplify, including IR light or heat —and upgrades to make Dark Zones "visible" work precisely by analyzing the new kinds of radiation Forma emits and seeing how they can be translated into images on the visor.
    • There's an upgrade to map Dark Zones, but it's exclusive to New Game+ or Redux.
  • I haven't played the game, but I read through the entire trope list on the main page—if there is no air in the Schwarzwelt, how can Antlia be on fire? Is there an explanation for this in-game?
    • There's definitely air —there would be no sound otherwise, and therefore you couldn't speak with demons— but the air there might have a different composition incapable of sustaining human life. Hence why the squad needs to wear to don their helmets before disembarking from the Sprite, and why that one teammate asphyxiated when the demons took his away.
    • We never actually get near the fire, for all we know it's just an illusion, after all, Antlia Lower is also constantly filled with planes appearing to do bombing runs, but we never see any blasts or get hit by any of them.
  • According to the The Three Wise Men. In the past, the Schwarzwelt wiped out an advanced society, one populated by a similar but different race of sapient creatures. That's all well and good, but if the Schwarzwelt is older than humanity, then why are all of the demons that inhabit it based on human mythology? And what about the forces of law? Going by Metatron, YHVH defeated the mother goddesses and protected humanity from their machinations. At least until him and humanity had a falling out. And the three wise men, angels working for god, seem to have been around during previous cycles. Why didn't YHVH bother to protect this previous civilisation?
  • Alex's actions in Redux make sense if you pick the Law or Chaos routes. Wasting you and letting the Schwarzewlt consume everything would almost certainly be better than the hellholes you create in the original endings, Alex explicitly states that she would prefer extinction to slavery under God in the Law route, and the Chaos route would hardwire her brain to consider violence to be the first resort and a solution to all problems. Her actions in the Neutral route are... less sensible. Alex wants to prevent the second Schwarzwelt from consuming everything. Why in blazes does she think killing the man single-handedly responsible for stopping the first Schwarzwelt will fix anything?! Logically, she would only be hastening the apocalypse, not stopping it!


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