I guess I will go into spoilers of the original story, and possibly minor but no major spoilers of the new added story. The original story is technically an old game, after all. Though I guess spoiler warning, if you haven't really played the original game. Also, to what extent is the original story and new story is based off my observations, but if I mix them up... Hmm, well, I guess that actually means the story blended just that well.
Also, I'll go into as some detail on the additions in Redux, as far as my knowledge goes. (This is stuff that Atlus themselves blogged on, so they aren't spoilers though).
BTW, I'm going to use the following...
Final -> Original story's
Final-final -> New story's
So yeah... First... This...
|Yeah, the name is weird, but that's because the name you give is by first + last name and they don't allow enough characters for one or the other, so I compromised with this|
Yeah... It actually took me almost 100 hours to beat the game once. Dang.......
I did Neutral Route - New Ending and did almost all sub-missions. I also played in Expert (obviously, right?) the entire way. I did not use do any grinding until the final-final boss.
Yes, I did grinding to do the final-final boss, but spare me. I literally spent 1 whole hour slowly chipping away the final boss' HP and used almost all of my items (Maria was spamming healing while Kohryu attacked and Protagonist used MP healing items). I had almost no items left, did not want to go through that again, and I wanted to use some of my favorite demons to beat him, like these:
First things first, compared to the original version...
I'm pretty sure you will still enjoy this game if you played it before. It was made a lot easier to play, such as being able to save at any time on the field and being able to have more Demons. You have new applications that make your life easier and can now equip as many applications as you want, except for ones that have the same type of effect.
On a visual aspect, you got voices (localized version gets localized dub though, probably) and almost all of the characters have illustrations now. Of course, the dungeon and demons have been updated too.
Also, as far as the new story goes, outside of the introduction and the end, the new story is completely optional and distant from the original story. Most of it takes place in a separate, new dungeon. This new dungeon does sometimes require certain applications to continue through, so you can't just go and beat this dungeon at the start of the game. If you beat this dungeon and then beat the final boss, you are given the possibility to see the new ending. You can also see the old ending even if you beat the new dungeon. And you see the old ending if you don't beat the dungeon. That said, beating the new dungeon and seeing the old ending unlocks certain demons, and beating the new dungeon and seeing the new ending unlocks a different demon.
I've only beaten the game once, so I don't know if there are variations of the new ending (based off Law, Chaos, Neutral).
As for the content of the new story, I think it addresses an important part of the story. The new characters don't really make any of the old characters look bad either, so I think it was a fine addition. The new ending was kinda bittersweet in my opinion, but the last scene was good. Sad... but good. Man, that protagonist is the man.
Finally, thank god they changed the artwork on the game package. I know the original artwork matches the game well, but few people are going to give them game a second look if the game package is the "bucket head" suit.
So its totally worth buying again.
And if you've never played the game, it's still worth buying. Just imagine Etrian Odyssey field system + Megami Tensei.
Coming from Megami Tensei 4, the fusion system not having search functions and the demons not having specialties (4 Final) may seem "retro", but well, this is actually an older game.
And as for my experience (including spoilers of the original story)
Of course, I had a great time. I went from Megami Tensei 4 -> Strange Journey, so I was really surprised at the dungeon format. The story was also interesting in that it focused on a different perspective than Megami Tensei. This one was more on how humans are so corrupt and is destroying Earth, and the demons are out to defend the Earth (I guess you can say) while the angels are doing their typical ruler stuff.
As always, the mythology part is a fun aspect of the game, including demons that transform into a different form of themselves. The demons also talk about how in the past, people used to worship them and thus had guidance morally, but now, people are not as religious and worshiping all kinds of weird gods (well, as much, anyways) and the demons/gods do not like this.
I also found Zeus' punk-ish attitude funny to listen too, and his design is pretty cool (half being his terrible side and half being the "God" people sometimes consider him to be if they don't read up on all the people he raped).
One of the most pleasant surprises was Captain Gore. It was obvious from the OP who were the Law and Chaos allies, but to think that it was Captain Gore, who died at the beginning, was the Neutral ally. Man, it felt good when he said his line again (about how the world's fate is on our shoulders) when he came back to sanity in his superhuman form.
Also can't forget Arthur. Cool guy. I'm so glad he came through for us all the way...
(And he's actually voiced by Koyasu! But he plays a serious role and it is not as easy to tell.)
As for Law and Chaos... The usual usual there. The Law side is as creepy as ever, so... ugh. No offense to Zelenin, but I'd choose Neutral over either... and Chaos over Law just because everything Law does is suspicious. I didn't look at the effects of the decisions in-game and basically maintained Neutral for most of the game (surely, if you choose naturally), but I ended up reaching Captain Gore's final stance scene as Chaos because I decided to wipe out Jack's battalion (seriously, just kill them). Of course, since I was only barely Chaos, I was able to end up in Neutral anyways.
Oh, and it was hard. Almost all of the bosses required planning, be it creating new demons with specific resistances or specific elements of attack to initiate CO-OP. I recall battles that I had to resort to full-out CO-OP x 4 over and over again before the boss breaks a hole in my team... and of course, the one-hour grind against the final boss.
Outside of bosses... The first dungeon has an enemy set that will literally hax you to death with Sleep. Your entire party falls to sleep -> Hits you -> Sleeps the character that was hit to put him back to sleep -> Repeat until you Game Over. That happened more than once to me, BTW.
And of course, almost all serious bosses will use skills to negate stat reductions/buffs if you do it too much. And of course, trying to reflect their attacks have their own consequences. No cheesing your way out, that's for sure...
Finally, I ended up Lv99 before I fought the final-final boss, but some of his attacks still took off over half of my health. Depending on the demon, the demon also took over half their health. In the end, Maria just kept on spamming healing like always. Except this time, I had the firepower to beat the boss and was able to end the fight in about 20 minutes.
My final team for first playthrough was, BTW:
Oh, and one more thing, but on your second+ playthrough, the final-final dungeon contains 4? superbosses. Defeating them gives you strong items and weapons, but of course, they are mainly there for the challenge.