It's funny Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux and Alex Garland's newest film Annihilation both came out in 2018 considering both Strange Journey and Annihilation share more than a passing similarity to one another. It's something the director of Strange Journey both appreciates and delights in as he himself is particularly fond of Garland's latest film. It also helps that both Strange Journey and Annihilation actually share an actor.
In Strange Journey Redux, a mysterious spatial phenomenon called the Schwarzwelt appears in Antarctica. A group of researchers are tasked with investigating this new "dimension" in a classic dungeon-crawler fashion. In Annihilation a mysterious space called the Shimmer appears in southern Florida and a group of researchers are sent in by the US government to investigate the new territory.
While the similarities are no doubt coincidental (Strange Journey originally came out in 2009 and the novel for Annihilation was first published in 2014) that hasn't stopped Strange Journey director Eiji Ishida from praising Garland's film: "I loved Alex garland's previous film Ex Machina, so I was looking forward to Annihilation," Ishida tells Retronauts in a new interview.
"As you point out, the setting, storyline, ending... and other elements feel similar between both titles." Ishida says that he enjoyed the film explaining that he was "captivated by the shimmer which evoked terror as well as peace and beauty," and also how Annihilation was very much "my type of movie."
One surprising connection between Strange Journey Redux and Annihilation is through a shared actress named Maaya Sakamoto who voices the Strange Journey character Zelenin but is also the official Japanese dub actress for Natalie Portman, including for her role in Annihilation. "In that sense too, I feel a strong affinity with [Annihilation]."
Sakamoto plays both Portman's character in Annihilation, Zelenin in Strange Journey, but also Aigis in the Persona series so that's a pretty interesting relationship the actress has with both Atlus and Portman films.
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is an expanded remake of 2009's Strange Journey which first came out on the DS. The 3DS Strange Journey Redux includes new characters, dungeons, and story arc as well as major gameplay updates. Redux features even more character art, voice dubs for all characters, and quality of life improvements to make the typically slow dungeon-crawling genre feel faster and smoother.
Annihilation is a 2018 sci-fi film directed by Alex Garland based on the 2014 novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer. The film is a loose adaptation of the novel with the director famously writing the script based on an old memory of his single read of the novel. Garland for his part is also a huge gamer as made by clear by the fact that he's Half-Life writer Mark Laidlaw's email penpal of 15 years. The two reportedly talk about stories and games.
In our coverage of Strange Journey Redux we wrote about how the game's macabre and unique sensibilities highlight the unique differences between the Shin Megami Tensei and Persona franchises, Atlus' other popular JRPG franchise. Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux is available now on the 3DS.