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Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne

真・女神転生III-NOCTURNE

Developer / Publisher: Atlus
20 February 2003
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne [真・女神転生III-NOCTURNE] - cover art
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581 Ratings / 3 Reviews
#60 All-time
#1 for 2003
Set in post-apocalyptic Tokyo, Japan, Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne takes you to a world where nearly the entire population is annihilated by a worldwide catastrophe called the Conception. Now the fate of the entire world lies on the shoulders of one boy, who must battle his way through opposing demonic forces, master the powers of Magatama, and persuade demons to join your party. Some demons may evolve into new forms on their own or can be fused into more powerful monsters.
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“Play a real Shin Megami Tensei game,” they said.
“The only reason why you like the Persona games is the dating mechanic because you can’t get laid in real life,” they said.

Alright, you elitist fuckwits; comments disparaging my dating life aside, I finally went ahead and played a “real” Shin Megami Tensei game. After all, the next logical course of action for any Persona fan is to delve into the direct source of the series: Shin Megami Tensei. The degree of separation between Shin Megami Tensei and Persona seems to be relative to one’s perception of what the essential components of a Shin Megami Tensei game are. Persona shares the same turn-based combat with an emphasis on monster collecting that Shin Megami Tensei upholds, while the social links and day-by-day activities from Persona are absent in Shin Megami Tensei. I choose to think of Persona as an entirely different institution from the Shin Megami Tensei franchise rather than a different flavor of the same formula. Persona is like the offspring of Shin Megami Tensei, a different entity who acts with their own dominion that shares the genetic material of their parent franchise. Persona is not a mere protuberance jutting out of the face of the Shin Megami Tensei series even if the makeup of Persona can seem uncanny at times.

Comparisons are aptly made between the two, and some of these are often specifically at the expense of the Persona franchise. My guess is that due to the inordinate surge of popularity and prestige the Persona series has amassed over the past few years, several SMT fans feel forsaken as their beloved franchise has been outshined by its spawn. The reaction to Persona’s success has often been met with unsavory gatekeeping by a vocal minority of jilted SMT fans who chastise Persona fans with comments like the ones quoted in my introduction. Their stance on SMT’s superiority is due to many factors like the misuse of the demons and the vivacious pomp of Persona’s atmosphere compared to the pensive, draconian atmosphere of Shin Megami Tensei. The most common point of comparison that these people make is that Persona is much easier than Shin Megami Tensei, implying that Persona fans merely settle with the more accessible Persona series because Shin Megami Tensei is too difficult. Because of these stipulations, exploring the Shin Megami Tensei series came with feeling as if I had something to prove as a Persona fan. The brazenly snooty comments only fueled my interest in Shin Megami Tensei instead of deterring me. To take up this challenge, I played Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, arguably the most “real” of Shin Megami Tensei games. If Megami Tensei was a saloon, uttering Nocturne’s name would cause everyone to gasp and drop their glasses. By reputation, Nocturne is allegedly the most brutal Shin Megami Tensei title, and I was ready to see what kind of challenges it offered.

A recurring theme among all Shin Megami Tensei titles is the eventual apocalypse. The Persona games I’ve played culminated in preventing an apocalyptic scenario, but Shin Megami Tensei relishes in a barren, post-apocalyptic Japan. The end of the world is not a climactic plot point, but a spontaneous occurrence on a normal, sunny day at the very beginning of the game. Three Japanese teenagers congregate at the lobby of a hospital discussing the whereabouts of their teacher and the strange occurrences that have been happening around Tokyo. Suddenly, an ominous, bright light envelops the sky above the entire city, and dark energy engulfs the city and wipes it and the people who reside in it clean off the map. The few inside the hospital at the time are the only people who survive the cataclysmic event, a fortunate happenstance for the three teenagers, their teacher, and a journalist. The atmosphere of the hospital after this event is hazy and grim, reminiscent of that one scene in Hellraiser when the cenobites arrive in Kirsty’s hospital room. Our adolescent protagonist, whose name is a non-canon choice for the player, undergoes another transformation similar to the one outside the hospital’s walls. In the basement, both a queer-looking old woman and a young child drop what looks like a centipede down the gullet of the paralyzed protagonist. When he awakens from his stupor, the protagonist loses his shirt, but has earned his stripes in the new apocalypse both literally and metaphorically. The creepy crawly he ingested has affected his entire being, and has transcended the protagonist as a human to a demon-human hybrid with the title of “demi-fiend.” The obliteration of the world is a phenomenon known as “the conception”, which was triggered by a cult leader named Hikawa using a cylindrical device with hieroglyphics in the basement of the hospital. With enough of a substance known as Magatsui, the remaining humans can formulate their own world with their specific principles. The Demi-Fiend’s mission is to set things on the correct course for the new world by preventing those with bad intent behind their ideals to shape society, and he’ll have to cross every corner of a blasted out Japan to ensure this.

Atlus seems to have a habit of reinvigorating their franchises at the third entry. Persona 3 was the first mainline Persona game that ushered in the “modern” era of the franchise by incorporating elements to the series that become mainstays and make the previous two games seem archaic by comparison. The first two Persona games are practically unmentioned by Persona fans because of the headway the third game made that would continue in subsequent entries. The mainline Shin Megami Tensei series followed the same path a few years earlier. The reason why most people were introduced to the SMT series through Nocturne is because the first two SMT games are exclusive to Japan, released on the Super Famicom. The first two SMT titles (including the first spinoff game If…) are highly respected amongst the SMT fanbase as they were the progenitors of the monster collector subgenre of JRPG, predating Pokemon by a few years. However, the initial appeal that the first two games might have had has been preserved atrociously. Shin Megami Tensei is already intended to be a niche JRPG series, but the circumstances surrounding both the language barrier and primitive mechanics have made these games practically unplayable. After If…, Atlus were uncertain if they wanted to continue with the SMT franchise, but thank the lords that they made the effort to revitalize the series so as not to cement it as a footnote in the deep annals of gaming history.

What Atlus did with almost a decade of video game progress is extraordinary. Without a shadow of a doubt, Nocturne is one of the most gorgeous games on the PS2. It may lack the pizzaz that people associate with the Persona games, but that doesn’t mean Atlus neglected displaying any sort of style. Atlus showcases the doom and gloom of a post-apocalyptic Japan with artful mastery. The dearth of humanity brought about by the conception is conveyed effectively through the desolation of the locations. Traveling to the hospital in Shinjuku before the conception is a congested mess of buildings, fit for the most populated city in the world. Once the player finds their way out of the hospital, Tokyo has been reduced to nothing but sand and dark energy fields, with a few structures and monuments still intact that now tower over the wasteland. Souls of human beings that were alive only moments ago are scattered about Tokyo in deep colored auras, immovable as NPC tropes and to signify a directionless limbo as their current status. More impressive are the insides of forsaken buildings that once made up Tokyo. They are not only profoundly empty, but ironically have an eerily pristine aura to them. It’s almost as if the blast of oblivion brought upon by the conception cleansed all of the human influence from them and returned them to a state of purity. Each interior structure maintains this sense of seclusion while offering completely different layouts both in aesthetic and design. Ginza is a spotless, ritzy area that resembles a shopping mall with a fountain in the center. Asakusa is a Japanese garden area with many oriental structures. The Mantra’s headquarters in Ikebukuro is lit by ritualistic flame and has the most intimidating presence of any building in Tokyo. Labyrinth of Amala is my favorite dungeon in terms of aesthetics. Striking red and black colors flow like blood through this arcane, otherworldly institution and make the labyrinth utterly immaculate. It resembles a sublime, grandiose version of the Black Lodge from Twin Peaks (or it might just be the checkerboard floor pattern of Cyphre’s lounge area, but they both share a sense of dark mysticism). Something that greatly aids this magnificent scope is the benefit of 3D graphics. The stilted, pixelated first-person view seen in the first two Shin Megami Tensei games were jarring even by SNES/Super Famicom standards, and the third-person back angle common during this era of gaming is far more comfortable. While playing Persona 3 and 4 for the PS2, I thought that the eagle-eye view was due to the limitations of the console, but Nocturne’s fluid camera work surprisingly puts its Persona contemporaries on the PS2 to shame.

Another aspect of Nocturne, or Shin Megami Tensei in general, that I hate to admit is superior to Persona is the utilization of the demons. For Persona fans that are unaware, the personas the protagonist of each game uses are referred to as “demons” in Shin Megami Tensei. Like in Persona, the demons are an eclectic bunch of creatures whose variety runs the gamut of mythical creatures and deities from seemingly every cultural mythos across all world religions and folktales. SMT includes Indian gods, Norse gods, creatures from Japanese folklore, demonic beings, etc. The range of demons offered here is so extensive that I’m surprised the fucking Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn’t make an appearance. Each of these demons have both unique properties with different abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Using those strengths and exploiting other demon’s weaknesses, similar to another certain JRPG series also centered around collecting monsters and making them fight, will be imperative to any player’s success in the game. As the game progresses, the demons the player will encounter will become stronger, larger, and more biblical in both the literal and figurative sense of the word. Fusing stronger demons from the DNA of two or more weaker ones is a series staple conducted by a mystical man with a fu manchu mustache in the Cathedral of Shadows. Unlike Persona, the fusions are not tied to social link-oriented arcanas, so the level of the fused demon cannot be enhanced through mechanics outside of the fusion process. Some fusion mechanics unique to Shin Megami Tensei are demons that can only be fused during a certain moon phase (called Kagutsuchi) and some demons can only be fused with a rare item called a deathstone.

I much prefer the fusion mechanic in Persona and how Atlus cleverly implements the social links in the fusion process, but I still stand by my statement that the demons themselves are fitted better in SMT than in Persona. The demi-fiend in Nocturne is a lone wolf whose human compatriots have separated from him since the conception and are setting out on their own respective paths. The Demi-Fiend is not the recalcitrant leader of any one like the protagonists from Persona, or any human being that is. The Demi-Fiend’s companions are the demons he collects along his journey as they fight alongside him as the partners in Persona would do. In Persona, these creatures are merely figments that represent someone or something's inner being in both a metaphysical and psychological sense. The protagonist in every Persona game uses a roulette of these beings which are taken directly from SMT’s demon compendium. I’ve realized that using the power of all these creatures as a Persona protagonist doesn’t make much sense. How can all of these mythological beings represent the inner machinations of a single human being? There is a disconnect between these creatures from varied religious myths and folklore and Persona’s psychological premise. Demons gallivanting about in the deserted flotsam and jetsam of the former Earth is a more appropriate theme for them, congregating together after the collapse of the organized religions that separated them. If religion is one of the human fundamentals that will collapse after the inevitable apocalypse, then Nocturne’s vast collection of demons signifies the inherent anarchy by flippantly mixing all of these sacred symbols from different religions together like a blasphemous coalition. The demon's powers are not used as tools, but fight alongside the Demi-Fiend like the protagonist's partners would in Persona. Because the demons are your comrades, you begin to become attached to them as a result. I had second thoughts about fusing the demons I was using to make stronger ones because of the time we had spent together, something I never tentatively considered at any point in Persona.

Controlling demons that one catches during battle might ring too similar to Pokemon for comfort, but one core element that separates SMT from Nintendo’s more popular and accessible monster collecting JRPG is the Demi-Fiend’s role in combat. Imagine if Red/Ash took a turn during battle to sock a Venusaur in the jaw with a mean right hook, and that silly image in the context of Pokemon more earnestly represents the base of what the Demi-Fiend offers in combat. The Demi-Fiend is the proverbial glue that holds the rest of the team together, providing support with extra damage, health items, and swapping out demons for others during battle. The battle also prematurely ends if the Demi-Fiend dies, giving him more precedence in battle and also elevating his leadership role. Fortunately, the Demi-Fiend isn’t a weak liability whose health must constantly be kept note of during battle. The trainers in Pokemon cannot physically support their Pokemon with supernatural, elemental abilities in a comparable manner, but the Demi-Fiend can take assets from a myriad of elements using the Magatamas. The player will collect over 25 Magatamas throughout the course of the game, each with their own defensive attributes. The offensive attributes are not prescribed initially to the player as they will have to increase a level to earn them until they have been exhausted. The game incentivizes experimenting with every Magatama in different battle scenarios and to amass an eclectic array of offensive moves, but it comes with a small price. The Magatamas have unpredictable natures that arise after leveling up with one. The sinister-looking slugs will either bless the player with healing them fully or jinx them with an ailment that tends to be very inconvenient.

Inconveniences seem to be the vital component in upholding Nocturne’s notoriously high difficulty level. I was forewarned by SMT veterans that the challenges presented in any SMT game, much less Nocturne, would be so formidable that nothing in Persona would prepare me for it. Upon completing Nocturne, I came to learn that this was an intimidation tactic to deter me from playing the game. If anyone who has played Persona is at least proficient regarding the RPG mechanics, they will at least stand a fair chance against the trials and tribulations of Nocturne because the gameplay is practically identical. Admittedly, Nocturne is consistently more difficult than any Persona game, but at least players will not be left rudderless in the dark pertaining to surviving Nocturne’s battles unless they play Persona on the easiest difficulty level and have never used buffs or debuffs. SMT tends to also be less lenient with error during battle than Persona. An enemy exploiting a weakness during battle will not skip a turn for the affected party member, but the enemy will still get an additional turn like in Persona. The lack of lenience comes on the player’s part as attacking an enemy with an element that they deflect or drain will cause an automatic shift to the enemy's turn. Because of this, it’s more important to be conscious of an enemy’s vulnerable spots than it ever was in Persona. Being penalized for screwing up in battle is fair, but that is not the most agonizing aspect of combat. The apex of difficulty that separates SMT from Persona is the heavy amount of RNG in combat. RN Jesus has a heavy involvement in the outcome of each battle in Nocturne, and he is not always a benevolent force that always has the player’s best interest in mind. In Persona, enemies will only attack first if they catch the player off guard, but it’s a gamble with every enemy encounter in Nocturne. My default Magatama had to be one that deflected dark moves because of so many instances where fate was not in my favor and I was slaughtered by a Mudoon attack before the battle even began. Most bosses and many regular foes can execute either “beast eye” or “dragon eye” move, a support feature that extends the turn of both the executor of the move and his party members by at least five extra chances. This move will strike fear into the hearts of any SMT player and pray to RN Jesus for a bit of mercy. Can the demons the player has execute this move, even when they convince a demon with this move to join their party? Of course not. Nocturne revels in disadvantaging the player with RNG, an inconvenience the player will consistently have to hurdle over. Fortunately, the RNG in Nocturne is so broken that it can work in the player’s favor if they pay attention. One of my fondest memories of taking advantage of Nocturne’s RNG is in two of four boss fights in the Bandou Shrine. Once I realized Zouchouten and Jikokuten couldn’t harm me no matter how many turns they gave themselves with dragon eye, I put the fight on auto, went for a walk, and returned from it victorious. One has to make more of an effort to survive in combat due to the unbalanced RNG, but it’s up to debate as to whether this difficulty is natural and organic.

Questioning Nocturne’s difficulty also pertains to the design of its dungeons. Any place outside of the sandy Vortex World is considered a dungeon ranging from the more metropolitan areas like Ginza and Ikebukuro to the remote areas of the Kabukicho Prison and the various tunnels. The dungeons in Nocturne do not follow the randomly procedure dungeon format of Persona 3 or 4 as the dungeons in Nocturne are mapped out accordingly like a dungeon from The Legend of Zelda. As one would expect from a Zelda-esque dungeon, progression through these claustrophobic, circuitously mapped areas is done through a mix of puzzles and combat. Ideally, this is what Nocturne’s dungeons should consist of, but elements of inconvenience are also present in this regard as well. The game offers some clever puzzles in the dungeons like the puzzle coordinated by the phases of Kagatsuchi in the Obelisk, but those puzzles tend to be few and far between. Most of the dungeons involve a dash of blind luck through trial and error. Various pathways serve as traps that the player has a slight chance of veering towards the correct one lest they fall into a trap that will most likely warp them back or to a floor beneath them. This occurs when gastly hands warp the player to a crimson netherrealm in the Red Temple, warping floors in the Tower of Kagutsuchi, and too many instances to name in each kalpa in the Labyrinth of Amala. The player can climb a tower to get a bird’s eye view of the area to avoid being warped by the disgruntled fairies, but that frame of reference is gone once the player climbs back down. Unless the player has choreographed the entire layout of the map upon repeat playthroughs, not even the most skilled SMT player could foresee the traps presented in these dungeons. Even after uncovering all of the unexplored sections of the map, it’s still unclear what the direct course is, leading the player back down through the path of error after so many attempts. Some sections of these dungeons demand all too much from the player like the health annihilating cursed rooms in the Labyrinth of Amala, which are just plain evil. Solving puzzles at least depends on a rate of skill and wit from the player to succeed, but these luck-oriented obstacles are the apex of unfair design that Nocturne exudes.

The worst aspect of scouring the floors of these dungeons repeatedly after so many attempts is that the player will be ambushed by hundreds of demons in the process. In the bottom right corner of the screen is a color-coordinated demon tracker that signifies when an encounter is going to occur, progressing from yellow to red with blue indicating a peaceful freezone in some locations. While the radar may seem handy at first, the lack of consistent time of the progression from yellow to red makes this feature a load of horse shit. Sometimes the radar will change colors at a reasonable pace, and other times the player will exit a battle and the radar will flash red spontaneously and spring them into another. The vigorous demons are like dogs ready to play catch after hours playing when their owner is exhausted (and drained entirely of MP in this context). Repulse bells can be purchased by trading gems at Rag’s Jewelry in Ginza, but these items will only marginally decrease the encounter rate. Staggeringly frequent demon encounters combined with constantly having to retread ground in the dungeons will be a vexing affair for anyone.

The debilitating dungeons and combat have to be the appeal of Nocturne because the game doesn’t offer much in terms of characters or narrative. Persona and SMT share a mute, blank slate protagonist but Persona is heavily supported by its effervescent cast of characters. Nocturne introduces two other teenaged friends of the protagonist that appear to fit the trope of the eccentric doofus male best friend role and snarky female friend who has biting sexual chemistry with the doofus friend, but the introduction only lulls the player into a false sense of familiarity and security. Because the conception obliterates all human life off the face of the Earth, one can assume that there are only so few human characters among the rampant demon scourge. The few remaining people left alive become separated from one another and only reconvene coincidentally across a few moments in the game. During those few occurrences, the characters introduced in the hospital barely make an impression on the player. Isamu and Chiaki stumble around aimlessly trying to survive this new, hostile Tokyo with their infrequent dialogue only involving their current situation. The game’s main antagonist Hikawa only seems to be menacing in the scope of the narrative, but I found his diabolical determinism a bit cliched and one-dimensional. After saving Ms. Takao from being the source of Kagutsuchi for Hikawa, her character shares the same blandness as the protagonist's recurring friends. The reunion between the protagonist and the central character doesn’t seem rewarding enough considering the lengths the player must overcome to retrieve her. The human character that the player gets the most accustomed to is Hijiri, the debonair journalist who seems to be the only reliable human in this topsy turvy post-world. He is still however not particularly interesting, for he only gives the player a hint about their objective when the player loses direction. Other than the demons are the Manikins, a queer race of humanoid beings conjured up by the conception that are generally mistreated by stronger forces. Their timid stature and mild-mannered demeanors give them an underdog status, but they are so pathetic that rooting for them would be pointless. That, and their toothy, lipless grins and milky eyes gives me the creeps.

The characters in Nocturne are bland and generally unlikable, but I believe that’s the point. Nocturne carries a philosophically misanthropic ethos interwoven in its narrative akin to the writings of Thomas Hobbes. I’ve said before that demons are like dogs, and there is more to that than their excitable, lively pension to commence battles. A Beidou Xingjun demon situated in the Labyrinth of Amala recalls a time where he was ordered to kill a man by the decree of someone who summoned him, something that the demon was appalled by but executed the job anyways. We’re led to believe that the demons are the disgusting creatures meant to bring chaos and woe because of our preconceived notions. Demons are like dogs in that the demon in question is only as malevolent as its owner. It is actually humans that are the real demons, something overtly stated by Beidou Xingjun, but there is plenty of this notion detailed in the subtext of the narrative. Hikawa’s presence as the villain of the story is highly diminished as the story continues. Isamu and Chiaki both become seduced by the power of Kagutsuchi, so they both shed their meager human forms to fuse with demonic force to aid with their own creation of the new world. Ms. Yuko literally becomes possessed by an intergalactic demon named Aradia to ascend her role as a cog in Hikawa’s Reason and formulate her own world. Even the trusty Hijiri can’t help but succumb to the lust of power and attempts to take a dive in crafting the new world (he fails). With all of the people taking the stand with their own ambitions, Hikawa has some competition, and the Demi-Fiend has more work to do. The few human characters that make up Nocturne become corrupt so easily, signifying the prevalent message that power is something that humans can’t handle because they are so selfish and volatile.

In the colossal Tower of Kagutsuchi lies Hikawa, Isamu, and Chiaki: the three most imposing forces regarding the creation of the new world in their own image. All three have transcended their beings into mighty avatars that will prepare them nicely for the coming of their individual creation, if they can achieve it. The Demi-Fiend climbs the winding tower and faces all of them in battle in an effort to halt their world-making process. Each fight against Hikawa, Isamu, and Chiaki results in all of them submitting to defeat and handing the Demi-Fiend three fossil-shaped keys. At heavenly peak of the tower, ironically on the 666th floor, are three pillars meant to unlock the core of the conception, the omnipotent Mr. Kagutsuchi himself. Depending on the dialogue options the player chose pertaining to the three Tower bosses, Kagutsuchi’s defeat will result in a myriad of endings. The Demi-Fiend will either submit to the whims of one of the three previous bosses or make Aradia’s wishes come to fruition and create a world of freedom that Kagutsuchi finds fault with.

It’s hard to feel enthused by any of these outcomes due to them stemming from the ideas of lackluster characters, but the true ending is a satisfying alternative. If the player endures the grueling challenges posed by the Labyrinth of Amala before entering the Tower of Kagutsuchi, it will lock the player into the “true demon ending” which involves fighting Lucifer, the true final boss of the game immediately after Kagutsuchi. His fight is also as stout and authoritative as one would imagine fighting the lord of darkness would be, capping off a game with ludicrously hard bosses with the true king of challenge. After defeating Lucifer, the Demi-Fiend will take the creation of the new world in his own hands by waging a war against God with his demon comrades in an effort to create a world of total freedom. They call this the demon ending because the Demi-Fiend sheds half of his remaining humanity and embraces the full potential of his new demon form, but I’d argue that with Nocturne's themes in consideration that his human side has taken over. Merely aiding in the creation of someone else's world is the role of a demon, but taking matters into one's own hands for their own self benefit is almost disturbingly human.


To be honest, I was a tad worried that I would like Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne too much. I thought I would be bewitched by a more high brow, mechanically divine JRPG experience and join the ranks of elitist shitheads that browbeat Persona into the mud. In both fortunate and unfortunate contexts, I’m glad that this was not the outcome after playing Nocturne. It’s fortunate that I now have insight on how to compare the two franchises and further solidify my stance that Persona should be perceived as a whole other establishment with its own merits from SMT, but it’s unfortunate that Nocturne did not impact me the same way each Persona game did on its own merits. I’ve found that Nocturne’s difficulty is highly embellished and have also realized that the flock of SMT elitists are not more skilled at JRPGs or video games in general than the average Persona fan, but are more willing to put up with broken bullshit. The unbalanced JRPG gameplay admittedly makes the combat in Nocturne more engaging than it is in Persona, but Persona manages to be a more reasonable challenge with the same gameplay. The guesswork involved in traversing through Nocturne’s various dungeons drove me up a wall, and shouldn’t be excusable by the standard of any game with dungeon crawling. All endings but the time-consuming “demon” one are milquetoast resolutions because Nocturne develops its character through supercilious philosophical musings rather than organic character development. The presentation is magnificent, but I find it ironic that the SMT elitists will stick their noses up at the snazzier Persona series when Nocturne’s presentation is the game’s best attribute. All of Nocturne’s appeal to me seems overwrought and portentous. The overall conclusion that I’ve made after playing Nocturne is that Persona is not a watered-down version of Shin Megami Tensei, but another piece of clothing cut from the same cloth. Nocturne may be impressive on its own merits, but I would still gladly play any of the Persona games over this any day.
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Erockthestrange 2022-05-21T00:27:33Z
2022-05-21T00:27:33Z
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I also played the remastered version of Nocturne on the PS4, so I regrettably have nothing to say about the inclusion of Dante from Devil May Cry because his presence was absent, and I didn't feel like paying for the DLC pack. Instead, my Demi-Fiend rival was a young uniformed man with a talking cat named Raidou, a notable character from an obscure SMT game. His inclusion probably makes more sense, but Dante joining in on the quest to reshape the world is pure fan service. That is, if I was a fan of Devil May Cry. If you were wondering why I didn't mention Dante in my review, this is why.
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AmiEXE 2022-06-11T04:25:20Z
2022-06-11T04:25:20Z
0.5
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Nocturne is a great game mechanically and narratively. It has a reputation for insane difficulty that I believe is based on two thing. First, the game has an annoyingly high encounter rate that makes it drag a bit and can make even running around hub areas a pain. This isn't a very elegant way of making the game harder, it is frustrating rather than rewarding and it is relentless in a way that made me put the game down for long periods of time before i was ready to come back and deal with that monotony. The second reason is the early Matador boss fight who is essentially a very obtuse tutorial on using buffs and debuffs. He's hard enough that if you don't get what you're supposed to do you might just drop the game there.

Ultimately Nocturne is a game of endurance and I think that element does not work in its favor. The story is weird and interesting and fun and quite different from the trinary "Law" "neutral" "chaos" alignment of previous SMT games. Also Dante from Devil May Cry is featured.

One thing I would like to point out is that the demifiend is a dripless high school student with his shirt off. He's not very scary, in fact I think he looks ridiculous, but by the end of the game gods are trembling in fear of him, and you believe that that fear is genuine. Its a good power fantasy if youre 14 and its 2003 and your big brother just shipped off to Iraq.
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CypressPunk 2022-03-18T03:18:07Z
2022-03-18T03:18:07Z
3.5
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Much of the difficulty is tied to a frankly annoying encounter rate. Soliud game though
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Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne found Atlus fully engorged in the atmospheric quotient of SMT (that had really been the series' main merit from the beginning). This time, the atmosphere/OST combo is certainly much more brooding and crushing, but dispensed with the past grooves for a half-ethereal, half-energetic soundtrack that sometimes evoked the likes of Tekken and Devil May Cry's industrial dance/metal. Their combination casts a distinct climate that's both gloomy & stylish.

Its new Press-Turn combat system appeals equally, essentially applying Grandia's turn manipulation but also in reverse, where several features intrinsic to JRPG battles (crits, elemental weakness/resist/reflect, misses, guarding, etc.) can grant or take away turns from both parties. Moreover - Nocturne's unpredictable and 'arbitrary' difficulty only works in its favor. The reduced hit rates of attacks complement its aforementioned Press-Turn mechanics to bestow heavy dramatic tension to battles, conveying the uneasy notion that anything can go horribly wrong - be it boss fights or simple level grinding. Only occasionally does the randomness go overboard (i.e. instant death) - but for the most part, its erratic nature adds a sense of danger to each fight and keeps players on their toes, a step up from the passive combat of typical JRPGs. However, their insistence on buffing and elements enforce some degree of linearity on the party/moveset customization - and the tedium found within menus (demon fusion) and combat (demon recruitment) are still major issues.
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Blah_Blee 2021-06-28T14:23:26Z
2021-06-28T14:23:26Z
7 /10
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In most Megaten games I aim for the Neutral Route, except for this one.
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SnuACF 2021-07-10T20:31:56Z
2021-07-10T20:31:56Z
5.0
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Nocturne is a game that started the formula for the Shin Megami games we all love. From this system came the Digital Devil games and Persona 3 onward, which created the combat system that made the series what it is today.

I have to admit, I had doubts about Nocturne, but decided to check it out after seeing it rated so high on here and being a pretty big fan of the Persona games. This is sort of a precursor and in a way, isn't too unfamiliar for those who played the Persona games. The biggest differences are the combat system rewards and punishment system along with random encounters rather than enemies being on screen for you to strike to enter the encounter. Its pretty typical RPG at times, you have a open World where you travel to different locations and dungeons, talk to different NPCs, you have your magic and can choose your team.

What I liked about Nocturne is it had a great atmosphere, I liked the isolation which was a lot different than the other games. You are basically alone and the team you fight with are different enemies you recruit in the game either through fusion or negotiating with them. I liked the different locations in this game and it had a very dark and isolated feel throughout, with enough variety of locations.

Now it does show its age in ways, the way random encounters work feels a bit odd in a Shin Megami game, the game does have a lot of luck, especially in certain fights. There were at least 3 or 4 bosses in this that gave me trouble due to random back luck and moves. Also the weakness system feels a bit awkward, you get extra moves for hitting an enemies weakness but then they get extra moves if they can spam your team with your weaknesses, so it feels a bit unfair at times. Then you have the overworld, which is mostly just a giant desert and isn't too interesting. Many times in the game you will travel between multiple areas just to do small tasks and while the game has fast travel, it still does get a bit tedious. Then there's the story, which is pretty bare bones and really doesn't feel too significant, its just sort of there and in the background. There are only 3 or 4 characters in the entire game, and while there are different endings, the main true ending that is recommended your first time playing is just a bit too short and a complete letdown.

Still I had a good 2 weeks playing this when I started it around a month ago and I think I may even like this more than Persona 3. Sure you don't have the social links or as in depth combat, but it still has a really good atmosphere, plus seeing Dante from Devil May Cry make an appearance in this as a side character was pretty cool and something I'd like to see done in more games. Nocturne might be a bit rough around the edges but it still is a good game and as long as you know how the system works and aren't too underleveled, there won't be too much frustration involved.
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jweber14 2018-04-18T02:10:37Z
2018-04-18T02:10:37Z
4.0
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Catalog

zaqaw 真・女神転生III-NOCTURNE 2022-12-06T15:45:45Z
2022-12-06T15:45:45Z
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
OrangeLights 真・女神転生III-NOCTURNE 2022-12-06T02:32:51Z
2022-12-06T02:32:51Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
IWishYaIWishYa 真・女神転生III-NOCTURNE 2022-12-05T05:01:41Z
2022-12-05T05:01:41Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
LenaCat Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne 2022-12-03T11:24:56Z
PS2 • XNA
2022-12-03T11:24:56Z
4.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Surskit Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne 2022-12-02T19:12:47Z
PS4 • XNA
2022-12-02T19:12:47Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
tomcrito Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne 2022-11-30T22:27:06Z
Switch
2022-11-30T22:27:06Z
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
meadowforever Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne 2022-11-28T20:31:22Z
Switch • CA
2022-11-28T20:31:22Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
zobano 真・女神転生III-NOCTURNE 2022-11-28T04:18:07Z
2022-11-28T04:18:07Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Decoded Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne 2022-11-27T17:00:53Z
PS4 • XNA
2022-11-27T17:00:53Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Midnightradio27 真・女神転生III-NOCTURNE 2022-11-25T17:18:46Z
2022-11-25T17:18:46Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
podunk 真・女神転生III-NOCTURNE 2022-11-25T16:28:58Z
2022-11-25T16:28:58Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
galb 真・女神転生III-NOCTURNE 2022-11-24T22:38:45Z
2022-11-24T22:38:45Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Player modes
Single-player
Media
1x DVD
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  • Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Lucifer's Call
  • View all [2] Hide

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  • Previous comments (75) Loading...
  • JGar40 2022-05-09 02:08:46.918375+00
    Once you know how to play this game, it's really not too difficult, granted there's always hard mode
    reply
    • Fowlawneeshafow 2022-10-24 21:26:08.89487+00
      like all other difficult games, learning the game is the hard part
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  • ResetRPG 2022-07-01 20:15:27.407254+00
    This is my first SMT game and I absolutely adore it. Granted I'm still early in the game so take my opinions with a grain of salt.
    reply
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  • switch1e 2022-07-06 16:00:28.668416+00
    from playing it once, i think the gameplay is great, themes and artistic direction is great, dungeons are passable (nothing special imo), and the immediate storytelling is a big vague but serves its purpose
    reply
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  • TheHonorableMinisterBBG 2022-09-11 04:58:35.134632+00
    that cover is dope
    reply
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  • fellebanan_ygsr 2022-10-02 20:18:36.254033+00
    Sigma game
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  • SMZXW 2022-10-08 03:35:26.950065+00
    AmiEXE 10 Jun
    Autobattle
    Nocturne gameplay in a nutshell
    reply
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  • Linojvni 2022-11-26 22:19:26.248478+00
    only 20 hours in but it’s a lot easier than I thought. might have overhyped it in my head
    reply
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