Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne Review

Developer: Atlus Publisher: Atlus
Release Date: October 14, 2004 Also On: None

When I first heard a Shin Megami game was coming to the States, I was quite ecstatic, after reading about all the hype it had in Japan. I recently purchased the game, and here’s what I got: a dark and demonic world, with beautiful and unique graphics, and a one-of-a-kind storyline, that lacked a few of the basic RPG elements that would make this a must buy.

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In SMT: Nocturne, you take the role of a nameless high school boy whose life changes (to say the least) when he finds that he is to be one of the few humans that are spared when the end of the world (or the “conception”) comes. Unlike what might be going through your head, the object is not to save the world, it’s to create a new one. Yes, after you witness the apocalypse first-hand, it’s up to you and your new demonic form to shape the fate of the New World.

A huge difference in SMT: Nocturne than in other RPG’s, is that your entire party is made up of the very enemies that you face. Yes, rather than recruit human party members to join your team and fight along your side throughout the remainder of the game, you recruit the enemies that you face in regular random battles to your side to fight against…well, themselves.

You can have up to three of them fight with you at once. They could be recruited several ways. Some want money, or certain items; some may just want to talk; or some may beat you down for even attempting it. The only problem with this system is that each enemy (as expected) is very different. With different abilities and strengths and weaknesses. This can make the abilities that you have during certain times relatively random, and sometimes inconvenient.

While SMT: Nocturne’s battles can sometimes be hard (and by “hard” I mean seemingly impossible), they’re pretty straightforward. For those pesky random battles, they have an auto-attack button, which keeps the battles moving very quickly. However, that might not be the best option for some of the longer fights, which require a bit more strategy. They also have a “press turn” system, in which you can extend your turn by taking advantage of your opponent’s weakness. The enemy can take advantage of this system as well. All in all, the battles are a bit too simple and straightforward for me, but they move by at a fairly brisk pace as not to be too much of a nuisance.

Another unique aspect of the game is the ability to ally other demon enemies, level up/evolve them, and cross-breed them with other ones, to create new, more powerful demons. The system, like the battles, is pretty straightforward and easy to use. This is good, considering there are about 100 different combinations to unlock.

The hero himself gains abilities through gross-looking little insects called Magatamas. He ingests them for a short time, and each Magatama gives him different abilities every time he levels up. The catch is, he has only eight ability slots, which means eventually you’ll find yourself choosing between which Magatama to keep and which to get rid of. This can get a bit frustrating, but gives you access to a plethora of skills to choose from.

All in all, Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne is a solid game. However, the story elements of this game bring it down a decent amount. The story developments and sequences are a bit too scarce, and far apart. A high percentage of the game is spent running around thorough dungeons and broken-down buildings, which made me feel a bit left out of this RPG emotionally, not something you want in a game like this. For those looking for the classic RPG’s with long captivating stories, complex battles and character developments, this game might not be for you. If you want a solid, fast-paced, yet surprisingly long RPG, this may be just for you.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 8.1
Written by Matt Evangelista Review Guide

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