-Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne- Review

September 25, 2016 one comment Posted in Playstation & Sony, Video Games

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-Demi Fiend’s Bizarre Shine Megan Tense Game FEATURING DANTE FROM THE DEVIL MAY CRY SERIES –

So lately I’ve been playing JRPGs made by Atlus, probably more than a Leaving Cert student should. I originally wanted to talk about Persona 4, then I played Persona 3, then Persona Q and it got to the point where I couldn’t let myself put together a good enough review on Persona 4 or 3 because they were no longer the thing I had the most recent memories with. Hence this review is on the last Atlus RPG I have currently played; Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne. Heads up though, don’t buy the European version of the game. At least on PSN, you’ll see why much later.

When I first played Persona 4, I was pretty shit at the game. I died a lot because I brought a very different kind of RPG logic to the table. My friend jokingly wondered how I’d fair in Nocturne as Persona is considered to be more simplified as a sub series of Shin Megami Tensei, and Nocturne is considered a man’s man’s Shine Megan Tense game. Of course that was two years ago, since then I’ve become competent at how Atlus expects me to strategize in a RPG and I’ve been having fun doing so (Persona Q notwithstanding). Thus when the European version of Nocturne was on PSN for a measly 4 euro I jumped right on it to see how I fared. This review is the result of the 50+ hours I put into the game.

-“Who can we pray to? There are only demons and fiends here”-

Simply put Nocturne’s plot is sort of bare most of the time and all over the place everywhere else, which you wouldn’t expect from a game like this. It sort of starts and then…stops with it only slightly kicking back up when the game brings the big moral choice of the game into question which we’ll get to later.

The game begins with you naming and nicknaming the main character who is a normal teenager living in Tokyo. Of course he’s a silent protagonist who’ll only show the slightest semblance of personality through dialogue options you’ll be given from time to time. If you wish you can also name his two high school friends Chiaki and Isamu, along with their teacher Yuko Takao because god forbid you won’t have trouble remembering those Japanese names over the short amount of time you’ll see them. In any case the main character (we’ll refer to him as something else soon) and his friends go to visit Takao after she sort of asks them to show up there. Well she asks the main character to, I think the other two tag along because of concern or maybe they want class brownie points . On the way there the main character runs into a journalist named Hijiri who hands him a magazine detailing how cults are planning to end the world via a “Conception” and the hospital Takao is at is somehow connected.

The teens go in the hospital to find it completely abandoned, Isamu and the main character scour the place for Takao whilst Chiaki hangs back in the lobby to read that cult magazine. The main character runs afoul of a strange man named Hikawa who attempts to kill him with a demon after telling the main character how he’ll die anyway soon enough and other weird foreshadowing shit. The attempt is stopped by Takao who apparently knows Hikawa and tells him to back off. The main character is taken by Takao to the roof where she explains that soon the world will end and he’s probably not going to have such a good time in the aftermath. Nevertheless she requests he find her when it’s over and thus the “Conception” occurs, where the world is destroyed and converted into the Vortex World; a wasteland on the inside of a egg shaped sphere with the only remaining destitute landmarks being from Tokyo itself. It’s also completely full of demons.

Right after this happens, Lucifer himself decides to take the main character for a little while, deciding to turn him into a half demon for reasons unknown. He does this via a painful infusion of a alien worm like creature called a Magatama, which borrows straight through the main character’s eye and into his body while the game decides to give us a First Person perspective during the cutscene. This turns the main character into the Demi-Fiend (yeah boi cue the Linkin Park), which is what I’ll be referring to him as from now on.

The Demi Fiend awakens in the hospital with his new demon powers. He demonstrates them by beating the shit out of the boss demon blocking the hospital exit. He had help from the demons he recruited but the game’s characters don’t seem to keep that in mind when talking about the guy’s strength. From there on things sort of…happen, with not much of it contributing to the overarching story. The Demi Fiend runs into his friends and Hijiri (journalist dude) again at different points who are all slowly but surely losing their fucking minds over all that is happening. Hijiri at least helps you get around by giving info on what the current factions are up to sometimes and lets you know how the Amala Network works. He also loses his mind for a bit though for similar reasons as everyone else.

You see, the main point of the Vortex World is so that humans with a strong Reason can influence the outcome of what the world will be reborn as. This is why Hikawa and his cult, with the help of Takao, ended the world to begin with; so they could fix what they considered to be halting world’s progress.

A Reason needs a number of things:

  1. The bearer of the Reason MUST be completely human, meaning the Demi Fiend can’t make his own Reason.
  2. Lots of Magatsuhi (simply put energy that demons live on), which is why you’ll soon see everyone hoarding as much of the stuff as possible.
  3. The backing of a deity from the Shadow Vortex, whether or not this is required isn’t exactly stated but Hikawa and a couple of the other Reason bearers end up summoning godly helpers anyway.

However Takao wanted a world of freedom, where the passion of the world to change and improve was not halted by the laziness given by modernisation. This is a far cry of what Hikawa wants where everyone is a living shell. Yep Takao was being played for a fool by a man who is so easily identifiable as evil. Meanwhile, after losing their minds and refusing to trust the Demi Fiend, Chiaki and Isamu decide to make their own Reasons. Chiaki wants a world where the strong rule the weak, mainly out of her own paranoia and Isamu wants a world where everyone cannot interfere with each other’s lives. They’re all hypocrites in the end for one reason or another basically.

If you’re wondering what happens to Hijiri’s attempt at world creation, the man gets killed by Isamu after the journalist just begins to turn insane. Takao? She gets rescued from Hikawa by the Demi Fiend, later trying to stop Hikawa from continuing his plans and to create her own Reason. A so called “god of freedom” possesses her a couple of times saying she wants Takao to succeed with her goal but because of Takao’s lack of confidence and the god’s utter lack of usefulness she gets killed by Hikawa after he essentially spits on her weak ideals while her “god of freedom” fucks off.

As you can see, things just sort of happen without much explanation or meaning. The Demi Fiend tends to get sidetracked quite a bit at points which is rather noticeable during the beginning of the game, when he’s trying to go after Hikawa but the amount of side things he ends up doing is hard to ignore. A lot of the things I talked about and will talk about skip a bunch of sections that add more to the Vortex World’s shitness than anything else. If not that, then it’s to establish what cunts the Reason bearers are. I didn’t even mention the Manikin subplot because it’s so irrelevant and most of them all get killed off in the end by Chiaki in a scene that only shows more of what was already established: the girl’s has a warped mental state.

There is a optional dungeon (which is very hard to fully unlock and even harder to finish) that explains a bunch of things; such as the “god of freedom” being a false one hence it can’t do anything but attempt to help with good intentions but it really can’t do much. Also God himself plans on making more and more Conceptions occur until free will is completely wiped out. A lot of this information is straight up not told to you or said in a way that’s very hard to get at first until some hidden information helps the revelation hit home, I completed the game without knowing a grand deal of it myself. The main plot just consists of: “World ends, these guys want to make it into what they want, do you help one of them, do you turn the world back to normal or do you side with Lucifer and go against God?”.

And the best part is, yknow that dungeon that adds a bunch of clarity and the extra ending where you become Lucifer’s chum? The original Japanese version of the game didn’t have that, they only localized their re-release that DID have that. Meaning if you lived in Japan, you basically had to buy another version of the game AND go through a extra for a better explanation on certain character backgrounds and story events. Yknow that journalist Hijiri? Apparently he’s actually cursed by God to live eternally for some kind of sin they don’t specify here. And they NEVER SAY IT ONCE in the main story. You may think the alternate endings (besides that one with the extra dungeon where Lucifer takes a liking to you) make a difference in what you learn through the story but they only change which of the Reason bearers like/want to kill you. Though now would be a good time to talk about the end of the game.

After the Demi Fiend summons the Tower of Kagutsuchi (final dungeon) where all the (living) Reason bearers climb the tower in hopes of changing the world into what they want. At this point, they’ve all done horrible things, have horrific ideals and they’ve fused with deitys so they also LOOK horrifying. The Demi Fiend climbs the tower to either help the Reason he wants to promote or because he disagrees with all of them and wants to stop them. If you have a moral compass, DO THE LATTER.

How is the Reason you promote determined? How is the ending determined? It’s simple: There will be points where the Reason bearers take some time to talk about their ideals, simply agreeing with them whenever they ask you what you want aligns you with them. If you want the normal world/the world of Freedom you need to disagree with all the Reason bearers but suck it up when Aradia asks if you’re ready for the consequences of making the world of Freedom. The actual in game consequence is that you need to kill all 3 Reason bearers in the tower instead of just two. The ones you don’t kill end up dead anyway, leaving you in their stead. The Demi Fiend gets to the top of the tower (the 666th floor, no joke) and defeats the literal disco ball that is the Kagutsuchi, thus causing the world to be reborn. If it’s the Freedom ending then everyone is resurrected and the world is returned to as it was before with Takao now giving the people of the world more credit than she did before. Then you get warned by Lucifer that God is pissed and will probably go after you soon, though you still have your demon powers hidden away for that time when it comes.

The True Demon Ending is when Lucifer gets you to go through the Labyrinth of Amala, his hellish basement, and side up with him in the end to fight God. You still fight the Kagutsuchi but Lucifer also battles you as a test to see if you are worthy. This is gotten by doing that extra dungeon I mentioned earlier (the one that explained shit). It’s hard to unlock and pretty fucking difficult to complete so first time players should generally avoid it.

That’s it for the story, and as you can see its…not so good. For a 50 hour RPG specifically it’s a really bad fit the way its set up and how much of it you really experience. I think it’s a shame, I feel the game has an abundance of themes and such that could’ve been explored in a more profound and enriching way but alas it is what it is. I found it passable, somewhat profound at a couple of points but sadly not as interesting as I hoped it would be. Of course my enjoyment is most likely not the same as everyone else’s and indeed yours so I won’t go any further into it here, we’ve already spent long enough on the story.

-The Mechanics-

Nocturne’s navigation isn’t hard to explain. The Demi Fiend can walk, interact with objects like ladders or switches, talk to demons and spirits in the overworld its nothing extravagant The Demi Fiend is a little hard to turn sometimes and the right analog stick doesn’t turn the camera it just puts you in a really shit First Person look while you’re standing still. The L1 and R1 buttons control the camera. The circle button opens your map and the square button opens up the your normal menu. That map I mentioned does automatically fill as you go on and it’s a big help through a lot of the game when you want to know where you’ve been and where you haven’t as well as where Save Points, Elevators and Shops are. The main open world can be a tad annoying to navigate as sometimes you’ll just need to wander in a new direction for a while until you come across a new building you can go in. Thankfully accessible areas always glow red. Terminals let you save and soon enough into the game they let you warp between save points. Fountains of Life fully restore HP and MP for you and your stock of demons (for a price, though it isn’t much). It also gets rid of status ailments.

Dungeons are even more straightforward….most of the time. Real puzzles only come up a handful of times and even then navigating the dungeons is always the real challenge though there can be some bullshit with both which we’ll get into later. When you’re in a area where you can have random encounters you’ll notice your compass on the bottom left glowing a certain colour. That is actually a warning of how close the next random encounter is. It goes from Yellow to Red, Red meaning you’ll have a random encounter pretty soon so be healed for it. I feel like this is something that a lot of games with random encounters need, besides a option to straight up configure the encounter rate. Too bad this game doesn’t have the latter because while you do know when the encounter is going to show up, that doesn’t mean the amount of time between encounters in anything but completely random. Sometimes it’ll be a while before you get another one, other times it’s a matter of 5 steps though I never got a scenario where I had encounter upon encounter happen way too close to each other. Now this game does have Repulse and Attract items that temporarily decrease and increase the rate of a encounter happening and they work wonders when timed correctly but the “timing” part I’ve yet to explain. Let’s get into the battle system for now.

In a battle the Demi Fiend is joined by 3 demons. In the main menu you pick from what demons you’re carrying to join the main battle party. Only 8 demons can be carried by the Demi Fiend at the start though by the end of the game you can carry 12. Nocturne introduces the Press Turn battle system. The enemy party and the Demi Fiend’s party each have turns per how many people are in their party. For example, if my party has 4 people in it then I gain 4 Press Turns each time I get to perform actions. These turns are marked by the blue Press Turn icons on the top right. Any action (besides Pass) costs a press turn and that action is done immediately the moment it is chosen. If anyone, friend or foe, scores a critical hit, exploits the weakness of who they’re attacking, or performs a Pass on that turn then the party gains a additional turn. You’ll notice the additional turn when one of the Press Turn icons begins glowing instead of disappearing. A additional turn works the same as normal turn only you’ll lose it if you decide to Pass the turn.

This means if you have your party all abusing weaknesses to do extra damage then you’ll end up with a max of 4 extra turns…but the enemy can do this too and they can have a max of 6 people on the field. However, Press Turns can be lost through other means; turns can be lost for both sides if a attack misses or is blocked/absorbed. And when I say turns I mean more than one turn, you lose two turns if a attack is missed or blocked and if a attack is reflected or absorbed then your party straight up loses ALL their turns for that round.

The key thing to remember here is that the enemy has to work with this system too and that’s what makes SMT battles interesting from here on in the series, its fair for both sides and simply mashing attack won’t get you anywhere. You NEED to get those extra turns and kill the enemy before they find out one of you is weak to something they have, in which case you pray they don’t hit that person over and over or that they straight up lose turns via the methods I mentioned. It’s interesting and fun, every battle (until you get stronger anyway) needs a strategy not just boss fights. It keeps you on your toes, every battle can get really intense if shit goes wrong and the enemy gets the upper hand and the game ends immediately if the Demi Fiend drops, presumably because the demons on his side abandon him right away the moment he dies. Along with that, if a demon dies you need to first take a turn to revive it, then take a turn to summon in back into the battle unless you want to summon a demon from your roster instead but you get the idea, party members dying can waste quite a bit of time to recover from and that’s if the Demi Fiend’s doesn’t die cause a game over. One thing to especially keep in mind, only the Demi Fiend can use items and (unless you have a demon that has a specific skill) is the only one that can summon a demon into battle to replace someone else.

Keeping an eye on what stuff your party is weak/strong against is important and you can have a look at what strengths and weaknesses each demon has in the main menu. To give an example of how you can fuck shit up; I was in one of the end game boss fights, the boss gave itself extra turns and then hit one of my demons with a physical attack…however said demon reflects physical attacks so the boss immediately lost all of its turns. It ended up doing this a couple of times, making winning somewhat easier.

However knowing how Press Turns work aren’t the only major requirement for battles. Getting demons to help you is another story. SMT is known for this; demon negotiation. The Demi Fiend always has the ability to Talk to demons, found by pressing right on the D-Pad. Demons are…random bastards, it’s basically a game of them asking for shit (money or items) and you praying they find you interesting enough to ask the main moral question that signifies that negotiation is at its end. Of course even when you displease them with your answer they still can join you if they think you’ve spent enough time waiting on them. A demon’s want to join you can be a crapshoot depending on a number of variables that I’m not going to bother explaining because there’s no way you can influence all of them. If you want to recruit a demon, throw money and items at it and pray it doesn’t run off with them. Sometimes it’s really easy to recruit a demon, sometimes the bastards run off and that’s basically how it is.

Negotiation can fail if the wrong responses are chosen(obviously luck based), if the Demi Fiend’s demon roster is full, if the Demi Fiend isn’t the same level as the demon being talked to (or higher), and if another enemy demon interrupts. A demon leaves the battle immediately if you Talk to it when you have a demon of the same type in your party. Other skills that demons learn can help out with negotiation too but aren’t REALLY necessary should you want to replace those skills with something better. Though I must admit, immediately recruiting a female demon with another demons Wooing skill is beyond marvelous. Some demon types straight up wont converse to you at all and some won’t be able to be talked to without a certain skill but the game can be beaten easily enough by just using what the standard Talk ability works on.

Demon Fusion however should become you main means of getting better demons the moment you find a Cathedral of Shadows for the first time. Here, you can fuse the demons in your roster together to make a new demon. This new demon will have its own basic skills and will inherit some the skills of the demons used in the fusion. How many skills it inherits depends on the levels of the demons used but it generally wont fill all 8 of the skills it can hold. Later on you can toss a sacrifice demon (only available at FULL Kagutsuchi phase, I’ll explain later) into the mix, which doesn’t change the outcome but rather just adds more skills that the demon can inherit. I say “can” for a reason since what a demon inherits is random. Luckily you’re shown the resulting demon and what it inherits before the fusion occurs…it’s just a matter constantly choosing the demons you want to use in fusion over and over until the result shows the demon learning what you want. There is also the chance of a Fusion Accident where the resulting demon changes into something else though the chances of it happening are exceedingly rare, it’ll probably only happen once or twice per playthrough. Demons that come from Fusion Accidents can be powerful but it might not be a nice surprise to see happen if they don’t have the skills you wanted the original resulting demon to have.

The Demi Fiend can’t fuse a demon that’s of a higher level than him. Any demon made through fusion or gained through negotiation is automatically registered to the Demonic Compendium. Later on in the game you’ll be able to pay to summon a demon from the Compendium, returning it to his roster. You can also re-register demons so that they keep their stats and skills when you summon them from the Compendium again. This is good since any demon used in fusion is gone from your roster. Element and Mitama demons can be used to upgrade a demons stats or turn a demon into a more powerful one. The jewellery store in Ginza sells these demons, as well as rare and powerful items, for gems you get from chests and defeated monsters. Some demons evolve via different circumstances too but that won’t matter to you casually unless its via levelling that the demon evolves. The evolved demon keeps all the skills that they originally had so if it happens to you it isn’t bad to let it evolve and see what comes out, unless its stats aren’t good in the way you want them to of course.

Demons each have base skills they start off with and a list of skills they learn from levelling up. When they level up they get one skill from that list to be added to the 8 they can learn and they get a random increase in one of their stats. When a demon learns a skill and all 8 of its skill slots are full you need to either forget one of the old ones or just not learn the new skill. When a demon levels up sometimes they may try to change a skill and you have the choice to let them or stop them. If you have a good skill that you don’t want to lose don’t let them because the skill they pick is random and whether or not they improve or change the skill is also random. Having demons that have a balanced set of skills is key. Not just physical attack, magical attack, and healing skills. Buffs and debuffs are something you LIVE by in SMT. They never miss and each type of buff/debuff can be stacked up to 4 times. They’re something you simply need a lot of and in this game there is only party wide buffs/debuffs, with some skills doing twice the amount of buffing/debuffing for a extra MP cost. Buffs/debuffs only run out when a enemy uses a skill that completely removes them on you or themselves, but since the enemy can buff/debuff madly as well you might want to keep a couple of skills that cancel their buffs/debuffs too. You arent beating the game without a healthy supply of different buff/debuff skills, most boss fights should start with you throwing them around like a madman or bosses will simply become unmanageable. THIS is one of the major differences between this series and something like Final Fantasy, buffs and debuffs are so much more important than any other skill to have on your party. Besides yknow actual skills that you can use to attack with.

Now how does the Demi Fiend become stronger? Along the game through plot events, optional quests or buying them in shops, the Demi Fiend can gain and use more Magatama. You can equip the Demi Fiend with one Magatama out of the ones you have currently. When you equip a Magatama it gives the Demi Fiend stat boosts unique to that Magatama as well as give the Demi Fiend his weaknesses and strengths to different types of attacks. This means if you know a upcoming boss will use Death skills you can equip the Demi Fiend with a Magatama that makes him immune to Death skills. Magatama is also how the Demi Fiend learns HIS skills. By levelling up with a Magatama equipped he can learn a new skill from that Magatama (if he’s at the correct level for it anyway but the game doesn’t tell you what level you need to be at to learn specific skills). Selecting Magatama will tell you what type of skills you’ll learn from it and what skill you can learn next. Remember though, the Demi Fiend can only have 8 skills at a time and there are MANY skills that you can learn, plus when you forget a skill for the Demi Fiend he can NEVER LEARN THAT SKILL AGAIN. You have QUITE the amount of choosing to do when learning skills for the Demi Fiend. It’s a pretty rough call to make whenever you have to forget a skill for good to learn a new one, especially since it isn’t always a matter of the new skill being better than one of the ones you have. I ended up with a Demi Fiend that had a few debuff spells, a buff spell, a full party heal spell, a heavy wind spell, a skill that boosted wind attacks and a skill that increased his max MP. Not the best set up but it worked well enough with the team I used.

When the Demi Fiend levels up you have to pick what one of his stats gets a boost, and for the love of god don’t try to be balanced with his stats that just does not work well. Always try to keep one of his stats much higher than the others and keep one or two close to it in terms of strength but do not try a “Boost a stat once then move on to a new one each time I level up” strategy. For first timers I’d recommend boosting attack and strength as your main two best stats and only raise the other stats once in a few levels. It’s all up to you in the end what the Demi Fiend is best at and trying a new set up for the Demi Fiend and his party is all part of the game’s replayability.

The game has a Kagutsuchi phase icon on the top left showing you what phase of the Kagutsuchi you’re in, which changes as you walk. This only majorly affects two things; being able to do Sacrificial Fusion which is only accessible at the FULL phase and when overworld items (Repel, Attract, Area lighting, float) turn off. Otherwise a casual player can ignore it unless it’s for that one puzzle in one mid game dungeon. Some demons can only be fused during a certain phase which are a handful to begin with and I’ve never encountered any scenarios where I needed a demon through that method. The affect it has on the negotiation system is minimal though at the FULL phase demons will either not talk to you or be really nice to you and join you quicker than usual when they’re not just giving you a item. Having the Sacrificial Fusion only be availible at the FULL phase gets beyond a bit annoying when need to run around in circles to get to the correct phase so you can actually begin fusing what you want.

-How is this game hard again?-

Now that I’ve explained how everything works let’s get into the subject of difficulty. I’m going to be blunt here, one of the major reasons I got into this game’s mechanics so fast was because a lot of them were familiar to me from games like Persona 3. The stuff I explained always seems daunting and complicated at first until you actually try it and see what fun there is to be had, like learning how to use a computer for the first time. I think Nocturne does a good job of clueing the player of whether there’s a big threat up ahead and at no point is there a time where you can put yourself in a dead game. For the most part you’ll always be able to prepare for what’s ahead and not dropping that mindset is key here. Nocturne will always expect you to get stronger, the powerful demons you used to clear one dungeon can end up being fought as mere random encounters in the next dungeon.

However when you start getting to the late game dungeons things start becoming unmistakably bullshit. The Obelisk dungeon is a good sign of when this starts happening; way too many floors, dead ends, no way to warp back and forth meaning it has to be done in one go, and the set up to get to the final room is insane. Basically you need to manipulate the puzzle so that you fight 3 bosses in a specific order. If you leave the puzzle at any point, mess up the order, or run out of spaces to walk on the puzzle, you have the fight the bosses over again and the only healing room is a bunch of floors down. The order you need to defeat those bosses is a puzzle in itself, the game doesn’t tell you that they need to die in order or what exactly the order is besides some minor hints. One thing I also get annoyed by is S-Terminals, terminals that let you save but only give you a one way warp to the last normal Terminal you were at. There’s also the copious amount of dungeons where you need Float and Light skills/items or else you’ll end up suffering for it and have to go to a shop to buy more or get a demon that has those skills. The Underground dungeons LOVE this along with having layouts that are hard to make your way through. There’s a dungeon where you get teleported when you enter different areas to different points so you need to remember where leads to where all the time. There’s a boss called the Trumpeter that appears as you enter a new dungeon that can utterly destroy you if you don’t figure out the gimmick behind it and come up with a plan to make it full heal you otherwise it FULLY HEALS ITSELF. Dead ends are something that the late game dungeons LOVE putting EVERYWHERE. If not dead ends then its pathways that lead to Mystical Chests which may or may not have something rare in them depending on the Kagutsuchi phase but obviously it’s a crapshoot finding out which chests give what to what phase so basically its more often than not going to be something you REALLY don’t need. Some of the bosses have an ability to increase their turn count, something that you can never learn how to do. The boss fight against Chiaki has her use her unique ability to turn one of your party members that aren’t immune to curse into a….fly. This status cannot be cured unless you die so put curse immunity on the Demi Fiend beforehand. As a fly your stats are basically fucked, though your buff and debuff spells are still good.

You guys ever play Persona 4? At different points in that game it basically forces you to talk to EVERYONE you can find in order to continue the plot. In this game, its worse because a handful of times the next location is really unclear and running around the closest locations looking for the specific NPCs that give hints on what to do next. Generally Nyx at the Ginza bar gives good hints but not for every case and on one occasion near the late game the next plot event WOULDN’T happen until you found the NPC that told you about it.

The final dungeon is all sorts of insane. The bosses in there didn’t give me much trouble, by that point you should be ready for anything. However the insane amount of floors, annoying puzzles, dead ends that lead to nothing, random teleporting parts of the floor and damage floors just lead me being beyond utterly confused at where the fuck I was supposed to go. There are 3 warp terminals that let you go back to different points of the tower from any other terminal but the last terminal in the tower in nowhere near the final boss room. The final boss room only has, you guessed it, a fucking S-Terminal. This means if you’re not ready for the final boss, you have to warp down and climb the last part of the tower again when you’re ready. The Obelisk is similar in that if you need to warp to the exit at any point you have to climb the WHOLE dungeon over again only with the puzzles you solved staying solved.

-Overall-

What I mentioned earlier mainly occurs in the late game and every RPG has their moments of horseshit. SMT Nocturne is probably most considered difficult because of the amount of new players it crushed. Since I was constantly preparing for what was up ahead, saving when I could and getting better and better demons…I never really got stuck with anything battle wise that wasn’t a puzzle boss. It wasn’t easy and there were times where a messup in weaknesses got me killed but it wasn’t frustratingly hard too. It was a challenge, a fun one at that. And that’s probably what I’d recommend it as; a challenge to people who enjoy RPGs and want a game that’ll keep them on their toes with enjoyable mechanics that let the player customize many different set ups. It isn’t as complicated as you’d think and getting into the swing of things won’t take very long, it gets real satisfying real fast to defeat the stronger enemies in this game with a good setup. Of course its most likely NOT the best candidate for someone’s first RPG. I also forgot to mention, the soundtrack is fucking great. All the dungeon pieces tend to be crap, repetitive or atmospheric but everything else is really, really good. Considering the game’s subject matter I can’t harp on the game’s looks and environments too much, they accomplish what they need to and that’s all that needs to be said. The cell shading is used really well here, it makes the game age a lot better than a bunch of PS2 games especially against other ones that used cell shading as well.

So overall, great game with a lot of fun and challenge. Are we done? Well not if you’re a European like I am.

-Oh Atlus….WHY?-

Nocturne was originally released in 2003 in Japan. They later got a Nocturne Maniax edition which added the True Demon ending and featured Dante from the Devil May Cry series….in a brief cameo during the main story. Dante’s boss battle lasts about 10 minutes including cutscenes and his extra appearance on the path to the True Demon ending isn’t much longer. I’m not going to talk about the specifics of getting the True Demon ending because casual players should generally avoid trying to get that ending, if you want it there are guides for it online. Yknow what they should also avoid? The European version of the game.

After Japan got the Maniax edition of the game, Atlus localized that version of that game in English for Americans in 2004 and Europeans in 2005. The European version was renamed to Lucifer’s Call and for some reason had Dante on the front cover despite his 10 minute main story appearance, along with the infamous label “Featuring Dante from the Devil May Cry Series”. However the European version is, putting it simply, fucking borked. Besides apparently having the risk of freezing at various scenarios when played at certain settings or with the normal settings, there’s also slow down at some points. The European PSN version doesn’t have as much of these problems….until the fucking ending cutscene where it’ll freeze completely right after the Kagutsuchi is defeated. THIS. HAPPENED. TO. ME. I beat the final boss, game froze during the ending cutscene, I beat the final boss again, game froze at the same spot, I looked up on the internet to find out what was happening and it turns out this was a common problem that hasn’t been fucking fixed. So yeah if you’re a European for the love of god, make a US PSN account (it’s extremely easy to just look up how) and buy the US version of the game off of their PSN with some US PSN credit you can buy off sites like PC Game Supply. Just avoid Lucifer’s Call at all costs, I’m still a bit salty over the damn thing freezing twice during the ending cutscene. At least the thing only cost 4 euro when I bought it.

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-TheAceAlucard

 

AtlusJRPGPlaystation 2RPGShin Megami TenseiShin Megami Tensei: NocturneSony

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