Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne (JPN) Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

System:
PlayStation 2
Release date:
September 28, 2004
Publisher:
Atlus USA
Developer:
Atlus USA
Players:
1
Genre:
RPG
ESRB:
M

Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne (JPN)

A true adult RPG.

Review by Aaron Drewniak (Email)
August 25th 2004

At the start of combat, both sides have as many turns as they have participants. Though if you attack an enemy's weakness or score a critical hit, you will be rewarded with an extra turn. Use an attack that the enemy is immune to, however, and the loss of your turns is the price of your stupidity. The key to battles leads to exploiting the flaws in your enemy's defense and ultimately, avoid exposing yourself to the same retribution. This is especially true of bosses, where you're likely to need a few test runs before knowing exactly how to take them down, since their devastating attacks don't allow much room for a margin for error.

Unfortunately, the same level of intelligence is not required of the game's AI, which seems to attack completely at random, so you'll often see demons casting fire spells on fire immune characters or even bosses repeatedly pummeling a physically immune ally and wasting their turns in the process. It becomes hard to miss when Nocturne suffers another flaw, already painfully familiar to RPG veterans: the encounter rate is too damn high. The next battle can sometimes be literally one step away, which becomes somewhat tedious after you already know the weaknesses of all the demons that haunt that particular dungeon.

Unlike most RPGs that stick you with the same band of six heroes for the duration of the game, in Nocturne, every enemy is a potential ally, provided you can make an offer they can't refuse. The list of available demons reads like a "Who's, who?" of the world's myths and legends, containing everything from the brooding Japanese Oni to mythological celebrities such as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. These demons can even be fused together to form more powerful allies, though the skills that are passed on are determined at random, turning this process into a reselecting nightmare.

And what about Dante? I'm sure some of you are thinking that right now... and you'll still be thinking it several hours into playing Nocturne. Yes, he's in the game, but no he's not in it very much. You'll be 50+ hours in before he'll consent to join you and by then only a few boss fights remain, none of which he's particularly suited for. So if you're considering purchasing this game solely because of this bishonen badboy from hell, you'd be better off waiting for Devil May Cry 3.

The main character of Final Fantasy X is the grinning blitzball player Tidus and the protagonist of Skies of Arcadia is the confident pirate captain Vyse. If you played these games, you instantly have an image of those characters by their names alone, because that is their identity and those are their stories. In those games the player is merely a passive participant who watches the tale unfold, powerless to redirect its course. In Nocturne, the main character has no name until you provide it. He has no identity until you chose what course his life will take. If Nocturne were a city, the road sign would read:

Welcome to the end of the world.
What happens from here is up to you.

Note: Screeens 1- 18 are based off the domestic version of the game.

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