Monday, April 5, 2010

Shin Megami Tensei : Nocturne Review

It’s like Pokemon, but every bit as Satanic as Christian fundamentalists make it out to be.

Well, I haven’t had much time on my hands to play video games with. Alas, a while ago, I managed to scrounge up enough spare time to play that one game I’ve been meaning to play, see title. Nocturne is another game in the Megaten series, that Persona spinned off of, hence meaning I HAD to play it. Overall, I actually found it to be the polar opposite of Persona, where every character is fully developed and you life in a mostly peaceful world. Not in this game though, haha.

This game takes place in a post apocalyptic Tokyo overrun by demons (further referred to as “mons.” Don’t ask me why most the angels from Judeo-Christianity are listed as demons >_>) where the main character must fight his way through hordes of demons to find a meaning to his existence in this bleak and barren world. Will he recreate a newer, better world? Will he bring back the old one? Will he let it remain the way it is? Will he team up with the forces of hell to slaughter the last pathetic remnants of creation? (why yes, this is an option) Who knows, it’s entirely up to you to decide! I absolutely love the setting of this game, as it gives you a huge world to explore, and you get to see wrecked landmarks from Tokyo in reality. The world itself is massive and beautiful, but….

It’s inhabitants are disgustingly one-dimensional. Really, they say a few lines, then vanish. You’re best bud from the old world? He comes up to you, says hi, tells you where he’s going, then ditches you. Never mind that he’s a normal human wandering out into a demon infested wasteland. Nope, he’s definitely not asking YOU for help, you half demon half human with a gang of big tough demons. Why would YOU be able to help him? The only people who decide to up and join you are already big tough demons, who don’t really need you for protection. Such as the cameo character, Dante (yes, the one from Devil May Cry) who’s sole purpose is to kick ass and take names. HE joins you, (based on circumstances) but you’re high school friends with no superpowers? Nope.

Plot is actually kinda dumb. Well, conceptually it is really neat. Also, it is very epic. Alas, the execution is really dumb. A few times during the plot, I’m asking myself why I’m fighting these guys. Heck, at one point I wanted to betray the person who sent me for the person he told me to attack. Alas, I was not given an option to do that. Despite having multiple endings, there isn’t much um… freedom in the plot. At some points I wanted to smack the main character silly for his apathy. Although you are given a lot of dialogue options in the game, a lot of them don’t seem to matter that much until the last minute.

Gameplay is pretty neat. Despite plot characters having the personality of a cardboard box, you’re allowed to negotiate with you’re enemies to have them join you’re party (gotta catch em’ all) and you can level them up, and some even evolve (like Pokemon) Alas, mons level up slowly, so the trick is to fuse you’re demons into bigger, tougher demons. You can have three demons fighting alongside the main character, from varios mythologies, leading to some… interesting combinations (Michael, Beelzebub, and Thor team up to conquer earth!) Of course, if you DON’T do this, you’ll be slaughtered by one of the games stupid hard bosses.

Ah yes, the difficulty. This game seems to enjoy kicking you’re ass. It even got its picture on this TV Tropes page. Bosses usually have some weird trick that if you don’t counter it immediately, you’re DEAD. I strangely enjoyed this, because unlike Final Fantasy, you REALLY get to learn a lot of tricks to fight enemies. It pushes you’re limits as a game. And the battle system…. Like the Persona series, it’s all or nothing. You get a critical on an enemy? You get to attack again. Hit their weakness? Go again. Get an attack reflected back at you? You’re whole party’s turn is over and you get you’re ass kicked. Fortunately this applies to the enemy too, so random fights are all or nothing. Then there’s death magic. Both light and darkness cause instant death. However, raising resistance to one often gives you a weakness to another. Hence, it is mandatory that you be cautious while applying you’re resistances.

So, if you want an epic plot with cardboard characters and a battle system that enjoys killing you, pick this game up. If you wanted Pokemon to be more mature and have an actual danger element, this might be the game for you. If you want a challenge, pick this game up. It’s pretty solid, despite its flaws


-frustrating at points
-bland characters

Related Games:
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4

Recent rerelease of this game has driven the price WAY down. Great time to buy

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