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Developer:
Atlus Software
Publisher: Atlus Software
Platform: PS2
Release Date: October 14, 2004

by Josh Ferguson




Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne takes place in present day Tokyo, as you take on the role of a Japanese student. Along with two friends, Chiaki and Isamu, you are heading to the Medical Center to visit a sick teacher. However, when the three of you arrive, the Medical Center seems to be completely empty. As you continue your search you eventually meet up with a man named Hikawa, who threatens to kill you. Soon after, your "sick" teacher, Yuko, interferes and Hikawa lets you live. Yuko then tells you to meet her on the roof where she will explain what is happening.


Once you arrive on the roof Yuko explains how the "conception" will be occurring. In other words, the Apocalypse is arising on Tokyo, and all those who are not in the Medical Center will be destroyed. After a cut scene of the conception, your character passes out.


When you awaken you are confronted by a little boy and an old woman standing before you. According to the woman, the boy is very interested in you and he decides to give you a gift: Magatama--the mere essence of a demon. The Magatama then bonds with you, transforming your character into a demon.


One thing that makes this game so interesting is that unlike most RPGs where you are given a set party, in Nocturne, you must recruit every single one of your characters. This allows the player to have a very large variety of party members to choose from. However, the max number of Demons you can hold in your stock is twelve, but this is where something called the "Demonic Compendium" comes in handy. Once this becomes unlocked in the Cathedral of Shadows, your demons are recorded here and will stay here no matter what, even if you remove them from your actual party. When a demon is removed from your party, you are able to visit the Demonic Compendium and repurchase that demon for a certain amount of money. Of course, some demons are more expensive than others, depending on their level, class, skills and so on. This also becomes useful because characters are only able to learn a max number of 12 skills, which can make the game quite difficult. However, since you are given the Demonic Compendium, it can help make the game a whole lot easier. Because there are so many different skills in Nocturne, it is extremely difficult to really stack your characters with all of the abilities you may want and can make certain bosses very difficult, depending on the skills your characters have. However, with the Demonic Compendium you are able to go back and repurchase certain characters which could help turn the tides in battle. For example, there are several occasions during Nocturne when you will face enemies who are immune to all physical attacks and you must use an arsenal of magic spells to defeat them. Because my party did most of their damage physically, there were several occasions when I would have to head back to the Demonic Compendium and purchase a strong powered magic user, which usually turned the tide of the battle.


Not only is the Cathedral of Shadows useful for the Demonic Compendium, but also it gives you the ability to fuse demons. This means that you are able to take two demons, fuse them together and create a completely new kind of demon. Fusing demons also means that the newly acquired demon will also hold skills from the two previous demons. However, fusing a demon with something called a "Mitama" won't create a new kind of demon, but instead will help make your demon more powerful, by giving them either extra strength, magic, vitality and so on. The same can be said for fusing an element to a demon. Unlike the Mitama, this doesn't level up your demon. Instead it will change your demon into a higher or lower leveled demon of the same race. Also, eventually you will unlock the ability to hold a sacrificial fusion, which is when you fuse two demons and then sacrifice one more. This can be helpful in gaining certain abilities for demons and in creating an even more powerful demon than before.


Like any RPG, throughout Nocturne you will encounter a number of boss battles. However, unlike many RPGs, after you kill a boss you are able to head on over to the Cathedral of Shadows and fuse a demon with an object called a "deathstone", bringing them back to life and allowing them to join your party. For the most part you will be able to use this method to acquire nearly all of the bosses in the game.


Something that will also attract many is the addition of the Capcom favorite, Dante, from the Devil May Cry series. Throughout the game you will encounter him, and eventually you are even able to acquire him to join your party. Dante is an enormous help when it comes to certain enemies, plus he's cool, so why not add him to your party? I mean, he even comes with Ebony and Ivory, how cool is that?


The in-game battles are much like any RPG, where the player and enemy go back and forth from turn to turn. However, one thing that seemed a little strange was when a character would dodge an attack. Instead of actually dodging, the character would slide out of the way. The look is actually kind of humorous and I will admit that I had a few laughs the first few times I witnessed it. Plus, another complaint would be the skills used in battle. Many of them seem like they weren't even translated for the English game. For example, one of my characters holds the abilities Maragion, Mabufula, Mazionga and Mazanma. Sure, after 100 hours or so of gameplay I knew which one was what, but at first it was a little difficult to decipher skill from skill.


Graphically the game looks quite nice and the character design is done very well. Personally, I wasn't too fond of the main character's look, but after checking out the other characters, especially Dante, you forget all about that. The in-game music is also done well, especially the opening music, which were two favorites of mine.


Another interesting aspect of the game is the multiple endings. Along your path you will be given four different endings which you may encounter, and different choices you make along the way will decide which one of these endings you will receive. However, there is one ending, called the "True Demon" ending, in which you will view all of the endings. It is also the most difficult of the endings.


When it comes down to it, Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne makes a nice addition to any RPG player's collection. The game is highly recommended for a fan of the genre, someone who loves the gothic style of gaming or just anyone who wants to add another Dante-related game into their collection. Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne is a must have.


Overall: 90%




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