Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne
PlayStation 2
Reviewed: 06/30/2005


Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne is a game that can be as difficult to understand as it is to say three times fast. Upon jumping into this game, even as a seasoned RPG player, one will likely be confused for the first 30-60 minutes of play. This could be from being new to this series of games (which Atlus is publishing quite a few of nowadays). Once the player gets used to the way the game works, this game controls some interesting aspects that I only dreamed about before.

The best and brightest aspect of this game is how customizable it is. You can’t make adjustments to the hero, but a lot of things about the other characters can be changed. On a related note, the party can be made up of previously-defeated enemies. All of this can be achieved by going to a Cathedral of Shadows and fusing them. On top of all that, you can ingest different Magatama to gain abilities and learn new magic, somewhat comparable to the Magicite from FF6.

Screen Shot
At least the fighting is decent

The battle system in Nocturne is one that any seasoned player of RPGs will recognize. The turn-based battles in the game are controlled through who has the higher agility, your party members or the opposing forces. In these battles, the different enemies have different weaknesses requiring you to summon and dismiss your party members to be effective. Your main character, unlike the other members of your party, can change his strengths and weaknesses through ingesting different Magatama that you find throughout the game. All of this forces you to keep a variety of members and Magatama with different magical strengths, physical strengths, and so on. It’s fairly entertaining.

Unfortunately for such a potentially great game, it has its downfalls. As stated previously, there was much confusion in the early going. This is because this game’s great ideas are almost too much to bear when thrown right into the game, although maybe reading the instruction manual would have helped on my part. Personal follies notwithstanding, traveling around the overworld is awkward. There is no world map to help you navigate, and traveling to a city you have never been to before can seem impossible at times. While wandering around aimlessly in search of towns and dungeons, running into battles is almost like playing FF8 all over again, (ie, step step battle, step step battle, repeat). The optional bosses in this game are cool, but once you get so far with them, they never really leave you alone and eventually get annoying. One even stalks you in town until you can beat him, which is a pain when all you want to do is heal from the last boss you fought. The graphics that Nocturne tosses our way are also a disappointment. Looking at this game, one would expect it to be a later game from the PS1. In comparison to releases that the PS2 has shot our way like Final Fantay X, it makes one wonder if Atlus has been staring off into space during developments in graphics.

Screen Shot
Graphics so grainy, they should be a cereal

In closing, Nocturne was a game that I did find enjoyable after really dumping myself into it. Playing through what I normally would find unbearable lead to concepts that will hopefully be carried into other games, like the luring, training, and fusing of monsters for party members. On the same note it is hopeful that future games are more closely checked, for there are parts of this game that will turn many people away from the series all together.

-Hank Farley

Score Breakdown
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Good
Story Below Average
Graphics Average
Sound/Music Below Average
Replay Value Horrible
The Verdict: 5