Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne is the title that put the RPG series on the map. Originally releasing on the PlayStation 2 in 2003, the title received critical and commercial acclaim. Now, it’s coming back for modern hardware as an HD remaster. After having played a 3-hour preview of the game, it definitely is a remaster and not too much else, for better or for worse.
The protagonist of the game turns into a half human-half demon hybrid being after an apocalyptic event called the Conception occurs. Tokyo is then overrun by demons and is transformed into the Vortex World.
Even though I never played the original release, this new remaster certainly feels like a PlayStation 2 game. When running around dungeon-like areas, the protagonist moves stiffly. And when travelling from area to area, characters in the overworld are represented only with generic sprites. I do understand that this is strictly a remaster, but it’s a little disappointing that some of these aspects of the presentation weren’t overhauled and modernised.
Additionally, the game has a compass at the bottom right, indicating which direction you’re facing. There is a map available that you can pull up at any time, but it’s incredibly annoying to have to do so every time I get lost. I do wish there was a mini-map included on the screen.
However, where the game really shines so far is in the battle system, utilizing the Press-Turn battle mechanic. At the top right of the screen, there’s a designated number of turns that are represented as icons shaped like a demon’s head. Exploiting enemy weaknesses and nailing critical hits allow you to earn more turns, continuing your onslaught. This battle system really encourages experimentation and flows great too.
During battle, you can have up to three ally demons to help out. You can negotiate with demons so that they join your party and newcomers who’ve played Persona 5 will find this mechanic incredibly familiar.
The music is absolutely fantastic too. The Shin Megami Tensei franchise is known for its rocking tunes, and this game does not disappoint. The battle tracks sound energetic, and the bonus background tracks from the digital deluxe edition that add music from other games in the series sound great as well.
The original game was also infamous for being brutally difficult and I gave a few battles a try on Hard mode and it really lives up to its name as I was barely getting out of battles alive. If you mostly want to enjoy the story mode, the new easier Merciful difficulty makes battles much easier.
Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster is as its name implies. Atlus didn’t drastically change anything and those who played the game back then on PlayStation 2 will find themselves playing almost the exact same game as before just with a shiny new coat of paint. Fortunately, this remaster also has full voice acting whereas the original didn’t and it really helps sell the atmosphere and emotion of the post-apocalyptic Vortex World.
Despite a few problems with some outdated quality of life features, I am enjoying my time with the game so far. Be sure to come back later for our full review.