It’s the end of the world as you know it and you feel fine. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster is a bit of a mouthful but it’s a truly challenging RPG that you have to slow down and think about during combat, otherwise you could end several hours of gameplay. Enjoy the PS2 remaster of a classic RPG on the go, while taking advantage of the sleep mode functionality to take a rest from the game.
Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne is a title synonymous with the turn based RPG genre, especially for a title made back on the PS2. However, this holds the game back with current gaming trends with save points few and far between while being riddled with difficult combat encounters. For someone who doesn’t have a lot of time to spare, this actually resulted in times where I lost my whole day's progress and me dropping the game for a week because of that. Add in my son taking my switch while it was in sleep mode and putting on a different game - you can see where the save feature causes a lot of issues.
That's not to say you should avoid the game completely as the combat is genuinely challenging but also rewarding. It boasts a tactical approach that laid the groundwork for later games ATLUS released as when you hit an enemy’s weakness or critical hit them, the action is considered unused and allows you to use that action again for a total of eight actions in a party of four before it goes to the enemy's turn, where they can do the same to you. However, contrary to the bonus action, you can actually lose actions if you hit an enemy with a damage type that they are resistant to or completely end the turn if they are immune to it. You can also use your turn to talk with opposing demons to recruit them to your party but if it fails, you lose your whole turn and it becomes the opponent's turn.
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World / Level Design
The world of Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne is a post apocalyptic Tokyo after an event called the Conception occurs, which you can watch happen on our Joyplay video embedded above, *wink wink nudge nudge*. The game has you explore a post-apocalyptic world as you make choices on how to shape the new world while fighting forces that want to shape it to their own whims and fancy. Mixing real world locations with some extra creepy touches added helps sell that destruction of the world while giving you the goal of things that could be.
Story / Personality
The easiest difference between a good RPG and a great one is the story they tell and Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne has an intriguing one, to say the least. The world has been completely destroyed and is on the way to be restored but competing forces of surviving humans and demons are trying to shape the world into their own haven. The player character isn’t just a vehicle for the player in the story but actually has the chance to make choices that can change the story in numerous ways.
Graphics / Art Direction
Everything has this dark and gloomy feel that permeates throughout the game, with some really creepy designs to boot. The demon designs are the same as ever and sharing the same as the personas from the Persona series, but they look great with the HD coat of paint. However, sometimes the dungeons can feel monotonous and bland, especially when you compare with more modern games in the genre.
Music / Sound Design
The overall feel of the music fits more towards the rock genre, with strong use of guitars that caught my attention very quickly when entering combat. ATLUS has a track record of stellar music, so it’s no surprise that a game from their back catalogue still has high standards. One of the newest additions to the remake is voice acting to characters which, overall, adds more depth to them, although some performances are a little bit lacklustre and unnatural.
Final Score: 75%
A challenging, but tactical combat system drives this classic RPG, however it is held back due to it trying to keep that original feel of the game. Very limited save points, coupled with the high random encounters rate, really holds the game back, especially when you compare it to modern RPGs. Overall though, an intriguing story that requires thought in combat and a darker tone results in a solid experience for any RPG fan, especially if you enjoy the Persona or other Shin Megami Tensei titles.
Thank you for checking out our Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster Switch review, thank you to ATLUS (via Five Star Games) for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: