Our Rating: 7/10
Shin Megami Tensei 3 Nocturne Remaster. With such a long title, there’s bound to be something to frighten more than one person. Furthermore, the fact that it is a difficult turn-based Japanese role-playing game is unlikely to improve its enjoyment.
However, you are very likely to be familiar with another Shin Megami Tensei game that is far more well-known (which we will rename SMT from now). Do you know who Persona 5 is? Yes, even though Persona’s popularity has surpassed that of the main saga, it was originally an SMT spin-off series.
A dark but fascinating atmosphere
However, in contrast to Persona 5’s many lighthearted moments, Shin Megami Tensei 3 Nocturne Remaster depicts a much darker universe and story. You will play a Japanese high school student. Your character will witness and survive the End of the World while visiting his teacher in the hospital.
You must go find your friends and teacher. You will wake up in the form of a Half-Demon to try to figure out what happened. We quickly learn that the city of Tokyo has closed in on itself. Forming a sphere in the center of which is a gigantic luminous orb. As a result, several factions clash in this ruined universe, attempting to mold a new world in their image.
Several characters who embody these various conceptions of the universe will cross your path throughout the adventure. You can subscribe to one of his visions to unlock one of the game’s six endings by making choices during the dialogues.
You’ll notice that SMT III’s first major strength is its rather unique atmosphere. More than a post-apocalyptic universe, the concept of acting immediately after the world ends is unique.
The Shin Megami Tensei 3 Nocturne Remaster strengthens the story even more by including English and Japanese dubbing. Already benefiting from meticulous staging, the cutscenes now gain in intensity thanks to high-quality acting.
But it is the artistic direction of SMT III, not its history, that gives it its unique appeal. We come across real districts of the Japanese capital now populated by demons as we stroll through this ravaged and sand-covered Tokyo.
Some dungeons, in addition to these abandoned urban environments, take the form of suffocating labyrinths. With memorable designs, though their progression can be tedious at times.
When you add in the soundtrack by Shoji Meguro, the composer of Persona 4 and 5, and Catherine, who provides several heavy background tracks, it feels like you’re in the middle of Silent Hill.
Characters have also received special attention. All thanks to the elegant line of character designer Kazuma Kaneko, who was also the original game’s director.
He also includes a colorful bestiary with illustrations of unique demons from folklore all over the world. Among these sources of inspiration, we find both well-known mythologies and lesser-known mythologies.
Efficient Recruitment and Merger System
Because, like Persona 5, the demons are at the heart of SMT III’s game system. They act as both enemies and potential allies to recruit. Shin Megami Tensei III, as strange as it may seem, has a lot in common with Pokémon.
At first glance, the connection between Nintendo’s bright and cheerful franchise and Atlus’ sinister series is difficult to see. In these two universes, however, it is always a question of finding new creatures to fight with.
During turn-based battles that start at random, you can talk to one of your opponents to persuade them to join you. Before accepting, they will usually demand money, items, or some of your energy.
Even if you give in to their every whim, the demons may refuse to join you (what an ungrateful bunch!). Furthermore, the latter’s interactions with him are frequently amusing, owing to their coarse or even vulgar language.
Finally, you must consider the location of Kagutsuchi, the luminous orb in the heart of Tokyo, during your negotiations. When the latter has reached its peak,
The most effective way to have a powerful team is to merge your demons together to obtain more powerful ones. This is even more effective than recruiting new companions. To do so, look for places called Shadows Cathedrals in the cities where you can perform this type of ritual.
The creature thus created can reclaim one or more of its “parents'” abilities. Fusion is still the best way to get powerful demons. It’s about more than chain fights to strengthen your troops. Furthermore, given the game’s difficulty, it is a must-have for all players. When it comes to battles, however, your character can swallow demonic bugs known as Magatama to gain new abilities and change their appearance.
A lazy remaster despite some nice additions
Unfortunately, while the majority of the qualities listed above are taken directly from the original game, the HD version falls short in terms of technique. Because this is a remaster and not a remake, the empty environments are the same as they were in the original game.
While the character models have been reworked, many of the decor textures have not been smoothed out. Cutscenes that do not use the game engine are always in 4:3 format. This retains the PlayStation 2’s low resolution. The same goes for the sound compression of the musical tracks, which is the same as it was at the time.
Worse, the game suffers from numerous slowdowns during boss fights, particularly in the Amala Network, a maze that must be traversed several times throughout the adventure.
Aside from the technical flaws, we would have liked to see some comfort options similar to those found in other PS2 RPG remasters. We are considering, for example, the possibility of increasing the speed of the fights.
Currently, the only way to make the clashes scroll faster is to turn on Auto-Battle, but this forces your characters to only use physical attacks. Nonetheless, we can appreciate the presence of a quick save, which improves the gaming experience.
In terms of the content itself, while we appreciate that Permissive mode is free DLC, we are disappointed that the Maniax Pack is not. In fact, the latter includes a mode in which Raidou Kuzunoha (the protagonist of an SMT spin-off series) is now Dante from Devil May Cry.
When the original game was released in 2005 in the United States, Dante was included, but crossing Raidou’s path was not possible. Finally, the two additional dungeons (“Birthplace of the Mi-Demon” and “Heart of the Conception”) can only be accessed through the paid DLC “Pack of cards: Clemency and Hope.”