As promised, here is Swordguy’s take on SMT III: Noctrune. Enjoy. Also, a note from David: Also, if you post that Nocturne crap, take link fifteen out, it contains spoilars.
Not sure which one he means exactly, but click with caution.
After a gap of about ten years, Atlus produced the third installment in the Shin Megami Tensei series. Like the first game it starts off fairly mundane; you wake up on a train in downtown Tokyo and make your way across the city to meet up with some friends who are going to see your teacher (Youko Takao) who is in a hospital in Shinjuku. Once you arrive at the hospital, it becomes increasingly apparent that something is wrong. The building is completely vacant save for a man in the basement and a mysterious woman and child. When you find Youko she takes you to the roof where you witness The Conception, the first stage of rebirth for the world. You watch as the horizon rises around you and the world is turned inside out, centering around a light called Kagatsuchi. When you regain consciousness, you find yourself alone in a void, entirely alone save for the Woman and child you saw in the hospital. The woman, saying the child has taken pity on you, holds you down as the boy drops a demonic parasite, called Magatama, on to your face. All you can do is watch and listen as it burrows through your flesh, and you again lose consciousness. When you wake up you find yourself back in the hospital, reborn. Your bare flesh is covered with glowing tattoos and a horn juts from the back of your neck. The new vortex world is teaming with demons who refer to you as “Demi fiend.”
From there you must roam the remains of the earth in search of a reason, which is what they call the philosophy around which the new world will be formed. Through your decisions you can align yourself with any of the characters mentioned in the previous paragraph or cast all of them aside and try to break the destruction and rebirth cycle in the Labyrinth of Amala. None of the alignments are right or wrong. Each has its positive and negative points, and some have a subtle irony in relation to the person representing them. These alignments allow for some minor differences in the path you take, and allow for six different endings.
The best part is that despite all of this story, despite the detail of the plot, the game still maintains a sense of subtlety. The cutscenes are brief and sparse, never getting into the Xenosuffix territory of making you sit in a chair for eight hours while someone crams abysmally stupid pop philosophy/Evangelion fan fiction down your throat.
The battle system (called “Press Turn”) is a bit like Persona 3 and 4, where you get a bonus for doing something smart and you’re penalized for being stupid. There are two main differences. First, is that it’s divided by sides. You get four moves (or up to eight if you’re playing intelligently) for your party, and once you’ve used those the enemy gets four (Example). Second, you can negotiate with your enemies. This can range from asking them to heal you or give you items, to having them join your part depending on how you initiate the conversation and what you say and when you talk to them. Demons become irrational as Kagatsuchi grows brighter, and at it’s brightest they go insane, although, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. (Example)
Throughout the game you can pick up new magatamae and ingest them. This gives you new skills as well as different properties for your character. Think of it almost like the system in Persona 3, but with more permanent change for your character. These magatamae are the sole equipment, or equivalent thereof in the game. The Fusion system is nearly identical to the last two persona games, which somewhat disappointingly recycle its system with not many tweaks.
In case you couldn’t already tell, I really like the game’s artwork (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 1213 14 15 16 17 18) and the music is amazing (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14). One thing that I really appreciate is that, unlike Persona 3 and 4, there are multiple battle themes, so it’s much less grating to listen to, although, it also helps that the game about half the length of those titles, depending on the route you take and how much side stuff you do. I’ve even seen some people who beat it in just over thirty hours.
Commercials, Game Over Screen (Good thing it’s awesome, ’cause you’ll see it a lot over the course of the game), It’s not without a sense of humor (although you have to dig for it),creepy Jacob’s Ladder + Watchmen style possession, seriously, this game has some amazing scenes (I recommend stopping at the end of the scene).
In 2004, after some success in Japan it was given a collectors edition called “Maniax,” which feature some new content, additional scenes, Dante (Yes as in Devil May Cry Dante), a new dungeon, and a new ending. Seeing no reason to bother with the previous version, Atlus skipped it and just brought Maniax to America as the standard edition. When it came to Europe through a company called Ghostlight, it was renamed Shin Megami Tensei: Lucifer’s Call, due to trademark issues. It was also turned into a radio drama, which I desperately want to hear.
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne is the best MegaTen game and my second favoritist vidjagame eeeeeeeeevarz. Sooner or later, I’m going to harass the squad into giving this a mission. And if you think this is a wall of text, consider yourself lucky. I’m showing restraint. I could talk for a few more pages about its connections to the previous games in the series and other nuances of the story.