Shin Megami Tensei 3 Nocturne HD Remaster is a decent re-release of a stone-cold JRPG classic

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While I would say it wasn’t as good as the PS1 or SNES, it’s fair to say that the PlayStation 2 was a killer console for Japanese RPGs.


There are endless classics – and no doubt many will think of the console’s two single-player Final Fantasy games first, a great Dragon Quest, a pair of killer Persona titles, Kingdom Hearts, and even gems released by Sony like Rogue Galaxy and Dark Cloud. One of the greatest of all time, however, is Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne.

In the West, the Shin Megami Tensei series has always been a niche proposition. In the PS2 era, it was the kind of game that would only sell to a tight-knit audience of Japanese game enthusiasts. At the time, Nocturne’s biggest mainstream selling point was a cameo from another Japanese game, Devil May Cry. The slightly ridiculous box sticker that advertised this cameo has become an internet meme.

This is slowly starting to change, however. The popularity of Persona, which is basically a spinoff from the main series SMT, is coming back to these games. So now is the perfect time to remaster one of the best games in the series and the first to have made its way to the West.

Make no mistake, Shin Megami Tensei 3 Nocturne is an all-time classic. It’s an icy firecracker. It didn’t enter the mainstream like Persona, but it’s quite on par with its PS2 contemporaries in P3 and P4 – but Nocturne and the main SMT series stand out from these games in interesting ways.

Persona is all about a slice of life, where the supernatural intrudes into everyday life and generally exaggerates and shines the spotlight on real-world issues. Nocturne is practically the opposite: your character, the Half-Demon, awakens in an apocalyptic world where demons are basically the only allies he can count on. Human survivors are rare and far from united.

Demons are at the heart of the action, with the Half-Demon being able to recruit, fuse, and generally manipulate demons to create options for combat that then take place on a turn-based basis that looks traditional at first glance but has in effect. reality a greater level of depth through the Press-Turn system, a risk / reward mechanism that can make or break any encounter.

Battles are tough in a way that isn’t really the norm in today’s accessibility-focused JRPGs, but I think that’s a critical part of what this game was like. times, for better or for worse. As a more old-school RPG, things like enemy strengths and weaknesses or buff and debuff skills aren’t just a build-dependent option – they’re an absolute necessity for survival.

The story that takes you through the fight is strong but also arguably more threadbare than the Persona games. It’s fair to say that it’s a generally bizarre tale, far from anything that seems easily relatable. It also often feels like the translation, which has been tweaked and improved for this remastered version, tries to really keep up with the various concepts that are casually thrown out. That said, there’s a lot to think about in this tale, with the story ultimately boiling down to a philosophical debate where the player is forced to choose a state of mind to align with in order to achieve one of Nocturne’s multiple endings. . A game of this nature couldn’t be a classic if it didn’t have its storyline right on landing, and while weird and unique, SMT3 does just that.

So. The game is great then. And the remaster? Well, that’s the less exciting end to this affair. You might be better off describing this as an HD port of the original rather than an HD remaster. It seems Sega and Atlus did what they could, but ultimately faced a situation where an old game couldn’t be altered too much without creating a huge amount of work. The result is a decent reissue loaded with compromise.

The biggest and most obvious tradeoff is frame rate; No matter what device you play it on, this almost twenty year old game will never show more than thirty frames per second. Most machines will crush this game now, of course, even laptops – but there’s a locked 30fps cap. Non-realtime cutscenes are still standard definition with Mailbox, possibly because the source files were lost. There’s also an issue with over-compressed audio – although on PC modders have already managed to release a fix for this.

Visually, it’s a crisp and beautiful affair. However, we are not in this country of complete replacement of the Nier Replicant or Mass Effect model and texture. It’s the same game presented at a higher resolution – but Nocturne’s art style lends itself well to HD presentation. It brushes really well – better than most games of this era.

In other places, SMT3 has been smartly modified and adjusted to make it more enjoyable to play. There are a variety of changes and additions that streamline some processes that were frustrating in the original game, as well as DLC options that restore Dante’s cameo, offer alternate music tracks, and even add additional cards that can be used. for grinding. There’s also a free DLC that adds easier difficulty, which will be welcome for those who really can’t get along with the brutal nature of the original – although I highly recommend playing it as intended if you want to. can.

This is an HD remaster that you should jump into with clear expectations. Like I said, it feels more like an HD port than a real remaster, and the price is pretty steep when you think about it and also recognize that the game launched with a full list of DLCs. However, this is also a good quality and well-played reissue of an Eternal – and that can’t be underestimated. Conscious value may want to wait for a sale, however.

Additionally, it has a DLC add-on that features Dante from the Devil May Cry series. What’s not to like?

Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne HD Remaster is out now on PC, PS4, and Switch. Tested version: PC, with a code provided by the publisher.

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