You'd have to be living under a rock to not see how the Shin Megami Tensei and Persona franchise has been exploding in the west as of late. The popularity of Persona 5 and spin-off Persona 5 Strikers, the remaster of Persona 4 Golden, and now Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster is just a month away. Much of what made SMT and Persona the franchises they are today started with this game, this HD Remaster gives new and old fans alike a chance to play this occult-themed JRPG.
Shin Megami Tensei III throws players into the story pretty quickly, and with little explanation. The protagonist, whom you can name, is planning on meeting up with his two friends, Chiaki and Isamu, at a hospital at the request of their teacher. Quick to establish a setting, players find themselves exploring areas of Tokyo including Yoyogi, Shinjuku, and Harajuku via an overworld map. After exploring a creepy hospital, and watching Tokyo envelop itself in a ball the protagonist reawakens as a Demi-Fiend. Now as the Demi-Fiend you need to work with and against demons to try to return Tokyo to what it was before. While nothing gets revealed about who the Demi-Fiend is prior to the start of the game this call to action does serve as enough to want to save the world.
Those first few hours are filled with all kinds of unique jargon. Terms like "the Conception", the apocalyptic event, and getting injected with a "magatama" which grants you Demi-Fiend powers. It's a very JRPG over-the-top plotline, and after tutorials are finally given isn't half as complicated as it seems. If you're one to get turned away by these kinds of plots then turn back now and have a nice day. If you're into it though Shin Megami Tensei III is already looking to be fantastic.
Players explore the post-apocalyptic wastelands of Tokyo. Familiar districts now spread by vast deserts, and demons roaming the wastes. Through the story of Shin Megami Tensei III, you'll be exploring various locations, like Yoyogi park, fighting demons, and searching for a way to put Tokyo back together. Combat is turn-based where you and your party of monsters face off against a variety of demons. A unique mechanic that sets apart combat is that with each turn you're able to use as many actions as party members. If you only have the demi-fiend then you get one action, if you have a full party then you have four actions. For every critical hit you get or weakness strike you gain another action, alternatively missing a hit will take away an extra action. These action resources to be gained or lost add an extra layer of strategy to combat and leveling. It's important to remember enemy weaknesses and stats like Agility and Luck have increased importance. The same rules apply to your enemies though, just because one of your demons is at a high level it's not as useful if it keeps giving a boss extra attacks.
Shin Megami Tensei III was the introduction of the franchise's mechanic of being able to talk to and recruit enemy demons. You start with the Demi-Fiend, and then a Pixie joins you, but most demons that you come up against you have a chance to talk to and negotiate coming with you. Demons can want your health, money, or even items (if they even want to talk.) There are a number of things that seem to influence whether a Demon will even want to talk with you or not, but it's always worth a shot at least trying. While the act of recruiting itself isn't too deep a mechanic, it does give the demons a bit more personality outside of "thing that attacks."
So early into a JRPG story, it is somewhat difficult not only to predict where the story will go, but also whether it will be able to maintain quality. From the few hours played so far though the plot has set up an interesting premise and a clear end goal, sprinkled in some occultism and hints that more will be revealed in time and created an interesting world filled with strange monsters. Battles are enjoyable and I'm looking forward to seeing how it evolves with more difficult battles and leveling up my demons. It does look like Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster is shaping up to be a good game.
TechRaptor previewed Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster on Nintendo Switch with a copy provided by the publisher. It will be launching for PC, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch on May 25th.