What I'm Playing - No. 128
Welcome back to another weekly wrap-up of the games I’ve been playing over the past week!
Spoiler warning for Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster! I spoil late-game bosses and plot points. If you don’t want those things spoiled, you shouldn’t read this week’s post!
Click a title to skip to that section. Games contained within this post:
Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster (PS4)
I finished Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster this week! Playing on Normal difficulty was a great experience overall. There were a few challenging moments even on Normal, but barring a few mild difficulty spikes with bosses every so often, it wasn’t as difficult as I expected. Of course, there’s plenty in the game I didn’t try to do - I got 1 ending, but there are six different endings, and 1 of them requires you to complete the Labyrinth of Amala dungeon, which I’m sure involves quite a bit of extra challenge not present elsewhere in the game.
If you’ve kept up with my previous posts on this game, you pretty much know the drill by now: I spent a lot of time dungeon crawling, fighting enemies and bosses, and fusing demons. As always in this game, dungeons aren’t simple, straightforward affairs, but offer their own challenge by requiring some trial and error to figure out how to get where you need to go in some cases. Particularly towards the end of game, there are a lot of teleporter mazes where you’ll enter a door or step on a spot on the floor to be teleported to a location across the map. The in-game map shows you that a teleporter is there, but it won’t tell you where it links to, so you’ll either have to remember or write it down on paper. I was able to make my way through most of these by memory, but one in the final dungeon had me going around in circles until I looked up a video walkthrough. Shin Megami Tensei IV Apocalypse had a confusing teleporter puzzle in its final dungeon as well, but in that game I didn’t need to use a video walkthrough because the teleporters were labelled A, B, C, etc., on the in-game map, allowing you to see which teleporters were connected to each other, which is a godsend.
Aside from that minor gripe, I really enjoyed Nocturne’s final dungeon. It’s massive, separated into 3 parts with progressively stronger enemies to fight. I was probably in the final dungeon for something like 8 hours from beginning to end. Dungeon crawling bliss!
In addition to the awesome gameplay, the story of Nocturne made some interesting moves too. No crazy twists or anything to speak of, just a few cool moments, like when each of the humans who survived the Conception with you end up fusing with a different god in an attempt to become the one who creates the new world. Naturally, you end up fighting each of them in god form too. Those boss battles take place during the lengthy final dungeon, and Hikawa’s battle gave me quite a bit of trouble! I struggled on that fight more than any other probably. My few attempts ended in failure when he hit my whole party with a really strong attack that wiped everyone out, but once I kept his attack power properly debuffed, I was able to take him down after a few tries.
Even though I sided with Chiaki and decided to create Yosuga, the world ruled by the strong, I still had to fight her. The rationale behind this was that only 1 person could be king of the new world, so we had to fight to the death. She lost.
Compared to Hikawa, the final boss was a total pushover. It was a fun fight though! The boss has some strong attacks in its second form, like one that hit my whole team and brought them down to critical HP. But that’s why I brought Daisoujou along, who I kept in my party for literally half the game because he’s so useful. Daisoujou’s Prayer heals the team to full, and even though it costs 50 MP, Daisoujou can drain the enemy’s MP making him the ultimate healer. The fight pretty much stayed in a predictable pattern like that until boss died. It was a long fight, but felt pretty epic nevertheless because the music was really good, and it was just really satisfying to debuff the heck out of the boss and hit him for 1200 damage with a single punch from my Demi-fiend each turn! With the final boss defeated, the Demi-fiend became the creator of the new world, and is reborn as a human again in the new world.
I watched a review of the game on YouTube earlier in the week. From the title of the review, it sounded fairly negative, so I was curious what the reviewer disliked about it. Essentially, it boiled down to the fact that they disliked the trial-and-error nature of the dungeons, and the fact that the game is mostly dungeon crawling, with only tiny story bits sprinkled between dungeons on occasion. Those are all very accurate descriptions of Nocturne, but I see those as positives rather than negatives, because I really enjoyed the game’s dungeons! There are some elements of Nocturne that feel stiff or outdated, like not being able to skip cutscenes, which was especially annoying when I had to re-fight Hikawa several times. Luckily, the game is not at all cutscene-heavy, and the cutscenes it has are pretty short. For the most part, it holds up really well though. Personally, I found it to be a great way to experience Nocturne for the first time. If you’re in the mood for an RPG where the story takes a back seat and the focus is on gameplay, particularly dungeon crawling, then you should give Nocturne a try if you haven’t already! My final playtime for this one was 39:29.