Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster gives the classic JRPG a new voice

Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne was the first game in the series to make it out of Japan. As such, it’s many a longtime fans’ first experience with the franchise. For these individuals, the upcoming HD Remaster will be very familiar (albeit with some added content and QoL improvements).

The Nocturne HD Remaster is a good entry point for Shin Megami Tensei and is the game’s definitive edition. It features the ability to play the original game, or play the Maniax (which features Dante from Devil May Cry) or Chronicles (which brings Raidou Kuzunoha from Devil Summoner). It also features suspend save, a new Merciful difficulty mode, and the ability to choose between Japanese and English voiceovers.

The most significant change between the PS2 original and the HD Remaster isn’t visual, and the textures and models aren’t vastly improved. The star of this remaster for me was the added voice acting. The original’s script was entirely text-based, and having the majority of the lines voice-acted gives the game a new feel. I’m a big retro fan, so I don’t mind reading through a game at all, but the voice cast does add a new dimension to characters that has a bigger impact than you’d think.

It’s Not Persona

Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne HD Remaster Preview 2

Despite Nocturne’s relative success, SMT’s spinoff series, Persona, is what brought the franchise to the mainstream. This preview is primarily aimed at Persona fans who want to start getting into the Shin Megami Tensei with the SMT3 HD Remaster. However, it’s a mistake to start playing this title with the idea you’ll get an experience similar to what you’d find in a Persona game.

Nocturne provides a classic JRPG experience that might not be everyone’s cup of tea. There are no after-school activities and social links here. There’s a lot more dungeon crawling, and emphasis on combat, and Nocturne is more challenging than Persona for the most part.

The biggest mechanical change between the two series is that there aren’t Personas. Instead, you have to recruit a team of Demons to make up your party. Getting them to join your party is more challenging as well. Unlike Persona, Demons want something solid for their time. This might mean you have to sit and let them drain your energy or throw down some cash. The overall effect is that party composition is much more critical since you can’t just equip a ton of Personas and switch between them at will.

You’ll also find that Nocturne is more visually subdued than Persona. Persona 3, 4, and 5 have each had a very unique look with bright colors that popped. This game features a lot more neutral colors, both in menus and in the world itself. It’s not an ugly game by any measure, but it lacks the flair that many love with Persona.

In the bit we got to preview of Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster, I was reminded of how good of a JRPG it is. It’s been a while since I played the original, and it still holds up well, even more so with the Quality of Life improvements. It’s also great to get the original, Mainiax, and Chronicles version of the game in one package.

Stay tuned for a full review of Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster before it releases on May 25, 2021, on PS4, Switch, and PC.