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First of all, I'd like to state that the Shin Megami Tensei series is my favorite RPG series and that I really enjoyed playing most of them. Persona 4 (for the PS2) was my introduction to the series. Persona 4 is a game I had heard remarkable things about. It had great trailers and I really did enjoy the beginning of the game's presentation since it was mostly well-done. You learn of a murder mystery, obtain a Persona, and are set out on a quest to rescue people thrown into another world by the mysterious murderer. An interesting setting that sadly went downhill as I continued along with the game itself. The characters went from interestingly dynamic to static, the plot from mysterious to obvious, and the gameplay from novel to uninteresting. So, to start this off... Music: 4/10 The music was okay. It wasn't anything superb or attention grabbing like most Shin Megami Tensei's which usually have one or two tracks that really latch on to fans because of how ingeniously they are composed. They're by no means bad at all. They're all just forgettable.So typical of the standard RPG fare. Gameplay: 5/10 It's about time that Persona stepped-up its gameplay and allowed more than one character to be controlled at a time. The gameplay itself though doesn't have much to offer. Press-turns are back from SMT Nocturne and you can do some Japanese slapstick comedy attack as a bonus sometimes but otherwise its basic turn-based gameplay. There's a few weaker bonus attacks that individual party members can do but that's it really. The character growth system in this game is a real disappointment compared to other games in the series. To be frank, there is no thinking involved to challenge the player in their choices. An example: Of course one would pick a stronger lightning spell to replace a weaker version of the same spell. There is just no strategy or thought put into this game. It may as well have been done for the player by having these skills evolve over time. The compendium and the fusion system is more interesting but doesn't have the same charm as the fusions in other games. The fusions are essentially laid out for you and you simply need to find the ingredients of weaker monsters. A certain social link tried to make this more engaging but I found it to be a yawnfest, personally. Story: 1/10 Loved the beginning and then because of poor execution and horrible crap passed off as character development, it shot itself in the foot. You're suppose to be trying to find some killer who is supposedly kidnapping people and throwing them into a harsh world inside televisions but the game makes it completely obvious who the culprit is from the very beginning and continues to be obvious about the killer. They honestly didn't even try in this game. I was very disappointed. Anyone with common sense will eventually recognize who it is because the game just doesn't try hiding it at any length. Because of this, the main plot feels more like a nuisance than something of interest. The story isn't engaging because you will immediately recognize the forced plot stupidity to keep the story going. In a murder mystery, that is damning. I'd go on and on about why it was so obvious but that would be spoilers AND I'd rather not ruin it for people if they haven't already seen the glaring idiocy that's passed off as a mystery. Worst of all, the reasoning behind these murders was, for all intents and purposes, non-existent. It was little more than "I'm bored" to "I'm crazy because the plot needs me to be some random crazy person now". There was no rhyme or reason to any of the killer's actions. This isn't to show a sociopath, it's done so horribly that I could only conclude that the writers simply got lazy. Providing some explanation would have sufficed instead of just unimaginative drivel. Characters: 1/10 ALL social links, the character development that the characters express in the game, all end the same. They talk about a particular problem, they exaggerate how bad this problem is, some sob story is given in a one-sided depiction of the specified problem, a certain mary-sue brat will come in to give forcefully mundane advice, and then by the end of the social link the specific character will go on having the problem and say their complaints before were exaggerated and that there is no real issue. Nothing really changes for the characters. They don't try to deal with problems but just stop complaining about them. All of them just admit to being a bunch of emo-drama queens. This is completely unsatisfactory and the redundancy of this annoying set-up simply bored me. An example? Yukiko Amagi, she shows great strides in trying to get a job and live on her own to support herself so that she doesn't have to follow in her family's footsteps of running a historic family inn. The direction forcefully changes from growing into your own independent person to some lunacy about some camera crew from some random tabloid magazine wanting to make a mockery of her parents historical inn. The intriguing story quickly diverges from Yukiko not wanting to be forced with these expectations of inheriting her family's historical inn to some sappy soap opera consisting of random workers for the family speaking about how they adored Yukiko as a kid. This is constantly reinforced by her mother's so-called poor health, which is never really elaborated upon, and her mother crying in tears whenever the journalists come into the inn (apparently, no one saw it fit to simply ban them from the establishment for harassment). By the end of this melodramatic horror show, Yukiko defends her crying mother against these terrible people from this random tabloid company with you, the main character's, help as moral support. Overall, I found the entire experience to be a laughable melodramatic soap opera and became embarrassed to even be playing through it. Now, one shouldn't judge an entire system in a game on just one bad egg, right? The problem was, I kept finding this same chain of events in every social link so I quickly lost my patience with this framework of utter crap. The scenes are all far too similar. You begin with an interesting story, there is this sudden shift in direction that hardly makes any sense, and the character admits to being a whiny baby. It was uninspiring, far too forced to be realistic in any sort of way, and honestly had no meaningfulness behind it. The characters literally went from interesting dynamic people with realistic thoughts and feelings to card-board character archetypes that simply admitted to whining too much about life. To conclude: If you like Japanese RPGs full of high school drama or liked previous Persona games then this is definitely for you. If you like good RPGs then this game isn't for you. Final score: 4/10
Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne is widely recognized as one of the best in Atlus's Shin Megami Tensei series. It is known for its harsh, unforgiving, and mature atmosphere. The game itself delves into numerous philosophical concepts and demonstrates the desperation of the human mind in dire conditions where survival is crucial. This is an M-rated and mature game so if you have squeamish noisy parents, I donâ€™t recommend purchasing this game. Part of the issue is that this game blatantly expresses religion in an unfavorable manner and among the six different endings; you can decide to go toward two distinct demonic paths. With all that said, let us commence the review! Plot: Perhaps one of the most enchanting and intriguing plots in any role-playing game, ever. It wouldnâ€™t be a stretch to say that Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne is a landmark game that reaches into new innovative story elements to create a wondrous experience. You are a human who has survived the apocalyptic end of the world and youâ€™ve been forced into becoming a half-demon. Your goal? Reshape the world as you see fit by joining a particular philosophical belief system or abandon that to destroy the chance for the world's rebirth for a different goal. As you progress through the wasteland of the fallen remains of human civilization, you encounter other survivors who will eventually give you their philosophical doctrines (theyâ€™re called â€œReasonsâ€ in the game) on what they believe to be the ideal utopian vision of what the new world should become. If you agree with their assessments, then new story options are open to you later in the game and you can change which side you choose to defend during different climaxes within the story. The story itself takes a fairly linear route but you will, in the end, decide on what course of action you will take and whom you wish to side with. The game examines your choices and your ending in the final dungeon will be based on your choices and responses throughout the game. Overall, one of the best experiences that Iâ€™ve had. Gameplay: One of the best turn-based gameplay mechanics ever created. You, the main character, choose from different â€œMagatamaâ€ which change your stats, strengths and weaknesses, and what skills you can inherit. Story-wise, Magatamasâ€™ are essentially demon cores that you ingest for different skillsets and powers. The game has twenty-five Magatamas in all. Through the personal selection of skills and stats, that you can choose and boost at your whim, you can create any type of Hero that you like. A magic user, a physical user, or anything in between. Itâ€™s wholly up to you. However, once you delete a skill then it is gone forever. The game challenges the player to think carefully about their decisions in choosing stats and skills to maximize the main characterâ€™s performance in battle. Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne is the first SMT game to introduce press-turns. These are an innovative gameplay mechanic that gives you an extra turn if you land a critical hit or strike at the weakness of the opposing demon. Conversely, if you strike at one of their strengths then you lose a turn in battle. This holds true for your opponent too. If they strike at one of your strengths then they lose a turn but if they strike at a weakness or gain a critical blow then it can mean game over for you. Donâ€™t be afraid of receiving game overs. Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne has no kiddy-gloves. It is a harsh and thrilling challenge to persevere through. The game pulls no punches and has a steep learning curve but not a horrendous one. You may not think the game is harsh at first if youâ€™re playing on normal difficulty but youâ€™ll realize early on that you need to be prepared once you face a certain surprise boss. You can customize your party via the recruitment of over a hundred demons and fusing your demons to gain even stronger demons. During your first playthrough, you cannot have a demon stronger than your main character (unless they are one of the special demons that can evolve into another demon). Their skills are randomized so itâ€™s a challenge to get the skills that you will want so that you can obtain the optimal efficiency in battle. There are moon phases like all Shin Megami Tensei games. During a full moon phase, the game allows you to do special sacrifice fusions which are riskier but yield better rewards and cause demons in random battle to be slightly more punishing in their attacks. Most demons cannot be recruited during the full moon phase. Remember, the game teaches you to learn and remember the weaknesses of opposing demons. It can be the difference between surviving and getting a game over message in many instances. But honestly, donâ€™t feel overwhelmed by this. Speaking to NPCs and reading the game manual will be enough to get you through most of the challenges as you learn the inner tips and tricks of the game itself. My overall experience is this gameplay is nothing short of spectacular. Music: I personally felt that this was one of Shoji Meguroâ€™s best works ever. My favorites consist of the normal battle music and two certain tracks near the end of the game. However, most of the musical scores are just phenomenal regardless. If youâ€™re into Meguro, or into grim-dark guitar and drum battle music, then youâ€™re sure to enjoy this gameâ€™s musical composition. Characters: I honestly and truly believe that they are outstanding characters. They get a lot of hate for either their hypocrisies or extreme views later on as the game progresses but I personally felt that made them seem all the more humane. After all, can you honestly name a human being who hasnâ€™t ever been a hypocrite in their lives? Can you name many who wouldnâ€™t slowly lose their sense of self or their sanity after living through the end of the world and being forced to survive in a world filled with violent demons? I think that many players became too myopic in their focus of how much of an advantage the Demi-fiend has in being able to fight back against powerful foes compared to two of the other human characters who had to survive whilst living under the constant threat of being killed on a whim by demons they had no chance of fighting back against. You see this in the early portion of the game and closer toward the end too. Itâ€™s a story of tragedy, loss, self-destruction, excessive selfishness, and a proverbial fall from grace. That is why I cherish this game. These characters, their feelings, and their hypocrisies feel realistic. Side notes: - Any plotholes that players pick-up on are thoroughly elaborated and explained in the Labyrinth of Amala sidequest which leads to the hardest ending of the game. - The overall length of the game is around 60-70 hours on your first playthrough. Subsequent playthroughs will probably take 30 hours or less unless youâ€™re choosing to go through the Labyrinth of Amala for the most difficult ending. This is because that particular ending requires you to go through five extra dungeons which are harsh but rewarding experiences. - Whilst some may find some endings disappointing, I felt that many plainly ignore the philosophical aspects and the story changes that you can choose to undertake if you pick a particular â€œReasonâ€. - Dante from Devil May Cry is in this game and can be recruited very late in the game if you choose to go through the five extra dungeons. Final Score: 10 out of 10. 10/10.