They say that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, but in many ways that’s exactly what Atlus will get to do with SMT III Nocturne HD Remaster. The original PS2 game appeared outside Japan in 2004, three years before Persona 3 really got people talking about Shin Megami Tensei games, and there wasn’t that same appreciation and awareness for the series back then. So now, this remaster is a means of introducing an old installment ahead of SMT V’s debut and further establishing the brand worldwide.
Like many SMT games, it begins with the introduction of demons and grand upheaval in a world unaccustomed to things on that scale. The player is an ordinary high school student meeting his teacher with two of his friends. After being unable to reunite at a park due to an event that left people dead, the trio meet up at a nearby deserted hospital. After exploring and searching for your teacher, you learn she’s involved with a world-altering event. You then find yourself surviving the Conception as the Demi-Fiend, a half-human and half-demon hybrid capable of making pacts with demons and facing the onslaught of foes ahead of you.
In its earliest hours, it feels like accessibility is the focal point for SMT III Nocturne HD Remaster. After all, people have three difficulty options to choose from this time around. Normal is as straightforward as usual and feels about like what one would expect from a Shin Megami Tensei game. After going through the opening experience on Merciful, I can say that it struck me as a far more forgiving experience. It seemed like the encounter rate was reduced, the Demi-fiend and his allies were strong, and enemies didn’t pack a punch.
That also includes being able to play it on additional platforms. For the purposes of the preview, I was looking at the Switch version of SMT III Nocturne HD Remaster. Having a substantial RPG is handy on such a device. The visual fidelity seemed about equal whether I was docked or undocked throughout the introduction. It meant I could easily conduct some level grinding, then put the game aside for a time. Given the original only appeared on the PS2 worldwide, the extended reach feels like it could be a boon for it.
One could also consider the ability to choose whether or not the game would be featuring Dante from the Devil May Cry series part of its accessibility. Both Dante and Raidou Kuzunoha with Gouto are optional cameo characters in this release, with someone choosing when they begin which one will show up. In my brief and early experience with the game, I was able to see the hint at Raidou’s debut, with Gouto questioning how the two would handle the Demi-Fiend and approaching him in Tokyo after the Conception.
It all comes down to an opportunity to give SMT III Nocturne a second chance to thrive with HD Remaster. There are many ways in which this feels like the same game. After all, some of the main selling points this time is to make it more accessible via additional platforms and difficulty levels and perhaps a bit prettier. In about a month, we’ll see how that pays off.
Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne HD Remaster will come to the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC worldwide on May 25, 2021. It is immediately available in Japan.