The player takes control of a half-human half-demon silent protagonist whom the player names. The protagonist is often referred to as the "Demi-Fiend" (or "Hitoshura" in the original Japanese version) among fans to avoid confusion.
A director's cut version, , was also released in Japan. This version has additional features such as the Labyrinth of Amala (an optional multi-layered dungeon), a sixth ending, and Dante from the Devil May Cry series. This is the version that was translated and released in North America as Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne. This version was also released in Europe in June 2005, with the addition of French and German language options, renamed to Shin Megami Tensei: Lucifer's Call due to trademark issues.
Those in the US who preordered copies of the game also received a music CD containing 33 tracks from the game's OST.
Like other Atlus RPGs with small initial print runs, Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne became a rare and highly sought after game. Despite a 2005 reprint, online auctions of new and used copies could fetch more than double the original MSRP. A larger, widely available 2008 reprint seems to have satisifed demand and stabilized resale prices.
Devil Summoner: Kuzunoha Raidō Tai Abaddon Ō Plus, the limited edition of Devil Summoner: Kuzunoha Raidō Tai Abaddon Ō, will contain a new version of Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne titled featuring Raidou Kuzunoha from the Devil Summoner series. The game will be released on October 23, 2008 in Japan.
This double-rewarding, double-punishing battle system has received generally good criticism among RPG players due to the extreme difficulty of it and the necessity to fight "smart" rather than "tough". To date, Press Turn combat has since appeared in Digital Devil Saga and, albeit slightly altered, Persona 3.
A key theme in SMT: Nocturne is that of demon conversation/negotiation. Since the Demi-Fiend can only (normally) have one press turn by himself, he must gain allies to fight alongside him and have a better chance of survival. Demon negotiation is a unique system in which the speaker (usually, but not always, the Demi-Fiend) tries to persuade an enemy demon to join their party. There are two restrictions on negotiation:
1. There must be at least one open space in the party stock.
2. There cannot be a demon of the same clan in the party (i.e. You cannot recruit a Power if you already have one in your party).
Requirements for recruiting demons vary by their race, gender, and affiliation. For example, some demons (such as Incubi or Succubi) can be bribed with money or items, while others (such as Angels or Archangels) may only ask a philosophical question ("Do you envy how plants live?"). Some can be seduced by a beautiful speaker, some can be flattered, and some will even join you without a moment's hesitation. However, some may refuse to join you, based on opposing ideals, higher levels, because they don't feel like it, or because they simply can't understand you.
Demon negotiation, however, is radically altered when Kagutsuchi is full, as it causes demons to be agitated and drunk with power. Demon conversation will fail against bosses, any demons inhabiting the Labyrinth of Amala, and any demons fought in the Amala Network (though they will sometimes join you of their own accord).
The main character is only allowed up to 8 skills. If he has reached his limit and wishes to learn a new skill, he must replace one of his previous skills with the new one learned.
A unique facet of Magatama is the ability to alter the main character's "Title". The area where a demon's race (or family) is listed, the main character's is "Fiend" by default; however, through mastery of some Magatama, this title changes. For the main character, however, it isn't his race changing, but merely his title, as he is regarded as the story's Fiends (though he is half one) regardless of the title. All Magatama are affiliated with one of three types: Dark, Neutral, and Light. As the main character masters Magatama, the type he has mastered the most of is selected as his title. For the most part, the main character's title is cosmetic and does not affect gameplay. The only exception is during the Third Kalpa of the Labyrinth of Amala, where the main character's title determines which of three doors he may enter.
The protagonist is an average high school student who becomes involved in the Conception when visiting his teacher, Yuko Takao. His journey in the Vortex World begins once he has been granted demonic power from a Magatama given by Lucifer. He is referred to as the by many, having the body of a demon and the heart of a human.
He has no default name, but in the radio play he is named .
She is popular with the students because she emphasizes logical thinking over rote memorization. She joins forces with Hikawa to bring about the Conception because she is tired of the world, which she sees as full of people meaninglessly wasting their potential, without the energy or drive to make a difference. As the Maiden of the Vortex World, she expected to be the cornerstone of a world of freedom, but finds herself betrayed by Hikawa and used as a mere tool in his quest for a world of stillness.
Her failing is a lack of self-esteem in her own power and ability to change the world. This causes her to be easily swayed by those who possess the confidence and conviction that she lacks, such as Hikawa. In her mind, she was only one small person unable to make a significant difference to a big world. In reality, she was well respected by her students and was already influencing their lives in a positive way: a good example of this is Chiaki's desire to ask Yuko for advice on what she should do after graduation.
She worships a 'goddess' named Aradia, a being who comes from a world that is not quite real and can only give hope to her followers, as she has no real power. She possesses Yuko from time to time in order to speak with the demi-fiend. During possessions, Yuko's face is replaced with an odd shape that looks like a neon purple Rorschach inkblot, and her body sways side to side, twitching sometimes.
Born and raised in an upper-class family, she has a habit of talking down to people. Like Isamu, she is also drawn to the Conception. Though she is confused and scared at first, she quickly adapts to the law of the Vortex World and follows the path of creation. Calling the previous world too cluttered and full of unnecessary things, she resolves to create a simple, primal world where the strong reign supreme and the weak are disposed of. Thus, she establishes the Reason of Yosuga.
Chiaki's descent begins when she is thrust from a world where she always gets her own way to one where she is powerless and weak at the hands of the demonic populace. Her key fault is pride, for if she had sought help from anyone at any point she may have realized her own weaknesses and grown as a person. Instead she struggles alone through the Vortex World, and grows to despise the lower class that she has been dumped into, vowing never to be placed into that same situation again. The result is the Reason of Yosuga; a world without a lower class for her to fall to. This would theoretically create a world where she was eternally safe.
However, in such a world, the weakest citizens no matter how strong would automatically be considered the "lower class". The only way for Chiaki to avoid this fate is to be the strongest of the strong, something that she believes she will be as the creator of the world. The irony is that her world of safety would be one of eternal paranoia and torment, as she defends her position from all threats- perceived and real- every single day for the rest of her life. However, one would have to admit she would have been able to do so, as she is one of the three most powerful bosses in the game.
It is interesting to note that in the entire game, Chiaki is the only thing that is ever explicitly referred to as "evil".
In the original Japanese version, her default name was "Chiaki Tachibana". This was changed in the English localization due to the limited number of characters allowed in each main character's name.
He has a relaxed personality; however, he has a tendency to be cocky. He is also very fond of his teacher, Yuko Takao. Before the Conception, he is confident and independent, shown by him going off on his own to search the deserted hospital for his missing teacher. In the immediate aftermath of the Conception, however, he struggles to cope with the new world and instinctively seeks out Yuko and the main character for support and help.
He fails to find Yuko and loses all faith in other people, severing all ties to his friends and drawing upon himself for comfort and strength. He resolves to create a world where the Self is absolute, and no-one can interfere with anyone else, thus creating the Reason of Musubi.
Isamu does not seem to be aware of the inherent contradictions between his philosophy and actions. He proclaims that individuals should be inherently isolated, but constantly relies on other characters (the player in particular) for emotional support, help, and power in establishing his Reason. Isamu is ultimately spoiled; his desire for a world of Musubi is not because he believes in individuality, but simply because he wants a world where he can do whatever he wants without consequence.
He is said to be the one responsible for the occurrence of the Conception. After the emergence of the Vortex World, he organizes the Assembly of Nihilo, which becomes one of the two strongest demonic forces. His dream is a world of silence, where the dangerous passion of man is neutralized, and everyone is at one with the world: this, he calls the Reason of Shijima.
Hikawa is a mysterious man because he deliberately stays underneath the radar. He was able to hold a powerful position in a prominent communications company without leaking a hint as to his true belief. After the Conception occurs, many believe it to have been the work of the ancient Assembly of Nihilo; no-one suspects that it was actually Hikawa.
He is a man devoted to the Reason of Shijima from the very beginning and acts accordingly. Every move he makes is calm and calculated as he swiftly moves his way towards realizing his vision of a new world. But also like Shijima, he is utterly emotionless in his actions, using Yuko as his pawn and destroying all resistance with no hesitation and minimal effort.
The only variable in his plan is the Demi-Fiend; he is the only character to which Hikawa shows any hint of emotion, expressing his disgust at the previous world and his hope for a future of silence.
He meets the main character while collecting data for an article on the riot at Yoyogi Park. Even after the Conception, his sense of duty as a reporter pushes him to investigate further. He considers himself too weak to survive in the Vortex World, so he stays within the Terminal Room, studying the Terminals and their connection to the mysterious Amala Network.
Hijiri's main motivation is to discover the truth. Even after the Conception, this goal does not change. He does not pursue Hikawa out of a sense of moral righteousness, but simply because he wishes to learn the meaning behind the Vortex World. Soon, knowledge becomes everything to him, from him disregarding the worth of human life in the Vortex World to bribing the Demi-Fiend with the facts that he has discovered through the Amala Terminals. With knowledge comes power, and with power comes corruption.
Hijiri does not seem to realize that he could create a new world until he learns this information through the Amala Terminal. It is also notable that he never mentions the dream that the Demi-Fiend, Chiaki and Isamu all share upon entering the Vortex World.
Completing the optional Fourth Kalpa dungeon reveals that Hijiri actually died when the Conception occurred, having failed to reach the hospital in time. However, he continues to exist in the Vortex World as his punishment for committing the "ultimate sin". Hijiri's punishment is to be trapped in an endless cycle of suffering, death and rebirth, being forced to witness the creation and destruction of each world without having any chance to affect the outcome. Because of this, there is speculation that Hijiri is a reincarnation of Aleph, the main character of Shin Megami Tensei II, who committed the "ultimate sin" by defeating YHWH at the end of the game.
He is asked by someone to hunt down a number of demons, including the main character. Such being the case, he will encounter the main character several times in the game as a formidable enemy. In the Fifth Kalpa of the optional Labyrinth of Amala dungeon, the main character is given the chance to hire Dante into his main party.
Dante only appears in the "Maniax" version of the game. He still owns the double-sided coin he had in Devil May Cry 2.
On Dante's inclusion in the game, designer Kozy Okada said: "One of the staff members in Japan, who happened to be a big fan of the DMC series, came up with the idea of including Dante from Capcom's in an upcoming SMT game. At first I thought it was a crazy idea, but realized that Dante is a devil hunter and this might actually work out and presented the Nocturne game concept to Capcom."
In exchange for Dante's presence in Nocturne, Kazuma Kaneko the artist responsible for the character designs in the Shin Megami Tensei series was brought into the Devil May Cry 3 project to design both Dante and Vergil's devil trigger form.
His purpose and true identity are unknown for the majority of the game. By completing the optional Fifth Kalpa dungeon in the Maniax version, his identity is revealed to be Lucifer.
Her true identity is never revealed, but she bears a physical resemblance to Yuko Takao even though the top half of her face is hidden behind her veil. She also hints that she was close to the main character before the Conception, though this could be a lie designed to entice the main character over to her master's cause.
He is the one who bestows the power of a demon upon the main character, and observes him throughout the events of the Vortex World as a means of entertainment. By completing the optional Fifth Kalpa dungeon in the Maniax version, his identity is revealed to be Lucifer. His form is also similar to that of Louis Cypher, a human pseudonym used by Lucifer in previous Shin Megami Tensei games.
Her true identity is never revealed, but it is possible that she is a demon under employment from Lucifer.
The laws of the Vortex World dictate that it is forbidden for a demon to create a Reason; thus, most demons in the game follow one of the three Reasons created by key characters throughout the course of the game.
Ironically, it is fallen angels and beings who are feared who sides with this reason, like Eligor, Surt, and Mot.
As a demon, the main character is forbidden to create his own Reason. However, he can choose to defy the laws of the Vortex World and follow no Reason, which leads to either the "Neutral" which restores the world to the way it was before the game or "Demon" endings. By completing the optional Labyrinth of Amala dungeon in the "Maniax" version of the game, a sixth ending- "True Demon"- can be gained instead where Lucifer succeeds in shaping the main character in his image to help mount an attack on heaven.
The soundtrack was composed by Shoji Meguro, Kenichi Tsuchiya and Toshiko Tasaki. Some tracks are reprises from earlier Shin Megami Tensei titles composed by Tsukasa Masuko. It was released as a 2-disc Original Soundtrack on March 5, 2003 in Japan by SME Visual Works Inc. However, the OST is incomplete missing virtually all dungeon music and battle music variations.
The tracks for Shinjuku Hospital After Conception and Amala Temple are available as bonuses (as well as 3 wallpapers) by inserting either disc 1 or 2 of the OST into a computer and visiting http://www.sonymusic.co.jp/Animation/gamemusic/SHIN3/check.html
US Preorders of the game contained a CD containing all tracks from the Maniax soundtrack plus a selection of tracks from the 2 disc OST.