Game Comment: "Shin Megami Tensei – Lucifer’s Call" (PS2)

11 Apr

Shin Megami Tensei – Lucifer’s Call you’re playing a male teenager who, together with two friends, has a meeting with a teacher in a hospital. The only problem is, when you arrive at the hospital nobody is there except your two friends. You search the hospital for your teacher (this first part reminded me a bit of the Silent Hill games) and then something happens. After that, you and the world are no longer how they used to be.

Now the game starts for real. Lucifer’s Call (European title, US: Nocturne) tells the story of a world which is about to be reborn. Only a few human individuals are still alive. They align themselves with different philosophies (called “reasons”) and vie for supremacy because the most worthy individual will shape the new world according to his/her chosen reason. You’re in the middle of this apocalyptic scenario, and in the course of the game, you’ll have to chose a reason for yourself (the ending changes accordingly) and prove yourself worthy of creation.

Since the other few humans left are busy proving themselves “worthy” of shaping the new world according to their reason, your party consists of demons which you either recruit or fuse (on rare occasions one will join you for free). The fusions are done in a cathedral. You also register new demons and, for a fee, revive dismissed demons there.

About sound and graphics: There is no voice-acting in Lucifer’s Call, just music, but good use of cell-shading.

What I liked:

  • setting: Lucifer’s Call with its apocalyptic scenario is dark and gloomy. The world (Tokyo) is devastated and void of humans. The graphics are appropriate to this scenario (no happy colours like Dragon Quest VIII) and the sometimes opera-like music underscores this, too. I enjoyed this “change of pace” from the “normal” RPG very much.
  • “theme”: I like games where the story touches upon questions of religion and philosophy – and Lucifer’s Call fits right into this. So there it is.
  • fusion system: probably my favourite part of the game. You get to customize your own demons with skills of your choosing. The possibilities for that are (theoretically) endless, but near the end of the game you’ll end up with a set of useful skills and you’ll be trying to fuse these skills onto the demons in your party. Sounds dull? Sometimes yes, because it requires patience (read: a lot of tries to get the desired combination of skills for a demon), but I liked to figure out how to get certain skills on a certain demon. And when I finally got the right combination of skills on my demon …

What I didn’t like:

  • story-telling: I liked the themes of religion and philosophy linked with the story, but I found the way the story is told confusing, especially at the beginning. More than one time I was not certain why I had to do something or maybe even what I had to do. I also had difficulties keeping the different reasons straight. Maybe I just didn’t pay enough attention. But I think this says something about the way the story is told because the story is, in fact, a simple one (no comparison to Xenosaga – Episode II.
  • battle system: This game has a very unforgiving battle system. For nearly every boss fight you need tailor-made demons (good thing I loved the fusion system) which means that these fights consist of trial and error (for most parts of the game, at least). In my book, that’s no good ’cause it can get very frustrating. You may even run into trouble in ordinary fights, which are random and quite frequently, if you have the wrong members in your party. Add to that dungeons coupled with traps and you’re in for some tedious and annoying moments now and then.

I think about starting a second game to get another ending (I went for the “true demon” ending) and to improve my registered demons. The collected demons and their stats are carried over so the game should be easier and take up not so much time the second time through. Plus, I get other bonuses for the second game since I accomplished certain tasks in the first game.

Did I enjoy playing this game? Yes.

Would I recommend this game? With caution, but yes. There are much more accessible games out there, but if you want something slightly different and challenging, try it.

Grade: 4,5 / 5


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