I’ve started this game twice, and both times I stopped playing at Shinjuku hospital. According to my save point, this is 56 minutes in, and I feel I’d be cheating if I didn’t play from the beginning. What I will say is so far I’ve seen standard Atlus: religious imagery, creepy enemies, and a hilarious cast of teenagers all with endearing comical traits, and a mascot bear. I lied, but the only other SMT games I’ve played are Persona 3 and 4, and that’s an affront to many elitist jerkoffs on the Internet. In an effort to be superior, I have to at least play the game. I’m also a fan of Atlus as a whole, since they tend to publish good games, have good localization, and take risks making games like Catherine.
The first thing I notice when I click ‘new game’ is that it gives me a MODE SELECT screen. I can choose between ‘normal’ and ‘hard.’ The imagery is actually pretty striking, here. The background is the inside of a cathedral or tower, lit a blood red. In contrast, on the right side of the screen away from the mode select window, are two imposing, kind of evil looking figures. All this and there’s some pretty ominous and intense music in the background. Consider me intimidated, Nocturne. Normal it is. After I select my difficulty, it gives me the ‘this game is a work of ficton, the game’s views aren’t our views, etc.’ This is usually used in media where the content may be offensive to some, like Law & Order. I assume for this game, it’s due to the amount of religious imagery.
The game is showing me a nameless outline of a woman who’s hinting pretty heavily that the world’s going to end. Oddly enough, when she turns around, her face is pretty clearly shown, to the point where I’ll probably recognize her whenever she shows up later. She also asks for my name, so she’s definitely into me. Score.
Shit, now I have to think of a name. I settle on Kevin DuBrow. For a nickname, Klaus. The lady tells me to believe in my will to live or something. She gives me a choice to say “I will” and “I don’t understand,” so I’m just going to go with the first one. Oh, now I have to enter her name. Turns out the default is Takao Yuko. Too lazy to think of another name, so I’m going to move on. I get the feeling in modern games, I wouldn’t know her name, and at “My name is-” she would have disappeared, exploded, been shot, or been kidnapped. After some more plot stuff, I gain control of my character in a metro station.
My cell phone (this game was made in 2001. Did everyone have a cell phone at that point?) tells me I’m late for visiting Ms. Takao. Well shit, this game doesn’t waste its time, does it? I get to choose the sendee’s name (Nitta Isamu). I like how the developers kept the Japanese names. While it’s nice to have names like Cloud Strife, this game is fantasy set in Japan, so it goes a bit better with the theme. Isamu also tells me I’m the mood maker. Yuko’s definitely into me. Looks like this game is supplying me with a waifu.
I try to go to the next area but the guard tells me some crazy stuff just went down. A riot happened yesterday in Yoyogi Park and people died, which is why the station is so empty. He apologizes for depressing me and I’m on my way. The game lets me decide not to leave the area, which I first feel is a dramatic “YOU CAN’T GO BACK,” but instead brings me to the map.
A lot more happened after this, but it was mostly plot-related cutscenes. I met a shady reporter in the park who told me the riot was an occult faction fight, my female classmate was introduced, and I’m told to go to Shinjuku Medical Center. Sketchy reporter is following me there and gives me a weird occult magazine talking about the end of the world. Is this game foreshadowing? Yes. In the hospital, the world ends. No bullshitting around, none of this “the world’s going to end, oh my god, you have to save it!” It just flat out ends, save for everyone in the (occult-controlled) hospital.
As a result of the world ending, now there are a shitload of demons everywhere (I’m one too), and I have a strange new meter that goes from 0/8 to 8/8 and gives no other indication of what it does except going EMPTY and FULL. I guess it’ll tell me about that later. I like this change-up, though. The world ended within the first 20 minutes of the game. I have no idea how this is going to play out, so that’s a plus. Unfortunately, I’m back in my situation where I’m in the basement of the hospital and exhausted my play time, and the length of this entry.
So far this game is wholly interesting. I can’t say any major titles like it have been released in the past 5 to 10 years. I’m seeing some parallels from Persona, but I guess since Persona is a spinoff, that’s to be expected.