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Call it what you will—A revelation from God, or a curse of the demon king. The fact remains that our world came to an end. A heretic called upon an unearthly light, and devastation ensued. Chaos crawled out of the depths of the ocean, from the black abyss. Death upon death... nothing but death in this barren land. Who can we pray to? There are only demons and fiends here... A voice in the dark beguiles me. "Truth is a mystery, unraveled by the candles' flames".
From the Journal of a Man who Wandered into Another World
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The third numbered entry in the main Shin Megami Tensei JRPG series, and the first since Shin Megami Tensei II in 1994. It was released for the PlayStation 2 in Japan in February 2003, in North America in October 2004 and in Europe in July 2005. It was released as a PlayStation 2 Classic on the Play Station Network on May 6, 2014.

Tokyo, 20XX. You and two of your high school classmates have gone to visit your sick teacher in hospital, only to find that the building is eerily deserted. The search for your teacher leads you down into the basement of the hospital, where you find evidence of sinister occult experimentation and a mysterious man who is none too happy about your intrusion. Just as he's about to have you killed, you are rescued by the intervention of your teacher, who convinces the man to let you live and takes you to the roof.

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There, you witness the Conception: the destruction of the old world and its transformation into an embryonic state- the Vortex World- to prepare for its eventual rebirth. Tokyo becomes a spherical world populated by demons and the wandering spirits of those who died during the Conception, with a glowing sphere suspended in its center. You have survived... but during the Conception you encountered a mysterious young boy who forcefully implanted you with a creature called a Magatama, transforming your body into that of a demon.

Waking up in the hospital with your new demonic body, your struggle for survival in this new, hostile world slowly becomes a battle to determine what form the new world will take. On one side is the Assembly of Nihilo, who wish to create a world of complete stillness and peace, devoid of emotion. Opposing them is the Mantra, a powerful gang who believe in ruling by strength, passion and fear.

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As the legendary Demi-Fiend, you have the power to decide the fate of the Vortex World. Will you side with one of the emerging armies to help make their idea of a perfect world a reality? Or will you destroy them all and take the power of creation into your own two hands?

The game is largely a dungeon crawler, as you make your way across the ruins of Tokyo looking for answers and your missing friends. Gone are the cyberpunk elements of the previous Shin Megami Tensei games; as your character is a demon you have no need to use a computer to translate and summon. Your party is made up of the main character and the demons that you have recruited to your cause. By talking to demons, you can convince them to give you money, items or to join your party. Most will demand money and items as a bribe before they will listen to you, but some will also pose a philosophical question that you must answer to their satisfaction.

As demons level up extremely slowly, the quickest way to maintain a strong team is to fuse your demons together at the Cathedral of Shadows, creating entirely new demons with new powers and some inherited from their previous forms. A handful of demons will also evolve once they have reached a certain level. The Main Character develops by equipping different Magatama, each of which has a set of abilities that will be learned upon leveling up. An additional degree of difficulty is added by the fact that your character can only know eight skills at any one time, and must forget moves to learn new ones; once they are forgotten, they are gone for good.

Battles are conducted with the Press Turn system, where at the start of each round you receive a number of actions equal to the number of characters in your battle party. A normal action consumes one Press Icon, but inflicting a critical hit or attacking the enemy's weakness only consumes half a Press Icon. Thus, by attacking the enemy's weaknesses you maximize the number of turns you get in one round. Unfortunately, attacking an enemy with an element that it nullifies- or missing entirely- consumes two Press Icons, and if the enemy repels or absorbs the attack you lose all your Press Icons. This also applies in reverse; the enemy can attack your weak points to win additional actions for itself and loses actions if you defend yourself correctly. This battle system would go on to be used in Digital Devil Saga and in a scaled-down form — the "One More" system — in Persona 3, Persona 4, and Persona 5.

In January 2004 the game received a Updated Re-release in Japan known as Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne Maniax, featuring Dante from the Devil May Cry series as a Recurring Boss / Guest Fighter. This update also received multiple balance changes to gameplay, 12 additional Boss Fights / Optional Party Members, a massive Bonus Dungeon, and a whole new True Final Boss and ending if you complete said dungeon. This would later become the version localized and released as Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne in North America and Shin Megami Tensei: Lucifer's Call in Europe. A second Updated Re-release called Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne Maniax Chronicle Edition came free with Japanese copies of Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon, replacing Dante with Raidou.

A third Updated Re-release, titled Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster, released October 29, 2020 in Japan, and on May 25, 2021 worldwide, for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows via Steam. It is primarily based on the Chronicle Edition, with Raidou included as the Guest Fighter by default. However the game also has a purchasable "Maniax Pack" DLC to replace Raidou with Dante instead. The Steam version also reworks Raidou as free DLC and adds an option to play the original release of the game without the additions from the Maniax version.


This game provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Hospital: The Shinjuku Hygienic Hospital. Unlike most examples, it's startlingly clean, as if everyone simply vanished or forgot to go to work that day.
  • Abandoned Hospital Awakening: Not ten minutes into the game, you waken to find yourself a demonic Half-Human Hybrid in an Abandoned Hospital implied to serve as the base of an Apocalypse Cult. After being implanted with a parasite that burrowed through your eye by an entity implied to be Chaos incarnate. Oh, and you wake up in the morgue.
  • Absurdly High Level Cap: You'll probably be in the 70's by the end of the game. The cap is 99... on the stat sheet. The actual level cap is 255. Your character hits 99 and just keeps going. Abusing this is the only way to master all the magatama, especially as the moves they impart have a minimum level cap to unlock.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The Great Underpass of Ginza.
  • Achievement Mockery: In the HD Remaster, the game pokes fun at you for your first death by granting you the achievement "Rest in Peace".
  • After the End: The first major event in the game IS the End of the World as We Know It - the world (well, the greater Tokyo area) turns into a giant egg wrapped around a mystical star in preparation of being reborn as part of an endless cycle. The rest of the game is made up of figuring out and trying to influence that cycle. The city your character once knew and loved is barely recognizable, and since you're standing on the inside of the egg, you have no view of a sky, other stars, clouds, anything - all you see in the distance is more city and a giant, glowing pale-blue sun.
  • Akashic Records: Implied to exist via the Amala Drums.
  • The Alcoholic: Loki. Wastes the entire game not doing much in Nyx's Lounge. This, interestingly, foreshadows what happens to the key you need to get from him to access the last layer of the Labyrinth: he sold it for booze money.
  • Alien Geometries: Many. The Labyrinth of Amala's warp points between each Kalpa, and the Twelve Meters of Eternity in the Fourth Kalpa.
  • All Myths Are True: Demons take the form of gods and other beings from a variety of real world religions.
  • Always Accurate Attack: Buffs and debuffs, Rebellion, God's Bow, Evil Melody, Vast Light, Infinite Light, High King, and Lucifer's regular attacks will always hit opponents, with no way to dodge them.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: Several.
    • The battle against Samael (you fight him in a warped version of the Diet Building stained glass room, which keeps spinning impossibly on an invisible axis) really stands out, though.
    • The Fiend dimension to which you keep getting sucked to also counts, a red, barren strip of land under an eternally raging sky.
  • Amazon Brigade: Enemies on the first floor of the Fifth Kalpa consist entirely of female demons like Lillith, Nyx, and Dis. Dialogue with one of the NPCs imply this area might be where Lucifer's harem resides.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Lampshaded; one shopkeeper who acts this way implies he's actually straight, but is frequently Mistaken for Gay.
  • Ambiguously Human:
    • The Manikins. They are made from compound human souls and emotions, and because the Conception killed all the humans except for six (seven if you count Dante/Raidou), they are more or less the Vortex World's equivalent to humanity. They have flesh and blood just like true humans, but are also made from the earth, the substance that gives life the easiest.
    • You, if you choose the Freedom ending. Your demon skin and horn are gone, but Lucifer lets you know that you still have some of your demonic power, and to hang onto it for the day the battle with the true enemy begins.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Beat the game and you get the option to change your outfit at the start of a new cycle. Your choice influences your starting stats.
  • The Anti-Christ: What Lucifer wants you to become. Should you take the True Demon Ending, it happens.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The HD Remaster facilitates fusion in two ways:
    • While the game defaults to randomized inheritance, you are now given the option to pick and choose the fusion result's inherited skills.
    • Even if you want to stick with the original randomized system, you can now reroll inherited skills with a press of a button instead of needing to back in and out of the fusion menus.
  • Apocalypse How: The Earth is destroyed at the beginning with the Conception. At the end of the True Demon Ending, the entire universe collapses. If God continues to have his way, he intends for a endless cycle of destruction and recreation of the world until free will is completely gone.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: The Pierce passive skill makes all physical attacks ignore physical resistances, Null and Absorb (Not Repel, though). It's imparted by the Magatama you start the game with, but the conditions to unlock it are an entirely different matter.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: You are set for a barrage of these by Mithra, intended to draw you to Shijima. Of course, no matter how you answer Mithra's questions, he loses his marbles and decides you and your demons need to die.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Magatama, the Deathstones, Amala technology...
  • Ascended Demon: Ose and Flauros when they go Hallel, courtesy of Baal Avatar.
  • Ascended Meme: Kagutsuchi is commonly referred to as a disco ball by the fandom for his design and techno boss theme. HD Remaster has an Archangel who originally just called him arrogant outright call him a "goddamn arrogant disco ball".
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Both bosses at Kabukicho Prison, Mizuchi and Black Frost. Both eventually lose the extra mass.
  • Barrier Change Boss: Noah regularly shifts his vulnerabilites with Aurora, making himself only affected by one magic element and repelling all else. Noah can also be hit by Almighty spells, but only receives a laughable amount of damage. There is a strict pattern that gets hinted at by the element he attacks with, but towards the latter half of the fight his attacks are more erratic and you'll have to track it yourself.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The power to remake the world comes at a price.
  • Begin with a Finisher: The failure variant is used in one Boss Battle. The spectre begins the fight by attempting to cast a powerful Megido spell, which fizzles out since it doesn't have the Mana reserves to cast it. For the rest of the fight, it uses Mana Drain spells on your party until it has enough mana stockpiled to cast it properly.
  • Beneath the Earth: The subterranean locations. Hope you stocked on Light Balls or Chakra Drops for your Lightoma demon.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Hikawa, Chiaki, Isamu, YHVH/the Great Will (through Kagutsuchi), and Lucifer. Your villain(s) will be among them, depending on who you side with, though Lucifer, despite using you for his own goals, will never stand against you.
  • Big Good: Lucifer might very well be considered the closest thing to one, Black-and-Grey Morality notwithstanding. He is by no means a good guy, but he is the reason the Demi-Fiend even survives the Conception in the first place and has a fighting chance to make it in the Vortex World. Besides that, he doesn't take an active role in the story, serving more as an outside observer. While he does try to influence the Demi-Fiend into pushing his agenda forward, he won't stand in the way if the protagonist opts for any of the other paths. In the Freedom Ending, he'll even express some support for your choice to follow your own path, mainly because it's what he'd done eons before.
  • Bishōnen Line: Despite becoming a half-demon abomination, all that changes is that you have glowing tattoos all over your body and there's a horn growing out of your neck. Subverted in that, despite looking almost human, some part of you has changed enough for other characters to instantly recognize you as a demon.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The Obelisk/Tower of Kagutsuchi and the Diet Building.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: The religious texts of the newly born world will definitely be leaving out a few choice details where the creation myth is concerned. Also, two of the Reasons are portrayed as having some good points to them, while Chiaki and Sakahagi, both following the same philosophy, are the only characters ever canonically referred to as "evil".
  • Bleak Level: Compared to what little is seen of Tokyo in the beginning of the game, the entire Vortex World serves as this.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: An odd case through the fanbase side of things, the ever popular common Boss Battle theme has been titled by several fan uploads as Fierce Battle for years despite the soundtrack never having an official english release back then, its official Japanese name is 強制戦闘 (Kyousei Sentou) which means Forced Battle, yet the "Fierce Battle" mistranslation was quite spread out.
  • Body Horror: Many, many instances. Chiaki and Isamu's mutations are only the beginning. Fridge Horror kicks Fusion Errors and Sacrificial Fusion into this.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Black Frost. Not content with incorporating hee-s Verbal Tics in hee-s speech, he goes into full Large Ham mode when confronted, ho.
  • Bookends: The game begins with the protagonist passing through Yoyogi Park on his way to meet his friends. The Freedom ending ends with the protagonist arriving in Yoyogi Park to meet his friends.
  • Bootstrapped Leitmotif: In Chronicle Edition, Raidou is stuck with the themes created for Dante in the Maniax version, which are remixes of themes from the Devil May Cry series.
  • Boring, but Practical: Buff and Debuff skills aren't nearly as flashy as elemental magic, your typical Kamehame Hadoken, and so on, but there's a reason why "use buffs and debuffs" is considered one of the most important beginner tips for surviving the game.
  • Boss Bonanza: The Tower of Kagutsuchi has a pool of five bosses (Ahriman, Noah, Baal Avatar, Kagutsuchi, and Lucifer) and a miniboss (Thor). Which ones you fight depends on the route you take, though only one requires you to fight all six of them and, excluding Lucifer, only two other routes require you to fight the other five.
  • Boss Remix: The battle theme of Metatron is a remix of the series classical Law theme.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: The Fairy demons at Yoyogi Park under the control of Sakahagi.
  • Breath Weapon: Fire, Ice and Fog Breath. Only the first two deal actual elemental damage, though.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: The DLC maps were made for the exact purpose of making the Demi-Fiend extremely powerful, or extremely rich, depending on the map.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Jyoji Hijiri. The man gets access to the Akashic Records and comes to know more about what's going on than almost anyone else, and he could probably become a Physical God with what he's learned. But he never reveals much, and doesn't seem to realize he could create his own Reason. Justified, since God cursed him to be unable to affect the outcome of the Conception. When he finally realizes he could create his own Reason, he simply dies to circumstances.
  • Butter Face: When we are introduced to the Harlot she at first seems like an elegant, beautiful lady. Then she turns around.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": The series' traditional moon phases exist, but there is no moon to speak of in this game, so instead it's phases of Kagutsuchi, that big holy point of light in the center of the Vortex World.
  • Canon Name: The main character is called Naoki Kashima in the radio plays based on the game. But the games he cameos in and most people in general just call him Demifiend (Hitoshura in Japanese).
  • Casual High Drop: Dante from the Devil May Cry series has a cameo. One of his first appearances has him leaping from the top floor of the Mantra HQ skyscraper just before engaging the Demi-Fiend in battle. You can jump off the same roof too, but you and your party member's HP is brought down to 1 when you land. Amusingly, if Dante is in your party, he will not take any damage from the fall.
  • Character-Magnetic Team: The Demi-fiend will rack up many demon allies over the course of his adventure.
  • Chekhov's Gun: There's a seemingly meaningless balcony on the Obelisk, where "you are certain to lose your life" if you fall. Much later, when the Obelisk is driven into the ground, this balcony becomes your entry point, and from there you can ascend into the Tower of Kagutsuchi.
  • Cherry Tapping: Whereas in many games an enemy's MP is a magical unending font, here it's possible to use Drain spells (most notably, Daisoujou's Meditation) to completely drain an enemy's MP reserves. The end result is the computer wasting press turn after press turn on useless actions. For instance, doing this on Trumpeter means he can't use his OHKO skill at all, making his fight ridiculously easy. Likewise, focusing on draining Ongyo-Ki, while just breaking his buffs and shattering his illusions will render him a sitting duck. Buffing Daisoujou's Meditation with Makakaja will accelerate the process, making things that much easier.
  • Collector of the Strange: The Collector Manikin likes to collect human-made knick-knacks.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Isamu rips you out for taking too long in saving him out of the Kabukicho Prison, making him look like an Ungrateful Bastard. There is an unused sequence which explains Isamu's attitude - Yuko, the teacher he was fawning over, had broadcast a message for the Demi-Fiend to come and save her from her imprisonment at the Obelisk - this making Isamu fall into Heroic BSoD as he realizes he was little better than a nobody in the Vortex World.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: A few notable cases:
    • Some random encounters have Beast Eyenote . Sound tough? Good, because some of the recruitable ones have Dragon Eyenote  and will use it every fucking round. Of course, none of these is available for your use.
    • Mot sometimes takes the above mentioned cheat skills to its logical conclusion: at any time, it can begin to chain-cast "Beast Eye" while spamming Megidolaon and Makakaja, over and over and over. And then you die. (Found here)
    • Noah is one of the only two enemies in the game (the other being the True Final Boss) to be resistant to almighty attacks. This is on top of being a Barrier Change Boss.
    • Baal Avatar, if any of your party members isn't immune to curse-type status ailments (Death, in the remakes). She will always target them first with Bael's Bane, which turns them into a fly - a status ailment that can't be cured by any means (except dying) and renders them utterly useless. Note that only she has the ability to do this.
    • Inverted with Mithra; he normally reflects Physical attacks, but he does not have this immunity when you fight him.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • You get 65535 experience points after beating Lucifer. This was the maximum amount of XP you could earn per battle in Shin Megami Tensei II because of the variable type that was used in the game.
    • Dante uses the same coin when playing Heads or Tails that he did in Devil May Cry 2, meaning if you pick heads, you always win the gamble.
    • During the fight against Mara, there's a small altar with four dolls there. It's the same altar Hanada attempted to use to open a gate to the Abyss in Shin Megami Tensei II.
    • Having Kerberos or Orthus in your party changes the BGM of the Cathedral of Shadows to the Jakyo Manor BGMs from Shin Megami Tensei and Shin Megami Tensei II respectively.
    • The Labyrinth of Amala Bonus Dungeon in general, which features major characters from previous Shin Megami Tensei games as bosses and NPCs.
  • Council of Angels: Who end up siding with Yosuga.
  • Crapsack World: Par for the course with Megami Tensei, but Nocturne makes a point to remind you constantly that everyone is unhappy and will suffer a terrible and meaningless death. The entire world is vaporized and the remnants become a demon-filled wasteland with only 4 humans still alive, yourself not included. All attempts to make something resembling a happy or peaceful life are immediately crushed, and slave labor is in use everywhere. The worst part? This is going to happen to the universe over and over, forever and ever until all free will is eradicated. The same thing is happening to countless universes bordering yours. And the only way to break this cycle is to Mercy Kill 'Em All and attempt to fight God himself. Have fun!
  • Creepy Child: The Young Boy (aka Louis Cypher)
  • Creepy Good: Aradia, like all Neutral path representatives, genuinely wants to help humanity, but she's a lot more selfish than most of the others in the series and being a half-formed goddess from another planet her morality is very alien.
  • Crossover Cosmology: As in all Shin Megami Tensei games, you can forge a party of many different gods from many different pantheons.
  • Cursed With Awesome: If you end up cursed by the Magatama, you will suffer the effects of random status effects (but mostly hitting your own side) and it cannot be cured by your usual ailment-curing spells. However, if you enter the Cathedral of Shadows while cursed, the curse will change several fusion options so the results wind up of the darker races (Tyrants, Viles, Fouls, Fallens, etc.), some of which may be tricky to fuse normally; the results will also tend to inherit the stronger skills from their components.
  • Cute Bruiser: Pixie, if you keep her with you all along and finally take her to the room only she can open on the Fifth Kalpa. If you fuse or let her mutate upon leveling up you will still get her, as long as you keep the fusion you use Pixie for or when it mutates to High Pixie or Queen Mab.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Virtually all of the female denizens of the Vortex World, except Datsue-Ba, Kali, and Mother Harlot.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!:
    • The map is the triangle button, while the menu is the square button. In other series you might expect the menu to be on the triangle with the map perhaps on the start or select buttons.
    • Also, if you find this game by reading up on the metaseries after playing the more popular Persona 4, you may find that, in combat, the cancel button and the auto-attack buttons are reversed between the games. So, you select an attack, decide you don't want to use it, press what you remember to be the cancel button, and suddenly all of your characters run up and just punch the enemy. The mage, the healer, everyone - and your turn's over before you've realised it. This can be catastrophic if you happen to be fighting demons that are immune in some fashion to physical attacks.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Depending on how justified you think Lucifer is.
  • Dark World:
    • Downplayed with the Mirage dimension in Kabukicho Prison. Visually, the lighting and mist actually make it less creepy than the real one even if it's upside-down. Then you find out that empty rooms in the real world are torture chambers to drain Magatsuhi from Manikins on this side.
    • Another, smaller example is the World of Shadows in the Red Temple. Which is necessary to traverse in order to reach the floor above.
  • The Day the Music Lied: If you are Shijima-aligned when you enter the Tower of Kagutsuchi, when you reach the room where Ahriman lies, the boss encounter music starts up. However, since you're his ally, he gives you one of the three keys needed to reach the Final Boss and lets you pass without a fight.
  • Dead All Along: Hijiri. He never reached the hospital in time, and died along with humanity as the Conception started. He then was forced into the Vortex World in the body of a Manikin to fulfill the terms of his curse, namely, to try and fail to influence the Conception's outcome for the umpteenth time.
  • Defeat Means Playable: Most bosses can only be created through fusion after you've defeated them in combat. Trying to fuse them beforehand would generate a different demon or produce no result.
  • Degraded Boss: Almost every sub-boss becomes a regular enemy not soon after; a large part of the difficulty of a sub-boss battle is that the Enemy Scan move doesn't work.
  • Demonic Possession: Aradia, a goddess from an Alternate Universe, possesses Ms. Takao halfway through the game.
  • Demon of Human Origin: Subverted with the Demi-Fiend. Once the world ends, your body is forcibly transformed into a demon's, but your soul remains human. Find the old man at the bottom of the Labyrinth, and you can play this trope straight and willingly give up the rest of your humanity.
  • Demoted to Dragon: Hikawa downgrades Samael from being his Dragon to being yours in the Shijima path. He himself is also reduced to the Demi-fiend's Dragon in the same path's ending, referring to himself as the Baptist to the Demi-fiend's Savior. Not that he minds - he's getting what he wants, anyway.
  • Demoted to Extra: The classic Law and Chaos factions such as the Messians and Cult of Gaia, which are a major part of previous and future SMT installments, have surprisingly little involvement in the plot of Nocturne, although Gozu-Tennoh and later Chiaki could be considered the game's representatives for Chaos. It's stated in-game and by the spirits in the Labyrinth of Amala's Second Kalpa that the Cult and Messians battled each other at Yoyogi Park, but were wiped out thanks to Hikawa's mechanations.
  • De-Power: Subverted in the Freedom ending. Judging from Lucifer's words, the main character is still very much powerful despite losing his tattoos. He says to stay strong for the upcoming day where he'll have to fight again.
  • Desert Punk: The entire Vortex World is completely desertified, with no greenery or plants anywhere.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • For an amusing moment, if you bring your own Black Frost in a New Game+ at the Third Kalpa, the original Black Frost will be surprised and will leave the Kalpa out of frustration, as you can see here. Something similar will happen if you try to recruit Samael in the Shijima path.
    • If you have conversation skills on certain demons and have them interact with with demons that they are canonically linked with you can get some special dialogue unique to that pairing. One example of this would be having the Archangels speak with any of the lesser angels.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: In the True Demon ending, the Demi-Fiend not only kills Kagutsuchi, essentially an avatar of God, but simultaneously annihilates every Kagutsuchi in every vortex world effectively ending the cycle of creation and destruction and then goes out to top himself by succeeding Lucifer as the General of the Legions of Hell and goes to wage war against God himself. He doesn't just punch out Cthulhu. He has the power to ensure Cthulhu will never get back up again.
  • Discard and Draw: How gaining new moves works after you've filled all slots. Rather frustrating to work around, since once you discard a skill, you lose it permanently, meaning you'll either need to learn how to build a character crazy fast or plan the build in advance. This also applies to the Demi-fiend himself so you have to think a few steps ahead with your Magatama skills.
  • Disc-One Final Dungeon: The Obelisk. It's huge, the puzzles are tricky (even the bosses are a puzzle in a way), you finally get to rescue Yuko, finishing it will turn off the Nightmare System...oh, yeah, and then there's all the stuff after it.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • Tornado is a heavy-strength skill (on par with -dynes) and is picked up from the Hifumi Magatama at level 17. It's much stronger than the elemental parallels that you've got access to at this point and it'll likely remain in the main character's skill set for a long time.
    • Fog Breath, which can be learned from the second Magatama at a low level (Lv.21), and basically acts as a double-strength Sukunda that hits all enemies and never misses. Extremely worth the high MP cost, this skill is useful for the entire game.
    • Shiisaa is an early demon that learns War Cry relatively quickly, which functions as two uses of Tarunda in one. Its MP bar is a bit too thin to use it with frequency, but this skill becomes great for surviving boss fights and you'll see it get passed down to the demons you fuse.
    • Daisoujou is at first a challenging fight, and later a level 37 Fiend with an almighty attack that steals the target's HP and MP, and its strength can be augmented by buffs like Makakaja. He's also one of your earliest access to Prayer, which fully heals the party and cleanses ailments. Put two and two together and you have a demon that fills its own MP to full and sucks the opponent dry in no time WHILE healing everyone, and if you give him Makatora he can top off the party's MP before topping himself off at the next random encounter. Needless to say, this demon stays in parties for a long time.
    • Dark Might gives its user guaranteed critical hits on a New Kagutsuchi. Available as soon as you leave the hospital as one of Jack Frost's starting skills. Can turn any boss that isn't resistant to physical attacks in a complete joke, as long as your entire party has the skill and you make sure of fighting during the New Moon. Bright Might, its Full Kagutsuchi parallel, works just as well, but appears slightly later from Bicorn.
  • Doppelgänger Spin: Ongyo-Ki. Attacking the wrong one will immediately end your turn, and you'll be at the mercy of whichever ones remain. To make matters worse, using "Ma-" spells to attack all of the clones at once doesn't work. You can figure out the real one by fighting him during a Full Kagutsuchi and looking for the shadow. This only upgrades him from "nigh-impossible" to "extremely hard", though.
  • Downer Beginning: Less than about 20 minutes into the game, the world ends and begins anew and most of humanity is killed off. Very few other SMT games go from "click on New Game" to apocalypse in such a short period of time.
  • Downer Ending: The Demon ending. Nothing changes, leaving the Vortex world in a state of chaos for all eternity. To further rub salt in the wound, God doesn't give you the satisfaction of fighting him out of sheer disgust for your cowardly actions. The True Demon ending is a subversion as, while the world is completely obliterated and the Demi-fiend casts away his humanity to transform into a complete demon, he does so of his own free will and becomes Lucifer's top dog for his troubles, so from his perspective, it's actually a good ending.
  • The Dragon:
    • Three examples of the trope appear in the Labyrinth of Amala, one for the Great Will and two for Lucifer, with each appearing in the last three of the Kalpas.
    • The player himself will become this to Hikawa, Isamu, or Chiaki, if you ally with them sending you to focus on remaking the world while they hold down the fort. Hikawa even puts his former Dragon Samael at your command if you join with him. Ditto for the True Demon Ending, where the Demi-Fiend becomes one for Lucifer.
    • Thor is this to Gozu-Tennoh, and later to Chiaki if you didn't take that spot already.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: A human dreams of the Conception before it happens. He thinks aliens from Jupiter did it.
    • Though this might be a series in-joke: In the Last Bible series, humanity originally came from the Fifth Planet, before having to relocate to the Third Planet. The first demons were there with them, as well.
  • Dub Name Change: The original PS2 localisation renamed the Menorahs as "Candelabra" (the broader classification of candle holders menorahs fall under), likely to avoid the landmine of Western audiences hearing that Lucifer is handing out Jewish iconography to multiple demons to encourage them to fight each other. The HD Remaster, however, reverts to the original intended name.
  • Early Game Hell: It's not unusual to die in the tutorial fight (in Hard mode, that would be the norm). Healing is very expensive and you'll be reloading every time a prospective recruit runs off with your items. As you accumulate skills and resources, the game gets much more bearable.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The Freedom ending.
  • Easier Than Easy: The original game only had Normal and Hard. The HD Remaster introduced Merciful mode, which, among other things, raises your damage output, decreases the damage you take, lowers encounter rate and raises your EXP and macca gains. Even the infamously difficult Matador can be beaten without much trouble. The hardcore fans were not pleased to learn of its existence.
  • Easter Egg: If you have Cerberus or Orthrus is your party and enter the Cathedral of Shadows during new Kagutsuchi, the Jakyou Manor theme from Shin Megami Tensei I will play instead of the usual theme.
  • Eldritch Location: All of the Vortex World. Particularly interesting examples are the Diet Building, the Obelisk / Tower of Kagutsuchi and the Labyrinth of Amala, though the Assembly of Nihilo's Shiodome base, Kabukicho Prison and to a much lesser extent the Mantra HQ also qualify.
  • Empty Shell: The Reason Of Shijima is to turn everyone into this.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Within the first hour, no less.
  • "End of the World" Special: The whole story is to get to this if you don't follow Lucifer, anyhow.
  • Enemy Mine: The Messians and the Gaians that saw Hikawa as a dangerous rogue teamed up to try to take him down; they wound up being the people killed at Yoyogi Park to be his sacrifices.
  • Energy Weapon: Divine Shot, Spiral Viper, Freikugel. Also, Metatron's Fire of Sinai attack has him shoot lasers from his eyes.
  • Eternal Recurrence: The way the entire system of the Conception is supposed to work. The wheel's broken in the Demon (for a while) and True Demon (forever) endings.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: The only true humans that remain after the conception are Yuko, Chiaki, Isamu, Hikawa, Hijiri or not in Hijiri's case and the protagonist (and even then only partly). Everyone else? If they aren't turned into pure Magatsuhi, they either get reincarnated into Manikins, the Vortex World equivalent of humans, who suffer from muscle spasms and are unable to make their own Reasons unlike real humans, or they get reincarnated into Souls, the Vortex World equivalent to ghosts, who are mostly friendly but are still unable to do much, being intangible spirits. In most of the endings, all of them die too. Since you're not a human anymore, the entire human race has died out.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: The Amala Drums.
  • Eviler Than Thou: Every faction ends up trying to one-up each other.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Fiends are near-impossibly hammy. Matador's battle quote sums it best:
  • Evil Versus Evil: By the end of the game, the only major character left standing who can unquestionably be called good is a Freedom-aligned Demi-fiend. Chiaki is a vicious social darwinist who wants to purge the weak, Isamu murders Hijiri in cold blood and would create a world of absolute isolationism, Hijiri himself becomes obsessed with power and knowledge and is implied to have been willing to commit the exact same crimes Isamu did had he been given the chance, Hikawa and even Takao are willing to blow up the universe to create their new world, Kagutsuchi wants to keep resetting the world until it is populated with mindless slaves of God, Lucifer's solution to the whole crisis is to annihilate everything, a Demi-fiend aligned with any of the three Reasons or with Lucifer is willing to commit the same crimes as they are, and a Demi-fiend aligned with nobody is a Dirty Coward too weak-willed to see any vision for the world through.
  • Evolutionary Levels: Some demons will, contrary to the series' normal expectations, ascend into superior forms. The result of doing this are stronger demons you never get the chance to recruit or even see. The only two ways to know if a demon can evolve is training it so it gains a level, at which point the game will inform you of the changes, or using a Divining Water on the demon in question (which you won't usually have more than a handful of, and are thus inefficient, even with Save Scumming).
  • Extra-Dimensional Shortcut: This is the main usage of the Amala Network. Terminals allow the player to enter the network at one location and exit it at another location. Generally, this takes no more than a few seconds, but a couple of times you get stuck and have to navigate your way through the Network to find the exit.
  • Extra Turn: This is the first game to have the Press Turn system, in which extra turns can be gained by exploiting enemy weaknesses. This same game also allows enemies, and ONLY enemies, to generate extra turns for themselves with "Eye" skills.
  • Eye Scream: In the cutscene in which the Demi-fiend receives the first magatama, it burrows into his body via his eye-socket.
  • The Fair Folk: A Pixie is the first demon that joins your cause. Later you visit a construction park that has been completely taken over by Fairy demons. Most of these are Pixie-like variants (dragonfly wings, tiny floating people) but there's also a big hairy Troll that counts as a Fairy.
  • Fairy Trickster: The Pixie profile is:
    In English mythology, they are fairies of the forest that love to play tricks on people. They can also be a hard worker when necessary.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: You can meet everyone from Loki to Metatron to Ifrit.
  • Fate Worse than Death:
    • Jyoji Hijiri's fate (speculated to be a result of him killing his god in a previous life) is to be doomed to an endless cycle of torment, death and rebirth without hope of reincarnation into a better existence. It's implied that God will do the same thing- or worse- to the main character in the True Demon ending if He gets his hands on him.
    • It's also implied that it will happen in the Freedom ending where the Great Will will come after the main character one day for returning the world back to normal. He gets to keep his power for when this happens.
  • Fight Woosh: The screen dramatically zooms in when you're about to get into a fight.
  • Final Boss: Kagutsuchi, though the game also uses No Final Boss for You on one route and True Final Boss on another.
  • Fisher King: The various characters manifesting their Reasons changes the overall tone of the environment they're in. This is most noticeable in Mantra HQ, when its interior lighting turns from gold to a silvery blue once Chiaki realizes her Reason of Yosuga.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: Metatron's battle theme.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • If you notice, the "press start button" screen mirrors one of the ending sequences.
    • Right after the Conception, Hijiri mentions speaking to ghosts. It's implied that the hospital ghosts were there all along, but the Demi-Fiend couldn't see them until he became a demon, hinting that Hijiri isn't quite human anymore, either.
    • In the Maniax version and the HD Remaster, there are a handful of hints towards the fact that The Blond Child and The Old Gentleman are both different forms of Lucifer.
      • Long-time fans will notice that The Blond Child looks a lot like a younger Louis Cyphre while The Old Gentleman looks like an older version of him.
      • In the peephole events in the Labyrinth of Amala, the stage that the Lady in Black and the Old Gentleman stand on has a goat's head, or rather, a Baphomet's head in the background, and Baphomet is often regarded as a symbol of the Devil if not the Devil himself, a.k.a. Lucifer. The head of the Old Gentleman's cane also depicts a goat's head if you look closely enough.
      • The Lady in Black directly refers to The Old Gentleman as the Fallen Angel.
      • The Blond Child shows a bit too much interest in the Demi-fiend's actions, namely whether or not he'll recreate the world or destroy it entirely, with some notable preference for the latter. As the cycle of destruction and rebirth is instigated by the Great Will, who Lucifer hates with a burning passion, it makes sense that he'd want to give the Great Will the biggest middle finger he can. And what better way to do that than by messing with the Great Will's chances of creating a world blindly subservient to God?
  • Forever War: As the Lady in Black explains it the forces of Light and Darkness have been fighting since the beginning throughout the universe and even beyond the flow of time, with humans, demons, and all other forms of life in the universe are mere pawns of this cosmic battle and affected by it. Even during the game the war is still raging on beyond the Vortex World. Lucifer's goal in the game is to create a demon who will inherit his will and put an end to the war for good. Whether the Demi-Fiend does or not depends on whether he goes for the True Demon Ending.
  • Game Mod: The US PS2 version has a "Hardtype" mod that rebalances a number of aspects of the original game, as well as changing things up for veterans of the game.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • A minor example you'd probably never think of. In one part of Hell's Vault in the Fourth Kalpa you can come across a ghost who complains that everyone's in too much of a hurry and then asks if you agree. You actually have to wait several minutes before responding Yes to get him to let you go on to the next room.
    • After beating the Girimehkala Sakahagi summons in Yoyogi Park, he claims to have used up too much power summoning it. Sure enough, datamining reveals he only has 46 MP at a point where random enemies can have nearly twice as much, meaning using even an unbuffed draining skill once will leave him with just his regular attack.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Following up from the Sakahagi example above, he apparently used up all his power trying to summone a demon, which translates to his embarassingly low MP count. Not once does the player ever come across such an issue when summoning demons in battle.
  • Game Within a Game: The Block Puzzle game in Asakusa. Prepare some aspirin.
  • Genuine Human Hide: Sakahagi's coat and bandolier are made of skinned Manikins he killed himself.
  • Global Currency: Macca, demon currency that reoccurs throughout the franchise.
  • Global Currency Exception: Rag's Gem Shop, which gives you rare items in exchange for gems that randomly drop from demons.
  • God Is Evil: His endless cycle of creating and destroying Earth is more or less genocide to billions and billions of humans. Notably, this is among the last times God is portrayed as card-carryingly evil or overly lawful in MegaTen; his portrayals in games after this are a bit more sympathetic and understandable until Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse (which either retcons his portrayal in Shin Megami Tensei IV or can be chalked up to being an alternate version of him) and Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux though he is willing to fight another aspect of himself that is considerably more dickish if you manage to fuse him on Law's New Game+.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: According to her backstory, this is what brought Aradia into the Vortex World. More accurately, Aradia was created by the prayers of a coven of witches, and genuinely wanted to bring them salvation. Due to the nature of how she came to be, she was far too weak to do that and instead wound up as an empty voice who with the rest of the false gods like her gathered to an eternal world of dark where the Conception had failed to start. The Lady also notes that false gods are technically forbidden, and what they do is try to become a true god - invade worlds during their Conceptions and entice others into including them into the new world so they will become "real" in that new reality. Aradia herself is noted to be the False Goddess of Forsaken Freedom and the Goddess of Falsehood who can only give hope. This doesn't necessarily make Aradia evil though. She could decidedly be a neutral, or perhaps even good, force at work, were it not for her manipulation of Yuko. Aradia just wants to be involved in the creation of the new world because it will allow her to become a true deity and be more than falsehood.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: The Spectre is a comical and completely plot-irrelevant antagonist who keeps on picking a fight with you every time you get stuck in the Amala Network simply out of wounded pride.
  • Groundhog Peggy Sue: Hijiri gets to live, over and over and over... but he NEVER gets to win.
  • Guide Dang It!: Double whammy since not only is it difficult to know where you're supposed to be going, but the actual guide is very little help.
  • Heads or Tails?: Dante retains this quirk from the second Devil May Cry game. He can be recruited for one macca if you know about the Two-Headed Coin.
  • Hell Invades Heaven: This is basically what happens in the True Demon Ending.
  • Hell on Earth: It is possible to make Earth an almost literal Hell - a realm only of demons - until the next Conception occurs.
  • Heroic Host: The Hero, with the Magatama.
  • Heroic Mime:
  • Hero of Another Story: Hee-ho. He keeps popping up across you in his quest for power, first as a shopkeeper in Shibuya, then visiting the Mantra HQ, and finally at Kabukicho Prison, where he gets his wish. His story joins with yours for a moment for the Black Frost battle, then he loses and you get separated again, and later you can join for good in the Third Kalpa.
  • Hollow World: With Tokyo at the center metaphorically and a sun in the center literally.
  • Hope Bringer:
    • Deconstructed with Aradia. She brings hope to those who seek it, but that is all she can do. The hope she brings is shallow and hollow and causes those under her to stop trying to make things for themselves, blind in the hope she gave them.
    • You are this to demonkind. Lucifer mentions if you go for TDE that all those cast out of Heaven have been waiting for your birth and final battle against God for eons.
  • Horsemen of the Apocalypse: You have to fight them as part of the Amala subquest, AND you can have them as allies too provided you have Deathstones.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Lucifer (in both of his forms), the Lady in Black, the Demi-Fiend himself, Dante, Aradia and eventually, Chiaki and Isamu, as part of their evolution into the Conception gods.
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: Demons don't quite "get" humans. Basic tool use seems to be foreign to their minds in some cases, which is one of the justifications for why demons can't use items from your inventory.
  • Hybrid Power: What Lucifer was going for with the Magatama. He got it.
  • Hypocrite: All of the Reason-seekers seek to create worlds that are incompatible with the actions that they're taking to make them. This was likely intentional for the sake of the story.
    • Isamu. The world he intends to create is based on doing everything by yourself and not relying on others, but he never does anything but ask for help from others.
    • Hikawa too. For a guy supposedly interested in creating a world of stillness and silence, he sure stirs up a lot of chaos and disorder. (e.g. causing The Conception, stirring up and participating in a war between the Mantra and his own followers, the riot at Yoyogi Park, etc.) He's also very passionate about his vision for a passionless world. If you follow the Reason of Shijima, he flat-out admits that he is just the baptist of the Reason of Shijima and that the Demi-Fiend is the true creator. His deity, Ahriman, god of the void who supposedly wants a world of stillness, initially treats the fight like a game, and once he starts losing, he loses his marbles and goes Ax-Crazy in an effort to kill you.
    • Chiaki along with the other Reason seekers. She winds up nearly failing to survive according to her own survival of the fittest philosophy, and only becomes powerful through the intervention of a demon that likewise was nearly destroyed. Further, in spite of her obsession with beauty, her transformation leaves her looking quite deformed by human standards....
    • Futomimi as well, if a lower-key form. He treats the Demi-Fiend as an outcast, not allowing him in Mifunashiro, because he's confident that his divining powers are enough to outright stop the menace, making him inessential in the Manikins' plans. When it's obvious he's going to die miserably, he falls on his knees and begs for help. In the Yosuga path, though, he tries to foist off the blame for failing the Manikins onto the Demi-Fiend, when it's obvious it's a result of his own flaws.
  • I Am a Monster: You can embrace the destiny of the Demi-Fiend as written in the Miroku Scripture and get closer to Shijima by agreeing with Mithra on this one.
  • Imperfect Ritual: At one point you meet a Baphomet who is preparing a ritual to summon the demon Mara, and a pair of Manikins who are pestering him to hurry up. If you side with the Manikins he'll do a quickened version of the summoning ritual, causing Mara to take the form of a Blob Monster instead of his true form.
  • Incoming Ham: "The flames of the Menorah beckon me to the battlefield!"
  • Indecipherable Lyrics:
    • The normal battle and major boss battle themes contain vocals in the background that pretty much sound like demons screeching gibberish. However, the actual lyrics are in English and connect very closely to the plot of the game.
    One more God rejected! Survive the fall from grace! Thou shalt not oppose the wrath of God!
    • Oh dear God are the lyrics to the music ever. It's mostly justified too, as a.) it's not actually sung by a human, but rather an early Apple text-to-speech program, and b.) a very distorted radio filter is on top of the vocals. While there are many examples, the most prominent one is the "I'm the Lord and savior" line in the Fierce Battle theme is almost always quoted in lyrics as "I'm the bug inside you". It at least makes sense from the perspective of the Demi-Fiend, as there is a bug inside him. It's also not uncommon for people to misquote the lyrics to the normal battle theme.note 
  • Infinity -1 Sword: Dante, who is only recruitable after entering the Fifth Kalpa, is perhaps the single strongest offensive demon in the game. He has excellent MP costs on his moves, does a ton of damage, is great for dealing with grinding and fighting outside bossfights, is potentially very cheap to recruit if you pick the right option in his bet, which, if you remember his coin trick from the series he hails from, is always heads, and he can deal a huge amount of damage. He also has a good amount of utility too with his Intimidate skill and his 10 MP Dekunda, so he's not completely focused around fighting. While this all sounds great, he has two major weaknesses- first, Dante cannot be removed from the party once he's been summoned, so he limits your selectable demon slots by one permanently when he shows up, and he does not know Pierce, which means he's a detriment to bring into the True Final Boss, who requires Pierce to even deal meaningful damage. This is especially bad, since if you're five levels deep into the Labyrinth, you're likely going for the ending that requires you fight said True Final Boss. A secondary Updated Re-release called Chronicle Edition changes Dante to Raidou Kuzunoha the XIV, another Shin Megami Tensei protagonist, and fixes this problem by giving him a skill with inherent Pierce to get around this weakness of Dante's. This turns Raidou into a genuine Infinity +1 Sword, but it was only released in Japan (in limited amounts, to boot), so sadly Dante's major weaknesses stick. The HD remaster solves the issue by buffing Dante to have Pierce as well.
  • Infinity +1 Sword:
    • The Masakados magatama gives you a staggering +10 to all non-Luck stats and imparts immunity to everything that isn't almighty, and you get it by collecting all other Magatamas first and then defeating the Four Devas. That said, Kagutsuchi and Lucifer are still more than powerful enough to ruin your day even with Masakados equipped.
    • Skill wise, there's Pierce, which is one of the main reasons why physical builds are so powerful. It allows any physical attack to pierce through all enemy defenses for everything, except for reflects, which can make the Demi-fiend's HP-powered Kamehame Hadoken skills very powerful, especially when paired with Focus. You can get it by leveling up your first Magatama after completing the Bonus Dungeon, and if you want it on your demons, you'll need to get it from a special demon from a Shady Broker who resides behind a door that you can only open with Metatron (who's level 95).
    • For Physical Builds, there's Freikugel, the most powerful physical attack in the game, which does both Mega-level physical, as well as Almighty damage. Also doubles as an 11th-Hour Superpower, since the Magatama you gain it from, Kailash, is purchased in the final part of The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
    • Dante was upgraded to this in the HD Remaster, and Raidou was this in all versions of the Chronicle version, both being extremely powerful party members you gain from the Fifth Kalpa of the Bonus Dungeon who can inherently learn Pierce.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: The hallways of Kabukicho Prison are blocked off by hastily placed furniture barricades which the Demi-fiend could easily squeeze through (or just jump over), and one-meter wide holes in the ground. The proper way to get around those is by jumping inside the mirages.
  • In Their Own Image: The Reasons' purpose and the essential cornerstone of the Great Will's plan.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Occasionally, if you beat the crap out of an enemy demon, they will beg for mercy. If you accept their surrender, there's a chance they'll take advantage of your generosity to attack you.
  • It's All Upstairs from Here: The Obelisk is a very tall tower reaching into the sky. The same goes for The Very Definitely Final Dungeon which is an extension of the Obelisk. Inverted in the Labyrinth of Amala — you're descending down its Kalpas to meet with the Old Man.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: And hopefully you don't mind it, because you will see it a lot.note 
  • I Work Alone: The Reason of Musubi is to apply this to the entire Universe. As in, you and you alone are responsible for your corner of the cosmos, free to do as you wish without being able to interfere with others.
  • Jive Turkey: Comes as a magatama-imparted skill, which allows you to talk to Foul, Wilder and Haunt demons, who normally are The Unintelligible.
  • Kangaroo Court: The Mantra Army Court, where you prove you're innocent by punching out the judges. But when Thor himself is one of the combatants, they don't expect you to win, and they're definitely shocked when you do.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: Most prevalent in the Neutral ending, where you put down Baal Avatar and Noah to prevent Chiaki and Isamu from enacting their mad idea of paradise. However, you still have to go at least against one of them even when you agree with one of them.
  • Kingmaker Scenario: The Demi-Fiend cannot create his own Reason, since he is partly demonic in nature. He can, however, champion any of the three opposing Reasons and help them create the world they seek. He can also choose not to champion any of the reasons and either return the world to the way it was before the Conception, keep it in a state of primordial chaos, or destroy it outright.
  • Level-Up Fill-Up: Whenever the Demi-Fiend levels up, his Magatama may "react violently". Letting it do so can trigger one of a few effects based on the Magatama, ranging between this trope (for himself or the entire party), a stat boost, or a status ailment.
  • Light Is Not Good:
    • Most of the Angel races align themselves with Yosuga, the most blatantly evil of the Reasons. It's almost a Mythology Gag that the angels side with a Might Makes Right philosophy and the demons side with the World of Silence side, when in previous games it's been the exact opposite.
    • And then we have horrors as Amaterasu's Godly Light. Yay, 80% of everyone's HP just vanished in a single blow! Not satisfied? How about Kagutsuchi's Vast Light and Infinite Light? Metatron's Fire of Sinai? Radiance for the top angels? Thunderclap?
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Inverted. At the beginning of the game, magic skills are far more common and potent than physical skills, and their ability to get you more turns by exploiting elemental weaknesses make magic-oriented characters more powerful. However, magic starts to scale down in the latter half of the game and strength-based attacks continue to grow, making more physically-oriented fighters superior; it doesn't help that many late-game bosses have no weaknesses so fishing for crits is your best bet at getting extra Press Turns. It gets to the point where the True Final Boss can only be seriously damaged with physical attacks, making magic even more redundant.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: Get turned to stone and there's a chance of shattering if you take a hit. Take a Force attack and this happens without fail.
  • Loners Are Freaks:
  • Magikarp Power:
    • The pixie you meet in the medical centre at the start of the game takes a level in badass if she (or a demon made from fusing/evolving her) is still in your party when you visit the fifth kalpa of the labyrinth.
    • A couple of demons take huge level jumps when evolving, potentially getting you a couple of difficult-to-find demons for much less effort. The Pixie set a precedent with this, as after an early evolution to High Pixie, it can jump from level 15 to the level 56 Queen Mab. Even more extreme is the otherwise unspectacular Lillim, who can evolve at level 12 to the level 80 Lillith. While Divine Water will hint these transformations exist, Demi-Fiend has to be within 4 levels of the evolved demon, so it's better to summon a Lillim/High Pixie from the compendium at that point. Of course the game never communicates any of this.
    • Other two-stage evolutions produce impressive results if you take the effort to grind through their levels to trigger their evolutions.
      • Koppa Tengu upgrades to Karasu Tengu and eventually Kurama Tengu, and at the peak of his strength he can sweep enemies with Force Boosted Wind Cutters and Tornados or hit Expel weaknesses with Violet Flash and Starlight.
      • Ongkhot evolves into Hanuman and eventually into Wu Kong, and on the way he learns Tarukaja, Rakukaja, and Sukukaja on top of Life Surge and Endure, all coming together to make the legendary monkey a fearsome physical-immune Lightning Bruiser. The only thing you'd probably want him to inherit from prior fusion is Focus.
    • Physical builds for the Demi-fiend. Early in the game, physical skills are thin on the ground, sacrificing HP to do more damage is extremely risky, physical attacks can't give extra Press Turns without a lucky critical, and a single resistance/immunity completely neuters damage output. Later in the game, some of the best skills run off physical stats, Pierce can bypass most defences, the HP cost is less of an issue with better healing spells in the party, and a certain combination of these is basically the only way to do more than tickle the True Final Boss.
    • Your initial Magatama is a Master of None that can't even be fully mastered at first. That said, complete the Bonus Dungeon, and it gives you the game's Infinity Plus One Skill, Pierce.
  • Make My Monster Grow: The Spectre will absorb his brethren and inflate himself to giant size in the first fight against him.
  • Malevolent Architecture: Several dungeons are designed to get you lost or screw you over if you're not checking your map every now and then, but the Diet Building stands out as its guardians create illusions, teleport you, and block your path to impede progress.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Aradia. She lures Yuko with promises of giving her the power to remake the world and uses her as a pawn in a bid to become real in the new world birthed from the Conception; while supportive, she's not overtly concerned about her well-being and will often use her as an underling without explaining her the exact idea as to why she can't get a Reason from her. You could say Isamu tries to be one - if you're actually listening to his very poorly thought out The Reason You Suck Speeches. And of course, we can't forget about Lucifer, or in this case, the blond boy and the old man. He forcibly turns you into a demon, removing your ability to create a Reason, then sends you on a quest to retrieve all of the Menorahs claiming that the Fiends stole them. It's a lie, of course. He gave the Menorahs to the Fiends himself to test if you're strong enough to aid him. Whether he's justified in his manipulations or not is up to you.
  • Marathon Boss: Noah, unless you have the skill Pierce and Freikugel, the one combination he can't defend himself successfully against.
  • Marathon Level: The Obelisk is a very tall tower, with over 100 floors (but thankfully several elevators let you skip through many floors at once) and five save points scattered across it. The Tower of Kagutsuchi is even longer with a total of over 500 floors, only made bearable with three large terminals distributed across it for quick travel.
  • Meaningful Name: Aradia, goddess of falsehood, isn't really a god at all.
  • Meta Twist: Though one that only works if you've played other Shin Megami Tensei games. In previous games, your moral choices locked you into one of three routes- Law, Chaos, and Neutral. In this game, picking any of the three Reasons makes a Law ending. The reason behind this is that Kagatsuchi is an avatar of YHVH, and is thus tilting the Vortex World in his favor. Picking any Reason, even the one that emphasizes a Might Makes Right "world of the strong" that sounds like a perfect embodiment of the traditional chaos ending is still creating a law-based reality, since that way of life has not naturally formed and is being supernaturally enforced instead. The neutral endings are actually rejecting the Reasons outright, and the Chaos ending isn't even in the original release of the game, as it's the True Demon ending. That itself leads into a meta-twist as well- usually it's the Neutral route that unlocks bonus content in these games, but this time the only way to fight the True Final Boss is to side with Chaos.
  • Might Makes Right: The entire world view of the Mantra demons, which then gets adopted into the Reason of Yosuga. Like the others, they plan to spread their philosophy to the universe through Kagutsuchi.
  • Missing Reflection: When Mot disguises himself as a statue, this is how you pick him out from the real statues. (He doesn't create a reflection; the real ones do.)
  • Monsters Everywhere: Well, the inhabitants of this world are 95% demons, 4% ghosts and 1% human-like Manikins, so this should be expected. Even when you're walking around in towns, you can still be hit with random encounters. There are very few "safe" zones.
  • Monumental Damage: The ruins of Shibuya's Scramble is one of the first locations visited during the game.
  • Mr. Fanservice: It is worth noting that the main character ends up spending 95% of the game completely shirtless. A significant number of Norse gods also seem to like showing off quite a bit of toned physique. And then there's Dante, who gets special mention for having a crotch shot before jumping off a very tall building.
  • Multiple Endings: There are six, depending on what sort of world you want to create. It's unusual, since usually there are only three different endings in the series, one for Law, Chaos, and Balance. The new worlds created don't really resemble the paradise either YHVH or Lucifer strive to create in earlier games, instead:
    • Reason Endings;
      • Musubi: A world of total isolation.
      • Yosuga: A world where the weak are slaughtered and the strong rule.
      • Shijima: A world of unchanging stillness and silence.
    • Other Endings;
      • Freedom: Bring back the old world.
      • Demon: Try to create your own world, but fail, leaving the Vortex World unchanged, or possibly like the Vortex World the way it is intentionally.
      • True Demon: Destroy the world even worse and become the new Demon King and lead the forces of darkness to battle God.
  • Musical Nod:
    • When you enter the Cathedral of Shadows during a new Kagutsuchi with series mascot Cerberus in your party, and the music changes to the one used in Shin Megami Tensei I. You can also do this with Orthrus in the party for the Shin Megami Tensei II Cathedral music.
    • The (very underused) Amala Network battle theme is a remix of a battle theme from Shin Megami Tensei if....
    • The music used in Ginza was used in towns in Shin Megami Tensei I. Beelzebub's and Metatron's introduction themes are also the chaos and law themes of the same game.
    • The Puzzle Boy music was originally used as the world map music before the missiles hit in Shin Megami Tensei I. The Fiends battle theme also comes from SMTI.
    • The terminal theme is the same as Shin Megami Tensei II's terminals.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The hero of Shin Megami Tensei I also was arrested for trespassing and had the option of killing the judge.
    • The fairies took over Yoyogi Park in Shinjuku. Shinjuku was also the home of the fairies in Shin Megami Tensei II.
    • The ritual for summoning Mara shows the four dolls used to open a portal to the Expanse in SMTII, but in the Japanese version, Baphomet is also reciting the names of God that appear in the intro of SMTI (presumably meant to be the Demon Summoning Program's code).
    • Completing the Amala Grave Run will cause an event where a Cereberus appears and will take you to his masters, Izanagi and Izanami. This is a reference to Digital Devil Story.
    • If you decide to recruit Dante, as one to Devil May Cry 2, he has a trick coin that always lands heads.
    • Just like Shin Megami Tensei I, Thor and the angels end up in the same faction.
    • Later in the game, one of the spirits in the main hospital lobby will say he never heard of a man named Dr. Otsuki. Also, the magazine Chiaki is reading at the beginning has an picture of Nova (the virtual fortune-teller from If... whose questionaire will define your character's stat growth).
  • New Game+: Lets you keep your Demon Compendium, gives you a new choice of wardrobe for the first part of the game and lets you select a "first person" view for that authentic MegaTen experience. It also allows you to get an extra press-turn for the demi-fiend if you complete a certain sidequest in your previous playthrough. Needless to say, this is very important for people who are interested in tackling hard mode.
  • Nice Hat:
    • Isamu. Even his GOD wears it! Not only that, it's even lampshaded in-universe where one of the manikins talks about Isamu for a bit and finishes off with "...That hat bugs me".
    • Hijiri has one, but almost never puts it on his head.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: The Assembly of Nihilo. It's even in the name.
  • Nintendo Hard: It's a MegaTen game. OF COURSE IT'S HARD! For starters, it's entirely possible to die during the TUTORIAL battle.
    • As if to press home the point, the game describes its "Hard" difficulty setting as "A level of difficulty suitable for one seeking the thrill of death".
    • Expect later dungeons to have fiendish level design between one-way doors, teleporter mazes, damage tiles and pitfalls. Here's an apt summary of how bad it can get.
    • One of the things that makes this game difficult is the lack of Anti-Frustration Features. When you learn a skill by leveling up, that is your one and only chance to use that skill—you can't "store" them for later and there's no going back if you erase something you're currently equipped with. Later games in the franchise would be softer on this—particularly Digital Devil Saga— but here, you're expected to plan out your character progression well in advance.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: The game makes it clear to Shin Megami Tensei fans that Nocturne is going in different directions from the previous two games in the series by having various news reports and characters in the opening noting that the standard representatives of Order Versus Chaos in the previous games, the Messians and Gaians, have all been killed before this story even started.
  • Not Quite Back to Normal: The freedom ending has the Blond Child / Lucifer noting that despite the world being reset to the way it was before the Conception and your tattoos disappearing... you still very much have your demonic strength, and you'll need it for the day your true enemy appears before you.
  • Number of the Beast: The final floor of the Tower of Kagutsuchi is the 666th floor. Beelzebub is given this number in HP when fused, per MegaTen tradition. And then there's the Tomb of Yomi in the Labyrinth of Amala's 666th basement.
  • Oddball in the Series: This game features a number of deviations from the usual mainline SMT formula:
    • In the other main games, you use portable technology (arm terminals and smartphones in particular) to summon demons. In this game, as a half-demon, there's no need for you to use tech to communicate with and summon demons.
    • Unlike the other main games, which have all manners of equipment like body armor, swords, and guns, the only equipment you have are Magatamas.
    • Rather than the traditional Alignment-Based Endings, this one showcases Faction-Specific Endings where you can choose to side with one of three different philosophies, as well as two endings where you side with none and either leave the Vortex World as is or revert it back, and an "ultimate" ending where you become Lucifer's right hand.
    • This is the first main game to use 3D models for demons and NPCs, rather than sprites. Later games would instead employ a Sprite/Polygon Mix, until Shin Megami Tensei V returned to full 3D.
    • Before the HD Remaster, it was the only main game that was not available on a Nintendo platform.
    • In the other main games, there's usually a fair number of human NPCs in spite of a recent apocalypse or other dire circumstances. Here, there are less than ten humans in the entire game world.
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: Combined with Gratuitous English considering the game has nothing to do with music. At least the title Lucifer's Call made more sense.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Two lines are almost guaranteed to make a player wary: "The flames of the Menorah of Sovereignty are flickering wildly..." indicate that a Fiend is nearby. "You feel the presence of a terrifying demon... Will you stay here?" triggers when you're about to engage in a Fiend battle — you have an option to evade it, but it's not guaranteed.
    • Dante's theme whenever he chases you through the Third Kalpa.
    • The Demi-Fiend's reaction to Lucifer's true form. He may not say anything, and you can't see his face, but his double-take at the sight of it speaks VOLUMES.
  • One Hundred Per Cent Completion: If you fill up the Compendium with every demon available, you will get a MASSIVE summoning discount.
  • One-Winged Angel: The three Reason bosses. The most notable of them is Baal Avatar, who is both aligned with the angels and has one large wing.
    • Before these, Chiaki and Isamu both undergo transformations to power themselves up.
    • In a more straight example, Kagutsuchi transforms into a giant head for his second form.
  • Only Good People May Pass: There're three doors in the Third Kalpa of the Labyrinth of Amala which only let you through if you are on a different section of the morality meter that was based on what Magatamas (power-up items) you had mastered thus far in the game: Light, Neutral, and Dark.
  • Optional Party Member:
    • Dante will offer to join your party in the Fifth Kalpa for 1 macca or half of your macca. It depends on a coin flip... except if you've played Devil May Cry 2 and know that he uses a double-sided coin.
    • After beating Black Frost in the frozen Kabukicho Prison, he reincarnates in the Third Kalpa and joins your party should you have an open spot in your roster, without worrying about the Demi-Fiend's level.
    • Samael is willing to join with you if you're allied with Hikawa, and like Black Frost there is no issue with level.
  • Order Versus Chaos: Slightly subverted as the three main Reasons don't cleanly fall under "Law" or "Chaos".
    • Taken into a broader context (i.e. the other ending possibilities), the three main Reasons fall under "Law." Yosuga is the "tyranny" aspect of Law and populated with holier-than-thou angels, the World of Stillness is the "mechanical perfection" aspect of Law and the World of Isolation is the "distant, impersonal" aspect of Law. All three are created by buying into the reason the world was blown up in the first place—in other words, playing through the avenues of fate set up by the Great Will. The Freedom and Demon endings are created by defying the rules. Quite ironically, Shijima, the closest to absolute Law, has Ahriman, a Tyrant (Dark-Chaos), as its champion. Musubi has Noah, a Vile (Dark-Law), and Yosuga has Baal Avatar, a Deity (Light-Law).
  • Ordinary High-School Student: The Main Character, Chiaki, and Isamu. This doesn't last, though.
  • Perfect Run Final Boss: Lucifer, who you fight if you complete the Labyrinth of Amala.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • Miss anything in the Shiodome portion of the Assembly of Nihilo and you never get a chance to go back for it. You also don't get a second chance to collect any treasure that you miss when traveling through the Amala Network.
    • The Demi-fiend's title after maxing out every Magatama, King, is Neutral, meaning the Shady Brokers behind the Light and Dark doors in the Third Kalpa become inaccessible if you get that title.
    • There's a vending machine on the hospital's second floor that dispenses a drink that grants you the "Beverage Buff" achievement. You can only get it before the Conception takes place, otherwise you'll need a new playthrough for it.
  • Planet Heck: The Labyrinth of Amala is essentially home to the legions of demons under the Old Man's command. As you descend into the lower Kalpas its environment progressively deteriorates until the fifth Kalpa has Magatsuhi running through its architecture. You also have cursed zones that regularly halve your HP every few steps and are crawling with powerful demons.
  • Point of No Return: Once you enter the final dungeon or use the elevator at the bottom of the Labyrinth of Amala, your ending is set in stone.
  • Power of the Void: Ahriman is the God of the Void.
  • Power Tattoo: Inverted; from what can be inferred from the Freedom ending, the Demi-fiend's tattoos are a side-effect of his power.
  • Power-Upgrading Deformation: The Demi-Fiend's demonic change is far less notorious than it should be thanks to the Bishōnen Line-he still looks fairly human even though Word of God is that the horn contains a primitive brain or sensory organ granting him most of his demonic power, and the Power Tattoo lines are actually demonic lymph, which is why they change color when he's near-death. It's a lot easier to notice this, however, in Isamu and Chiaki's transformations.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: The entire game becomes one if you choose the True Demon route. Just to start it off, you need to claim "I'm a demon" rather than "I'm a human!" to a cute NPC demon in the Amala Labyrinth, and from there on it is made clear that the further you go into it, the more demonic you are becoming.
  • Psychologist Teacher: Yuko appears to be the perfect teacher: smart, strong, wise and confident. Unfortunately, she suffers from crippling self-doubt and gets easily manipulated by both Hikawa and Aradia.
    • She also naively thinks Aradia will give her a Reason. Problem? Conception gods don't give Reasons. As in at all. She's the one who has to develop the inner philosophy to create the Reason, but her own self-confidence issues prevent her from doing so, and she is crushed when Hikawa humiliates her at the Diet Building and lampshades how she has been doing nothing but run away from one thing or another and being used as Aradia's patsy. She has a Heroic BSoD there and is vaporized shortly after.
  • Punny Name + Bilingual Bonus: Futomimi's name means "Fat Ears", referring to how he seems to touch the top of his ear as he prophesises.
    • Sakahagi, on the other hand, refers to an execution method in which the victim was completely flayed, referencing his MO.
  • The Purge: Within the Mantra Army, as Thor kicked out Ongyo-Ki, Fuu-Ki, Sui-Ki and Kin-Ki.
  • Put on a Bus: This is the only numbered Shin Megami Tensei game that doesn't feature Stephen.
  • Puzzle Boss:
    • You might say the Moirae Sisters puzzle/fight at the Obelisk also counts. Defeat them all in a single go with the Kagutsuchi Phase blocks in this order: Clotho, Lachesis, then Atropos.
    • Noah swaps his defenses throughout the fight, so you need to regularly determine what he's weak against. Unfortunately, his defense is always a reflect, so you can't use Pierce to cheese through it.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: The "True Demon" ending.
  • Random Effect Spell: God's Curse which inflicts a random status ailment, Preach which deals damage on top of inflicting a random ailment, and Root of Evil which combines this trope with Randomized Damage Attack on top of it.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Kagutsuchi gives one to you if you don't support a Reason. His speech during the True Demon Ending is particularly hateful.
    Kagutsuchi: By casting aside your humanity, you became the living incarnation of bane itself.
  • Redemption Demotion: Recruited demons always join as the lowest level possible, making them forget skills they possessed normally; bosses fused have a fraction of the HP they normally have. Additionally there are several skills like Dragon Eye that you can never use.
  • Red Right Hand: Chiaki after her Evil Makeover.
  • Reforged into a Minion: As per franchise standard, all bosses except Demonic Sponsors, the Final Boss, the True Final Boss, and a few others can be eventually forcibly recruited into your forces.
  • Restart the World: Hikawa triggers the Conception with the intent of building a new world in accordance with his philosophy, 'Shijima'; whether or not he succeeds is up to the player.
  • Schmuck Bait: In the Labyrinth of Amala, there are these two ghosts that heal you for an exceedingly modest fee. They drug you, kick you back to the Kalpa entrance and take a whole lot of your money (in case you thought of using them as a quick warp to a save point).
  • Screw Destiny: The Freedom, Demon and True Demon endings.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Aradia invokes this when Yuko confronts Hikawa in the Diet Building. Realizing all three established Reasons either have summoned their gods or are in the brink of doing so, leaving her with no chance of being included as a real goddess post-Conception, Aradia plans to escape the Vortex World to whatever world is birthed from the Conception. She attempts to take Yuko with her, but leaves her at her request, as she's unwilling to allow Hikawa a clear field for Shijima. Hikawa ridicules both of them for this, Aradia for failing to protect her one follower and Yuko for being so foolish in trusting Aradia.
  • Secret A.I. Moves: Plenty, but special mention goes to the extremely common (and extremely cheap) Beast Eye/Dragon Eye moves and their variants. These cost 1MP and give the enemy one and THREE extra turns respectively. It's quite possible to be doing well against a boss only to have them cast Dragon Eye (read: cheat) and slaughter you.
  • Self-Destructive Charge / Spiteful A.I.: Several enemies have suicidal explosive abilities. Leaving them to the brink of health will lead them to prefer killing themselves and blowing up as many of your team as they can instead of waiting patiently to die. Sometimes, they even damage their allies in the process.
  • Serial Killer: Sakahagi. The Fourth Kalpa reveals Futomimi was one while alive.
  • Shattering the Illusion: Ongyo-Ki summons several illusionary copies to fight for him. One punch to a fake will destroy it, but hitting the real one will destroy them all.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Fiend "Hell Biker" is an obvious Shout Out to Ghost Rider. He's a biker with a skull for a face and flaming wheels on his motorcycle. His original name was yet another shout out; it was "Hell's Angel."
    • The Shinjuku Hospital may be one to the location of Atlus' headquarters.
  • Signature Move: Fiends love their special moves. Other than them, a handful of demons also have at least one of these.
  • Simple, yet Awesome:
    • Watchful, learned as early as a level 20 Koppa; gives the demon Leaked Experience without having to be in the battle. This is the easiest way to get demons to learn their abilities. Even if you can't get an ideal fusion through Koppa, nothing's stopping you from sacrificing one (barring very few endgame exceptions) and re-rolling to get the move onto your demons.
    • Endure is picked up from a Magatama at the two-thirds point of the game and gives the protagonist a Last Chance Hit Point to escape an unfortunate Game Over. It also works against misfortunate Hama or Mudo skills landing, and it's a literal life-saver that many a player will never part with.
  • Sinister Geometry: There are many structures throughout the Vortex World that don't appear to have been built by human hands at all; they're just wrong, covered in Tron Lines and have no furniture or apparent functionality at all.
  • Skippable Boss: You can skip fighting Samael by simply answering "no" when Hikawa asks if you're going to interfere with his ritual at the Diet Building. This doesn't even lock you into his Reason either, so you can essentially choose not to fight this boss if you don't want to.
  • Social Darwinist: Chiaki develops the vision of a world where beauty and strength are valued and the unworthy are purged, culminating in her Reason of Yosuga.
  • Songs in the Key of Panic: In the Third Kalpa, if the calm Amala Labyrinth theme gets replaced with Dante's intense theme, it means he's in the vicinity and is about to catch you.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The final boss music is techno. You'd expect something more orchestral or grandiose considering that you're fighting an avatar of God, though it does serve to underscore just how alien Kagutsuchi is to the world.
    • The techno music is actually quite appropriate for a giant disco ball.
  • Spoiler Opening: More like Spoiler Title Screen. It's the last shot of the True Demon Ending.
  • Start of Darkness: For Isamu, it's an unused scene when, at Kabukicho Prison, he studies the Amala Drum in his cell and catches a message from Yuko to the Demi-Fiend, asking to be rescued from her imprisonment at the Obelisk. It was the catalyst that drove Isamu into a Heroic BSoD, driving home just how powerless he truly was and refusing contact with the Demi-Fiend, leading to the eventual birth of the Reason of Musubi. For Chiaki, it was her ill-thought assault on Sakahagi, a far deadlier foe and one she was not ready to deal with. She lost an arm during the encounter; the despair she generated managed to attract the dying spirit of Gozu-Tennoh, who acted as her Poisonous Friend in an attempt to create a worthy successor and foil of the Reason of Shijima. This culminated in the recreation of the Reason of Yosuga under Baal Avatar, and the massacre of the Manikins.
  • Statistically Speaking: Averted, for the most part. Almost any locked door in the game can be unlocked after a certain stat gets to be high enough. You actually are required to if you want to get all 24 Magatama, as there's one behind a door that requires a base of 25 strength to open.
  • Status Buff: The -kaja series of spells (Tarukaja, Makakaja, Rakukaja, Sukukaja) and to a lesser extend Dekunda. It's also inverted with the -nda spells (Tarunda, Rakunda, Sukunda), which lower enemy stats.
  • Status-Buff Dispel: Dekunda and Dekaja remove all -nda and -kaja effects on your party and the enemies, respectively. While you can't buff/debuff using them, they are useful for removing multiple de/buffs (stacked and/or various).
  • Stealth Pun: Metatron's animation while casting magic is a shrug. That makes it a Shrug of God.
  • Summoning Ritual: Both the Cathedral of Shadows and the ritual chamber in Shibuya.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Raidou Kuzunoha the 14th in the Chronicle Edition is identical to Dante of the Maniax version in pretty much every way, with one major improvement: he learns the pierce skill that Dante's lack of restricted him to Awesome, but Impractical territory. Not to mention his slightly-improved versions of Dante's attacks with new animations and better stats. Although the fact that he has Pierce is indeed a huge bonus, as it was the lack of it that made Dante near-useless in the final battle.
  • The Symbiote: The Magatama.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: No. While it is possible to convince monsters to drop the attack, if the attempt fails by any reason, you will lose the Press Turn. If negotiations go terribly south their turn begins immediately.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: You can convince monsters to help you (or just leave you alone) by talking to them. Speak to a demon while you have one already in your party or stock, and they will agree to walk away immediately (at the cost of no EXP or money).
  • Teleporter Accident: The Drums are not very reliable without some expert tinkering, as Hijiri learnt. Luckily, the worst that comes from this is a longer journey through the Amala Network to reach Ginza. Later, the Drums work much better.
  • Teleporters and Transporters:
    • The Amala Drums are your main means of quick-travel throughout the Vortex World. Other examples include several parts of the Fourth Kalpa and the final stretch in the Tower of Kagutsuchi.
    • Fiends can also pull you into an Alternate Dimension for Boss Battles through some sort of teleportation magic.
  • There Can Be Only One: Only one of the Reasons is going to be a reality in the end. Additionally, this is the reason why Chiaki fights you if you sided with Yosuga.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Metatron accuses you of this if you reach his boss room at the bottom of the Fifth Kalpa. Considering exactly what you most likely intend to do if you manage to get past him, this is actually pretty reasonable. Crosses into Moral Myopia because the Great Will who he serves is willing to do an endless cycle of Apocalypse How.
  • To Hell and Back: You'll find yourself doing so repeatedly with each visit to the Amala Labyrinth, or each time a Fiend pulls you aside to do battle.
  • Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe: Tokyo has become the shell of new universe. This has an interesting effect late in the game: if you gain the favor of Masakado, the guardian spirit of Tokyo, you're basically being blessed by the universe itself, which is why his magatama makes you practically invincible.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Scripture of Miroku. The few lines quoted at the start of the Japanese version are fairly disturbing.
  • Touched by Vorlons: Nearly every human left in the Vortex World by the end of the game. Even the Demi-Fiend got his powers from interacting with Lucifer.
  • Transhuman Treachery: Isamu and Chiaki forego all of their humanity upon becoming the leaders of their respective Reasons, Isamu when merging with the Amala spirits and Chiaki when absorbing Gozu-Tennoh. Both cross their Moral Event Horizons soon after; Isamu kills Hijiri and Chiaki massacres the Manikins. Hikawa really didn't change that much upon fusing with Ahriman, but, then again, both were so like-minded it's not like there's any real difference between both.
  • Trauma Inn: The Fountain of Healing.
  • Trial by Combat: The Mantra Army Court — Punch out the judges and gain your freedom. But with Thor as one of the last combatants, they don't expect you to win.
  • Turns Red: Usually, when bosses start spamming Dragon Eye, you know they're almost dead.
  • Two-Headed Coin: Dante's makes an appearance in his cameo.
  • Übermensch: Demi-fiend is the genuine Nietzschean version of this in every path except the bad ending. The game itself is an allegory to Nietzsche's novel Also sprach Zarathustra. This is probably the only straight version of Nietzsche's ideal outside of the novel itself.
  • Underground Level: All of the Metro stations.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Isamu acts like this after being freed from Kabukicho Prison. An unused scene explains his attitude.
  • Updated Re-release:
    • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne Maniax adds Dante from Devil May Cry, a new Bonus Dungeon, and a new ending.
    • The limited edition of Devil Summoner: Raidō Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon includes a new version of Nocturne, in which Raidou replaces Dante. It was only released in Japan because Sony shot down the idea of porting that edition to the PlayStation Portable for Western audiences early on in the update process.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Averted for most part. You're cruising for a bruising if you don't use buffs and debuffs during boss fights, and ailments can regularly come in handy with some tricky random encounters and even a few boss fights. That said...
    • The "Anti-" passives only halve damage from their element but don't actually count as a resistance, so enemies will still get extra Press Turns. It'll be much more fruitful to get Void (or better) passives to cover weaknesses.
    • Last Resort kills the user and deals almighty damage to everyone, allies included. Friendly fire isn't very welcome in an already tough game.
    • Ailment and insta-kill spells serve you well against troublesome random encounters and even some minibosses, but get stonewalled by Contractual Boss Immunity.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The Tower of Kagutsuchi.
  • Vicious Cycle: The Conception itself.
  • Video Game 3D Leap: Unlike the previous two mainline games, Nocturne employs fully-3D environments and character models, with the result being that the demons have some of the most animated visuals in the series.
  • Void Between the Worlds: Seen as the Lady in Black explains the Conception. Worlds die in it, and worlds are born from it...
  • Waiting Puzzle: The old man in the Fourth Kalpa. Instead of immediately answering his question as he poses it, wait for three minutes and then answer "Yes".
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Matador again. Up to this point, none of the bosses are too much trouble if you play smart and target elemental weaknesses. Then comes Matador, who serves as a reminder of the strength of buffs and what will happen if you don't use them yourself.
  • Waking Up at the Morgue: After the Conception and your transformation into the Demi-fiend, you awaken in a hospital room.
  • Warm-Up Boss: Forneus is the first boss fight, and pretty much rolls over and dies if you've been paying any attention to the elemental weakness system.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You!: It's Game Over the moment the Demi-fiend dies. Justified due to the mercenary nature of your demons: they lack the capacity to care (and the means, unless they have Recarm) to bring you back to life.
  • We Used to Be Friends: The protagonist, Isamu, and Chiaki start off as a fairly tight crew. But over the course of the game, the latter two become increasingly more extreme in the idea of their respective Reasons which inevitably turns them against each other as well as the Demi-Fiend. He will have to kill at least one of them before the story is done.
  • Whole Plot Reference: To Devil Man, wherein the hero becomes neither human nor demon due to the machinations of Lucifer.
  • Win Your Freedom: The Mantra Army court.
  • Wolverine Publicity: The European cover added a silly-looking sticker informing players that this game was "Featuring Dante from the Devil May Cry series", despite his role being fairly minor.
  • The Worf Effect: If you follow the Musubi Ending, you can see Isamu and Noah slowly dying on the floor. Isamu then remarks that he never knew Chiaki could be so strong.
  • World of Badass: After the end of the world, everyone left alive has to be badass to survive.
  • World of Ham: After the conception, demons fully embrace the ham.
  • World of Jerkass: Exaggerated this time around, as the only surviving humans are the Reason Bearers and the teacher.
  • World of Silence: Hikawa's Reason of Shijima seeks this. Unusually, the normally-chaotic demons love the idea as it means everyone will be just like God, in essence triggering a universal Enlightenment.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Lucifer grants you the power of the Magatama as part of a combat test trial. It really doesn't matter what you do with it - literally anything you do with it ends with a net gain for him. You go and make sure any of the three main Reasons wins, you prove the product is workable. You leave the Vortex World as-is, you spit on the Great Will's face. You restore the world as was, you spit on the Great Will's face and he gets a warrior that in due time will fight again against Him. You accept the offer to reach him in the Labyrinth's lowest level, he gets a worthy successor and new general...
  • Ye Olde Butchered English: Some demons speak like this when you try talking to them.
  • Yet Another Stupid Death: Combine Nintendo Hard with the sometimes long distances between save points and the tendency to get used to certain types of enemies, it's quite possible to frustratingly die like a chump just by having the wrong magatama equipped or the wrong demon in your party when you get to a new game level with different adversaries. Many players have sad stories of ignorance or hubris lamenting a particularly painful Game Over.
  • You Are Not Alone: Lucifer grants you his protection for choosing his path, and offers you his blessings.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: Practically the poster child.

"Featuring Dante from the Devil May Cry series."
 
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Alternative Title(s): Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne

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Mot (SMT III: Nocturne)

Mot: Beast Eye (gives two additional Press Turns) + Makakaja (improves magic atttacks) + Megidolaon (severe Almighty damage to all enemies) = no turn for you!

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