Nocturne (Windows)

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Written by  :  Dr. M. "Schadenfreude" Von Katze (589)
Written on  :  Jan 16, 2003

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Film Noir meets Horror Classics

The Good

I must admit that the first time I played Nocturne I hated it. I mean, the graphics were not dark, the main character was this silly bad-ass wannabe, and the whole package was plagued with common places: vampires, zombies, werewolves, et cetera. I played this one right after I finished Clive Barker's Undying and I expected another 'serious' horror title with a mature and intelligent plot. It wasn't until I decided to give it another chance that I got the joke. Nocturne is not a 'serious' horror game. Nocturne doesn't innovate because it wasn't intended to.

Technically the game is good. Controlling has all the good and bad of a horror-survival a la Alone in the Dark, but adds some interesting uses for the mouse, wich gives you some more freedom of movement. I still prefer the freedom that only FPS can give, but I must admit Nocturne may be one of the smoothest games to play in its genre.

The atmosphere won't scare anyone (unless you still get scared with the Bela Lugosi kind of movies) but as I said, I don't think that was the idea. Nocturne seems to be more of a tribute to old horror movies, plagued with Film Noir cliches as to spice it up. The graphics are all dyied with this brownish colour that makes the whole picture look like an old movie. Besides that, the background designing is great.

The animation is fine, all the characters move in a very natural way... well, given the species each of them belong to. I specially liked the way Stranger's coat moves (and how it reacts to the wind, the running, the walking...); and the quite realistic movements of a girl you find tied to a bed in the fourth mission.

I loved the gore details, they are quite exaggerated and that makes them brilliant. The way the blood spills, the blood stains on floors and walls, the different ways the monsters die (sometimes they just fall on their knees, sometimes they start to lose limbs one by one until they die, sometimes the blow up in thousands of pieces), how they pick up their own severed limbs and attack you with them... sickly gore.

The monsters are indeed all those creatures we suffered millions of times in millions of Class-Z movies. If you can deal with this, the monsters are great. Once again, you won't find any innovation here, but all the characters play their part perfectly and are very well designed.

Same goes for the plot, even the few twists are all predictable; and noone can seriously consider it immersive at all; it doesnt' scare you and at times it gets so ridiculously cliched you just can't take it seriously. But then again, when you watch a Horror Classic this is the kind of thing you expect to find.

The music and the sound effects greatly add to the whole atmosphere. Here they are, all the cliched musical scores that will make you remember every pre-1980 horror movie you ever saw.

Every horror/survival title has two main characteristics: action and puzzles. In Nocturne, there are both of them; and both are great. The action sequences are not stupidly easy neither they are frustrating hard. The interface is smooth enough to make them challenging but not impossible. As for he puzzles, they are quite a couple. If you play the missions in order, you will find them more often and increasingly hard as you move on, but they keep easy enough as to be understandable by anyone. As for the missions, it was a very good idea to offer them as seperate levels you can play in any order you want.

The Bad

There isn't really much to complain about Nocturne. Everything that looks 'bad' looks that way because it was intended to.

I can't get to like the way you control the character in this kind of games. Although Nocturne's interface is pretty smooth and I didn't find any serious issues (like the hot-spots thing in AITD4), I miss the freedom of movement that only FPS's can give.

I think the plot doesn't intend to innovate, and maybe it is naive on purpouse, but sometimes it gets TOO naive, borderline stupid. Some characters need some more work and some (like the hook-handed Coronel) would have been better left out of the picture.

I really didn't get what they wanted to do with the Night Vision. It may be the most USELESS feature I EVER bumped into in a game. I never really needed it in any place of the whole game, and when I tried to make use of it 'just for kicks', I found it wouldn't help in any sort of way. I just don't dare to call it 'a bad feat', but I sure don't understand what was it intended to be.

This one is maybe silly, but I HATE the way Stranger holds some of the weapons. Walking around with the hands in the air like he does with the two pistols makes him look like a zombie, or just a stupid guy. Same goes to the way he uses the axes and swords. In this case his movements reminds me of those toy birds that you push with a finger and they swing their heads back and forth.

The Bottom Line

Film Noir meets Horror Classics. Get every cliche of both genres, put them in a blender; and voila: you got Nocturne. This game doesn't innovate nor scare. Nocturne is just a tribute to horror classics.

Other than that, the interface lets you play smoothly, the graphics are good, the music matches up perfectly; and the game overall is FUN. Nocturne doesn't invent anything, but it does it perfectly.