Nocturne (video game)
Nocturne is a psychological horror video game set in the late 1920s and early 1930s – the Prohibition and Great Depression era. The player takes the part of The Stranger (voiced by Lynn Mathis), an operative of a fictional American Government secret organization known as "Spookhouse", which was created by President Theodore Roosevelt to fight monsters. He investigates four strange cases and saves people from classic monsters such as werewolves, zombies, and vampires.
- 1 Graphics, sound, and gameplay
- 2 Storyline
- 3 Reception
- 4 Legacy
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Graphics, sound, and gameplay
The game featured cutting-edge graphics for its time. One of its biggest selling points was the realistic shadow rendering capability of the game engine. The makers strongly encouraged players to play in a darkened room for maximum effect.
The sound is also very detailed. The soundtrack of Nocturne is public domain music and has made appearances in other works, including the hit NBC TV reality series Fear Factor, the 2002 Japanese movie Returner, and the E3 2007 teaser trailer for Resident Evil 5. A lounge song in Nocturne's Act III is sung by Mary Beth Brooks, who performed via telephone.
Like many early survival horror games, Nocturne features pre-rendered backgrounds superimposed with real-time 3D characters. Camera angles were often chosen for style rather than function. During gameplay, it is common to experience difficulty keeping track of the player/character,[according to whom?] because the camera view can radically change when moving out of the current camera frame.
The controls are fairly standard for the genre, but controls for moving and aiming are separate. In addition, a weapon must be drawn before it may be used. Therefore, if The Stranger encounters an enemy, he must draw his weapon, aim, evade, then fire with separate controls. This process can be greatly eased by the use of an "Auto-Aim" option on the "Controls" menu.
Instead of possessing a single overarching story, Nocturne's gameplay is broken up into four independent Acts. Each Act is a self-contained campaign that can be selected as soon as the game begins. Although the four Acts can be played in any order, they progress in chronological order from first to fourth, so some minor details, such as which agents join or leave the Spookhouse organization as time passes, are easiest to see when the Acts are played in order.
Act I: Dark Reign of the Vampire King
The Stranger reluctantly teams up with a half-vampire Spookhouse agent named Svetlana Lupescu to retrieve a powerful artifact from a remote vampire-occupied castle in Germany. This chapter features a large number of different enemies, including ghouls, werewolves, and vampires. Different enemies have different weaknesses, creating a greater variety of gameplay.
Act II: Tomb of the Underground God
The Stranger uses his dual pistols, a double-barreled shotgun, and the grudging help of voodoo god Baron Samedi to battle a zombie outbreak in a small, secluded wild-west style American town. As the title suggests, an H. P. Lovecraft-style entity ultimately makes an appearance.
Act III: Windy City Massacre
Al Capone is creating an army of Frankenstein-style reanimated mobsters, so The Stranger packs up his tommygun and travels to Chicago to stop Capone's nefarious plot. The only enemies in this chapter are the mobsters, who behave like human opponents, yelling wisecracks, talking among themselves, and fighting with tommyguns.
Act IV: The House on the Edge of Hell
Responding to a call for assistance, The Stranger is dispatched to the remote mansion of Hamilton Killian, a retired Spookhouse agent with many of the same qualities as The Stranger, including an overwhelming hatred of monsters. In his time, Killian was widely regarded as one of the organization's best monster hunters. Through a convoluted series of events, The Stranger is placed into a massive, puzzle-filled deathtrap and forced to face enemies from the game's previous three Acts who are also trapped.
Once all four Acts have been played and beaten, a five-minute interactive epilogue is unlocked that thrusts The Stranger into a grim cliffhanger, paving the way for a possible sequel, though none has yet been announced or released.
The Spookhouse is a major agency seen in the game. Its official name is the "Supernatural Domestic Defense and League of Research", and it is a secret agency founded in 1903, after President Theodore Roosevelt killed a werewolf while hunting. Its agents fight supernatural threats to the country. Some of the most prominent Spookhouse agents are:
- The Stranger – The main character in the game. A man without past, identity or history, he was employed by the Spookhouse in 1923 in strange circumstances. He hates all kinds of monsters and speaks only when is necessary. He is greatly admired by his colleagues, but also criticized for his cold and sardonic behavior and having "the social skills of Attila the Hun". While he is initially hostile and reserved, he later softens and accepts his colleagues. He is also an excellent marksman who carries a pair of dual pistols with deadly accuracy and supernatural precision.
- Colonel Hapscomb – A former colonel in the army, Hapscomb is the Vice-director of the Spookhouse. The Stranger meets him at the beginning of Acts I, III, and IV, and he tells The Stranger what he must do. He is hook-handed and wears an eyepatch.
- General Biggs – A general in the United States Army who helps The Stranger in Act III. He is a close friend of Colonel Hapscomb.
- Svetlana Lupescu – A supernatural hunter with a human mother and a vampire father, she is one of the top operatives of the Spookhouse. Svetlana is very important in Act I, when she is the partner of Stranger. She makes only brief appearances in the following Acts but offers important information to The Stranger. Svetlana was supposed to be one of the main characters in Nocturne 2, which was never released.
- Khen Rigzin – A wise old man who was a Tibetan monk. He is the adviser and martial arts trainer of the group.
- Moloch – A demon who was "rejected both in Heaven and Hell", Moloch is not officially a Spookhouse operative, but became a volunteer after he helped the operatives in a "Nepalese Horucide in 1927" to destroy the demon who had cast him out of Hell centuries before. He assisted in sealing the portal in the mountains of Nepal, and Spookhouse brought him back to America as a potential agent. He appears briefly in the beginning of Act I, but is missing during most of the game after going on a mission to Spain. Later, he is found in Act IV and helps The Stranger.
- Scat Dazzle – A partner of The Stranger in Act II, he is a voodoo expert who can summon Baron Samedi, an extremely powerful loa who looks like a skeleton. Scat was dead in the beginning of the Act but is resurrected by Baron Samedi. It is implied that he had died many times before.
- Baron Samedi – One of the most powerful voodoo loas, whose dark, cynical attitude enrages The Stranger. He says that he knows a lot about the Stranger, but never reveals what.
- Haystack – A very strong boxer, who can defeat monsters with his fists and special, monster-specific gloves. He appears in the beginning of Acts I, III, and IV, when The Stranger visits the Spookhouse for his briefing.
- Hiram Mottra – Hiram's service to the Spookhouse consists mainly of research and documentation. Occasionally he is called upon to go into the field, but his nervous nature and considerable bulk makes him ill-suited as a soldier. To compensate, he carries an assortment of silver, wood, and mercury weapons so that he can handle confrontations with practically any supernatural creature. His education included a small amount of medical training, so his services as a medic are sometimes employed. He often utilizes his unproven extra sense that allows him to "feel" aggressive thoughts directed at him. Some think his "sixth sense" is actually just paranoia, but more often than not, his feelings prove true.
- Elspeth "Doc" Holliday – The chief scientist of the Spookhouse. She always helps The Stranger, supplying him with weapons and devices she has invented. She is a very resourceful agent, capable in laboratory research, medicine, paranormal research, invention, investigation, and fighting in the field, as well as having great knowledge of The Spookhouse's best agent prior to The Stranger (as revealed in Act IV). She is the main character in the semi-sequel Blair Witch Vol. 1: Rustin Parr.
- Justine – Justine appears only in the semi-sequel as an assistant to Doc Holliday.
- Vincenzo "Icepick" Gasparro – Originally an enforcer for the Ghiberti Family in Chicago, Icepick was betrayed and "sold" to Professor Loathring as an early experiment in Al Capone's "Frankenmob" scheme. Already a large man, Gasparro was subjected to experimental medical procedures that transformed him into a horribly scarred and stitched together giant. After Act III, he is recruited by the Spookhouse and trained by Doc Holliday, becoming very loyal to her.
- Gabriela Augustini – She did not appear in the final version of the game, but in early versions she was intended to have a great role or maybe be one of the main characters. Can be unlocked by players who changes the system files. She's almost a female counterpart of The Stranger.
The game received mixed reviews. Many reviewers[who?] panned the storyline and some of the elements of the game, while others enjoyed it. For instance, John Misak at PC Game World said in his review, "You'd be insane not to pick this game up, even if you only casually consider yourself a gamer." GameSpot gave the game a "good" rating of 7.0 out of 10.
Nocturne was heavily influential in the creation of Terminal Reality's BloodRayne game. The first BloodRayne game's working title was Nocturne 2, and it contains several references to Nocturne, including several levels that take place in the German castle from Nocturne's Act I. The story and elements were changed because Nocturne did not sell as well as had been hoped.
The main protagonist of BloodRayne, the dhampir Rayne, is based upon the Nocturne character Svetlana Lupescu; Rayne's costume in the beta version even suggests she was originally supposed to be Svetlana. The "holy grail of the Vampires", the magical stone that can render a vampire invulnerable to most things that should normally harm him from Nocturne's Act I, is the heart of Belial in BloodRayne.
There is a partial sequel to Nocturne – a crossover between the Nocturne universe and The Blair Witch Project. The game, Blair Witch vol. I: Rustin Parr, is the first of a trilogy of Blair Witch games published by Gathering of Developers. The game stars the Spookhouse agent Elspeth "Doc" Holliday, who investigates the legend of the Blair Witch. The story's background involves an old hermit named Rustin Parr, who killed seven children in Burkittsville, claiming that he was doing it for an "old woman ghost". Spookhouse becomes interested in the case, and Doc is sent to investigate.
The game was developed by Terminal Reality and uses the Nocturne Engine. Some other agents from Nocturne appear in the game. However, neither of the two following volumes in the series made any mention to the Spookhouse; although Elspeth and vol. III's protagonist meet during a temporal breach in vol. I, the scene is not present in vol. III.
The name "Nocturne" for use in video games remained under trademark, forcing Atlus to license it when releasing Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne in North America,  and for Ghostlight to change the subtitle to Lucifer's Call.