Nocturne (video game)

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For the role-playing video game, see Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne.
Developer(s) Terminal Reality
Designer(s) Mark Randel
Composer(s) Kyle Richards
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Release date(s)
  • NA October 31, 1999
  • EU 1999
Genre(s) Survival horror, adventure
Mode(s) Single-player

Nocturne is a survival horror adventure 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),[1] 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.

Graphics, sound, and gameplay[edit]

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.[citation needed] A lounge song in Nocturne‍ '​s Act III is sung by Mary Beth Brooks, who performed via telephone.[2]

Like many early survival horror games, Nocturne features pre-rendered backgrounds superimposed with real-time 3D characters.[citation needed] 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[edit]

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.

The artifact, called the Yatgy Stone, later appears in the game BloodRayne, where it is explained to be the heart of Beliar, the former ruler of Hell and the most powerful demon ever born.

Act II: Tomb of the Underground God[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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.

The Epilogue[edit]

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.


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 75.05%[3]

The game received positive reviews, scoring 75.05% at the review aggregator site GameRankings, based on 29 reviews.[3] 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."[4] GameSpot gave the game a "good" rating of 7.0 out of 10.[5]


Nocturne was heavily influential in the creation of Terminal Reality's BloodRayne game.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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 Beliar 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,[6] and for Ghostlight to change the subtitle to Lucifer's Call.


  1. ^ Lynn Mathis at IMDb
  2. ^ Mary Beth Brooks at IMDb
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ "Nocturne review". Retrieved 2013-01-22. 
  5. ^ November 17, 1999 12:00AM PST (1999-10-31). "Nocturne Review". Retrieved 2013-01-22. 
  6. ^ NTSC Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne title screen

External links[edit]