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Nocturne
Nocturnegamecover.jpg
Developer(s) Terminal Reality
Publisher(s) Gathering of Developers
Designer(s) Mark Randel
Composer(s) Kyle Richards
Engine Nocturne Engine
Version 1.00.52 (January 25, 2000)
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Release date(s) NA October 31 1999
Genre(s) Survival horror
third-person shooter
Action
Mode(s) Single-player
Rating(s) ELSPA: 15+
ESRB: M
USK: 16+
Media CD-ROM(2)

Nocturne is a video game released for Microsoft Windows by Terminal Reality in 1999. It is a survival horror game set in the late 1920s and early 1930s of the Prohibition-era and Great Depression-era, starring the player as The Stranger, an operative of a fictional American Government secret organization known as "Spookhouse", created by President Theodore Roosevelt to fight monsters. He goes on missions to investigate four strange cases and save people from classical monsters, such as werewolves, zombies, vampires and others.

Contents

Graphics and gameplay

The game featured cutting-edge graphics for the time. One of the biggest selling points being the realistic shadow rendering capability of the game engine. The makers strongly encourage players to play in a darkened room for maximum effect. The sound is also very detailed.

Like many early survival horror games, Nocturne features prerendered backgrounds superimposed with realtime 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 as 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, one has to first draw a weapon in order to use it. Thus, if The Stranger encounters an enemy, he must draw his weapon, aim, evade, then fire. With separate controls. This is greatly eased with the use of the "Auto-Aim" option on the "Controls" menu.

Storyline

Instead of a single over-arching story, Nocturne's gameplay is broken up into 4 independent Acts. Each Act is a self-contained campaign that can be selected as soon as the game begins. Although the 4 Acts can be played in any order, they progress in chronological order from 1 to 4 and thus some very minor details (such as agents that join or leave the Spookhouse organization as time passes) are easiest to see when you play the Acts in that order. The Acts are as follows:

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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. The Artifact, here called the Yatgy Stone, makes a comeback in the BloodRayne game. Here, is explained to be the heart of Beliar, once the ruler of Hell and the most powerful demon ever born.

Act II: Tomb of the Underground God

The Stranger uses his dual pistols, a double-barrel 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. This chapter is mostly about killing zombies, although other monstrous creatures appear towards the end of the chapter.

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 this nefarious plot. This chapter has less of a horror feel and is more like an action movie. The only enemy you face are the Frankenmobsters, who (despite the fact they have green skin), behave like human opponents; yelling wisecracks, talking amongst 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) and who, in his time, was widely regarded to be one of the organization's best monster hunters. Through a convoluted series of events, The Stranger is placed in a massive, puzzle-filled deathtrap and forced to face enemies from the game's previous 3 Acts who are also trapped in there with him.

The Epilogue

Once all 4 Acts have been played and beaten, a short 5-minute interactive epilogue is unlocked that thrusts The Stranger into a grim cliffhanger that paves the way for a sequel that has yet to be announced or released.

Spookhouse

The Spookhouse is a major agency seen in the game. It's the Supernatural Domestic Defense and League of Research, a secret agency that deals and fight the supernatural evil, founded in 1903, after President Theodore Roosevelt killed a werewolf while hunting (so realizing that monsters could be a threat to the country). Some of the most prominent agents from Spookhouse are:

  • The Stranger - The main character in the game. A man without past, identity or history, was employed by the Spookhouse in 1923 in strange circumstances. He hates all kinds of monsters and speaks only when is necessary. He is both criticized for having "the social skills of Attila the Hun" and greatly admired by his colleagues. However hostile and reserved he first appears to be, he later softens and accepts his colleagues.
  • Colonel Hapscomb - Former colonel of the army, Hapscomb is the Vice-director from the Spookhouse. He is always met by the player at the beginning of an act (safe for Act 2 - but a failure to save some citizens in Redeye, Texas leads to a cutscene in which he briefly appears - and a game over screen) to tell Stranger what he must do. He is hook-handed and wears an eyepatch.
  • General Biggs - A General of the United States Army that helped Stranger in the Third Act. He is a close friend of Colonel Hapscomb.
  • Svetlana Lupescu - Supernatural huntress of human mother and vampire father (Dhampir), she is one of the top operatives of the Spookhouse. Svetlana is very important in the First Act, when she is the partner of Stranger. She has only very brief appearances in the following Acts, but has important information to teach the player. In BloodRayne 1, an early conversation between Rayne and her friend and mentor Mynce hints that Svetlana is Rayne's half-sister. Additionally, Svetlana was supposed to be one of the main characters in Nocturne 2 (which was never released - but changed into BloodRayne 1).
  • Moloch - A demon that 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 that had cast him out of Hell centuries before. He assisted in the sealing of 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 the First Act, but goes missing during most of the game after he goes on a mission in Spain. Later, he is found in the Fourth Act and helps Stranger.
  • Scat Dazzle - Partner of The Stranger in the Second Act, he is a voodoo expert since he was a child. He can summon the Baron Samedi, an extremely powerful Loa who looks like a skeleton. Scat was dead in the beginning of the Second Act, but was resurrected by the Baron Samedi. It was implied that he had died many times before, always being resurrected.
  • Baron Samedi - One of the most powerful voodoo loas, his 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. Appears in the beginning of the three Acts in which The Stranger visits The Spookhouse for his briefing.
  • Hiram Mottra - Hiram's service to Spookhouse consists mainly of research and documentation. Occasionally he is called upon to go into the field in a combat capacity, but his nervous nature and considerable bulk makes him ill equipped as a soldier. To compensate he tends to carry 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 this "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 invented by herself. She is a very resourceful Spookhouse agent, as she is very capable in laboratory research, medicine, paranormal, inventing new "toys", investigating and field fighting (as proven in Blair Witch Volume 1), as well as having great knowledge of The Spookhouse's best agent prior to The Stranger (as revealed in Act 4). 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. Not too much is revealed about her. If she is the person The Stranger sees in the Epilogue Chapter, it may imply that Elspeth Holliday's fate was not as dreadful as initially thought. However, this is still open to debate, as Nocturne 2 was never released. Beside, The Stranger does not make any comment on his gruesome discovery in the laboratory and only seems interested in the spare key ring to unlock the briefing room. Furthermore, in Blair Witch Volume 1, The Stranger and Elspeth share very different points of view on security at The Spookhouse (The Stranger even foretelling Nocturne's Epilogue, while Elspeth simply disregards it as "distinctive paranoia") - which could lead players to believe it is Elspeth in Nocturne's Epilogue.
  • Vicenzo "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 induced to experimental medical procedures that transformed him into a horribly scarred and stitched together giant. After the Third Act, he was 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.

Sequels

There is also a partial sequel to Nocturne - actually a crossover between the Nocturne universe and the Blair Witch legend. 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, investigating the legend of the Blair Witch. The story's background involves an old hermit named Rustin Parr, who killed seven children in Burkittsville and said that he was doing it for an "old woman ghost", the Blair Witch. Spookhouse became interested in the case, and Doc is sent to investigate. The game was developed by Terminal Reality and use the Nocturne Engine. Some agents from Nocturne appear in the game. However, none of the two following Volumes made any mention to The Spookhouse (although Elspeth and Volume 3's protagonist did meet in a temporal breach in Volume 1, from Elspeth's point of view, this scene is no present in Volume 3).

Influence on other games

Nocturne was heavily influential in the creation of Terminal Reality's BloodRayne game. The main protagonist of BloodRayne, the Dhampir Rayne, is based upon the Nocturne character Svetlana Lupescu (Rayne's costume in the beta version suggests she was originally supposed to be Svetlana), and the first BloodRayne game (its working title was Nocturne 2) contains several references to Nocturne, including several levels that take place in the German castle from Nocturne's Act I - which finally "vindicates" The Stranger (as he was forced to let a powerful vampire live). Furthermore, a dialogue in BloodRayne suggests that Svetlana and Rayne are half-sisters. 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 1 has been renamed the heart of Belial. The Brimstone Society seems to either be a sub-branch of The Spookhouse or its successor (as The Spookhouse appears to have been destroyed in Nocturne's Epilogue) or one of the agencies for which The Stranger sometimes works (as he is a very special member who was accepted under very obscure reasons and clearly has an agenda of his own, as can be demonstrated by his very rude refusal to investigate the Blair Witch affair - with absolutely no sanction and no consequences). The fact that The Stranger and one of the cloaked figures who recruit Rayne share the same voice actor (because Majesco liked his voice) implies that the mysterious cloaked character is The Stranger donning other clothes (probably because he is either currently or temporarily working for another organization) - not to mention both seem to dislike vampires even though Rayne is "only half vampire" (which echoes The Stranger's comment on Svetlana : "Half is too much.").

The reason that the game BloodRayne had similar elements to Nocturne was because it had been planned as the sequel to Nocturne. The story and elements were changed because Nocturne did not sell quite as well as had been hoped in the market.

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