Persona 4

■  Platform: PlayStation 2                               ■  Category: Role-Playing

■  Publisher: Atlus                                           ■  Developer: Atlus


Persona 4 is something of a mix between a dating sim and a dungeon crawler.  Instead of dating though, it’s more like a friend sim.  As you level up your friendships called Social Links you gain bonuses that help you with the dungeon crawling aspect of the game.  That may sound simple, but it’s far from it.  Things get complicated after that.  Very complicated.  The battles themselves are simple; they’re turn-based and menu driven, much like the RPGs of old, you can also set other party members to auto-pilot or manual if you so wish.  At the same time you’re introduced to battle you are also introduced to Persona “Your true self”.   Be prepared for a crash course on Freudian psychology because things only get weirder.  Each team member gets their own personal persona, only the main character can swap out personas, allowing you access to a wide variety of skills.  while that doesn’t sound so hard, how you obtain your personas is.  You get the chance to collect new personas after a battle, if you fuse these personas with others you get newer, and perhaps stronger personas.  I bet your wondering where the dating sim bit fits in.  Well, in order to get higher level personas not only do you have to level up social links corresponding to the persona type, but your character also need to be a least the same level.  The in game tutorials cover the whole fusion system by taking the hands off approach.  Basically you’ve got to more or less figure it out yourself.

Does the game do what it says it does? Full Star

The case for Persona 4 is quite the mild mannered liar.  With such inspiring quotes like “Tune In, Turn On, Drop DEAD…” and “..brave the  mysterious TV world before another schoolmate dies” your left with the distinct impression that you have to quickly catch the killer.  What it fails to impress upon you is that your not just solving murders or catching the murder.  You are actively stopping the murders, braving deathtraps created by the victims own mind to save them from themselves.  Any veteran to the series will know that there’s a lot more to Persona then what meets the eye.

Is the game enjoyable? Full Star

Yes, it’s simple game play, but complex system for leveling characters up makes it enjoyable for both the causal and the hard core gamer.  The story is impressive, and the music is a typical-to-the-series upbeat techno-rock fanfare.  It’s happy go lucky music, yellow theme, and generally up beat attitude makes it really easy to forget, or should I say hard to tell, that the game is actually a horror game.  As you run around town, on bright sunny days talking to the towns folk about the best curry you forget that a murder has happened, and in a way it’s almost terrifying how closely the game mimics life.  People die and the world goes on.  The young girl who’s father is a detective doesn’t hear about the murders and talk about how sad it is, or scary.  She talks about how her Dad will have to work late.  After a week people stop talking about the murder, the father comes home because there’s nothing left to do…and the world keeps turning.

Do you think other people will enjoy it? Full Star

The general consensus seems to be that this is a game everyone should play.  Why?  Because it has everything, and it does it well.  About the only turn off for the Average Joe is the excessive amount of Japanese cultural references made during class time when quizzed on the matter.  Questions about famous Japanese poets or presidents are pretty much all you’ll get quizzed about, unlike the last game (Persona 3) a brief summary with all the info you need is given to you right before the question is asked, a small god send to those of us who played 3 and where asked straight up who was on the 1000 yen bill.

Did the game make you laugh? Full Star 

Yes, there are several comic relief characters, but they aren’t just that.  as the game goes on you get more snarking and less comedy, but that’s because…

Did it make you cry? Full Star

Instead of crying it would be accurate to describe the emotions evoked as the game goes on as “soul crushing depression”.  Remember what I said before about the game being a horror game?  Well this is what I was talking about.  The horror doesn’t lie in the monsters you fight, or the blood and gore, of which there is none.  No, the horror lies elsewhere, in a hard to find place, in the back of the mind.  In the disconnect between what you know and what the people of the town knows.  And the lack of disconnect between the game and reality.  How easily the dead are forgotten, the nasty little whispers about them, and how time keeps moving, not waiting for those left behind.

Final Score: Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star

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