Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4
Persona 4. I first played the game as the enhanced port Persona 4 Golden for the Playstation Vita. Persona 4 first released for the Playstation 2 in 2008 to wide acclaim from critics and fans alike. Persona 4 is technically a spinoff of the long-running Shin Megami Tensei series which released its initial game in 1987. When I first played I had no notion of the game or series’popularity and ardent fans. I had heard that it sort of combined Pokemon’s addicting collection aspect as well as a well Harry Potter like written visual novel type story filled with decisions and multiple endings. Although after 90+ hours of playing it, I saw why it is one of the best games of all time.
I’ll try to explain why the game creates such a memorable experience.
Story and Characters
The fact that Persona 4’s characters and story are so well written is one of the reasons it is my favorite game. You start off the game as a new transfer student to rural Inaba’s Yasogami High School from the “big city”(aka Tokyo). You live with your detective uncle Ryotaro Dojima and younger cousin Nanako.
Early on at school you hear about the rumor of the mysterious “Midnight Channel” which is rumored to show your soulmate if you stare at your TV at midnight on rainy nights. When murders start happening around town involving people seen on TV, it’s up to you and your new friends to find the culprit behind these atrocities while also just surviving a year of high school.
The story and characters can be hilarious and dramatic throughout and it keeps everything fresh. The characters in this game are some of the most realized in the medium and really keep the game from becoming stale.
The turn based gameplay of Persona 4 is remniscent of Pokemon as there is a large emphasis on Persona collecting. These demons compromise different attributes that are used to determine weaknesses. Another reason that Personas are great is that they compromise figures from various world religions. It’s interesting to learn about many of the stories and myths from various cultures. And you can literally fuse Satan, so yeah. You will be going through many different dungeons in Persona 4, which are usually tied in to a specific character. Another aspect of the gameplay that makes Persona stand out is the Fusion System.
A core tenet of the Shin Megami Tensei and Persona series at heart, the fusion system is a great way to make your Personas stronger and more viable in battle. The system can definitely daunting at first but over time you will learn how to successfully use it.
In my opinion, Persona 4 has the greatest soundtrack in video game history. Sure the J-Pop tracks were even grating on me the first time around. But by the 500th time I’ve heard songs like “Heartbreak, Heartbreak” and “Your Affection” were legit jams.
Also the Opening movie is fantastic.
Probably the greatest part of Persona 4 is its Social Link system. This system lets you gain friendships with your classmates and certain other people found in town. Yes there are romance options, but the game does not make anything uncomfortable besides awkward hugs. You can also join clubs and teams such as Band, Drama, Basketball, and Soccer along with having many part-time jobs. These social links lead to additional story beats but also allow your character to enjoy more advantages in battle such as being able to be revived in battle or being able to fuse stronger Personas.
All in all Persona 4 is a fantastic and noteworthy game for the way it portrays its characters and the struggles they face in their everyday lives and the narrative choices that are tied in with these characters.
You can buy the game on Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita, or Playstation TV. So basically everywhere in the Playstation family.
P.S. Giant Bomb Endurance Run
The video game site Giant Bomb played through the entire game and it’s some of the best videos on YouTube. If you are curious about the game, I’d probably start there.