Title: Persona 4
Genre: RPG, Dating Sim, Raising Sim, Monster Collection, Dungeon Crawler
Platforms: PS2, Vita (Persona 4 Golden)
Languages: Japanese, English, Other
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Story: People have been disappearing lately, and there’s rumors at school about a mysterious channel that comes on at midnight every night. This midnight show can show you a better “you”, a you that is your soul’s true desire; but you might not like the “you” you find here. A group of youths with a strange ability to call upon powers known as “personas” find that they must fight to save their friends, and ultimately the world, by calling upon different reflections of their inner selves.
Concept & Gameplay: The Persona series focuses on building relationships with monsters found in randomly generated dungeons. There’s only one dungeon in the game and its map changes each time you enter. You are free to explore as often as you want and climb as high as you want (though there are locks at certain points where you have to progress the story further before you may continue). In addition to a dungeon crawler, it blends dating sim elements by allowing you to forge relationships with not just members of your party, but even the NPCs which you encounter. Increasing these relationships reveals story information and also makes your personas much stronger in battle. You can fuse and combine personas within the velvet room in order to create new personas. Once a persona has been registered, it can be summoned again without needing to capture it again first. Also at certain points you will make small choices in how you respond to characters or in which activities you take part in (such as joining clubs), this allows you to meet certain characters and see certain scenes, while forcing you to miss out on other characters and scenes, increasing the replay value, but ultimately, not impacting the story or ending of the game (aside from one very important choice near the very end of the game which results in either the good or bad ending). If your game continues after the train sequence in the epilogue you will know you are headed for the “good” ending or “true ending” as they call it. Which adds at least another 2 hours of gameplay to the game. The only slight flaw with the gameplay is it is possible to screw up so badly that you might have to start the game all over from the beginning, because of this, save often! You have until the “next full moon” to level up before being forced into boss encounters; if you forget and don’t have the level, gears, equipment, items, potions, personas, etc that you should have by then, you will probably be resetting your game out of desperation. I use 3 or 4 save slots, and alternate every 20 minutes or so between which slots I save in. This way I have a few options to try and salvage the mess I’ve gotten into. While I never had a problem where I felt I needed to reload an old save, it never hurts to be ready for a “what-if” scenario. Also, unlike other games I’ve reviewed so far, this game has combat and action elements too, and the combat is very fun and intriguing using the monsters you have collected for various abilities and teaching your monsters new abilities. You can also split up and search the dungeons for treasures or stairs to the next floor. The AI seems fairly intelligent too.
Characters: There are hundreds of characters in this game, you might not meet them all, and you definitely won’t be able to max your relationship with all of them in a single play through. The characters are diverse and have depth and as you progress your relationship with each of them you witness the strength of character development that went into this game and how human and realistic these characters are. They have flaws, they have worries, troubles, joys, memories, pain, pasts, families, etc. It’s very touching and really the highlight of the game for me.
Graphics: The graphics are a bit dated by today’s standards. The 3d especially looks pretty bad. Keep in mind, this is a ps2 rpg, not ps3 or ps4. I think for its time that the graphics were fairly decent and I loved the added touch of the animated cutscenes and expressive character portraits.
Music: The music is very good, I dunno of anyone who’s played it who hasn’t had the “Junes Theme” stuck in their head at one time or another lol. It’s simple but catchy music. My favorite music is within the velvet room :).
Voice Acting: I played the official/commercial English version of the game, therefore my review and scores of voice acting are for the English version and the English actors. I thought it was actually really well done and I am not a fan of most dubs. I like that the script was left fairly untouched with a lot of mature decisions, such as allowing characters to use foul language; this makes their emotions seem stronger and more “real” to me. If you’re in a situation of high stress, it sounds more natural to curse rather than to use children safe alternatives. (just my opinion) Most of the cast did really really well. They showed a really wide range of emotion and versatility, and even many of the NPCs are voiced, it was probably a huge undertaking to record that much dialogue.
Voice Acting: 9/10
Overall: 84% B “Very Good Game For Girls”