Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 review
This game (like 3) is one of the strangest gaming experiences I’ve ever had. It’s a bizarre fusion of a dating sim and an RPG. Although this appears to be a major genre clash, this game manages to mesh them in a method that enhances both genres. The dating sim helps you care about the people you’re fighting evil with…. And the fighting evil makes you actually care about these people. I guess you could say it’s like a superhero movie. Spider man is more relatable due to Peter Parker, and you actually care about Parker because he has Super powers. The two become inseparable, and the end result is quite entertaining. This time around, the party functions much better, feels closer together, and feels more alive than in Persona 3.
Oh yeah, the main plot. People are winding up dead. At the same time a urban legend is believed to show people their soul mate. The main character investigates this, and finds out that the two are connected. This leads to you entering an alternate dimension inside the TV… where you gain the ability to summon an alter ego known as a “Persona.” The plot manages to be more personal than most RPGs, and revolves more around the characters than the universe around them. It’s not about a freaking apocalypse (at least not until the end) which is pretty cool, cuz I’m getting sick of the apocalypse. Better yet, the plot has multiple layers, and just when you think you have it figured out, it throws another curveball at you. Probably one of the better plots I’ve seen in a game.
I like this games method of awakening a Persona user much better than the one in Persona 3. Hypothetically, anybody in this game could summon a Persona, while in 3, you had to shoot yourself in the head. (Thanks to that game, I’m entirely unphased when somebody sticks a gun to their head) Instead of just a few chosen to use Personas, anybody can use them, assuming they are strong enough to survive a certain encounter in the TV realm.
Gameplay: Well, it works. You live your life as a normal high school students, make friends, hit on girls (Chie-chan ^_^) and fight crime. You have two separate sets of stats, your combat stats and your social stats. Social stats are important because they dictate whether your character is a loser who has no friends, or the guy who knows everything and hot women fall in love with on sight. Also, it dictates whether or not your character has the spine to do stuff (Like, I dunno, tell somebody off, crack jokes, e.t.c.)… so you should probably pay attention to them. Also, they help you make friends…. And the power of friendship is quite prevalent in this game. If you have a close relationship with your friends, they will do cooler stuff in combat, like to tag team attacks, or heal status conditions. It really makes the party feel like a group of people rather than some numbers. Simply put, S-links have a much larger effect in this game than they did in Persona 3. Combat stats do the same thing they do in every other RPG, unsurprisingly.
Bosses are interesting in this game. They employ vastly different strategies, and keep you guessing. If you don’t know what you’re doing, this game will eat you alive. It’s got lots of side bosses, and the dungeons manage to be about as hard as the one in Persona 3. The design of the dungeons is quite interesting, at least concept wise. What other game will make you fight your way through a steamy bathhouse to rescue a person trapped inside a sick fantasy?
Anyhow, this game manages to take a brilliant idea (Persona 3) make it BETTER, and releases it.
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne
You can purchase the game on Amazon here: