Noi\\ShinMegamiTensei: Persona 4 [Impressions]January 22, 2009
First time I do one of these here things, though I should technically have enough material to report about.
I actually started typing this post as a playlog post, but then I realized that I’d written probably too much about Persona 4 to be able to compare it to the other games I was gonna type about, so I’ll leave the rest for another time. Anyway, read up on my Persona 4 impressions after the jump.
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (jRPG; Playstation 2)
Finally finished this monster up this week. I’d been trying to make progress on the game’s final events for a while, because unlike the rest of the game, which gives you roughly a month of in-game time to beat any of the game’s dungeons, but the final “true” dungeon only allows you a single day to clear both the dungeon as well as the final big bad. A note to everyone that has not beaten the game yet but wishes to go for the true ending: Max out the Hermit (Fox) Social Link. DO IT. The overall discount on the Fox’s dungeon healing will be a huge help in saving those hard-earned SP recovery items to use where it really matters, which is during the final encounter, as you’ll need every single one. It’s not like they’ll carry over to Second Cycle anyway.
Anyhoo, my overall impressions of the game.
– Overall difficulty: Much easier than it’s predecessor, Persona 3.
This is a point I’d like to stress about. While Persona 4 provides a decent challenge, it’s nowhere near as challenging as Persona’s 3 “The Journey”, or it’s expansion, The Answer. Being able to directly command your party members automatically makes things a lot easier, but your party members are automatically revived if they die in battle, and then the enemies themselves aren’t really much of a problem either. The generic shadows you face aren’t as lethal and menacing as last time around, the bosses themselves just rely on a single pattern that can easily be identified, and above all, the Hama/Mudo OHKO spammers are far and few in between. And even if a spammer DOES show up, the new abilities granted by social link development make any challenge to that null and void, as odds are that you won’t lose a single character due to being able to “withstand” an otherwise mortal blow. The One More and Down system has also been greatly altered, as being put in a Down status isn’t nearly as lethal as it was in the last game. I’ll probably have to check the game’s Expert mode if I want my share of masochistic difficulty, but all that’ll do is raise the enemies’ damage output either way.
– Plot development: Much more characterization and priority, less impact.
What P4 does right is that, given that it’s a sequel, some things are gonna get fixed. P3’s main flaw was that sometimes, it took too long for any important events to happen, and you often found yourself with literally nothing to do except either randomly explore Tartarus, or do S. Link development. P4 fixes this by keeping events happening constantly, not leaving too much of a waiting period for new events to occur, yet giving you enough time to finish up dungeons and develop some social links without having to rush. At the same time, I felt the overall impact of the plot is a lot less dramatic than it is in it’s previous game. Spoilers aside, the final events in P4 just seem.. tame, compared to the world-ending cataclysm that occurs in the previous game. Most of this is probably due to the game’s plot being less focused on events happening outside of the PC’s control, where in this game, the events that occur are a direct result of the main character’s intervention.
– S. Links are much easier to develop and raise, thank god.
Odds are, P3 veterans remember just how long maxing out a social link would take. Developing a school s. link could take ages, and it was even worse when it came to single day s.links, where you could only raise said link on specific days. FES fixed this a little, but it was still time consuming and not so easy to be capable of actually maxing out every S. Link in one playthrough. Luckily, P4 greatly changes this, and I’m not complaining in any way or form. While carrying a Persona of a matching arcana is always useful, I actually found myself maxing out one or two s.links without ever having a matching persona, and it didn’t even really take that long to do so. On the side, Status ranks are also much easier to raise, and there’s tons of ways to do so, rather than in P3 where you could only raise your social stats by doing specific things at specific times.
Overall impression: Positive.
After beating P4, I felt a huge void form in the time frame where I used to play the game before. Having 77 unfinished games to play, you would think it would be easy to move on to the next game. But I actually went and started the Second Cycle (P4’s New Game +), though I don’t plan on playing it too much, since I’m loaning the game to a friend. I mean, the game itself is great. It’s a tad time consuming, but then again, aren’t all jRPGs the same way? It’s got great characters, good pacing, and whenever a day goes by in game, there’s always something nagging at the back of you head about the many tasks that you still need to be done, like rescuing the damsel in distress (now that I think about it, you only really rescue ONE male during the game’s serial killings, the rest of the actual rescues are all females), developing the link between characters, going fishing, stat raising, and so on. There’s always something extra you can do outside of following the plot in the game, and I guess that’s something that you don’t really see in that many RPGs nowadays. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 is a must-buy for any jRPG enthusiast, wether you’ve played a single Persona game before or not. It’s still an enjoyable experience experience with a mild challenge.