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  1. I’ll Burn my Dread and Then Face Myself It’s 12 o’clock midnight and it’s time to get wild. *Entering the Dark Hour* Not that wild, please no. *Survives the onslaught* Perhaps it’s best to never stay up past 12AM, unless you’re playing a game as good as Persona 3 perhaps, it’s your responsibility in the end, but be wary of those shadows, they will not hesitate to finish you off. Hey guys, I had many suggestions to play Persona 3 and after playing it for an entire month, I’ve seen it through to the end, so comes my review for it, I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing. Here's Yuriofwind's video review of it if you wanna see how the game works. Dreamless Dorm, Ticking Clock Persona games, at least the ones I played are fixated on this “Midnight” thing, Persona 3 more so than 4. The story of Persona 3 takes place in a small town in Japan and focuses on the Special Extracurricular Execution Squad. (SEES for short) They are high school students who live on the same dorm, all with the same special power Persona which I’ll elaborate on later, their goal is to restore peace to the world by defeating the evil creatures known as shadows. As the opening song states, this is indeed a dorm that rarely gets decent enough sleep. The only way to face the shadows is via the Dark Hour which takes place right when the clock hits 12AM, you know that time when people are usually asleep. The story takes place over little less than a year, the characters must defeat strong shadows every full moon so there’s a very important boss every month to advance the story. One of the many things that make Persona special is the character development, almost every character in the game is three dimensional and flawed, they may have special powers but they’re just high school kids, they get tired in battle, they face difficulties in real life tasks, but most importantly, they face themselves (No pun intended) Junpei is a video game nerd who could care less about his grades and finds his Persona ability to be the only important thing he’s proficient with, Ken is a 10 year old kid despite being mature about it, and Aigis is a bloody robot. Every character in the game have very clear and well thought out story arcs and the resolution for those story arcs not only change the character but also changing gameplay, as they literally unlock a new Persona better matching to their current state. (Except the OP as hell MC he has access to multiple Personas) Akihiko is my favorite character, I mean he’s just too badass besides developing a relationship with his old friend Shinji. But the story and plot are also interesting in their own right and have a lot of twists and turns like any good story has, the theme of the game is facing death, its inevitability and questioning life. The characters are very suited to the theme, as almost all of them have personal issues to deal with on top of being placed with the burden of saving the world. It’s a well written story filled with intriguing villains and grey morality. On par with that of Persona 4. The Arcana is The Means by Which All Is Revealed Persona 3 is a game that is very similar to Persona 4, or should I say the opposite, but it’s a very different game at the same time. A lot of the combat and gameplay aspects remain similar, there’s of course the Personas which are the series’ equivalent to Pokémon or Yu Gi Oh in a way, and they are spirits summoned from one’s heart into battle, each of them are related to the Tarot cards major arcana if you’re familiar with those cards. The game’s combat system is similar to that of a typical turn based JRPG, each party member takes turns followed by the enemy (Unless the enemy has higher speed) and the battle pretty much continues on until one of either party is dead. Don’t die though, just like in most JRPGs boy do you lose progress and you get to watch that lovely 5 minute boss intro scene which thankfully didn’t happen to me all that much as I almost never died against the major story bosses, only once during the Wheel of Fortune/Strength boss. The tower bosses are a different case, we’ll talk about those in a while. The only thing that makes combat in Persona different than other JRPGs are, well, Personas. These Personas each have different traits to them, different skills, strengths and weaknesses. And really one of the most fun parts of the game is Persona Fusion, fusion does what the name suggests, it literally fuses all different Personas you have to give you a single Persona that’s usually stronger depending on your fusion choice. Near the beginning, you get to fuse two or three Personas in a single fusion operation, and later on, you’ll be able to fuse even more than that. The cascade of synergy is the most exciting part of the game’s combat, managing a team of Personas on top of managing party members in battle adds flavor to the game. A Different Twin But what makes it very different to Persona 4? Well, it’s two major things among others, two of my biggest problems with this otherwise fantastic game. First of all, Tartarus. The game has only a single dungeon if you don’t count the very short pre major boss areas in which you mostly don’t do much, and that dungeon is Tartarus, a 264 floor tower that’s procedurally generated, just like Persona 4’s much more diverse procedural dungeons. You can progress in it a specific amount of stairs in each block, you’ll be able to explore it further every months, as blockades will disappear and allow you to progress further. And every now and then, you’ll reach a non-randomly generated floor that has a boss in it. Tartarus is a very boring dungeon, it’s visually repetitive, it’s repetitive in its exploration and it’s just tedious. Persona 4 was able to hide it’s repetition under the mask of its diverse settings in those dungeons and the reason why you pretty much rarely feel the dungeons in Persona 4 is that they are on average 10 floors long, not 264. Alright, every block in Tartarus has vastly different aesthetics and slightly different music, but they’re mostly pretty boring in my opinion, the game’s combat system and trying out different Personas/Party members make it not as painful as it sounds but when your core central part of the plot, this insane tower that’s a labyrinth of death is really just a 264 floors with variation in about every 40 or so of them. That’s never a good thing to have in your game. I have to at least commend the developers for trying to be different, but you can do better than that, even if you wanna be different. It doesn’t help that the tower bosses are usually cheap and uncreative, there are a lot of bosses in Tartarus that will just make you wanna throw the controller across your room, and others that are pathetically easy. The cheap ones have incredibly unpredictable attacks that stomp your party, sometimes in one hit if they’re weak to the ailment or are under leveled. If it weren’t for Akihiko and his debuffs, the battles would’ve been other levels of ridiculous, a couple of the bosses are just a case of having a good team and good Personas, but some have insane difficulty curves like the Sleeping Table which is a higher level boss than the ones after it in the freaking next block. But really the biggest problem I have with this game and the other major difference from its sequel is the fact that party members cannot be manually controlled, and the AI is so stupid, the only way to make them semi-reliable is going to the tactics menu every now and then and order them to change their behavior, but that’s not nearly as efficient as controlling them yourself like you can in Persona 4. There were a lot of times when I lost a battle just because of a party member’s dumb actions like waking a downed enemy up that I was setting up for an all-out attack, and there were a lot of cases where I would’ve loved if they could’ve used items from my inventory but guess what? They can’t, they only use items through their stupid infinite magical supply inventory that only has two or four crappy items. And there are times when I wanted them to use a different buff, having Akihiko only debuff an enemy on Heal/Support instead of healing an ally that barely took any damage. The final boss in the game was very good and very symbolic but it would’ve been much easier if I could’ve controlled party members instead of rotating the wheel every turn for different tactics that aren’t as reliable as manual control. There are other smaller differences like the stamina system, fight too many battles and you’ll eventually be too tired and suffer penalties, and eventually have to head back home. At first I thought it was a cool system because it brought a sense of urgency and gave a makes players choose their battles wisely, grind too much, and you’ll be too exhausted to keep fighting. But since the game required too much grinding, I just disliked it later on. The overall UI and Menus are much harder to navigate, it’s tedious having to talk to each specific character in order to change their inventory, in Persona 4 there’s one menu that has all of those options, but it’s a slow and tedious process in this game. In terms of technical differences there aren’t that much, the game uses the same engine as Persona 4 so nothing notable in terms of graphical, animation quality and sound differences. One major difference to the visuals is the 2D portraits, every different expression isn’t just a different facial expression but the whole body stance changes, dunno why they left that out in P4, too much work and drawing, I guess? The voice actors are just as excellent as they were before and the soundtrack is great, albeit less memorable than Persona 4’s. The game’s flaws frustrated me a bit, mostly the AI one with Tartarus as a close second, but the other parts of this game are its saving grace. Meaningful Choice This is one of the terms that game designers love to use, immersion is a word that both gamers and game designers love using but meaningful choice helps with that, greatly. Getting immersed in the game is greatly amplified if the game offers meaningful choice. If you’ve studied game design, or you like watching Extra Credits or read some of Gamasutra’s articles, then you’re probably familiar with the term. If you aren’t, I’ll quickly elaborate since I didn’t in my Persona 4 review. Meaningful choice is when a game gives you different choices that have unequal outcomes, those choices can be either gameplay related or story related, or even both. But they must have different results, one could be good or bad, good and better, bad or worse. These meaningful choices help immerse the player in the game’s world and sometimes the Illusion of Choice can be used instead in different games which isn’t as great but also effective. The Persona series has meaningful choice built onto its core, every day you can do a single activity, you can’t possibly do all since it’ll be late and you have to sleep, everyone has to sleep eventually. But what you do with your time is your choice and yours alone, whether you’re developing your social stats or hanging out with your friends is your decision, and you can’t hang out with all of your friends, only with one at a time. This game introduced the social link system that has become prominent throughout the series, and those different social links and different friends you get to hang out with will make certain arcanas stronger for you, making fusion offer more experience points and overall better results with more skills and such since they’ll level up further. A strength and an admirable quality in the Persona series, here it’s slightly weaker than in Persona 4 since you only have 3 social skills as opposed to 6 which means if you’re playing like me you’ll probably max them all out less than halfway through, which means you gotta rely on hanging out with your friends as your sole time killer and they’re not always there, and there are less of them than in P4. But otherwise, it’s an amazing part of the series, very amazing and I always look forward to see the results and fruit of my work. As a player, it empowers me emotionally, immersing me further into the world and making me care more about its characters. As a designer, it inspires me. I think it’s very clear to see that the strongest component of the series is still very much alive in this game, what’s the final verdict? Final Verdict: Persona 3 is an epic video game. It has its fair share of flaws and I wish I played it before Persona 4, or hell I wish I played Persona 3 Portable which had party control. But still, this game laid the foundation when Persona 4 polished it greatly, and there are a lot of suggestions I have for Persona 5 that can make it the perfect Persona game, and I’m pretty sure many others have such suggestions. But I digress, Persona 3 is a very good game and its final chapter was definitely better than Persona 4, while I still think Persona 4 is the overall better game, I still can find lots to appreciate here. Despite Tartarus and Lack of AI control, I’m still gonna give it a better verdict than you may have expected, a nine. The good outweighed the bad for me. Especially after how masterful some of its moments were. Final Score: 9/10 Excellent If you're interested, my Persona 4 review is here. The next game may be Okami, I still haven't beaten Dragon Age Inquisition and don't have the patience to restart it, I lost my save. But yeah, there's a good chance that I'll play Okami soon. And I have not played the extra chapter that came with the FES version of Persona 3, I may play that but I need a break from it. And yeah, new review style, even though I've been writing reviews as an on and off hobby since early 2011 I'm still up for making changes. Thank you for reading, feel free to post your thoughts on Persona 3 and tell me which one you like better, Persona 3 or 4? And why?
  2. Winter Is Coming: Intro: They’re late, how dare they delay The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt to May? But then again, I was late in playing it. But here I am, after 80 hours of experience, I am here to provide an analysis of Geralt’s final chapter. The finale of The Witcher trilogy as a whole. I played every other Witcher game, and I expected this game to easily top the previous Witcher games. Did it manage to achieve that? Let’s find out. Story: Witcher 3 continues right after The Witcher 2 ends. If you haven’t played it, the game gives you enough context to work with so you don’t have to worry too much about playing the previous Witcher games. This game follows Geralt of Rivia once again, this time he’s on a quest to find his adopted daughter, Ciri, on the request of her real father, Emhyr Var Emries, the emperor of Nilfgaard. Throughout the journey, Geralt will encounter deadly beasts, but humans who can sometimes be just as dangerous, in a world where political warfare is waged and there is little room for trust. And also a world threatened by the White Frost and the Wild Hunt, a group of ruthless marauders who command beasts and come to capture Ciri in order to use her power for their evil deeds. Geralt’s primary goal, even more important than rescuing Ciri, is to defeat the Wild Hunt and save the world. Thus the name Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The story is told mostly through the perspective of Geralt but Ciri is playable at some points in the story, which helps to flesh out the events from her perspective. Geralt’s epic story spans tons of hours which gives it room to breathe, the most impressive thing about it, though. Is the huge variety of interesting side character and sub plots. The game’s side stories are equally as interesting as the main quest, which rarely happens in RPGs, if ever. Every quest in the game has flavor to it, and it keeps it feeling fresh and interesting. Stories in the game all have reason for every action you do. The characters of The Witcher 3 are memorable and interesting. The Bloody Baron who may seem like an utter asshole actually has very deep and interesting character development. The Sorceress Yennefer, Geralt’s first love, shows up for the first time. Strong, independent, stoic. She has all sorts of traits that makes her deserving of Geralt’s love and more. Returning characters reprise their roles and are still as excellent as ever. Vernon Roche, Zoltan Chivay and Dandelion have important significance in the story without feeling like they were recycled characters. New characters such as Dijkstra and Emhyr Var Emries also fail to disappoint. All and all, The Witcher 3’s story is filled with intrigue, politics but mainly a personal story about family, love, friendship and valor while faced with mighty odds. The main character himself, Geralt is one of the greatest protagonists ever written. As a witcher, he is a monster slayer, ridder of the world’s filth. A professional for hire but also a hero to the rescue, that’s his strongest quality. Geralt is also flawed, especially after suffering amnesia in The Witcher 2. But his biggest flaw is he’s human and can only do things that his strengths allow him to do. Geralt is brave and will do anything to survive and find his lost child. The Witcher 3’s story is one of the finest tales ever told in any game. It is definitely worth experiencing and will convince you to read the books eventually. I will talk more about the story, specifically, the pacing in the gameplay section. Since it affects it as much. Graphics and Presentation: The Witcher 3’s is a power house in graphical prowess and it never fails to show why. Hands down, the best looking game to date with outstanding character models, detailed textures, dense environments, impressive draw distance and of course, NVIDIA hair works. Who could forget that? The game’s technical achievement varies depending on which platform you play on, but if you played on the PC, the visuals are almost unmatched. But besides the technical achievement, the most impressive thing about the graphics is the visual design. Sure, the game has a lot of green areas and there’s no shortage of forests. But that’s not really all of what the game has to offer, despite being very frequent, it doesn’t feel repetitive. The game has enough variety within those forest environments that it never gets old. The villages and cities can be a nice break from it. And there’s no shortage of caves and dungeons in the game. With a dark fantasy medieval feel to it, having these kind of environments support the game’s storytelling and it has this Polish touch to it, naturally since it was created by Polish people. But there’s a lot of lore and in game bits that are related to Polish lore. Which makes this game an excellent cultural bridge to the world outside of Poland. The Wild Hunt’s audio is masterful! From the crackling sound of steel punching through your foes to the ambient sound effects to the sound of people in the world doing various activities that simulate the natural ecosystem, to even the monsters, is done beautifully. The monsters especially. The animation work is superb, one of my biggest gripes with The Witcher 2 is that the facial expressions were stiff, and that made it fail to express character emotion. Thankfully, they fixed that in The Witcher 3. Every character have very well done facial animations and always realistically act accordingly to their lines. Speaking of which, the voice acting is the best it’s ever been, the English team had aced it once again. Doug Cockle seemed to have finally grasped the Geralt of Rivia character. When he’s on screen, you hear Geralt speaking, not Doug Cockle. Which makes me feel that after the first two games, he finally adapted to the gruff voice and played Geralt like he his own persona. Charles Dance from Game of Thrones as Emhyr Var Emries is spectacular as expected. And pretty much every other character is well done. The audiovisual experience of The Witcher 3 is just as masterful as the story itself. Gameplay: Geralt returns and is stronger than ever. Now leaving the world of convoluted politics of The Witcher 2 and returning to his job as a Witcher. The core game is an Action RPG with lots of emergence and progression involved. The progression mostly lie in the skill trees and leveling up. Every time Geralt levels up, he can invest points in any of the following trees: Combat, Signs, Alchemy and General. The combat tree progresses Geralt’s combat prowess, self-explanatory. The Sign tree progresses his signs which are essentially spells in this game. Alchemy improves potions, decoctions and brewing, and the general tree gives him general skills like a lot more HP, bonuses for light armor and such. You equip those skills by placing them in the appropriate open slots. The skill tree is made more interesting by the mutagens. A much needed upgrade that help form a marriage between gameplay and narrative. Geralt is a mutant, so it makes sense to give him mutagens. The way how it works is with every skill color in a tab where there’s a mutagen of the same color, the bonuses improve. This gives a lot of interesting synergy to build creation and allows you to apply different bonuses and seeing what works best with your build. But not only is the leveling system fun, but the game’s combat is visceral and skill based. It’s a hack and slash-like combat system that offers a lot of depth and freedom to your approaches. Geralt’s controls and swings are responsive, new functions like dodging without rolling are excellent. And more key assignments added make combat a lot more convenient than ever before, like finally being able to have proper controls for blocking and heavy attacks, at first it was hard to get used to, but after I got used to it, I never want to go back to Witcher 2 (Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great game) combat has never felt more exciting and fresh in The Witcher series as it has here. The additions of the crossbow help add variety to the combat. And playing at higher difficulties makes using features like potions and bombs essential. Speaking of bombs and potion, the crafting system of The Witcher 3 had much needed improvements from Witcher 2. In terms of alchemy, you now only have to brew a potion, decoction or make a bomb only ONCE! And if you have strong alcohol in your inventory, then they will all refill. It’s a very convenient feature since the open world of this game is massive and it would be tedious to craft them over and over again. Geralt doesn’t have any smithing or armor crafting skills so you must find a blacksmith or armorer in order to craft these items. You obviously don’t refill them if you drop them or sell them as that wouldn’t make sense at all, but the system for that have remained more or less similar, which isn’t bad. The in game exploration is also improved significantly. Loot is now much better and much more exciting. All of the items and armor look great and have distinct looks. Witcher gear are weak at the start and don’t look all that good, but they get better and better as you create higher grade versions of them. The city of Novigrad is massive in scale and has billions of tasks for you to do. It’s impressive how much detail they have put in one area of the game, and it’s the biggest city in the game as well. It’s not like the game has a lot of massive cities which I was misled to believe, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Especially since Novigrad has enough depth in it for you to spend hours doing quests and activities in it. The character interaction in The Witcher 3 is one of the greatest things the game features. I can’t praise the game enough for its amazing pacing, both for the story and gameplay. The game never feels like a drag or like a chore to play since it has a fun feel to it in the moments where you’re interacting with other characters. Stuff like getting drunk with your friends and doing crazy things. Spending time with the lovely sorceresses the game allows you to romance. A lot of them can be emotional, striking sadness and grief, and there are some others that are cheerful and happy, some others are awe-inspiring. The game has a lot of variety in those moments and there’s much more that I will not dare spoil, but the game can get really creative at times with these moments. The main object of the game is Ciri, Geralt’s adopted daughter. In her gameplay section, you get some more depth in her storyline by seeing it directly played out in front of you, but what’s even better is your ability to control it. You can play as Ciri in certain sections of the game, and while it isn’t as nonlinear or as open as Geralt’s part of the story, it’s still very well done. You get to control a decent amount of dialogue choices as her and progress her tale. But her powers as child of the elder blood are more impressive than anything Geralt can do. There are times in the game where she can be devastatingly overpowered, like a wrecking ball, she smashes everything in her path. She’s able to use teleportation, blinking and delivering quick and powerful blows to make quick work of her enemies. Overall, it’s fun to play as her, even if she doesn’t have as many options as Geralt has. There’s one more important thing to talk about when it comes to this game. But before that, I would like to talk about the flaws I have with it. Different than my other reviews where I typically talked about gameplay flaws as my last thing. First of all, it can be immersion breaking that sometimes, in quests where NPCs accompany you, they can talk casually all the time, even while fighting with filthy monsters of the wild. In the inventory screen, the potion and decoction effect durations are highlighted in seconds all the time. Which is inconvenient when you have some of them that could last anytime several minutes to an hour, it doesn’t make sense that this flaw exists because it perfectly highlights the duration, minutes and seconds, in the actual gameplay, but this is a smaller nitpick. A somewhat bigger problem is the crossbow felt useless a lot of times, which is a shame because it’s one of the things I was most excited about, but it really doesn’t break the game, I just would’ve loved to see it utilized more, it still has its important uses. My biggest problem with the game is that it crashes on PC from time to time. It’s not as bad as I’m making it sound, there are some sessions where it never crashed, and others where it crashed four times over. It’s not terribly game breaking since it didn’t happen that much for me to consider it game breaking. There are also other bizarre glitches and bugs in the game that are typical in an open world game, but not nearly as many as Bethesda titles like Fallout and Elder Scrolls. None of these flaws take enough from the experience for me to not recommend it. And now I’m ready to talk about probably the greatest mini game in any open world game, probably the greatest mini game there is, Gwent! Gwent is a collectable card game inside the world of The Witcher 3. It’s very addictive and fun. The rules are simple but the synergy of cards adds a great deal of depth to the game. It has similarities to other CCGs (Collectable card games.) but enough differences to set it apart. The objective of the game is to defeat your opponent by taking out both of his or her life tokens. Each player plays cards that have different numbers, the numbers are strength points, you add them together at the end of the round and the victor is the one with the higher strength number. The game continues until one player is defeated by losing all of their health tokens. The game has a couple of twists, though. For example, you cannot draw cards. You only have the ten cards you have at the start of the match. There are some ways to draw more cards either by your faction’s perk if you’re the Northern Realms or by using spy cards. A double edged sword that you can play for giving your opponent a minion but being allowed to draw 2 cards as a result. Those spy cards can become essential later on. Card advantage is a big part of Gwent. So it’s one of the few games I know where it can be a good strategy to let your opponent win, because you may end up with the card advantage and thus winning the round. The game has a lot of depth to it, a variety of different cards to collect and an interesting lineup of factions all with different advantages and disadvantages. It’s very rewarding to build your deck and keep developing it with every new card you get. There’s always new challengers to find who may have better cards than you do. The game still remains a game of skills. Luck of the draw can be argued but the ability to mulligan at least two cards mitigates that. Gwent is challenging, fun, rewarding, addicting and adds a whole other layer of depth to an already amazing game. I could go on forever talking about things The Witcher 3’s greatest triumphs. Boss battles are very well designed, each of the monster boss battles typically have interesting stories behind them that you could get by investigating using your Witcher senses, talking to NPCs or reading your bestiaries. Every monster has their own strengths and weaknesses that forced me to change my tactics and equip different potions, decoctions and other items. All of the five signs you have distinct uses in battle. Each with their own color, particle effect and ability. Aard is a telekinetic blast that pushes your enemies, useful for throwing them off of high places for significant damage or if it pushes them enough, it can make them fall down for the ground, vulnerable for an instant kill. Quen is the Witcher’s shield, protecting Geralt from all damage for one blow. Igni is The Witcher’s fire spell, allowing you to light up fires, extinguish them, burn enemies or melt down frost armor. Yrden is a field that slows down all enemies, trapping them in there for enough time for Geralt to take advantage. Finally, Axii is the mind control spell, allowing Geralt to stun enemies in battle or mind control people in dialogue and make them obey you. It’s all very deep and there are skills that give them alternate modes for different functionalities. Igni for example has an alternate called Firestream that allows you to use it as a flamethrower for burst damage and extra control for aim. There’s just a lot of depth that this game has, its maps feature a lot of white question marks that are all points of interest, there’s almost always something to do in there. There are brawls, races, Witcher Contracts which are essentially side quests but for hunting monsters, these have their own stories too, and you can haggle the client for more money too. I’m running out of breath, the game probably has the largest open world in a single player adventure game and there’s enough content here to give you over 100 hours of gameplay. I’ve played it for 80 hours and have gotten a lot of side activities done on top of the captivating main story. And there’s enough reason to play through it again on a higher difficulty to see more reactions from your different choices. Even if there wasn’t a New Game+ added as free DLC. It still has enough replayibilty in it to keep you busy for months. And now, for the final verdict. Final Verdict: The Witcher 3 is a hard game to fault and it has impressed me in multiple ways that it’s hard to comprehend. Its single greatest victory is not only having some of the best visual design in a game, or having side quests of equal quality as the main quest, or also its ability to provide a marriage between gameplay and story, but most importantly its ability to create a dark, violent, yet beautiful world that’s believable and enjoyable to go through. There are a lot of stuff in this game worth covering, but a lot of it is better for the player to find on their own. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an achievement that won’t be surpassed for quite a while. The next generation of open world RPGs is upon us, and CD Projekt Red delivered what they touted. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a masterpiece that is one of the best games ever created, and perhaps the best RPG ever conceived. Final Score: 10/10 Masterpiece! Update On Upcoming Reviews: Well, I'm back! The next game on my plate is Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. Snake returns for his last adventure, the closing of a saga and the beginning of the end.
  3. Attack on Celebrities Intro: Can you imagine real life at its most basic form being a good game? No! Not at all, Sims is a boring game. But if what if you took some elements of real life, cut down on some of its most mundane parts and make it into a JRPG? Thats what Persona achieved. And while I havent played Persona 3 or any of the others, I can safely say that Persona 4 does it in Spades, and heres why. Story: Persona 4 fools you at the beginning by making you think that its story is going to be about normal school kids doing their everyday lives. But like any story that follows the Heros Journey structure (AKA most stories out there) There will always be that inciting incident that forces the hero to leave their ordinary world and cross the threshold to the extraordinary world, Persona 4 takes that concept very literally. The game starts with the player character who I shall refer to as Yu Narukami from now on as thats his canon name, leaving his city life to study in Yasogami High School in Inaba. When he arrives there, he meets with his new friends Yosuke and Chie, and some people he didnt want to meet like Mr. Morooka AKA King Moron (Yes, they call him that). At that point, it doesnt take too long for Yu to adapt to the new environment and consider Inaba like its his home But then, you guessed it, the inciting incident happened! A big one, too. An announcer called Mayumi Yamano was found dead with her body hanged on a streetlight. The cause of death is unknown, no physical signs on her body, nothing. Before that was when a rumor about the mysterious Midnight Channel was spread, and after the death of Yamano occurred, Yu and Yosuke decided to check it out. When they did so is when they found one of their friends called Saki trapped inside, Yu tried to reach out for her and weirdly enough, he got sucked into the TV, but not all the way since it was too small. Its not too long after when the fog appears on Inaba and Saki being found dead, now is when Yu and Yosuke come to the conclusion that something fishy is happening, and somebody out there is killing those people by throwing them in the Midnight Channel. So Yu and Yosuke decided to use the mysterious power of entering TVs to investigate the murder mystery. When they entered, they encountered a bear named Teddie and some evil beings called shadows, thats when Yu unleashed the power of Persona and a spirit of his soul called Izanagi appeared and killed all of the shadows. This power was later given to Yosuke after he faced his shadow self. With this newfound power, Yu, Yosuke and Chie promised to help Teddie return the TV world to order. And from that point is when the real journey begins, people get kidnapped and your goal is to save them in the TV world before the fog lifts and they die. Along your journey, most of the characters you rescue will join your party, and they are mostly exceptionally written, three dimensional characters. The side characters are also interesting, throughout Yus journey, he will forge bonds that allow him to create new and more powerful Personas to use. The story and characters will always be there to keep you engaged and excited to see what happens next. And the murder mystery is one of the most intriguing Ive seen in fiction. There are a lot of mysterious plot elements presented such as the velvet room, Igor and Margaret. But they are all part of the world and get enough explanation in the plot. Every plot element comes together in the end to present the truth to you. I wont give it away, but when you piece it together near the end, itll blow your mind. Especially when you see the true ending. Graphics and Presentation: For a PS2 game, Persona 4 looks alright, its not a technical masterpiece by any stretch, but its visuals get the job done. Its 2D anime art is where its at, the characters look good and have facial expressions that fit them perfectly. As for the environments, half of the game looks like an ordinary world and the other half looks like a twisted manifestation of ones imagination of the real world, sometimes worse. But the most impressive thing about thee visuals is that they never feel repetitive, the first dungeon is a castle, and then the second one is a steamy bathhouse? The third one is a striptease? I dont want to give anything away but this dungeon crawler action RPG will never run out of new things to make you look at, and theyre all very creative. The animations look pretty cool, too. The how the players break their persona cards is always in a way that makes sense with their character. And the battle animations as a whole are pretty impressive. Every persona has different animations based on their personality. Its all epic stuff. The sound design is superb! From the haunting ambience of the dungeons to the regular worlds traffic sound, to the attacks the player performs, it all comes together to create this cohesive world that makes sense. Immersion is pushed further by the games phenomenal voice acting, the characters feel like they are real people, thats how good it is. The dialogue rarely feels cheesy or forced and its always there to keep the player engaged and immersed in the games world. Gameplay: Gameplay, gameplay, gameplay. Most modern JRPGs rely on their narrative to hide how shallow their gameplay is, there are exceptions, this one is one of them. Before I talk about how good the gameplay is, theres this pet peeve I have with a lot of modern JRPGs, its intro sequence is sooo slow. It feels like theyre ordinary school kids forever, this one is even slower than the average JRPGs because you could potentially spend 4 hours before anything cool happens. Kingdom Hearts 2 was similar in that regard, but it at least had activities that were exciting enough to keep the player going until the real game starts. And with that out of the way, lets talk about how the basic game works. Persona 4 is first and foremost a dungeon crawler. Your primary goal is to finish every dungeon before the due date. But what sets it apart is the social links system. In a day, you could spend your time either hanging out with friends and party members, make a girlfriend if you so desire, take part-time jobs, read books, have dinner or of course, go to the TV. On weekends and holidays, you have double the time you usually have to do what you want because you spend half the day in school on weekdays. Every activity you do will have benefits and some cons. That presents the player with a lot of meaningful choice, and meaningful choice is one of my favorite things in a game. Having the player choosing between good and bad is not nearly as interesting as making them choose between different choices that have different benefits. Going to the TV allows you to progress further in a dungeon, grab loot, experience and money but the huge drawback is that after finishing a day after TV, your character will be too tired to do any evening activity whatsoever, he just hits the bed when he comes back home. Doing any of the other activities will allow you to still have enough energy to do evening activities but you wont go any closer in solving the murder mystery. Choosing between the characters to spend time with is also a meaningful choice in its own right. The player gets different arcana levels from them that offer different Personas each. That brings me to the fusion system. It allows you to craft personas if you will, you fuse different Personas together to create one stronger Persona. This is a masterful system since it cuts down on tedious grinding that JRPGs are infamous for. It lets the player get stronger by doing relaxing activities. It still doesnt replace grinding in a dungeon because Yu still needs to increase his level in order to get stronger Personas, but it at leasts makes it minimal in a way where its not too powerful or too weak. The games exploration in the real world allows them to go to different locations in Inaba to do different activities, and it always has a fixed camera with the exception of Yasogami High School. The TV world mostly offers free camera, though. It allows you to go to current dungeons or dungeons previously visited. If you go to dungeons previously visited, they have a new boss thats sometimes tougher. Most kidnappings require you to ask questions and investigate in the real world in order to get enough clues to get to the new dungeon, which kinda slows down the gameplay, but it makes sense with the narrative. The games battle system is turn based, an improvement over Persona 3 is that it allows you to command every party member separately if you wanted to. Thats very useful considering that the player mostly makes decisions better than the AI will. Or you can leave them on specific tactics if you feel like its too much for you. Different Personas have different strengths and weaknesses to specific elements, and the same goes for enemies. The tutorials are mostly taught by NPCs rather than having giant text boxes appear which they sometimes do, but they dont feel overwhelming. Theres also Teddies commentaries that allow you to know quickly if youre facing a tough or weak enemy, he also keeps track of the enemy's strengths and weaknesses for you. There are a few issues I have with the gameplay, but not enough to ruin the game at all. First of all, the animations are quite slow, which is a problem that some modern RPGs such as Bravely Default and Fire Emblem: Awakening solved easily by allowing you to speed up animation. The rush command in Persona 4 makes it bearable but still not fast enough for me. Its not that I always want animations to be fast but when I spend a lot of time grinding or fighting the same enemy over and over again, I get the point. Another problem is that theres quite a bit of RNG BS like enemies getting critical hits, they generally speaking have more health than the player, so they can afford getting critted more than the player does, I had this very same problem with Bravely Default, but the difference is in this game, getting critted will make you fall until your turn comes, leaving you vulnerable to dizziness and preventing you from dodging attacks. I get that its a huge part in the game since having items that cure that will be useless then; but Im frankly not a fan of it. Another problem is that theres no solid SP restoration items, SP are spirit points, this games equivalent of mana. Theres soul drops, snuff souls and soma. And in the mid to late game, somas are the only ones that are useful in restoring mana, and theyre super rare, I mostly keep them for really tough bosses. Another problem is that the checkpointing is horrendous like most JRPGs up until today. Its not as big of a problem with dungeon crawling since you can always use Goho-Ms to get you out of the dungeon to save, but its annoying with pre-boss battle save points since you have to watch the cutscene over and over again all the time, but this ones more of a nitpick since Im used to it at this point, but Xenoblade spoiled me since it mostly restarts the game right next to the boss with no cutscene thanks to landmarks. But oh well *Sigh* I guess this isnt the last JRPG to pull this move on me. And with all of that out of the way, lets get to the final verdict. Final Verdict: Persona 4 is a masterpiece despite anything bad I said against it. Fire Emblem 7 and Awakening showed me how much meaningful choice the Fire Emblem series has, and its a huge reason for its popularity. And that is why I love Persona 4 as much as I do, because it has an insane amount of meaningful choice. And while in the events of the story in this game dont change as much as Mass Effect or Dragon Age, I still prefer it. in the end, its all about the overall experience. And Persona 4 delivered one of the most enthralling stories, some of the deepest and most engaging gameplay, and one of the most immersive, believable worlds that Ive ever had the pleasure of experiencing. But its also one of the greatest video games I've ever played. Final Score: 10/10 Masterpiece Kirbys Platinum Medal of Approval ;) Update on Upcoming Reviews: Im sorry, a lot of change of plans happened since I got my gaming PC and Playstation back to me. So I played Persona 4 instead of Okami, and as you can tell, I loved it. It looks like The Witcher 3 will be my next game, a game that also has its fair share of meaningful choice. Though I will probably only post that review on the other sites that I usually post on. Well, it's been fun everyone, but I have to go for a while. I'll come back for the occasional Nintendo game or JRPG review and of course, Fire Emblem discussions. Can't forget dem Fire Emblem discussions. And I will play Okami sometime in the near future.
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