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Weskalia's Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 Game Review

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 Screenshot Persona 4's unique featured title screen. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 Screenshot An ordinary day in the shopping disctrict. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 Screenshot A standard battle. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 Screenshot Meet the cast of Persona 4.

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 game Review

Story & Playability

Welcome to the world of Persona, one that you definitely won't forget.

Persona 4 (or Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 in Japanese) is the fifth installment in the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series and is directly related to its predecessor, Persona 3. Takes place about two years after the events of 3, the player-named main character is a high school student who moves from the city into the near-future, fictional, rural town of Inaba for a year. While in Inaba, he stays with his relatives: his detective uncle Dojima Ryoutarou and his daughter, Nanako. At school, he quickly befriends with Hanamura Yosuke, the somewhat-clumsy son of the manager of the local megastore Junes; Satonaka Chie, an energetic girl with a strong interest in martial arts; and Amagi Yukiko, a calm and refined girl who helps out at her family's inn. During his first days, an unexplained murder has taken place in the small town, where the body of a young woman found dangling among television antennas and the cause of death unknown. At the same time, the Midnight Channel rumor has begun to spread that watching a switched-off TV at midnight when it's raining, people may see their soulmates. Followed the rumor, the four of them discover a world inside the TV where they meet a friendly creature wearing a bear costume named Teddie (Kuma in Japanese). The foggy world, however, is infested with monsters called Shadow. They also discover by confronting each of their Shadow selves will awaken their ability to summon their alter ego, the Persona. Using Persona, the students rescue three others and form an investigation team to figure out the connection between the murders and the TV world, and possibly capture the culprit.

Much like 3, Persona 4 introduces an endearing and quickly likable cast. The MC doesn't necessarily take part in much of the conversation, while his friends bring more lights to the game. Considering Kanji, a delinquent with bad reputation, actually has some feminine interests, such as sewing, and struggles with his homosexuality personality makes a new main stream of male characters into gaming; young, serious-looking, intelligent Naoto covers "himself" with boyish appearance, only to find "his" girlish self when around "his" friends is a new kind of appeal. All of them - excluding the MC - are struggling in their own ways to regain the emotions which they have lost as the story progresses. Yosuke tries to forget the death of his beloved senpai, and was able to move with his friend's support; Yukiko thinks of living separately from her family to become independent, only to find out the idea made her closer to them; Rise must learn to adapt her new ordinary life after being stripped of the spotlight of a top-rated idol. They offer much of the series' shine with their comic reliefs, gold-comedic moments, gameplays and personalities. Of course, aside from the main characters, others are appealing as well, as proven in their own Social Links stories.

Move on to the gameplay, similar to its predecessor, Persona 4 is combined with both RPG and simulation games (visual novel included), the players has about ten months to solve the mystery. With its open world environment, the players can spend their free time to interact with other students, do part-time jobs to earn money and items, gather information and evidence for the investigation, play bonus games, or simply enter the TV world, "beating the craps out of Shadows" to increase stats. Instead of using the full moon concept, the time period and mission are based on the weather of the week; time management is extremely important and needs to spend wisely if you don't want to have a quick game over.

Social Link plays a larger part here, similar to 3, friendships are introduced in the form of Arcana. Only this time, Aeon is removed, but the wider set is more than enough to compensate. Choices are variable, depends on how much you can progress with you party members, they can support you in battle or trade with unique items. Increasing the level on these relationships is important for gaining more powerful Persona, but they also present extremely meaningful side stories as you gradually help these people work through their problems and become closer to them.

Levels in the TV world, again, are sets of different dungeons, each represents the victim, who you have to reach the final floor to rescue. Along the way, you have to encounter many Shadows, each involved battle turns into a normal RPG gameplays with some unique features. Combat system is nearly the same of 3, players can use either basic attacks or summon Persona except with some slightly differences such as the MC can give command to his team members, enabling to control them as well. Gameplay is hardly new, but a bit more challenging now that it's harder for players to find a way to refresh heaths, or weapons are limited to one per character.

Rating: 10

Graphics

Persona 3's artist Sogabe Shuji provides the artwork again. Characters are given somewhat weaker appearance than those in 3, it can't be helped, they are just ordinary students from the countryside not some rich kids from the city equipped with modern technology. Their designs simply don't stand out as they always wear Japanese classical seifuku, noticeably only Yukiko and Chie have different uniform color. (Interesting enough, Dojima and Adachi's designs and personalities might have been inspired by the detectives from Persona - trinity soul -.) No matter how plain they may look, their designs are well enough, the same goes with the Personas. The Personas here are from Japanese myth, each have a distinctive reflection of the users, such as Kanji's: a huge, muscular giant with a skeleton on its chest like the delinquent. Animation cutscene and artwork are a bigger improvement.

Shadows, on the contrary, the same as they were in 3, every Shadow type is just the same one with a more outrageous and noticeable appearance to remind the players how to deal with them. But the bosses, are some different entities.

Visual maybe one of the few weakest points of Persona 4, the graphic didn't improve much since 3. That doesn't mean it's entirely bad, although some non-combatants are identical. (Notably, Kanji and Dojima are the only two characters to have the small-portioned eyes typically associated with their wicked backgrounds, while the rest of the cast has more normally anime eyes.) Now that the series has taken a new step to the weather, rains and fogs are clearly seen as the MC rushes through the town streets, which have also been widened. Unlike Persona 3, which revolves around the gloomy nights, 4 leaps through a "brighter" outlook; simply by watching the bright yellow title screen with the characters' moving silhouettes, players can expect what they see when entering the world. Persona 4 may not provide a standard visual, they don't look good but never look bad either.

Rating: 8

Sound

Much like what the brightness the visual has to offer, the soundtrack tends towards extreme. It's hardly to forget the high energy beats and emotional background music as you breakthrough each dungeons, they're probably composed to fit their own respective environments, far better than 3's awkward dungeon OST. (During a certain arc, the nostalgic themes from Persona 3 are played.) There are songs with English vocals on loop while you travel around the town, and they change each season or depends on the atmosphere, they're just removed and replaced with sound effects of rain, dusty wind or cicada rattle. But the real impact of the OST are the songs "Pursuing My True Self" and "Reach Out to the Truth," they were composed to reflect the inner conflict that the game's main characters struggle.

Casting did an acceptable job, though there's a far big difference in sub and dub. If you still think "good sub, bad dub" then this is the complete opposite. "Boneless" is probably the most suitable word uses to describe it, that doesn't mean the sub is entirely bad, but not great in some examples. Voiced by Yamaguchi Kappei, Teddie uses an annoying baby-talk, while Rise is a squeaky mouse.

Dub, by far, unbelievably great. The English voice actors don't just draw out their characters' personalities, but also lissome during various moods. The male characters with their high-pitched, funny tone simply make them more appealing, while the girls, not as good performed as the ones in 3, sound catty and less charming still did a good job except there are some parts where they sound older than high school students.

Rating: 9

Fun

A while before the game was released, players can play the advertising flash games "peeping tom." At that moment, you know you'll find the double amount of (expected) fun in actual gameplay. Persona 4 is one of the best and (quite possibly) last RPGs game the PS2 console ever brought. In a way, it accomplished more than what a spiritual successor could do, a fantastic RPG made to entertain everyone regardless of preference, but what valuable lessons learnt after all the hours of enjoyment is truly significant: accepting yourself and friendship.

When it comes to create ambition, there are few - if any - RPG projects that could easily be compared to Atlus' Persona series. The mixing of RPG and simulation genre in the series, while at first thought, odd, but incredibly entertaining. Through the story, not only the player has to fight the Shadow but also has to play a part as detectives; there are multiple choices, and depends on what the player chooses, it will affect the outcome of the story. Like Persona 3, it has a murder mystery feel but sets an amazing twist of fate at the end. The experience is draining, but at the end of it all, what they've created here is an achievement worthy of admiration and respect.
____________________________________________________________________________________________
Story: 10
Characters: 10
Gameplay: 9
Art: 8
Graphic: 7
Voice: 5 (sub)/10 (dub)
Music: 9
Overall: 9.5

Good:
+An extraordinary mix of RPG and simulation finds support from its incredibly comedy and mystery in a very entertaining fashion, second-to-none characters, helpful soundtrack and superb dub to draw one conclusion: magnificent.
Bad:
+New gameplay will have you started from scratch.
+Must...turn...off...sub...

Rating: 9

Final Verdict

9.17 (very good)

Reviewed by Weskalia, Apr 11, 2011

Comments

  1. CyanideBlizzard Retired Moderator Apr 11, 2011

    As you know before, I absolutely adored this game and I think this is one of your strongest reviews to date.

    I could ramble on about it, but I'll keep it short and sweet, fantastic job Weskalia!

  2. Morrow Apr 16, 2011

    Thanks a lot for your review, I'm considering getting this game :3

  3. aozoraskies May 07, 2011

    I find the way you reviewed Persona, very dedicated. It's like you really tried to cover all the main points and the little things you loved/disliked in the game and it's kind of precious. This review really does deserve more love!

    Your review brings out some interesting themes that I wouldn't have thought likely to appear in a game - the side characters getting in touch with their sexuality and struggling to adapt to new situations, finding themselves... How intriguing.

    The concept is also quite interesting, a bit like that of some roleplaying games, with special occurrences depending on the weather, and time management being important. Hmm, it actually does sound slightly random, what with the TV world, and I can imagine how people might have to start over and over to get it right. XD Still seems fun though. And I liked playing mystery games when I was younger, so murder mystery + Shadow Persona = potential awesome.

    Your attention to the story and characters was amazing enough; but you extended that attention to the other sections as well! Particularly the Graphics and Sound; been a while since I heard of a dub being better than the original voice cast, I must say. :) I think soundtrack's a notable part in gameplay, and Persona's certainly sound quite efficient in setting the atmosphere. (I remember hating how the music almost always stayed the same in Resident Evil 1 - unless you're about to be mauled. >_>)

    Overall, a really well-written review, covers all points and steeped with dedication. :D Awesome!

  4. Dancerinthedark Oct 10, 2011

    I haven't play Persona 4 but I heard about it,well I have finished persona 3 two times(I have finished in the female character and I finished the game in the male character)
    but now I want to play it,I have the game but I'm waiting my brother,after he will finish the game I will play it:)
    anyway thanks a lot for the review;)
    I'm sure that persona 4 is greatest the persona 3!

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