Late Reviews: Persona 4

Yes, really.

Welcome to Late Reviews, taking a look at less than fresh games that I never got around to playing when they were relevant. Expect a lot of JRPGs, the most common casualty to my real life / hobbyist developer time constraints. I’m hoping the format will allow me to take a quick look at games in terms of their lasting relevance, rather than an immediate ‘should you play this game right now’ sort of review.

P4 maintains it’s predecessors addictive cycle of school life by day, secret monster fighting by night, with the social links nurtured during the school portion enriching your character’s soul and the powerful Stand-like Persona creatures they can summon from within.

These social links are much improved from the last game. Where previously the game mechanics could intrude a little and make them seem unrealistic (Non-romantic friendships with girls? Multiple girlfriends being ok so long as you maxed out a relationship to be unbreakable?), this time around the game does a great job in depicting a very naturalistic friendship group dynamic, which you can invest in however you want without having the game maths intervene too much and break the immersion. This sense of being deeply involved in a very intimate, character driven story makes up for a certain lowering of the scope and dramatic tension that P3 had.

Persona-4-Header

The combat also hold up tremendously well; maintaining the satisfying tactics of old style turn based combat, but keeping battles fast paced and snappy. Battles are normally decided in the first turn or two through correct planning and decision making, rather than through drawn out maths vs maths battles of attrition. It’s a comfortable benchmark, alongside the magnificent Bravely Default (the best ‘Final Fantasy’ game since Final Fantasy IX), for how to keep turn based combat relevant in in era of instant gratification, instead of giving in to the Nomura style of letting the games play themselves for us.


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