Persona 4 (a review)

Now that I’m close to opening the last dungeon in Persona 4, I’m qualified to give a full review of this game. It’s my favorite Persona game so far. It might even be my favorite SMT-type game, but I’ll need to finish SMT3: Nocturne to determine that.

Some have said that Persona 4 is more like Persona 3.5, which is partially true. The engine is the same and the battles are largely the same except for some well-regarded tweaks. Being able to control all your party members is what really made this game better than Persona 3 for me. When a party member did something stupid in 4, there was no one to blame except me.

I also enjoyed the story more in Persona 4. Sure, it’s not as epic, but I could relate to it more and the mystery of the Midnight Channel murders drew me in. The social links also had more of an impact on me by providing small story arcs that were actually engaging about each character in the game.

One thing I didn’t like about P4 was the pacing, though it may be largely my fault. Because I wanted to have as much time as possible for social links, I would usually beat a dungeon 2-4 days after I unlock it. This wasn’t really hard as long as you were good at fusing personas. Most of the normal enemies were fair (other than a couple of insta-death enemies) and the boss battles were challenging, but not impossible.

I’m usually a pansy when it comes to boss battles, but I found all of Persona 4’s bosses to be fantastic. They were challenging, but never cheap. If I had problems with a boss, I would usually go to the velvet room and fuse a persona to counter that boss’s strengths. There were a couple of fights where I barely scraped by with just my main character alive; those were exciting.

Now that I’m at the the last dungeon, I’m sort of sad to see it end. I’m not the type to replay games, especially not 60+ hour games, and I’m not planning on replaying P4 for a while. Thanks to my army of awesome personas, I feel encouraged to tackle SMT3 again and maybe finally beat it.

If this is the last game you play on the PS2, you won’t be disappointed. What a great way to say goodbye to the PS2.

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