Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Okay, I Really Like Persona 4: The Golden
There's no real qualifiers here, nothing I feel I need to clear up lest I say something wholly positive, and nothing that I feel is muddled in that statement. I just really like this game. I can't quite place the why per se, but there is something that is undeniable about Persona 4 that has drawn, kept and cultivated my enthusiasm for the game in a way that Persona 3 just didn't manage to. I had expected it would, but certainly not to the degree that it has, considering the version of Persona 3 that I played, (Persona 3 Portable) incorporated a lot of improvements from 4 into it. I had thought that, on a functional level, it would be roughly the same or a similar game at least, and that it would really be up to the story and the characters to sell it to me, but there's entire oceans of depths between the two games in some respects. That alone is fairly impressive, but it's really just the game itself that has taken me aback.
There's so many damn little touches here and there that improve the overall experience that I can't actually imagine the game, any game like this, without them. Especially the features in The Golden, as I find myself using Voice and SOS a lot. For the former, it's good to kind of know a general idea of what might be a good thing to do if I'm not really too up on doing the same thing again and again, or I don't want to 'waste' an afternoon by idly hanging out with someone so that I may hang out with them -again- to actually get a boost. Whenever possible, I like to make use of the times when I can't gain a rank, but can get some points regardless because there is something in me that desires to maximize my time with the game, even though there is a very real possibility that I will play it again in NG+ the full way through instead of like with P3P where I start one and ragequit because goddamnit Elizabeth, fuck your stupid time-sensitive quests.
The dungeon crawling, which was my most hated part of Persona 3, is much the same in 4, but it manages to not be that bad yet. I'm not quite sure if it's because the actual dungeons aren't that big themselves, or simply because the design of the levels are a little more interesting uniformly and aren't things that you'll see for forty goddamn floors at the start. Probably with the later dungeons, but with the first two being 8 and 12 floors respectively, that's certainly quite a short bit of crawling. Beyond that, the Card Shuffle bit sometimes offers Cup Cards which restore HP/SP and if you're using SOS like I am, you stand to keep your vitals up to an acceptable level without doing too much actual work to do that. Not that it's easy, of course, as there are still enemies who will wreck your shit if you're unprepared (Goddamn Dice with their Last Resort attack) and the amounts of HP/SP you gain through the mentions methods are drops in a bucket, in all reality. They help - they don't scratch the itch completely. Eventually you're going to have to suck it up and down an item or just head off for the night. But, well, it feels like to me that I get a little bit more accomplished per dungeon trip than you would think, and it never feels really overlong, so I suppose they did something right here.
Beyond that, the characters are actually really enjoyable. I'm not sure if I prefer anyone on this cast to Junpei and Yukari from 3 (both of whom I have discovered I hold a lot of enthusiasm over only after thinking about 3 because of 4) just yet, but there's nobody I actively dislike aside from the obvious character who I don't even have to name because you know who he is and he is meant to be hated. Also King Moron. (You see the joke is that I was obviously referencing him and then suggested it wasn't actually him. It's bear-ly a jo-goddamnit Teddie) The scenes so far have all been entertaining in their own right and I haven't really had a "hurrrrgh, just shut up" moment or anything like that. Really, I'm just kind of waiting on when I'm going to find something in the game that I just hate. I feel like there -has- to be something, but so far, I'm honestly just turning up nothing. That's.....that's uncommon to say the least. But Persona 4: The Golden is an uncommon game. Uncommonly good game.