Original Release: May 18th, 2018
I’ve got nothing else on my mind (save for the Deadpool 2 Review coming out shortly after this) so I’ll just talk about the game that’s consumed my life: Persona 3.
If my Persona 5: The Animation reviews hadn’t made it obvious, I’m quite the fan of the Persona games. But up to this point, I’ve only played Persona 5 and 4 Golden. I’ve decided to take the series in reverse order up until 3, then go back and play 1 and both 2 games.
Currently, I’m about 15 hours into Persona 3 PSP Edition (because that’s the version I had the easiest access to). It is undeniably fun and without a doubt still a Persona game. But I have many grievances. Grievances that are well fixed in the two games to follow.
First of all, the story. It simply isn’t that engaging thus far. Mostly because I don’t think my character really has any motivation to do what he’s doing.
Allow me to explain. In Persona 4, the protagonist had a reason to go into the TV World and fight his way through the first dungeon: Yukiko. If he didn’t, Yukiko would die, just like the previous two victims. And as you had grown mildly close to Yukiko in the brief time before her kidnapping, you have both reason and motivation to rescue her.
In Persona 5, you spend a lot of time getting to know the people around you and how they’re suffering by Kamoshida’s hand. So, when he pushes things too far and threatens you with expulsion, you feel a strong need to take him down and save the people around you, as well as yourself.
Persona 3 doesn’t have this motivation. You just climb through the giant tower of Tartarus simply because your new roommates asked you to. Sure, it’s the right thing to do, but there’s no reason for you to get personally invested. Hell, even when you need to save people from the tower, you haven’t even met them. Thus, you don’t really know or care about who you’re saving.
And then there’s my next biggest problem: urgency. Persona 4 created a sense of urgency perfectly: if you didn’t rescue your friend before the fog came in, they’d die. Persona 5 did the same: if you didn’t steal the target’s heart before a certain date, something terrible and life-ruining would happen.
Persona 3 just… doesn’t do that. The closest thing you have is the bosses: every full moon, a giant shadow boss appears and attacks. So you need to climb up Tartarus and get stronger so you can defeat them. And… that’s it. There is nothing aside from the looming threat of a boss to create tension in the story. So instead of being engaged and immersed in the plot alongside your friends in this world, you the player are sort of just… gliding through the plot, moving from one point to the next.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate Persona 3. There are many things about it that I adore. The characters are fantastic, a lot of the humor is hilarious, the voice acting is solid as always, and combat is as fun as ever (even if it does feel more repetitive than the later games).
Still, I haven’t actually finished the game yet. Maybe it’ll get better, maybe it’ll get worse. I have no idea. But I intend to get to the end one way or another.
Because Persona has me by the fucking balls and refuses to let go.