For years, I had heard about the fabled Persona series that many called one of the best RPG series ever. It wasn’t until last year that I finally took the plunge and played Persona 4, and then Persona 3 Portable. A combined 100+ hours later, it’s abundantly clear why those games are so lauded over.
The character development is absolutely impeccable. The games feature incredibly entertaining and witty dialogue, that it truly allows each character’s personality to shine through. They all have their unique strengths, weaknesses, fears, and insecurities, that by the end of both games, I felt like I knew exactly what each person would say or do at any given situation. Whether it be Yosuke’s gung ho mentality in Persona 4, or Yukari’s silent confidence in Persona 3, these games have some of the most relatable characters that I’ve ever come across in a JRPG.
Another huge selling point of the Persona series is the music. Featuring a combination of techno, hip hop, rock, and jazz, in tandem with that obvious Japanese touch, it’s some of the best music I’ve heard in gaming, with Persona 4 easily in my top three. Every tune will leave you jamming, and no matter how many battles I encountered, I NEVER got tired of hearing the battle theme. Also, you have no idea how many times I’ve watched the intro video to each game. They freakin’ rock!
Last, but not least, what makes these games so great is the actual gameplay. It’s best described as part RPG and part life sim. The RPG side is nearly flawless, with exciting combat and some really hard boss battles. The life sim though, is something that I hadn’t quite experienced before in a game. In both games, you go through a full school year, complete with attending class, taking tests, meeting and making friends, joining clubs, and even working a job. Each day, you only have one or two slots open to decide what to do with your day. Maybe one day, you want to hang out with a friend and cultivate your relationship with them, while the next day, you can go to basketball club or art club. The possibilities are endless, and the sim activities really help break the action between dungeon crawling or level grinding.
As a major JRPG fan, to me, the Persona series is probably the best one going today. I didn’t even mention how you learn a ton about Japanese culture since both games take place in fictional Japanese cities, complete with days off from school for certain Japanese holidays, and Japanese history lessons in class. All in all, Atlus has made some brilliant games, and if you haven’t played a Persona game, I strongly recommend it. Sure, it may suck 60 hours out of your life, but it’s well worth the time to play these gems. You won’t regret it.
P.S. Check out the Persona 4 anime! Freakin’ awesome!