Discussing Persona 5 And Wish Fulfilment

By Ethan . February 8, 2014 . 9:30am

This past week, Ishaan and I exchanged a few e-mails regarding the Shin Megami Tensei and Persona games, and discussed how we felt about director Katsura Hashino’s comments on Persona 5. What you see below is a part of our conversation, shortened to make it a little more digestible.


The conversation starts out with a brief chat about the differences between Bravely Default and Shin Megami Tensei IV, before moving into the Persona talk. Keep in mind that it is, by no means, a thorough discourse of the topics at hand, and more a rambling of thoughts to get our readers to share their own ideas with one another.



I’m… cautiously optimistic about Bravely Default. So many people said SMTIV was “too hardcore” for them, and I thought exactly the opposite. And I’m by no means one of those old school-loving nostalgic types. Retro stuff does very little for me. So hopefully, I’ll enjoy this, too.



Speaking of SMTIV, your write up about the game has kinda sat in my mind festering since I read it.  I also think the world of the game, but I come at the experience from a slightly different angle.  I feel like SMTIV is largely defined by what it is not.  It does not in any way feature the themes “The power of friendship conquers all” or “The power of true love conquers all”.  Indeed, it lacks any form of romance whatsoever.  This alone puts the game in a pretty exclusive club.


Modern JRPGs basically only have those two themes.  Well, that or “You can choose your own destiny!” which is something SMTIV explores… but SMTIV does it more honestly.  SMTIV is a game about choosing one’s own destiny that actually features, well, choice. And it does NOT guarantee that a choice will be “right” or even lead to happily ever after.  When other JRPGs talk about choosing destiny, it’s usually in the context of overcoming oppression.  SMTIV is not like that at all.


The end result is that SMTIV is a WEIRD game for a 2013 JRPG.  And it has a severe audience problem.  See, I reckon that most modern JRPGs are conceived from the beginning to be JRPGs.  The developers are aware of what is expected by the audience, what works well and what shortcuts are generally acceptable (amnesia!).  At some point JRPGs started to be inspired by JRPGs, rather than being a medium through which a variety of inspirations can be realized. There are just so few of those games these days that are actually about anything distinct or different.


And there’s an audience for our modern games! There are people who like last year’s JRPGs and want the ones this year and next year to be like them too.  But SMTIVSMTIV wasn’t inspired by other JRPGs.  It’s a game following a distinct vision that’s quite unlike not just other genre games, but other games period.  Other games don’t pay attention to environmental design like SMT IV did.  They don’t make strange and hostile worlds actually strange and hostile like SMTIV did.  You said that SMTIV is ultimately a game about Tokyo, and I think you’re right about that. It’s about the distinct flavor of the different regions, it’s about the people, and it’s about how technology is changing all of it. And it just happens to explore those ideas in the form of a turn-based role playing game.


I think that SMTIV is an excellent game, but I don’t think that it will be discovered.  Those who are still enthusiastic about JRPGs in 2013 are largely enthusiastic about 2013 JRPGs.  Which SMTIV is not.  To them, the game will seem to have a bland plot, one-track characterization, frustrating difficulty spikes, and cheap 2D battle scenes (none of which is entirely unfair, but totally misses the point of the game).  And to those who would actually get a lot out of this focused creation and exploration of a post-apocalyptic world that in so many ways reflects our own?  I don’t think those people are playing JRPGs anymore.  The genre has been so devoid of unique visions for so long that those who want commentary on society, who want to explore beautifully crafted 3D landscapes, who want to be thrown into the deep end armed with nothing but their wits and limited resources… they’re all playing other kinds of games and have been for a decade.


And frankly, SMTIV’s first couple hours don’t do it any favors in roping in the unfamiliar either.



I actually had the strangest experience with the Bravely Default demo. I went into it right after a 2-hour session with SMTIV, and it was this utterly bizarre experience. Like listening to two hours of metal and then someone subjecting you to classical music immediately afterwards.


It didn’t work for me at all. I was so on edge from playing SMT, which is such an intense game (even the battle theme is like KILLL HIM!!! BURRN!!! in how it sounds). Meanwhile, Bravely Default has a much more “peaceful” mood to it. It doesn’t convey this sense of urgency that SMT does.


The other thing with Bravely Default is that, while the battles are in 3D, the battle camera isn’t very animated. It’s a very traditional “side view” and judging by the demo, it doesn’t move around very much. In the case of SMT, the battles were in 2D, but they were also really, really fast. This is something I really hope they address in Bravely Second, and judging by some of the things Asano has said, and the teaser trailer they released, I get the feeling we will see the second game be a little bit more daring than Bravely Default was.


So yeah… still cautiously optimistic. Honestly, I kind of hope Atlus does a Shin Megami Tensei V (or another spin-off) before long. I’m looking forward to Persona 5, but Persona doesn’t evoke the same sensations that SMT games do. And well… Persona 5 kind of sounds like wish-fulfilment, so I’m not really sure what to think of that.



Persona has morphed into a sort of wish fulfilment already, though, hasn’t it?  I mean yes, Persona 3 and Persona 4 have some thematic content beyond your common JRPG.  But that’s not why the franchise blew up and became Atlus’ bread winner.  That’s just what people found to talk about once they had played it.  The reason those games got huge is how INCREDIBLY seductive the illusion of going back to high school is.


Very few people are really happy when they’re in high school, it’s just a pretty messed up period of life.  Stuck in a building turning into adults alongside a couple hundred other people, and nobody really knows what it’s like on the other side.  But in Persona people can go back and be the guy in high school they wish they had been.  They date the pretty girls, they study for the tests, they participate in extracurricular activities, and they have TONS of friends.  Every character in Persona looks up to the protagonist be it as a best friend or a boyfriend or a leader or a senpai or whatever.  Everyone likes you in Persona, you can succeed at everything in Persona, and your character never gets a boner in front of the class or gets hazed by the upperclassmen or gets turned down by a popular girl or suffers any of the other indignities of adolescence.


I mean, that stuff gets me and I didn’t suffer the worst of high school by a long shot. I didn’t enjoy it, but there are others who had it worse.  I imagine that for people who had worse experiences at that age, or didn’t make it out into college and are in a dead end job or unemployed or heaven knows what else that the Persona illusion is absolutely intoxicating.  So reading today that Persona 5 is written for people who are discontent with their lives… I mean, no shit?  That’s kind of the audience, isn’t it?



Oh, of course. There’s no doubt that Persona preys on the dissatisfaction people have/had with their lives. I don’t mean that in a bad way, necessarily. I had a rough time in high school, too, for a variety of different reasons, and that aspect of Persona 3 and Persona 4 hooked me as well. Persona 4 in particular gave me some much-needed perspective on how people can be different in frightening ways, but that they aren’t necessarily bad people.


So yeah, I love both P3 and P4. That said, I do like P4 significantly less than 3, and this is because the wish-fulfilment aspect of 4 went a little too far for me, and the main plot suffered for it. Persona 3 felt more… grand. It felt like you were finding your purpose in life. Like you were finding what you were meant for, and carrying out your role as a savior—as someone that was truly capable of being able to bring out the good in people, and also help save the world.


And that’s the thing about P3’s main character. He had that typical angsty anime character look to him, but his appearance clashed so greatly with his personality. Outwardly, he looked quiet, unsociable… maybe even a little meek. But once you started to see more of him, he almost seemed deranged and like he had no regard for himself whatsoever. Like that first time he put the Evoker to his head and shot himself on the rooftop. This dude was secretly a badass because of how messed up he was.


And at the same time, he was also compassionate, but in a smart way. He wasn’t simply idealistic, he was also manipulative. And manipulating people—knowing the right thing to say—is sometimes the best way to help them. He was a complex, sophisticated person, and that was what I loved about him. He was a natural-born leader, had the ability to help change people, but also had a greater purpose to serve in life. There really was no other way for him to go. I mean, after you’ve saved the world, saved everyone else, and lost part of the persona that made you who you are, what else is left for you to do? He became a messiah, almost.


In and that sense Persona 3 was still very much a “Shin Megami Tensei” game. Meanwhile, Persona 4 felt like Scooby Doo-meets-Tales-meets Japanese light novels. And there is definitely a place for that. It had that slice-of-life feel that the Japanese are so good at pulling off; it had the whole “power of friendship” thing going for it; it had the high school setting that’s just so easy to get into when done right. But the problem for me was, it just felt so small and insignificant in scope compared to P3. There was no real story. Nothing really at stake, outside of some outlandish murder mystery, which turned out to have the most ridiculous solution ever. (Throwing people into TVs to kill them? Really?) It was a bunch of kids playing detective.


Meanwhile, the protagonist of P4 wasn’t nearly as complex as the one in P3 either. He was just straight-up “cool”. In the Japanese version of the game, they even call him “bancho,” because of the yakuza-style trench coat his persona, Izanagi, wears.


So yeah… I’m not sure what to think of Persona 5. Is it going to be more of that? Is it going to be more of an illusionary wish-fulfilment affair, where the game tells you, “Hey, look—this alternate life is pretty great, isn’t it?! You can have that, too!” Because if that’s the case, I might just opt out this time. Real life isn’t like that and we all know it. And the problem is, Persona has this way of being unbelievably convincing, so when you leave the game, your head is stuck inside that world for hours.


Maybe it’s just because I’m older now but the thought of my “mental world” being anything like Persona’s “everything-is-great-and-it’ll-all-work-out-fine” mentality makes me uncomfortable. I’d much rather have it be something a little more believable. Something where you fight tooth-and-nail to get through life’s hardships, because that’s just how I’m used to living my life. That’s how most of us are used to living life. So, when Hashino says that he wants to inspire people, I have trouble believing him, because Persona preaches that good things will just land in your lap by themselves.



I actually really appreciated that Persona 4 scaled down the conflict to just a local murder mystery. I’m pretty sick of saving the world all the time.  Regardless of whether the actual mystery ended up making total sense, I see it as a massive plus that P4 for most of the game made the stakes as small as whether a single person would live or die.  Because really, that ought to be more than enough reason to stop the bad guy on its own, no?  I actually felt spectacularly betrayed at the very end of the “true” ending of that game when it regressed to saving the world from some sort of poorly defined god of nihilism that wasn’t meaningfully connected to the rest of the game.


I guess that we’re in new territory with these Persona games.  There aren’t really other games in the genre that are close enough to real life that one can even object to how they portray it.  You don’t like how straightforward and easy the last two Personas make life seem, but are there other games that give a depiction of real life that you’re more comfortable with?


Maybe this is just a baby step towards maturity.  If you look back at television the earliest shows were a lot of cowboys and Indians, the superheroes of their era.  That was the popular American fiction.  Then when TV eventually did start to take a look at “normal” life the shows depicted an impossibly pristine whitewashed ideal of domestic life.  I wonder if I Love Lucy and Leave it to Beaver weren’t similar to these Persona games.  First steps towards depicting the real world, but not yet bold enough to show the ugliness of it.


Have you played Papers, Please?  It’s like the anti-Persona. It’s another game about real life with such a powerful illusion of its world that it sticks in your head long after you leave it.  Except it depicts a world that is stressful, monotonous, and unfair.  Papers, Please isn’t necessarily ‘fun’ in the traditional sense, but it’s a powerful work and from the sounds of it you may see some of your world view reflected in it.


But look on the upside! Maybe this means we’re only 45 odd years from getting our Japanese video game version of The Wire.



I would’ve found Persona 4 just fine, had it actually been a proper murder mystery. Persona is the perfect kind of game to explore a murder investigation with anyway. But ultimately, the whole premise was so ridiculous, I felt as though the plot served no purpose at all. It was just an excuse to have these characters hang out together and help flesh out their personalities.


And that’s fine, but even in that regard, P4 was uncomfortably perfect. You’re cool, everyone loves you, you’re great at school stuff, and you can essentially do no wrong. You’re never betrayed, never asked to deal with real-life problems (although some of your friends are), or anything of the sort. I was actually talking to Laura about this earlier, and arrived at this crazy idea: what if Atlus made it so that your first romantic Social Link in the next game ends up cheating on you?


I feel that would be a great way to invest the player in the game and really tug at their heartstrings. It could be a really likeable character, too. You’d have to try to forget her and move on with your life. Of course, I would imagine a lot of people would just stop playing the game entirely. Alternatively, there are probably people that don’t want a game like Persona to mirror real life.



Well, I reckon that there’s no way a Persona game could feature a core character doing something genuinely objectionable like that.  This is big business now and nobody’s gonna buy merchandise based on the girl who cheated on them.  I think that at this point we’re kind of limited to external bad things happening to the characters who are themselves basically virtuous, rather than the characters making serious mistakes or doing bad things themselves.


Which is a bummer!  When I first saw the desk with chains promotional art I got real excited about the possibility of the game being set in a juvenile detention center.  That’s a good Persona setting.  Lots of messed up kids stuck together going through some variation of rehabilitation, be it education or learning work skills.  The prison setting gives an excuse for limited environments.  Most of the characters (even the protagonist!) actually might be guilty of something, which has a ton of interesting potential.  Plus there’s lots of rich image symbolism in a prison, and that development team is super good with their visual metaphors. I thought that it would be a throwback to the darker tone of Persona 3 (which I also prefer) and maybe even go farther.


But then I realized that characters that are guilty of crimes don’t sell merchandise like adorable waifus, and girls in detention centers don’t wear the uniforms with short skirts.  So that’s pretty much it for that possibility.  There’s a whole lot of market for schoolgirl outfits these days, less so for orange jumpsuits.

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  • Rake

    I really do hope the MC of Persona 5 isn’t perfect. Having his personal issues, flaws, exteranl and internal conflicts. I want to see a build up of the MC, done by the players with the choices they make~

    • Linhua

      … and in the end… in P5… people can talk about the kind of MC they ended up with by the end of their journey.

      … that really sounds like the right way to go this time… o.o …

      • Rake

        Indeed. And if they do go with this, I hope there’s variety within the ways he can take on a situation. Such as being cheated on, betrayed by a friend, loss of a loved one from the hands of another person.

        Also the stats should also play a major role in the MC. From how people see him, and how he fights in battle. It shouldn’t only be exclusive to being able to pass a test, speak to someone or do something~

        • Kumiko Akimoto

          I did hope for that as well, I don’t mind the funny and dialouge that having a main character that everyone thinks is jesus for two games but I do hope for a main character everyone can’t stand at the beginning and it takes social linking to warm up to.

          • Shippoyasha

            To be fair, Minato had a sullen look that took time to warm up to for some characters (FeMC kind of did away with that though, heh) and Narukami was still supposed to be a city kid stranded in a rural town. Maybe they could have shown that off more with Narukami though it might have dragged the story longer if they did.

          • Kumiko Akimoto

            I don’t know even though he had that sort of aura he still became the”Go to guy” for everyone

          • Shippoyasha

            Sure. I think it’s mostly because the Persona games are still a protagonist driven experience. Maybe they can get more ambitious and make it a more of an ensemble cast experience in the future.

          • Kumiko Akimoto

            I don’t know maybe they can make it less “Main character does everything”

        • Linhua

          .-. Y-You should be writing to Atlus…

          • Rake

            Thank you xD

            I just get these ideas by looking at certain tHIngs the games had that could have been used for more xD

            Like Persona 2 had the duo/trio Persona attacks. In P4G Golden this was limited to special pairings which I disliked. If the MC has a Social Link with a certain party member(s), and the rank of the S.Link is 5, the MC should be able to have a Persona duo/trio attack with party members. Any combination, each one having a specific effect on enemies that would add more deptho n who to add for your party for certain dungeons and boss batltes~

          • Linhua

            … sounds like I missed out…

            … it was Persona 3 that got me into the series.

            … I always did wanna go back and see what the other two were like.

            … I do wonder why they removed the Duo Trio thing though. Sounded kinda cool.

          • Rake

            Only play P1 and P2 if you’re ready for non-dating sim, and pure dungeon crawling game. It’s hard to get into, but once you get the battle system down, it’s a great game really.

          • Linhua

            … my body is ready for the grind~

            .-. Atleast I-I think my body is ready.

            … I kinda liked the dating sim part and would kinda miss it… But I do like a good battle system!

            … for me… this kind of makes or breaks an RPG. I have to thoroughly enjoy the battling if I am gonna get through the entire game. Story plays its part… but it is not enough alone.

    • Furu Chi

      Hey Atlus Devs! Might want to take note what this guy said. It’s a good shit idea.

    • NeptuniasBeard

      Could they do this while keeping him silent. Or do you think he would have to talk?

      • Rake

        Of course they can~ Choices is already good enough. Other character’s reaction and emotion perfectly showcase what the MC s feeling even though he isn’t speaking.

        • harmonyworld

          Well making choices were kinda weird to me for trying the gauge reaction, it’d be nice if they had like a little emotion indicator on the choices so I know what emotion to go for in that moment.
          I dunno, perhaps I’m too dumb or something lol!

    • Hound

      So.. make the game similar to Princess Maker?

    • Kaetsu

      In game like Persona 5 where they claim it will be very dark and wants you to see life in a different way, they definitely need a protagonist like that.

    • harmonyworld

      yeah, making hard choices, unlike in persona 4 where the only hard choice is who to hang out with that day -_-
      Don’t get me wrong though, I love P3 & 4, but just…more emotion from all of the characters and choices that legit effect the story.

    • I hope you actually have to work to get people to like you. In basically every Persona game you are loved by everyone even if you act like a jerk to everyone.

  • Gabi López Ramírez

    The juvenile detention center idea in my opinion sounds amazing. Great article!

  • Hound

    It’s like reading the love chronicles of Ethan and Ishaan.
    Just take every word as inuendo and let the sexy conversation develop in your mind.

    • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

      So delusional you forget his name is Ethan

      • Hound

        Delusions are the essence of life ¤w¤

  • Aaron Alcindor

    I am glad , I am not the only one thought P4 had some serious problems , fans treat it like its the perfect game and Minato is over rated and boring , he couldn’t kill Nyx while Yu defeated his God Blah Blah , but I will say the story pacing , slice of life elements(not counting the MC mary sue interactions) and dungeons are done better in P4.

    • ShadowDivz

      dungeons is a matter of opinion. Alot of people got annoyed with tartarus but i loved it.

      I loved how it made me feel like it was endless, probably what the characters were feeling.(i know Junpei mentions that)

      When i reached floor 100 i thought “oh my god does this place have 500 floors?! or a thousand?!!”.

      • Aaron Alcindor

        I felt the same way in my 1st playthrough , but it got so damn tedious and repetitive in my new game plus (manic) , fes and feMC walkthroughs. ><

  • Bunzi

    The first romantic social link cheating on you would be incredible. And just imagine all the different themes and ideas and even gameplay innovations that could come from a more realistic Persona. You come out to your guardian about being gay and, maybe temporarily, maybe permanently, he or she puts you out of the house, shaking up what skills you can increase or locking out certain social links while strengthening others.

    You can become a drug addict who gets statistical bonuses in some areas and may unlock new links, but suffers in school and other social links.

    You have the option to strike or otherwise abuse a significant other, or actions you cause may make them to do the same to you – potentially changing or rattling your link altogether.

    There’s really a wellspring of potential these games have that are squandered on being more of the same but with shinier wrapping and decent gameplay to prop it all up.

    • Abysswalker90

      Persona games are designed with a central theme in mind. It took the entirety of P3 to seriously discuss the loss of someone close to you, so making a Persona game that just deals with some serious issues here and there will either – derive the game from it’s central point, or it would end up half assing those huge issues in comparison to the main focus of the game.

      Imagine a big canvas. You have a theme which you want to express through it. If you want to do that properly you will have to have the focus of the painting in it’s entirety on that theme. If you start adding all sorts of little ideas that well deserve to have their own entire painting, you will end up with an unfocused cluster.

      I’m not saying that there’s no way to focus on more than one subject on a game though, I’m saying that what defines Persona is the ability to flesh out one theme at a time and build the game around that with great focus. It is the core essence of modern Persona games.

      In the developers mindset, if they wanted to focus on a betrayal of a loved one, they would make an entire Persona game about it. If you want a single game dealing with all these issues, Persona isn’t the place to look for them.

      • Bunzi

        I don’t buy this – what Persona is has shifted so dramatically from the second game to the 3rd that I don’t think you can look the 3rd and 4th games examples and infer exactly what the series’ future will look like.

        • Abysswalker90

          I don’t disagree.
          But based on what little information we have about P5, and the fact that they stated that it’s going to follow the theme of “Freedom”, I think it’s safe to assume it will follow the same formula.

          There was a big gap between P2 and P3. Probably a lot has changed in the development side of things. I think they intended P3 to be a sort of a reboot to the series, but not in the sense of story, more like in the sense of what defines the series.

          I like the way Persona is now, because it is very defined and focused.

          I don’t expect it to last forever, and I don’t claim that I know the future of the series, I only think that you can’t expect the series to deal with so many themes, and yet remain the same in it’s core. The focus is what I believe makes the series stand out from other story driven games.

          • Bunzi

            Let’s say there is an overall theme being explored. Freedom, as it is. Freedom can mean several things – freedom from the expectations of others (repressing or hiding homosexuality for fear of rejection), freedom from stress and high expectations, even temporarily (drug abuse), even false and unhealthy forms of escapism (again, drug abuse, and similar themes were already explored in the previous game with the video game loving escapist Mitsuo).

            Keep in mind that several of these events could, and probably should, be entirely optional and choice driven, not unlike the romance in Persona 3 and 4 – Those didn’t tie into the overall theme of loss at all or in fact served any purpose beyond wish fulfillment, character development, and additional Personae. People’s lives, after all, are multifaceted – a young teen struggling with drug addiction or their own romantic problems still has school to worry about, jobs to hold down, and more.

    • ShadowDivz

      My god, that sounds great.(you know art wise, abuse isn’t cool)

      But let’s be honest, it can’t happen. It would make a lot of people uncomfortable, then we have the whole “acceptable society” crap to deal with.

      But that part about coming out and being locked out of social links sounds particularly incredible. It would really make another playthrough completely different.

      • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

        Its better than shoving in frivolous torture scenes into Grand Theft Auto.

        Controversy sells

      • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

        Its better than shoving in frivolous torture scenes into Grand Theft Auto.

        Controversy sells

  • Abysswalker90

    I feel that both of you are looking at Persona 4 from a completely wrong angle.
    A lot of people who argue that P3 was better, talk about how it’s symbolism and complexity makes it great, yet when they compare it to P4, they only compare it to the actual plot and murder mystery without mentioning any of P4’s own complexities and depths.

    If you think P4 is about a murder mystery, you really need to play that game again. The murder mystery is merely a plot device.

    P4 is very sarcastic and does a good job of showing us the darker sides of society.

    I think that you will be extremely disappointed if you go into a modern Persona game expecting the story itself to be grand and epic. These games are about the statement they make, and what they represent, the actual story is merely an illustration – a physical embodiment of the central theme the game discusses and explores, be it Death, Truth or Freedom.

    • Yes, I was somewhat surprised by the way P4 was analyzed here, since I hadn’t looked at it in that specific way much at all. The protagonist, for example, never seemed so perfect to me (in large part due to various choices I made throughout the game–several of which were surprisingly difficult to make), and I generally felt he was put through a whole lot of worse situations than high school ever dealt me (and I’m not just talking about the whole murder mystery…).
      At any rate, the point of P4 never felt like it was trying to be “Cool High School Life: The Game”. What always stood out most was the whole theme of everyone having their bad qualities, their fears, their weaknesses, their terrible secrets–but then saying that’s all a key part of who we are as individuals. A simple concept in retrospect I’m sure, but the whole thing was just unheard of for a video game. (At least for me.) Everyone ended up feeling much more like real people in P4 than I had ever experienced in another game, largely because everyone was so flawed–and going along with that, nobody was really free from being on the receiving end of a joke (with even the protagonist getting his share of humiliation from time to time). Compare this to other RPGs, which often try so hard to make everyone as overwhelmingly cool as possible all the time… I just end up not caring for the characters as much.
      Anyways, there are plenty of interesting ideas in this article for Persona 5 possibilities, and for all we know such topics and situations will be tackled in a manner that cranks things up a notch. There are lots of ways the formula can be improved, I agree–but still, I feel that doesn’t negate all the boundaries Persona 4 *did* push.

      • Guest

        Please.. if you’re making a very long post, could you separate it into reasonably sized paragraphs?

      • Abysswalker90

        I’m glad you can see it. P4 wasn’t about saving the world, and it wasn’t about a murder mystery, and it understood that. It focused more on what it actually was – what it means to grow up in a society that encourages falsehoods, and the way it could go wrong.

        There were a lot of little things many people overlook in P4, that to me, pretty much made the game what it is. One of the biggest things for example, is how the game reflected society. The way everyone around you slowly and gradually turning into mindless zombies. It starts out innocent enough with rumors spreading and being blown out of proportion(which is strengthened by the fact that you are one of the few people who are actually aware of the truth), but it gradually escalates as the fog starts to spread, and the worst of humanity starts too ooze out from everyone around you.

        I think at least in that department, P4 was very clever and really pushed the boundaries of how powerful video games can be.

        • Shane Guidaboni

          Doesn’t P3 operate in the same way? Everyone gradually turns into mindless zombies due to Apathy Syndrome and then everything escalates gradually.

          I liked P4, but to hold it in much higher regard over P3 is a disservice to P3.

          • Abysswalker90

            Not exactly. In P4 we witness the whole process of people losing their minds in a way that is eerily natural. In P3, Apathy Syndrome is more like a plague, once it hits you, you’re a complete zombie.

            I was just pointing out why I think this article is a disservice to Persona 4 rather. I’m not trying to claim it’s superiority over P3, I’m just stating what it did right and why I think it pushed the boundaries.

          • Shane Guidaboni

            This article wasn’t a disservice to P4. Everyone seemed to enjoy it in some aspect. Your problem is that they missed the finer details of the plot and instead focused on murder mystery.

            In my comment, I was just trying to show how P3 pushed the boundaries first that later P4 fully fleshed out.

          • Abysswalker90

            I was just trying to do some justice to the game, who’s finer points are vastly unacknowledged by many.

            I was only stating the ways P4 pushed the boundaries, because P4 is the main subject of my argument here. P3 is a completely different subject.

          • Shippoyasha

            Not sure why this is even a thing that liking one iteration is a disservice to the next. This is reminding me of the FF6 and FF7 schism. It’s kind of unnecessary considering these games are aiming for different things but also have a same genealogy with its creators.

          • Longshadow

            P3 is about apathy. P4 is about paranoia. And in my opinion, P4 treats the latter better than P3 does the former.

            In P3, apathy is portrayed as an acute disease that people catch out of the blue. (Recall all the students that start popping up near the end of the game and groan like zombies.) In real life, apathy is a condition that builds over the scale of years due to broken dreams, cynicism, etc. Also, it does not make you groan like a zombie. In short, P3 portrays apathy unrealistically.

            P4, on the other hand, portrays paranoia remarkably well. In P4, people grow wary of the unusual fog the area has been seeing. With no official statements being announced about the fog (as it is truly supernatural in origin — this ties into the invisible boundary between the mundane and the bizarre that P4 handles so well, but that’s a story for another post), they begin to latch onto bizarre theories in attempt to explain it. As people start to get sick, this wariness turns to panic, and people start to behave in bizarre ways, like buying gas masks. This is not unlike global warming in the world today, where people are convincing themselves that humans are solely to blame and are buying carbon credits to pacify their guilty consciences, or diseases like diabetes and cancer, where people believe they are being deceived by American food agencies and are shunning synthetic pesticides and latching onto untested fad diets like “raw foodism”. In short, P4 pins down humans’ tendency to panic when faced with incomplete information.

          • Ouch My Head Said Dionysus

            It happened in P2 as well.

      • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

        Play the Mother Series.

    • Even though I do agree that P4 tries to show the player darker sides of society, it also straightforwardly tries to play into wish fulfillment and other things, and that’s where my problem with it lies; it wants to be too many things and try to say things in some places, but that’s going to kill the tone and message at some point.

      I think it creates an even starker contrast between it and P1/2 though. The type of themes, messages and the atmosphere mostly set around them to explore it in says a lot and it’s a significant difference.

      • Abysswalker90

        P4 does have a lot of wish fulfillment, but I don’t think it wants to be too many things.

        I think the point is that, despite how wrong society can go, you can find your own wish fulfillment in life if you keep fighting. Humanity will always be what it is, but as long as you can find your own place in life you can be happy, is what I got from the ending.

        The colorful and cheerful atmosphere in contrast to the dark tones of it’s messages, and ominousness of the shadow world really did it for me. There is a very sarcastic tone to it, which I think works to the game’s favor.

        • I think the connotation in wish fulfillment makes it not the word you want to use there, but I do understand what you mean. I agree to that point about the ending, but I don’t think the game as a whole does a good job on fulfilling some of its messages.

          For a minor example, Naoto’s route kind of shows conflict in the wish fulfillment met with giving the player a chance to make a character they want while also clashing with the messages it attempts to deliver for the party. It suffers not from just unhhealthy implications, but outright being a dissonance and kind of problematic.

          • Abysswalker90

            I don’t understand your point on Naoto. The problem was she aspired to be something she wasn’t / couldn’t. She eventually concluded that she’s better off regaining confidence in herself, rather than try to be something that she’s not.

          • No, it wasn’t just Naoto’s view about herself, it was how the character was able to interact with her clashing with the message the game wants to deliver clashing with a gameplay element (romantic aspect specifically of social link).

      • Shippoyasha

        For one, going for a different atmosphere is great. It shouldn’t be chastised because of that alone. And the lighter tone to me is a realistic way many people cope with the more dour happenings outside or internally. I really loved that subtlety of P4.

        • That’s what I mean though; balancing a light and dark tone is doable and even smart, but that’s not what happened in P4 to me.

          I’ll put it this way. Overall, the Sailor Moon manga has a fantastically dark tone and storylines, but manages to be fun and light here and there. The anime on the otherhand, absolutely does not know how to do this (in part because it had to have filler, but even the filler is handled very poor some seasons).

          • Shippoyasha

            I would definitely say they could have filled between the lines more in P4 for sure. But I am only arguing that it wasn’t really a breaking point of P4. I mean, there are a lot of ‘sullen silence’ moments when characters realize something terrible or know their outlook on life can be a bit naive (especially when confronted by Adachi) and I do agree they should have shown more dialogue in regards to that. Also charactere talking more about their individual problems and the Sagiri beings could have helped flesh it out more.

            That being said, the game did show us the players a lot about the more cynical nature of the game. But maybe like in our world, they internalized a lot of it instead blurting out how things weren’t how they seemed. Even though Narukami doesn’t speak, it did seem like he had a handle on the darker underpinnings. Naoto as well though she internalizes a lot of issues unless the situation calls for it. 

          • It isn’t enough for me to dislike the game, but it is a criticism/critique I will always point out on it. And I have a weird feel with the shadow selves. My problem with how it was handled was how over the top each character was every time; none of them were very nuanced or genuinely varied. I feel like they could have done a better job being in-character to everyone, but that’s really just a personal nitpick. x’D

          • Shippoyasha

            See, I don’t even disagree. Maybe they just wanted to show off the similar situations for younger gamers and I don’t begrudge the devs for that. Could they have made it more unique for each scenario? Sure. I probably would do that myself if I was writing the scenario.

          • Yeah, and to a point I can kind of see why they did it, but I just feel like they had a lot of wasted potential with P4, which goes back to my main problem; it kind of tried to court too many things and ended up not balancing parts correctly (because some of the tone would end up conflicting with gameplay elements, messages and wish fulfillment eventually).

          • Steven Higgins

            But I thought that was sort of the point of Shadows, to take the negative aspects of a persons personality and amplify them to near-cartooninsh levels. I believe the characters even said this several times. The Shadows aren’t supposed to be nuanced because they are the physical embodiment of a single aspect of a character’s personality and not a true character themselves.
            Unless the you’re talking about the charaters reaction to their shadow, in which case i agree they the were all the same basic “deny deny deny” mentality, but it’s not easy for someone to see themselves as they truly are and not how they think they are. None of us like to admit to our faults. it takes a special mentality to look at yourself objectively, not glossing over your less than desirable traits. But I won’t deny that there may have been a way for a character to struggle with accepting their shadow without being so dramatic. though I couldn’t write one.

          • Well, to take those aspects and amplify them would be one thing – it’s just that the characters themselves all reacted to them “the same way.” Everyone kind of hesitates, can’t accept and then gets belligerent.

            It isn’t as though one person is confused, then hesitant and crumbles/breaks down, or another starts off belligerent and slowly breaks down into not being able to deny it; they all get the exact same scenario and almost the exact same reaction. It’s really laziness to a point and there isn’t a real way to justify it. I suppose they were trying to streamline it, but it conflicts with other aspects of the game.

          • Steven Higgins

            See that I can understand. But unfortunately they painted themselves into a corner by basically saying that the shadow goes berserk if they are denied, thereby implying that without denial, the Shadow can’t mutate and then that’s one less boss fight. They’d need to change the denial/loss of control relationship. Something like, if it isn’t IMMEDIATELY accepted, if there is any kind of hesitation at all, THEN they go crazy.

          • Yeah, and that’s my main contention. They did a few things all over the place where they paint themselves into unfortunate corners. But hopefully P5 won’t have that~!

          • Firion Hope

            Another aspect of it that I mentioned elsewhere that bothers me is it’s SUCH a lazy device for character development. Oh a convenient excuse for every character you’re supposed to care about to say all the problems they have and everything that bothers them about themselves (and some of it is really melodramtic and smells just a bit too much of tween drama for my tastes) only to then accept themselves with you the players help (in which you have no choice)

            Its clearly done so that you can’t possibly miss the personal conflicts the characters go through, it throws all subtlety and gradual character development out of the window in favor of helping the people who are unable to pay attention and read between the lines so that hopefully everyone cares right away and I really hate it, it’s one of my least favorite aspects of the game. Don’t get me wrong I still like the characters, but that alone is enough to make me think they aren’t written nearly as well as they could be

            EDIT: I think the concept is interesting, I just don’t personally feel it was written well but again just my opinion and I still love the game

          • Yeah, I saw that comment and lol’d to myself, because I was in full agreement. What bothers me about it especially on the melodrama aspect, is that some of those are very serious things for everyone, but they handled it like melodrama; at times I did feel for the characters, but I had moments where I was just anxiously clicking through convos with them because I really didn’t care.

            But yeah, that’s the perfect way of putting it. Also, the way the time is handled means sometimes, you have to go through these obvious, thrown in your face moments basically back to back, so it just feels shoehorned in to feel like development instead of being natural.

            They definitely were not written nearly as well as they could have been. I think that’s just a flaw with the Persona team starting from around that time though. They sometimes sacrifice nuance for the sake of a gameplay aspect or. . . effectively kissing the player’s butt; sometimes, they focus too hard on “choice” and letting the player fulfill certain things, and throws what could be great writing out the window.

          • Firion Hope

            Exactly, the melodrama. I mean part of it is just the characters problems are again so obvious and also they just seem smaller in nature compared to ones from previous games. And I guess thats fine or whatever, but its just not to my personal taste.

            I really cant bring myself to care that being famous is sooooo hard or that someone doesn’t want to go into their parents jobs or whatever. Especially not compared to stuff like my dad is an abusive alcoholic or I have unloving parents and have been bullied my entire life most likely to the point of considered suicide. There were some more interesting things like Kanji, but they kind of wussed out and skirted around the issue without ever really addressing it I felt, same goes for Naoto. Teddie I mightve cared about if he didn’t feel like an unnecessary and annoying mascot character.

            The problems they face are a lot more realistic and relateable to most people I think which does open up the game more and make it more accessible for more people, but for me at least that also makes them a lot more boring and predictable, and it just makes it harder for me to really care when some of them feel so insignificant compared to others

            I don’t want to come off as hateful of the game or its writing, some of the writing was great like with Nanako or Dojima, I just feel it had SO much more potential in it that it could have capitalized on, but didn’t. Shadows are a really interesting concept but I can’t help but feel they were just a lazy excuse for character development, I haven’t beaten 2 yet so I don’t know if 2 handled them better or not.

            As much as I love it and enjoy playing it I just wish the game would be a little more subtle at times, I like to be able to replay a game and feel like I understand it more each time, especially if its a 60 hour long RPG, to me thats the sign of a deep and meaningful story and themes. I know some people felt different, but I felt like I understood basically everything the first time I beat the game

            /my 2 cents

          • Steven Higgins

            But realistically (I know it’s a game so fk logic) It would be pretty impossible for anyone to deal with all that AND a supernatural invasion.

          • Haha, I’m trying to imagine it realistically. I would say. . . real people deal with so much more everyday, and that sometimes, a supernatural invasion would still be the least scary; but it’s about how one wants to balance that.

            I think what makes these differences so strong in P4 though, is that SMT and other titles in the overall series can handle it (DDS, SMT) but Persona eventually started slacking. P3 was in the middle, but they just gave up with P4. Fair enough and at least parts of the game work, but altogether it isn’t right.

            (I often tell my husband about Pathfinder; the game is incredibly broken, but they established certain larger rules and had to break some things in order to make other things work; still caused a mess, but they got what they wanted.)

          • And in general, I do like larger personal problems, but I will say their’s fit for the game and its usual tone. My problem is that they still wussed out on basically everyone. They could have done something Utena-like with Chie’s complex (damseling someone else for her own needs and having to own up to that properly and develop), and they could have really delved into the sense of responsibility versus one’s own wants and how having such a public image would clash with being young and wanting a private life for Yukiko (especially given pressure and expectations from society), and Yosuke was just kind of boring. I was most disappointed with Kanji and Naoto too; it was my problem with Catherine. They had serious issues and kind of addressed them (more like approached), but dropped them in favor of doing other things (again, the game clashes with itself).

            I do feel that Nanko and Dojima delivered though – especially Nanako, on all fronts. But that’s kind of sad when only two of the characters feel so fulfilling/fleshed out more than your basic party and out of the whole cast.

            Looking back, I think the game suffers from tone issues the most and wanting to do everything. You can’t decide that you want your players to be a jerkass if they want, but also let properly let them progress through the plot; or give us serious problems (like gendered and sexuality ones) but drop them so the MC can get some putang. It gets trivial and trite.

          • Shippoyasha

            I think the thing with P4 is that the side stories with individual characters were never the focal point. They are social links and not meant to be the absolute core narrative. I would personally would have liked to see them more fleshed out, but perhaps it would have made an 80-100 hour long game even longer and more bloated. As a game goes, they need to justify fleshing out each character arc and perhaps that just seemed way too ambitious. They can no doubt improve, but I don’t think it was intentionally done so to clash with its own message. In the end, these games do have a core plotline and it is probably asking too much to have them solve everything. Which is why characters like Naoto even has her own manga line now, to flesh out her character more.

          • Which makes sense, since this is only the second game to really usher in such a system. My only real problem with examples like Naoto (and Kanji to an extent) is how some unfortunate implications/problematic elements occur because they wanted to let the player do certain things while also trying to do something with the characters. At a point, it starts to erase the intention of what they were doing with the character (and has disappointing handling/messages thereafter).

          • Shippoyasha

            To be fair, that’s because the game would rather show it rather than tell it to the player. Social links, despite being a pretty important aspect of leveling up your team, is still considered optional side stories considering you can skip a ton and still finish the game. Also, it may get very complex to pull off if happenings in the game occur outside of your control or viewpoint. Which could mean we might need an ensemble cast control (like in Blazblue or Persona 4 Arena) where you switch the protagonist/viewpoint at will. I’m not sure Atlus during late 2000s was ready to implement something that complex into it. It may be a nagging videogamey element of P4, but I don’t think it’s all that fair to say they were doing so to sabotage the storytelling.

          • Firion Hope

            Im not sure exactly what you’re referring to with your post, my view on the shadows or…?

    • Shippoyasha

      Another thing is that P4 is intentionally ‘small world’ in feel because of its rural feel. I am not sure why that deserves critique because very few games do that for an ambitious, 100+ hour RPGs. It was very risky and they did it anyway. Not to mention that the global threat was definitely there (especially the last 1/4th of the game that alludes the entire world was going to be the target and not just Inaba.

      The TV thing makes sense too because TV was iconic in the game regarding it being something society looks forward to in helping solve our problems and focusing on how it is used and manipulated was a major theme. And there actually were several instances where straight up, real life style crimes did happen. So it was not like they forced the TV methodology no matter what. They went to great lengths explaining how it was used so much otherwise.

      • Abysswalker90

        When I first started the game, I thought to myself, “wait, they really are going inside the T.V? that’s kind of dumb”. It seemed like an idea straight out of a saturday morning cartoon.

        But as the game went on, it started making more and more sense, and in the end, P4 was one of the most realistic experiences I had in gaming.

    • konsama

      I like to think of persona 4 as the “happy times” before elizabeth does shit and awakes Nyx and philemon/nyarlathotep awake again, then shit’s gonna get serious and Yu with possibly all the investigation team will be around to fix all that’s broken.

    • Ouch My Head Said Dionysus

      “P4 is very sarcastic and does a good job of showing us the darker sides of society.”

      Care to give some examples? Because I found the antagonist’s motivations to amount to little more than “4 the evulz”

      • Abysswalker90

        What do you mean? Both final villains in P3 and P4, represent the dark side of society the party struggles through. They reflect our own secret desires. To them, they simply want to give humanity what they long for.

    • Bobby Jennings

      Couldn’t agree more. I have no words.

    • Jorge Greenwood

      I agree with both you and @resettears:disqus that the murder case is just a plot device to show a theme in particular, In Persona 4 Being the way society turns a blind eye on the truth because it makes them feel uneasy, that’s what gives birth to the protagonist shadows and eventually covers the town with fog and I believe that it is a pretty strong critic about society, the way we’re led to believe something by what we see on tv, and how we all know that all that is a lie and chose to believe it because if we didn’t we would aknowledge how unfair and cruel our way of life and political system is. Even now that we have the internet, with all the overflow of information we usually believe a side of a story that we’re confortable with, that resonates with our value system, even if that is not at all the truth. I believe P4 did a great job portraying this… until that last day in the true end of the game that is, haha, on the other hand in P3 I had a feeling of disjoint in most of the game, since I didn’t bought in the reasons the main character had to fight the shadows, in P4 it was clear that there was friendship involved, but on P3 they were never friends, it was a bit random to me, considering that I’ve been playing persona games backwards, however, in the final part of the game, after you decide to fight against Nyx, I could see the characters really having a goal they set for themselves and joining for real this time, It also made the theme of apathy resonate more, for the whole game you see people fighting against something just because they can, but you don’t see them as a real team, they just happen to be on the same side of a fight, they’re to some extent apathetic to the others of the group, but when they fight nyx they chose to really fight together and losing that apathy towards those who share your faith is also a strong message that is really overlooked on P3.

      Also a weird fact for me, since I’ve been playing the Persona games backwards since I got interested in them after I played Catherine on 2012 and Golden happened to release by then, is that P3 and P4 mirror too much the first 2 (3) games of the franchise, at least the overall cover up of the theme of the game, as I said before, the murder case (in 4) was a cover up to the real plot and theme of the game, then, in P2 the plot revolves also about a murder case, by a murderer known as the joker, in P4Golden, Adachi is given the Jester arcana, which is also a fun fact since a jester and a joker are 2 sides of the same coin.

      On Persona 3 we deal with a different cover up, you are a group of kids that awakened the persona powers by chance, because you had some potential and you are the only ones who can correct the wrong doings of a powerful company that wanted to attain the powers of the shadows, a thing that also is present in the first persona game.

      So what I’m trying to say with this is that all 4 games have something really bold and new even if there are some recurring ideas/themes on them, for example in 3 I knew since he appeared, that ikutsuki wasn’t a good guy, mostly because he was a goof like adachi in 4 and the bartender in catherine were. And I also could devine the most important points of the plot right away with that game since I was more familiar with Atlus gimmicks and that I believe should work backwards, meaning that if you played p3 first there are some things you could imagine regarding the plot thus making it a less satisfaying experience.

  • Firion Hope

    That was a really great discussion, especially when it came to Persona. I like the discussion you had, and I pretty much agree with everything Ishaan said, Ive expressed similar feelings elsewhere but not quite as eloquently

    However no matter what it ends up being like Im almost positive Ill like Persona 5, and I’m super excited for it!

  • ShadowDivz

    But then I realized that characters that are guilty of crimes don’t sell merchandise like adorable waifus, and girls in detention centers don’t wear the uniforms with short skirts. So that’s pretty much it for that possibility. There’s a whole lot of market for schoolgirl outfits these days, less so for orange jumpsuits.

    THAT’S THE PROBLEM! I mean, there’s nothing wrong with moe (except for the fact we’re up to our asses in it.)
    But people want something different, but then when we are presented with something different we don’t like it.

    It’s a vicious circle that applies to pretty much everything.

    X has gotten stale -> try to enjoy it a little longer ->”i need something new” -> something new comes out -> “i’m not willing to venture outside my comfort zone” -> back to X

    Granted, some people are willing to venture outside their comfort zone(i am) but not enough to make a change in the market.

    And for the record, i love the idea of a romantic social link cheating on you. I wouldn’t quit playing the game, but i would never forget it…..EVER.

    If my Chihiro cheated on me, i’d…. Hell, i’d let Nyx kill us all out of spite. “WHO’S LAUGHING NOW BITCH?!”

    • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

      You’re insane lol.

      Go back to playing P3. You’re as yandere as minato lmao

      • God

        Minato was yandere? i always thought the bitches he was with were the yanderes… i can’t tell you how many time fuuka’s SL reversed on me… i developed fuukaphobia…

    • God

      Duuuude… it’s just a game, just kill her during the dark hour, no need to make everyone die, if you kill everyone, who would i troll?

      • Anesia Hunter

        this is just so wrong… but it’s funny. xD

    • Shippoyasha

      Well, even bad or quirky girls will be likable to some people so I don’t think it’s a big issue. Not to mention characters like Yukiko laughing like a banshee and Yukari being pretty bitchy in P3 was kind of their own odd charm. I think they can pull off cheating characters and make them likable in their own ways. But characters cheating just out of the blue would be a tad silly. Maybe MCs can make different choices that can directly or indirectly influence whether you can hold onto a relationship or not. The social links shouldn’t be outright hostile to the player even if it gets more dimensions. It IS a game more than a straight up soap opera.

      • ShadowDivz

        Agreed. But i doubt they would go that deep into the romantic relationships.

        But it would be so fun. Just imagine telling your friends “I can’t believe Yukari cheated on me. I had to remake my file 4 times already” xD
        or something along the lines

  • Raspberry

    i’ll take Persona game over main SMT any day. SMT just doesnt work for me.

    • Abysswalker90

      Perfectly understandable. Both series-es, have a completely different feel to them.

      If you love to eat french toast, who am I to fucking argue.

      • Firion Hope

        Who the hell doesn’t like to eat french toast though?

        • Abysswalker90

          The lactose intolerant.

          • Firion Hope

            Those poor poor bastards…

          • No, not true. I’m lactose intolerant and I love french toast and fix it every other morning. It just means I’m going to destroy a bathroom later and hurt while doing so.

          • Abysswalker90

            Well. I stand corrected.

    • Linhua

      … it makes me feel a tad bit better that i’m not alone in this.

      … we may still very well be in the minority here… but it’s nice not to be alone in it.

      • Ethan_Twain

        No no, don’t worry. Ishaan and I are in the minority on this one. Persona is, and will be for the foreseeable future, a much bigger deal than SMT. We’re just a couple a cranky old RPG veterans out of step a little bit with the mainstream.

        But hey, in theory that’s why we’re worth reading! Nobody needs more discussion of how cool Persona 3 and 4 were, and how exciting it is that Persona 5 is coming. I think the fans have got that angle covered on their own :)

        • Linhua

          … Agreed! Thank you!

      • Bunzi

        You’re playing the victim card because of something you’re seeing on the internet – I don’t see any main series Shin Megami Tensei’s with fighting game spin offs, stage plays, or anime series.

        • Linhua

          … i’m sorry… what .-. ?

          … I don’t think that’s very fair of you to assume of me, mister.

          … now, true, I got my info on the game from the internet, yes… as I do with many games and things.

          … however… regardless of what the internet spits out… I take that information with a grain of salt until i’ve tried it out myself.

          … and in this particular case, I did.

          … my dislike(not hate) of the game came from personal experience.

          … I am my own persona.

          … I don’t ‘ride the wave’ or play that ‘victim’ crap.

          • I think they meant feeling as though you would be in the minority for liking Persona, when in fact it’s more popular than SMT and getting more merch and attention.

          • Linhua

            … hmm it… sounds like my response works the same if this is the case.

            … personally, before reading this Article… I actually thought SMT was the more popular choice given even all of my local friends go crazy over the game.

            … so because of that, and the internet… I decided to see what all the hype was about.

            … turns out after trying it myself, I did not like the game.

            … I could care less about the publicity either game gets… because at the end of the day, it’s about what I enjoy. I just can’t bring myself to like(or hate) a game just because of the Masses.

            … if it just so happens that the game I like has more popularity going on for it, then cool… more power to the series and less money for my pocket… but I do not see how I could possibly be playing a victim card here.

            … I believe i’ve made it clear that i’m not jumping on any bandwagons.

          • I think I know where you’re coming from, but you’re missing the point of how you framed your comment and what he was saying in return. It’s not about jumping on bandwagons or anything; it’s about feeling sad/bad about “being in the minority” when it’s significantly different in reality.

            I think victim card was probably too strong of a use/word, haha, but the point was that the SMT fans would be the real “victims”/minority here, and to feel the way you do is kind of a slap in the face given how much love the Persona franchise is getting and what the fans get in return of it.

            (I suppose the irony is also that while there’s definitely clear subsets of fandom regarding SMT and Persona, the latter still has a large, vocal fanbase on the internet too – so seeing dissent about Persona online doesn’t mean too much when there’s still a lot of love for it everywhere; which is fair and still mostly deserved! But SMT gets shafted there too.)

          • Linhua

            … wow I… did not mean for such fuss and confusion to come of a small response .-.

            … I do apologize for the misunderstanding… but I need to be sure that we’re on the same page here.

            … you… ARE referring to me feeling bad about not liking a game that (apparently) gets significantly less attention than the other, right…?

            … if that is the case then I must come clean here… @[email protected]

            … what I meant had nothing to do with the fan bases of either series. It was more of a personal thing (yet again).

            … I really liked the Persona series… and so I was hoping to try something else made by Atlus… hoping to expand in their library. Thought it might be a good idea to check out the next big thing.

            … and as it turned out… I did not like the game.

            … after all the SMT hype I kept finding myself in the middle of (friends and internet friends alike)… I was truly convinced that SMT was the more popular game and felt pretty bummed (and even more, an oddball) for completely liking one and completely disliking the other.

            … I was really starting to think that I was one of those rare ones who felt this way and was just a bit relieved that there were others.

            … everyone I ever talked to about this either liked them both or neither.

            … I was ill-informed… and I really owe you all an apology… = =;; … I am sorry about all this..

          • Well, I personally thought that you were saying you were glad you’re not the only that prefers Persona and thought that it was the reverse for the most part. I’m not sure the original commenter/responder read your comment or anything.

            I also don’t have any problem with that or anything, but I was meaning to say that I also understood where their comment was coming from and tried to clear it up, because it didn’t seem like your response understood where he was coming from.

            I don’t think there’s a need to apologize~. It’s easy to be under the impression that SMT gets more love/respect, but sometimes it just takes a bit of looking at the larger picture and stuff to see otherwise. ^u^

          • Linhua

            … I took another look at his response and I saw what you were trying to explain .-.

            … I guess me not knowing about the different worlds these two series were living in caused me to think that I was being attacked over something else.

            … I shall have to watch myself around these parts what I say… lol.

            … that certainly escalated very quickly.

            … in any case, thank you for clearing that up!

          • Haha, yeah. And it’s no worries. That happens to me all the time! I just edit before I get caught, lawl.

            And ya definitely gotta watch what ya say! For as many cool-headed fans, we do have some rabid people lurking around Sili. x’D

            No problem though!

    • Kaetsu

      I like SMT but I LOVE Persona and would definitely take it over SMT any day.

    • Ash_Riot

      I’ll take both of them.

      • Rake


        Although I’m still waiting for something like Nocturne to come out. Even if you prefer Persona games.. Nocturne is that SMT game that will get you hooked.

  • Earthjolly

    1: Ditch the high school setting. Its overused and generic. I want the main character to be more an adult with a family than a teenager.

    Instead of studying for an school exam, hes studying for his work project.

    • Hound

      Maybe. That or don’t ditch the high school setting and instead display it from a different light.

      This over-idealized version of the Japanese school system is what’s silly and overused. I’d rather see it taken to its truer extreme. Not this fluffy form that we see all the time in anime and video games.

      I want the brooding harsher version of Japanese school and working to be the forefront.

      Also, I’m hoping they made it more of a unique rogue-like than P4 was (it added some worthwhile changes to dungeons, and I’d like to see this refined more) or take away the rogue-like nature.

      • ShadowDivz

        Battle royale comes to mind…

        • Arcana Drill

          battle royale…. is too extreme it feels that the author wanted to put 20ish characters but they made him make an high school setting, seriously.. there are characters that are no way 15 years old.

          • ShadowDivz

            True. But it was an interesting.

          • Arcana Drill

            i know, i read the entire thing in one day, i think that persona 5 could have some dark elements like BR. Like despair, a character like the girl who used her body to win, etc.

          • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

            Japanese School system is rough.

            Cram Schools are hell.

            Seriously. You feel like not doing shit just to be free from it all

    • Aaron Alcindor

      I rather a part time college setting

    • Kaetsu

      Ditching the high school setting wouldn’t make it Persona. A huge part of Persona is forming SLinks with your classmastes, going through tough times with them and studying for tests. I like the the idea of having a Persona that takes place in college/university where the characters do more mature things but getting rid of the school setting as a whole undermines a big part of Persona.

      • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

        *Points at Persona 1*

        • DeathDias71

          Not sure what point you’re trying to make. Persona 1’s protagonist were in high school.

          • NeptuniasBeard

            I think he was referring to the slice of life parts. Not in Persona 1

          • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

            Dont make up reasoning for the game being in highschool. Use the actual one, but Im not certain that you know why.

          • DeathDias71

            I thought it would make more sense to point out Persona 2. Specifically Eternal Punishment…as most of the protagonist are clearly not in High School. It merely starts at the High School.

            I don’t think that a High School setting defines Persona at all. Typically it makes more sense to use teenagers as Persona protagonist because there is a lot of psychological development that happens around that age. A lot of the stories are not dependent on them being on High School. Persona 1 and 2 had high school students in it but never depicted them in a day to day capacity like 3 and 4 did and I don’t think they were any less impact-full than them.

            The main reason it was different in 3 and 4 is because of the gameplay changes they made because of the social link system. And ultimately it was just a different method of story telling. Not to mention that the situations from 1 and 2 were fundamentally different than 3 and 4 and I don’t think either is inherently better than the other.

          • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

            Good, good.

      • Earthjolly

        You can do that in a work setting. Forming S links with your work partners. going through the tough times of life of Keeping your job, working to support your family, fighting shadows to protect your family and interacting with your family

        Changing the high school setting will not make it any less persona.

      • Hound

        Persona 1-4 had a high school setting, yes.

        I wouldn’t nail down the Social Links so heavily though. Yes, they exist in P3 (are absent from The Answer in FES), P3P, and Persona 4 (which was released soon after 3 with refinements made to 3’s gameplay,) As a refined sequel to Persona 3, (using the same engine) of course Persona 4 would have social links and display them in a similar manner.

        However, I’m personally open to any changes that the Persona team plans on making to the social structure of 3/4. If they have some new plans for a “freedom” system that is more robust and not as confined as social links were, then I’m open to that. If they wish to try a new system that isn’t as chore-like as social links were, that’s fine too.

        If they plan on leaving it the same, but refining the process, that would be nice. But, I don’t think nailing down social links as the defining feature of Persona is healthy.

    • Steven Higgins

      They aren’t going to ditch HS. Ever. That’s what sets it apart from the main SMT series.

  • NeptuniasBeard

    I mean no disrespect, but Ishaan’s wording about P4, about how there was nothing at stake, outside of the murder mystery makes it sound like he never made it to the good/true end. Or has somehow never heard of it after all these years + anime

    • DesmaX

      I dunno, having you saving individual people most of the game, and in the end being told that you’re actually going to save the world doesn’t do it for me.

      • NeptuniasBeard

        Haha, that’s a fair counter argument, though c’mon, it’s a jrpg. Even if most of the game was you going on a milk run, it would still throw in some world saving by the end

        • DesmaX

          In most JRPG’s you just know that it’s a start of something big.

          I never felt that way in Persona 4

          • Nice Boat Quatro

            Maybe because P4 started with realistic elements while other JRPGS start by showing you the supernatural elements.

          • Capricciola

            Realistic? But It starts with you putting your hand inside a portal through a TV screen, and then not even that long later you meet an other dimensional being named Teddy who takes the form of an autonomous mascot bear suit.

            P3 isn’t really that much different plotwise either on the realistic/supernatural aspects. The main difference I see is that P4’s plot is on a smaller scale than P3, and that P4 is more upbeat, while P3 is grim and artsy.

            People are giving both games a bit too much credit IMO. They have some really deep themes sure, but they’re also very mind-screwy and goofy fantasy stories.

          • hng qtr

            I think it felt that way because, despite all the absurd things they see and do, the party was just trying to catch a murderer, and they could just ignore him if they wanted. In P3 you have to fight things that affect an entire city in ways you can’t understand at first, you have no idea of what they are, what’s their objective, and you know that there will be something even worse after you finish them.

          • Longshadow

            They could have just ignored the murderer? It was their classmates that were being murdered, and they were the only ones who knew how to save them. That’s enough to motivate the plot to me.

          • hng qtr

            After they saved Yukiko why would they even bother with the murders?

          • God

            The only thing that P4 had that P3 didn’t is Adachi, sure, P3 had a Jesus-ish villain, bit it didn’t have an Adachi.

          • Shippoyasha

            The entire Inaba city drowning in fog and people turning into zombies wasn’t big scale for you? What about gods and representatives of the human psyche running around?

          • DesmaX

            That was still near the end; right until you rescue Naoto, nothing that would imply a bigger scale really happens.

            And the Persona didn’t really do that for me, especially since they’re more of a gameplay element, instead of a plot device

          • Shippoyasha

            The Sagiris were talking about covering the world in fog and fulfilling wishes of Humanity. They pretty much say it outright…

          • DesmaX

            Sagiris? Is that one of the Personas you can get?

            Been some years since I last played it

          • Shippoyasha

            They are fog monsters and the right hand of a god. They make their intention known before the half way of the game.

        • God

          Isn’t that the plot of white knight chronicles?

      • Firion Hope

        Yeah I never really got it either, in P2 or 3 the game kind of builds it up from the beginning, it feels like it gets bigger and bigger till it gets to its logical conclusion of the entire world (or more) at stake

        In P4 its like save a few single individuals for the vast majority of the game then in the last few hours suddenly the whole town is in danger, no wait the worrrrld! I agreed with Ethan and felt like it essentially betrayed what the rest of the game is and was just thrown in at the last minute

    • Pretty much what Desmax said below. You can’t shove that into the last hour of the game and expect it to be taken seriously as a major plot point.

      • Abysswalker90

        I think there was enough going on through the game to expect a “saving the world” type of ending. Although I can see where you’re coming from.
        Like I suggested in another post, I think that the whole saving the world thing is merely an illustration. The battle the characters go through, is not against an almighty god-like entity, it is against society itself. The final bosses are only manifestations of these battles. That goes for both P3 and P4.

        • Firion Hope

          Thats the same for all Personas though, and pretty much all of SMT, it doesn’t necessarily mean it was done well. I LOVE P4 but I think it was way too obvious with its themes and character developments, especially if compared to 2 or 3.

          Thats just my opinion though

          • Abysswalker90

            Yet so many people still fail to see anything besides a “scooby doo knockoff”.
            I don’t think it was more obvious, as much as it was more defined. I think that P3 was a bit too much all over the place, while P4 was more focused, but I can understand how you would see it as too obvious. I personally like P4 most.

          • Firion Hope

            Thats cool, I love the game very much aswell and plan to replay it soon, but I stand by what I said, also that quote wasn’t done by me lol.

            I just feel like P4 puked the whole accept yourself thing all over me until it made SURE I got it, whereas 2 or 3 you had to pay attention and read between the lines a little more to see what it was really about, their themes weren’t quite as obvious. Also I REALLY hate Shadow selfs, laziest plot device and excuse for character development ever.

            That said I respect your opinion, and I love all the games so it doesn’t matter too much at the end of the day

          • Abysswalker90

            That quote was done by all P4 haters, who didn’t take the effort to read between the lines while playing the game. That is, assuming they actually did play it.

            I personally didn’t feel like P4 overdid it with the whole acceptance thing, and I actually think that the Shadow Self is a pretty damn good idea in the right hands, and I loved it at P4. Although I wouldn’t like to see it again to the same extent, I think P4 already explored that idea enough.

          • Firion Hope

            Thats ridiculous, it wasn’t “done by all haters” it was done by one person, generalizing everyone who disagrees with you into one group isn’t cool, hell if you really got P4 you should’ve picked up on the fact it tries to send the message to not judge other people.

            I love Persona 4 so I’m not a “hater” and I read between the lines (which was really easy to do) but I still don’t think it was done very well. It didn’t do a good enough job to make me care. The first 40 hours of the game is literally go through this new dungeon and help this new person accept themselves again and again, its like okay I got it by the first dungeon let alone the second, how many times do I have to go through this, I get the damned point. Also I don’t like having a convenient excuse for characters so spell out all there problems for the player to see so easily, like thats actual character development.

            Again despite this and a lot of other problems I have with it it’s still a great game and I still love lots about it, and I realize it deals with serious “issues” but I don’t think it does as good a job as other games have, doesn’t mean Im a “hater” or that I missed the point (which would be really hard for anyone to do if you pay any attention at all)

          • Firion Hope

            Thats ridiculous, it wasn’t “done by all haters” it was done by one person, generalizing everyone who disagrees with you into one group isn’t cool, hell if you really got P4 you should’ve picked up on the fact it tries to send the message to not judge other people.

            I love Persona 4 so I’m not a “hater” and I read between the lines (which was really easy to do) but I still don’t think it was done very well. It didn’t do a good enough job to make me care. The first 40 hours of the game is literally go through this new dungeon and help this new person accept themselves again and again, its like okay I got it by the first dungeon let alone the second, how many times do I have to go through this, I get the damned point. Also I don’t like having a convenient excuse for characters so spell out all there problems for the player to see so easily, like thats actual character development.

            Again despite this and a lot of other problems I have with it it’s still a great game and I still love lots about it, and I realize it deals with serious “issues” but I don’t think it does as good a job as other games have, doesn’t mean Im a “hater” or that I missed the point (which would be really hard for anyone to do if you pay any attention at all)

          • Abysswalker90

            I was just pointing out the main argument fans have against the game, which is based on shallow observation. I didn’t try to label you as one.

            I like the the vibe the shadow world, and the shadow selfs’ give out. It’s very uneasy, and feels a little Silent Hill-ish. It was also something I had never seen done before, and it can deliver many interesting enemy designs.

          • Firion Hope

            Oh okay well fair enough. I like a lot of aspects about it too, and I do also love the SH/Twin Peaks vibe it gives

      • NeptuniasBeard

        True, but at the same time, it didn’t just come completely out of nowhere. The Big Bad shows up once or twice in the boss battles to hint at something bigger going on. Or hell, just the fact that the fog of two worlds are connected is a pretty big red flag. Though one that I didn’t pick up on until I replayed it :p

      • Shippoyasha

        Last hour? You mean more like the last 20 hours or so, right? Because it’s a few dungeons near the very end that shows the threat is much bigger than previously thought. That was a lot more than 1 hour.

      • Cheesy04

        Probably because it was a mystery you need to figure out :P

  • DesmaX

    Persona 4 plot really was the weak point for me. I never feel like anything was happening (And, to be fair, P3 also suffered from this problem; especially on the first half, where you just wait for the big monsters to appear on the full moon), and, when something was explained (On the main plot), it never made any sense…

    Sure, the Social Links were pretty cool, and I can understand the symbolism behind the thing, but I just wish stuff made sense. Hope Persona 5 delivers on that (But I doubt it).

    And, while we’re on topic, what are you guys take on Catherine?

    • ShadowDivz

      The only romance story i gave a crap about it.

      Seriously, i loved it. And i loved Katherine.

      Any woman who would come to my crappy apartment,empty my garbage and leave WITHOUT moving my stuff around, is wife material.

    • Kaetsu

      Persona 4’s story got really good towards the end. I thought Persona 3 was pretty good all the way through. Some parts were boring but it was more consistent than P4’s story. I Love them both.

  • Who ?

  • Nice Boat Quatro

    The MC of P3 was complex and the one from P4 was perfect? What the? Did I play the wrong game? The two are empty vessels. Their most common line was “….” People complain about Squall from FF8 but even he was more complex than those two and I’m a fan of Persona. How is that MC complex?

    The two are characterized based on the players’ actions. The two can be perfect if the player nails social interaction. At the same time, the two have big issues, P4 MC is often having problems with his uncle and can have problems if his social links are done badly. The same with the P3 MC.

    • Firion Hope

      They don’t have a much of an obvious personality, but theres a lot of implications if you pay attention, and small details you can gleam through cutscenes and the such.

      For example at the Beginning of P3 Makoto is implied to be very passive and also you can gleam early on that theres something odd when he doesn’t have a strong reaction to the dark hour, from that you can infer that hes seen that type of stuff a lot during his life, or that hes desensitized to it. Or in one of the first scenes you can see that he’s protective of Yukari.

      Same goes with Yu, in the beginning its kinda implied that hes a bit depressed about having to leave his hometown and move, hence his flashback to leaving. Its also implied hes there emotionally for his friends, for example you have to say something to comfort Yusuke no matter what, you only choose how he says it. Or you can see by his reactions to when Nanako is in danger that no matter what you’ve chosen and thought up to that point, that he cares about her.

      You control their personality and what they do to some extent, but not entirely, because they still choose some of their own actions for themselves no matter what.

      Also in the Anime adaptations and stuff like Persona 4 Arena and Persona Q they both have a personality based on their implied personalities in the original game, while leaving some things open to interpretation

      So TLDR is that they do have somewhat of a personality, you can just steer it to a limited extent

      • God

        Yes, but it isn’t that limited, while in the Anime Yu was the king of swag (as much as i hate that word), in P4A, he was a tea gardener all-i know-how-to-say-is frienship kind of character… pretty different and they both are based on his preset personality.

        • Firion Hope

          They’re similar enough that it doesn’t feel like two different characters or anything, at least to me. Even the choices you have available to him says a lot about him, I remember having this same argument with Walking Deads Lee

          • God

            Lee… Me (god), i loved that guy… but he didn’t have nearly as much choices in that game as Yu in Persona 4, and to me at least P4A’s Narukami was EXTREMELY different from Anime’s Narukami.

          • Firion Hope

            Hes da best, no matter how you play him :D Don’t get me wrong I love clementine but everyone forgets lee in favor of her

          • God

            And now that Lee is not in season 2 he is even more forgotten… But he was the badass of the badass, and he was black, in a zombie themed game, and survived until the end, that takes some serious epicness…

          • Firion Hope

            A well written black character, not easy to find. Ah well I cant wait to play season 2 either way

          • God

            Just gotta wait until all chapters are released, otherwise, dem cliffhangers…

      • Nice Boat Quatro

        Quoting Soejima the P3 and 4 MCs were designed to be ambiguous so that the player could insert whatever personality they want. The characters’ background can help you give an idea of what the characters could be like, but everything about them is decided by the player and the obnoxious narrators. For Soejima, the character is basically the Yellow Sentai due to how neutral he is.

        When the P4 anime was also created, Hashino commented the MC remained emotionless throughout the game and that for the director would have create a characterization.

        The same happened with the P3 movie. The director’s biggest challenge was given the MC his own personality in order to make him interact with the cast.

        • Firion Hope

          Thats a very interesting quote, thanks for sharing! I still stand by the fact that they are their own characters to some extent, you just have some control over them, but some things they do themselves no matter what. I mean you could even make that argument in WRPGs which give you a lot more freedom of choice, but these games arent nearly even on that level.

          Speaking of I can’t wait to see that P3 movie, I want a damned Blu Ray release already :(

  • Lalum

    “Well, I reckon that there’s no way a Persona game could feature a core character doing something genuinely objectionable like that.”

    There’s enjo-kōsai+drugs for a certain someone.

    • ShadowDivz

      If your talking about a character in particular from a past Persona game, then im curious, who it is.

      Or do you just mean “it can happen”?

      • Lalum

        Spoilers for P2

        Lisa Silverman

        • ShadowDivz

          Really? Drugs? Clearly, i haven’t gone far enough.

  • karldeck

    The only thing I have to say about this is that Persona 4 is all about character building and one of the very few games that have a decent semi-gay character.

    • Hound

      Persona 2 Innocent Sin allows you to be gay for your obviously gay childhood friend though. You even get to date him if you wanted. Or, you can skip the ordeal and tell him you’re not interested.

      • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

        You should always turn em down unless the character happens to be gay

      • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

        You should always turn em down unless the character happens to be gay

    • Bisexual, you mean? Kanji is certainly bisexual in Japan, but never gay. He’s still attracted to Naoto later, and that’s fine. But I would say even the way they handle Kanji is direct and skirts around things.

  • Shippoyasha

    Some things about that discussion irks me.

    A few things:

    -Ishaan, to be blunt with you, it seems you intend to downplay and miss the point with Persona 4 and even Persona 3 to an extent. Persona 3 for one, despite the angst and the death theme, was constant in teaching the player about the importance of life. Pretty much every subplot and social links had some kind of a life theme even if some focused on death from a casual glance. Persona 4 on the other hand was way more about a universal internal struggle of egos clashing with societal expectations. It was never just a little murder mystery to begin with and never was intended to be only that. And excuse to get characters together? Really? What about Tartatus rising up at midnight? What about any given SMT premise? You are unfairly crapping on Persona 4 there. You say you like the game and then proceed to trash basically every element of it with extreme prejudice.

    -Wish fulfillment is such a vilified wording nowadays that it needs to be stood up for. Wanting to see the best things happen to the characters isn’t an inherent problem. Whether wish fulfillment seems shallow or deep is all in the execution, not whether it happens at all. Treating wish fulfillment like it’s a buzzword like we often do nowadays will create this negative connotation of it unfairly. Much like the word ‘fanservice’ which is ridiculously misconstrued nowadays.

    -The point of P3 and P4’s highschool lives isn’t to actually say that going to highschool in real life is perfect as I see it. It’s more to do with making the daily grind element of the game more palatable and easier to get through for the player. If everything goes wrong or there is constant drama with it, it would be too much of a wear and tear on the player which is already there in the dungeon crawling segments. However, I have always thought social links could give players a choice on whether one can succeed or fail or there even being multiple paths to them in a greater metagame scope of social links. But I think it’s unfair to say the developers were intent on making highschool awesome and done and done.

    -I am not sure I can agree that Persona needs to become like other dour stories or SMT to be respectable as a story. First of all, Persona should remain different in feel than any other series. Persona should remain Persona and retain its own feel. Secondly, P4 was brilliant because a lot of the character angst and serious subplots were a bit on the down low and more subtly put into the core plot, not wearing the drama on its sleeve like most dramatic RPGs. A lot of the happier and cheery moments in Persona 4 was deceptive because the characters were always internalizing a lot of inner strife underneath. Hence the dialogue becoming different when it’s a group conversation compared to more personal 1 on 1 talk. I felt that was a pretty realistic take on how a lot of social discussion works in our world as well.

    • Ethan_Twain

      Speaking only for myself here, but rooting for characters to reach happily ever after is definitely not what I was referring to when talking about wish fulfillment. Honestly that interpretation never occurred to me. I mean, Persona 4 pretty much has a lot of happily ever afters, but Persona 3 is more of a mixed bag. It definitely isn’t fair to say that the PS2 Persona games got traction because they fulfilled the players’ “wanting to see the best things happen to the characters”. Pretty much all JRPGs give happily ever afters. Tales has that. Dragon Quest does that. That’s just standard.

      The wish fulfillment going on is letting the player step back into high school without suffering the indignities of, well, high school. In both the PS2 Persona games the player avatar can be smart, popular, athletic, sexy, etc. We go in a fair bit about this above, about how wretched high school can be for a lot of people and how seductive it can be to step into a game and go back to be the guy you wish you had been. This is probably particularly true for the otaku crowd – the people into 60 hour anime RPGs traditionally have a lot of overlap with the people who perceive themselves to be at the bottom of the high school pecking order. That’s true on both sides of the pacific.

      I’m actually not sure what you’re referring to talking about the wide vilification of the term “wish fulfillment”. Is that a big talking point in the anime world these days?

      • Bio438

        Wish fulfillment is a rather large topic in anime discussion these days, in the sense of giving the viewer a perfect world. Also otaku pandering is also something to talk about.

        • Ethan_Twain

          Huh. I might have rephrased if I’d known, but I don’t really follow the anime scene at all. Had no idea that there was already an ongoing conversation surrounding the term.

      • Shippoyasha

        I do think you do have a point to make and sorry if I sounded snippy there. I just think in some circles of discussion (well, some of the more combative discussion arenas like 4chan and My Anime List and especially Anime News Network uses ‘wish fulfillment’ almost like a slur.

        I overall do agree with the sentiment that wish fulfillment definitely can be a thing with Persona though. Even though I could say it is just a part of the whole package of it being about the daily grind of a structured life and upkeeping social contacts with social links. I seem to remember an old Persona 3 interview with the creators citing that the reason why they have a personable Minato character in the daily highschool life was to contrast it to the drama of the core story and the constant dungeon combat. I guess it makes more sense that that the highschool wish fulfillment is more stark in P4 considering that they are supposed to portray a low key, rural school life (even though the events that happens afterward quickly throws it for a loop).

        That being said, I’m not really against the idea of the social aspects of P5 having its drama more interwoven with the core plot as well.

        I also suppose as a way a game needs to use a protagonist has a hand in the wish fulfillment element as well, considering that it is likely going to be difficult to impose challenges against characters without a recourse to succeed. Maybe having more of a choice despite character’s life difficulties could appease people who wishes for the wish fulfillment elements in Persona to those who may want more drama and unexpected twists in it as well. I think it is a delicate balance to be sure. And I hope Atlus takes a chance no matter how it ends up.

  • As much as I love P4, I’d read some great analysis of it last year that opened my eyes a bit more, and I feel like that’s kind of their niche with the Persona team anymore; mild to heavy wish fulfillment while also trying to make commentary; and not to say that’s at all impossible but the way they go about ends up creating dissonance with me. It did with P4 and it did with Catherine, and now I wonder how they’ll handle that with P5.

    Looking back, now I actually wonder if P4 especially lead to a kind of larger boom in sales not just because of how it was merchandised and everything, but it was the title that most courted the otaku market and sold to them very cleverly in its writing so to speak.

  • Tom_Phoenix

    1. The Persona series didn’t “blow up” with P3/4, at least not in Japan. In fact, the original Persona remains the most successful title in the series, having sold almost 400k copies (source: http://www.kyoto.zaq.ne.jp/dkbkq103/yso/top100/1996.htm). That said, I suppose you could argue that the fanbase became a lot more devoted with P3/4, since the enhanced ports of those games sold almost as much as the originals.

    2. One of my biggest problems with Persona 4 is that, for as much as it harped on about “truth”, it didn’t explore the negative aspects of it. You see, it’s not always automatically better to know the truth. In fact, there are situations where revealing the truth brings absolutely no benefits and only downsides to the people involved; situations where the illusion legitimately is better than the reality.

    In P4, this facet was never explored. The people in P4 were always better off discovering the truth and they never faced any problems or consequences for doing so.

    3. I have to agree with Ishaan that the murder mystery was really lame. I LOVE murder mysteries and I didn’t have an issue with the ridiculous methods that the murderer used. But the one in P4 just didn’t have any sort of payoff; there was nothing to figure out, the murderer practically gives himself away and he’s just an incredibly lame villain overall.

    In fact, it was for this reason that I liked the True Ending; without it, the game would have felt incredibly gimped and unsatisfying. Plus, unlike the main game, the True Ending actually features a genuine mystery with references to subtle clues that were left very early on.

    4. SMT is ALL about gods and their nihilistic views. The True Ending was the only thing that gave P4 a few ties to mythology and thus at least partially justified its status as an SMT game. However, I do agree that this aspect should have been much more present in the main game and not just in the True Ending. It is for this reason that I don’t think P4 makes for a good gateway entry into the series in spite of its user friendliness; most of it is just too much of a departure from what the series is about.

    • Capricciola

      I think the negative aspects of truth weren’t explored in Persona 4 because that’s basically what Persona 2 explored. In that game lies become reality, and the main character was forced to maintain a lie for the world to be saved from complete destruction by Nyarlathotep. Persona 4 is highly idealistic in contrast to Persona 2’s cynicism. It’s supposed to directly contradict the moral of Persona 2.

    • Capricciola

      I think the negative aspects of truth weren’t explored in Persona 4 because that’s basically what Persona 2 explored. In that game lies become reality, and the main character was forced to maintain a lie for the world to be saved from complete destruction by Nyarlathotep. Persona 4 is highly idealistic in contrast to Persona 2’s cynicism. It’s supposed to directly contradict the moral of Persona 2.

    • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

      Ah thats the funny thing, illusion might be better in the short term, but in the long term its almost always better to tell the truth.

      • Tom_Phoenix

        That’s not what I was referring to. Yes, there are those kind of situations, but there are situations where the illusion is better both in short term AND in the long term.

        Truth isn’t an objectively positive or negative thing; it just is. Whether or not it has positive or negative consequences entirely depends on how we use it. Unfortunately, in P4, this aspect of truth is never explored.

        • Could you mean something like. . . coming out? I feel like Kanji coming to his friends is understandable, but if the game wants Kanji to be completely open, that’s being silly and insensitive given his situation already. Kind of like that?

        • Bacon_n_Lettuce

          I may not be thinking it through fully, but I honestly can’t think of any situation in which being ignorant to the truth could be helpful in the long run. Sure, there are plenty of things that would make life easier if you were to ignore them, but in many cases ignoring such things means blinding yourself to the full picture of way the world works. Seeing the truth, especially if it’s unpleasant, will often lead to questioning the way things are and can act as a catalyst for change or personal growth, which is ultimately much more positive than living in ignorant bliss.

        • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

          Nah, not telling the truth isnt best in any situation long term. Perhaps you may not live to see why but people understand.

          Secrets damn everyone. No matter how long we try to prolong the reality check. Humans cant seem to get that. Fucking up shit always.

    • Shippoyasha

      P4’s characters DID encounter consequences though. Their original premise was that they are hounded by society and were deeply dissatisfied to begin with. Rise was a broken idol, Teddie was just a shadow, Kanji puts up a wall between him and greater society, Naoto was living in a fantasy and so forth. The odd thing about P4 is that they started out with having a lot of personal issues. I do think characters’ social links should have played more directlty into the core plot but perhaps such an idea was too ambitious at the time.

      Personally, I thought Adachi was great precisely because he used such a preposterous method of killing work and he manilulated the situation as much as the supernatural powers manipulated him. Perhaps they could have explained the shadows’ agitation a bit more though.

  • God

    All i care about regarding social links is that i stell get my “Social Link GOOOO!” moments. And Adachi, i NEED an Adachi-ish character.

    • SnackEater

      Is it weird that I actually really liked Adachi? I thought he was a great character I liked him but I also hated him.

      • Michael Connell

        Well there is a reason why he’s coming back for the sequel to Arena. Though I wonder if there’ll be any way to get him into that upcoming dancing game, lol

      • God

        Really? The only thing i hated is that he submited to the rules of the world… i don’t mind if a character is “lawful”, but me, do i hate when they turn from “chaotic” to “lawful”.

        • Aesma

          Doesn’t that actually fits Chaos’ survival of the fittest though? Adachi lost, that’s why he followed the winner’s demands.

          I’m sure that even if he ‘gave in’ to the rules, the moment he is freed, he’ll do whatever he wants again. The whole thing is like a game to him…

          • God

            Na, they make it seem as if he realised he was wrong, i wish you were right though, since i liked adachi as an agent of chaos, he will appear on P4AS so i guess we will know soon enough…

  • God

    Will a game like this actually have a true ending? Will it go with Shin Megami Tensei’s chaos (freedom) and lawful (accepting society) aligned endings? Or maybe something entirely different?

    • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

      SMT’s true endings are all neutral,timeline the series follows

      • Aspenharls

        Except for Nocturne, which was nothing but pure chaos.

        • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

          It sets up the rest of the timeline story by being the sheer heart attack to YvYH ‘s dogma of all’s in hell is an end’s well.

      • God

        I know, but odds are persona 5 won’t have direct sequels… and i love Chaos endings, so i hope that they don’t canonize one, so i can feel that the chaos ending was canon, even if everyone says it wasn’t.

  • “You an me behind the bleachers.” LOL, I totally said that to her.

    • Michael Connell

      Ditto :)

    • SnackEater

      I didn’t realize there were other options…

  • hng qtr

    “But then I realized that characters that are guilty of crimes don’t sell
    merchandise like adorable waifus, and girls in detention centers don’t
    wear the uniforms with short skirts.”
    There is a light novel for pretty much any otaku fantasy.

  • hng qtr

    “But then I realized that characters that are guilty of crimes don’t sell
    merchandise like adorable waifus, and girls in detention centers don’t
    wear the uniforms with short skirts.”
    There is a light novel for pretty much any otaku fantasy.

  • Michael Connell

    Anyone besides me think that the Devil Survivor games seem to be an interesting middle ground between Persona and the main SMT series? The story’s significantly darker than Persona but not quite as dark as the main series, similar to Persona there is some focus on character relations, and while not as heavy on social commentary as the Persona games it’s still there mixed in with the story leading up to how your MC chooses how the world should be in the end.

    • hng qtr

      DeSu is kind of a “shounen” version of SMT.

    • I do think Devil Survivor 1 serves as a nice middle ground between the two to some extent, but that’s also partly because Devil Survivor is a simpler game. It’s essentially a strategy RPG with lots of dialogue and very little gameplay outside of battles and demon fusion.

      That said, the simpler design results in them being able to do more with the choices. You see the direct results of the choices you make fairly quickly. Do you go this way or that? Do you team up with this person or that other person?

      Someone or the other is always going to die in Devil Survivor games, and you get to decide who you want to protect, either out of a sense of friendship/loyalty or because they share similar ideals to you. So in that sense, yeah, Devil Survivor handles choice far better than SMT or Persona.

    • Ethan_Twain

      Well… kinda? The Devil Survivor games really are two different beasts. Devil Survivor 1 was a really interesting game with an interesting original combat system, an interesting approach to a non-linear campaign that emphasized decision making, and yeah it was kind of grim in overall tone.

      But Devil Survivor 2 is a totally different situation. It’s more linear, less grim, and picks up the social link mechanic from Persona. The emphasis on decision making is reduced, the amount of humor is increased, and overall it’s a lot more “anime”. Which makes sense considering that it got an anime adaptation.

      So the Devil Survivor games do fall between Persona and SMT tonally, but they’re split. The first is almost all SMT, and the second is almost all Persona. I’ll be real curious where the third game falls on the continuum. And mark my words, a third game is coming. There’s no way the two games get 3DS remakes and an anime show unless the company is planning to continue the brand. Wouldn’t be surprised to see that announced this year even as long as Devil Survivor 2 Break Record isn’t delayed any more.

  • brostar

    Well I really enjoyed Persona 4 and 3. But I’d just like to point out that Persona 4 wasn’t about a murder mystery. That was the hook. The developers are building a world here and you can’t understand it until the end. Was the true ending forced in as a last minute? No. Because it was building up to that the whole entire time.

    I really don’t get these criticisms for Persona 3/4. But I really enjoyed them and I’m looking forward to Persona 5.

    P.S. To all you complaining about Persona 5 taking place in high school again instead of “I want university/work/other” you clearly don’t understand the reason Persona exists. The original Persona, kind of a semi-sequel to SMT if is just SMT in high school. That’s the purpose of the series and what it’s about. It’s more obvious in Persona 1 and to some extent Persona 2 than in 3/4. And before someone says something stupid like “but Eternal punishment had adult characters in!!!!!!!1111111111111111!!!!!!!!!!!” Yes but Persona 2 is technically a duology. Both named Persona 2, so in this sense both games form the second entry. And all party members in the first part of Persona 2 Innocent Sin excluding Maya, were high school students. I’m also excluding Yukino because she’s kind of a temp party member.

  • Steven Higgins

    What originally got me into Persona wasn’t the characters, the story, or the setting. It was the Personas themselves. I’ve always loved mythology and the fact that the Personas are mythological figures really exited me. When I started with P4, I found I could really relate to Yu because even though I had a completely average time in High School, neither the uber-popular jock or the bullied outcast,(I was lucky enough to go through the crappy stuff early in life) just an average kid with a small circle of friends because by the time I started playing in my 20s, I was a lot like Yu wherein I was the pillar of support all my friends leaned on in hard times. I never made it far in P3, mostly because it was so different, but now that I know P4 was the exception not the rule, I think in can enjoy P5.

  • Arcade Bumstead

    SMTIV’s gameplay is too easy. Every new feature tipped the balance in the player’s favor and totally lacked the tension of the other mainline games, where surviving was bad enough without trying to save the world.

    A high school student protagonist is an SMT tradition, but I would like if they mixed up the cast more like Persona 2.

    Bravely Default’s demo is terrible and almost made me cancel my order. Having played the game for even a brief time now it’s clear that the narrative is the main draw. The demo does nothing but show off the battle system, which is pretty cool, but doesn’t make the game. There’s a central plot feature that comes about an hour in that already looks to have me hooked until the end.

  • alixraen

    Reading through all of this discussion made me realize I just enjoyed the game for what it’s worth. Not putting it on a pedestal, but I didn’t really have any problems with it at all.

  • revenent hell

    I only started playing any “SMT” game because the artwork in Nocturne, Digital Devil and Raido Kuzunoha games was appealing……But it was the experience in playing the games that hooked me in to likening persona and such…

  • Demeanor

    That was an awesome read, and really shows how immensely deep the world of gaming can get, something that most people have absolutely no idea about :D
    Regarding the MUCH anticipated P5, I’m all the way with you guys in hoping that they make a bold step forward and – at least partially – shy away from the (although pleasant) clichés that comprise most jrpgs regarding plot and story (I’m all for adhering to classic rules on the game system though).
    I too would like a darker atmosphere, and the premise seems dark enough: we’re not dealing with an outside menace like invading Shadows or a murderer this time – at least not upfront – this time the discontent starts from within us, and the structure of modern society is the bad guy, I guess.
    The usual clichés like friendship and romance, hot chicks etc can be delivered differently, I’m not saying they should be taken out, the game has high expectations but it’s also popular enough for them to maybe afford trying a new approach regarding story and characters, it’s all up to the ideas thay had for the story, the intended audience, and how much risk are they going to undertake in breaking new ground.
    Personally I hope in something that can grip your soul and squeeze, and never let go; like an enemy that you’re REALLY scared off, a menace that is TRULY lethal when you’re unlucky enough to be in front of it.
    Aside from this I hope this game will have personality in music, menu, look and feel etc., but they’ve done such a good job thus far that I’m not overly worried.
    Can’t wait can’t wait!

  • Aesma

    You know… whenever I read about Persona or SMT games, I wonder if they can expand the game by including a ‘canon’ New Game+.

    DeSu 2 made it ‘half-canon’ in their story, but Kuze didn’t act like he still have his memories. I mean, for an example, Persona 4.

    Ishaan said, “You can’t shove that into the last hour of the game and expect it to be taken seriously as a major plot point.”

    Then what if the ‘first playthrough’ end in the normal ending, and in the second one, new choices in several plot points appeared, and maybe even add new people to be saved.

    In the second one, you have a different story, different route, different antagonist, hell, maybe even different companions…

    The Social Links in the ‘new game+’ can change into the ‘other Arcana’ deck (The one with Universe and Aeon and so on), party members joined in different order and so on.

    Basically exploring how MC’s journey can change because of several different decisions.

    But I guess at that point it’ll be too costly/time-consuming to create a game like that with Persona’s length x1.5(or maybe 2).

    Well… at least, I want to see a lot of new things in NG+, something that won’t make me feel, ‘Why do I even bother redoing this again? Persona? Demons? Unless they’ve changed it from other Atlus games, it’s not worth it. Social Link? Well… That’s good if I have a lot of unfinished SL but if I am only missing one or two, it’s not worth it.’

    SMT IV added a lot of quests in NG+, and new demons. I want them to at least add something… ‘big’, I guess…

    Speaking about demons, I wonder why Persona’s ‘special Persona’ are only gained from Social Link? If Persona are ‘masks’ of yourself, shouldn’t certain events, overcoming obstacles, or even facing a failure gives you a new Mask?

    • That would be a pretty brilliant idea actually, and if they just split up how the build it, it wouldn’t have to be too costly or time-consuming.

      Also a great point about the persona! I never really thought about that.

      • Steven Higgins

        Well, as for the Personas, i can only imagine they do it that way because if you got one of the top tier Personae for overcoming adversity then you don’t really have to work for it as it would be a story driving acquisition, basically giving you a power house for no reason.

        • I feel like that would work though. If you worked through a personal problem of sorts for the character, it would be a great reason and a cool way to explore/show another facet of the character.

          • Steven Higgins

            But, okay, take Izanagi no Ookami for example, he’s uber powerful but you get him late in the game, and cant even use him in the main game unless its a new game + and even then you have to wait ’till summer and max out Naoto’s SL before you can use him. If I got something like that mid way, with no real work put into it, I wouldn’t get the same sense of satisfaction that I would for getting it by Maxing a social link.
            But if it was like the earlier games and your base Persona evolved after overcoming an ordeal, that I could get on board with

          • Aesma

            It doesn’t have to be like that. Take SMT IV for an example, there are several quests demons which are not… ‘powerful’, but have skills that other demons rarely have example: Early Samarecarm or Diarahan.

            It’s not a game breaker, just a nice something that work as a ‘reward’ for furthering yourself (MC).

          • Steven Higgins

            Okay, that I like

          • Well it wasn’t a question of strong ones, just “special.” So for instance, instead of working through a different character’s social link, it’d be a personal one for the MC.

        • Aesma

          Hmm…. that’s true, but… It’s like this.

          For an example, Omoikane, the God of Wisdom. Omoikane is a figure of someone who seek knowledge, who keep striving to learn and develop oneself.

          Let’s say that when MC study, study, study, his Intelligence level is 4.

          It can’t go any higher by studying. Then the MC got invited into some kind of interschool competition or something like that, or maybe, something like becoming an assistant teacher at school.

          After gaining new experience, learning something new. MC feels as if he has surpassed his limits, increasing his intelligence level to 5 and gaining a Persona, Omoikane.

          Like that. But more quest or event focused.

          • Steven Higgins

            But Omoikane isn’t a “special persona” nor is he especially powerful. when you said “special” I was thinking like Loki, who you get for maxing to Fool SL. But this I could totally get behind.

          • Aesma

            …Loki… that’s too special. Should have worded myself better.

            What I mean are Persona(s) (Based on Gods or Heroes) who have ‘stories’ or ‘moral lesson’ that can be learned by MC.

            And by doing so, the MC received the ability to summon them.

            That should lessen the boredom caused by fusing fusing and fusing. Having a new Persona by doing a quest is better than having a new Persona simply by fusing…

  • DragKudo

    Nice. I too thought it would have been good if they’d have made the game based in Jail.

  • Weird on the convo about Persona 4 being the ‘significantly less liked’ compared to 3.

    P4 was my favorite, once i played 4 i never went back to 3, already on a third playthrough of 4 trying to max out the compendium again and trying very hard to piss off every single social link (it’s extremely hard to do this to Chie for… reasons XD)

    But yeah, 4>3 for me :P

    • Firion Hope

      The majority of people like 4 best, its the biggest mainstream success at least in recent years. But a lot of people prefer 3, and a small subsection like 1 or 2 best

    • Kamakuma

      Well for me I remember seeing P4 back in a gaming magazine and thought nothing of it. Then went around looking for something to play and found it and loved every minute of it. XD

      Wasn’t until after that I heard about P3 and by then P4 had already taken over my mind. XD But they both have there own quirks and I have love them both. :’3

  • ScienceNonfiction

    I really liked both P4 and P3 but I have to say I enjoyed P3 a lot more because of the darker atmosphere and I was really intrigued by Tartarus and the idea of the Dark Hour. I also thought the way 3 handled its characters was better than 4 too. In 3 each character felt important for the entire game. In 4 the characters were interesting before they joined your team, but once they did it felt like they were just “along for the ride” from that point on. I suppose that in 4 the main character development was found in the S.Links whereas in 3 each character’s S.Link was more of a side story.

  • Steven Higgins

    Reading a lot of these comments and, while I don’t claim to know everything about Persona having only played one game, from my limited experience I have to say that, while there are some good ideas it seems like people are sort of missing the point of Persona. It is, at it’s core, a game based in Psychology and while many of these ideas are connected to that theme Persona is more about societal psychology that personal psychology.

    • I think it’s easy to miss some of what people are really saying then, because quite a few people here have played not just all of the Persona games, but the larger series as a whole (especially SMT).

      Not only is there a shift in the series (staring with 3, and becoming more apparent in 4), but I think it caused an obvious rift in the fandom after a while. It’s a bit broken base to me.

      • Steven Higgins

        I’m just going by what people are saying they want in P5. they seem to want explore the MC more, which isn’t a bad thing, but they seem to want to have him deal with very heavy issues that my very well end up detracting from the larger story.

        • In general, the series used to be darker as a whole and everything though, so I guess what they’re saying is they want a return to form. ^u^;

          • Steven Higgins

            I get that, but they seem to want to take things to an even further extreme that before. I’ve seen people talking about things that I’m pretty sure were never in the earlier series.

          • True, but since the series has shifted, I don’t see why such a huge shift like that would be too hard. In a way, some of these things have been broached before in the larger series probably.

            I guess it’s just that, if it can shift from being so dark and ominous and focusing on the MC a bit more, to being more self-insert and social links and other things, there’s no reason they can’t try to bridge the two with the next game. It’d be a more sensible middleground instead of having such polar ends existing.

          • Steven Higgins

            It’s just… I mean the things I hear suggested. I wouldn’t be surprised if they wanted the game to open with the MC cutting their wrist.

  • 愛憎

    “I also think the world of the game, but I come at the experience from a slightly different angle.”
    Think what?

    • Morningstar

      I think he meant “think of” or “thought of”

    • “think the world of” = “think highly of”.

      • 愛憎

        Thanks, Ishaan. For some reason, that just wasn’t clicking. Sometimes, phrases don’t click when seen written down. This brain of mine, it scares me.

        • No, I can see why it might’ve seemed weird in text! Sometimes, when you’re writing something, it sounds okay in your head, so you assume people will understand it in writing, too. We usually keep a lookout for those instances and edit things to make them simpler to understand, but since this was an e-mail chain, there was only minimal editing done to any of the text.

          • 愛憎

            Thank you for politely explaining! ^^

  • konsama

    Actually, a persona 5 in a detention center would sound pretty awesome and also retain the poissibly happy setting and stuff, remember since P3 they don’t fight shadows and stuff in the real world most of time, but on a bizarre lternate dimension, it could even work like digimon 02, where every time they enter the digital world they wear different clothes and stuff than the one they are really using.

  • JustThisOne

    “Uncomfortably perfect.” That’s an interesting way to put it. I’d agree with you.

    I actually just finished this game for the first time last night. There were times I disliked characters I was s.linking with and was kind of making fun of them – but still would somehow make it all the way to the end and maxing them. Why do all the characters love me so much? It was slightly bizarre being in control of it. I can agree that the wish fulfillment aspect is a bit too much for me at times.

    If social links do return in P5, which I feel like it will, I hope they don’t have to end in good terms. I know they can break or reverse, but I feel like it’d be more interesting to max out and still be bitter. People don’t have to be friends, but they can still come to an understanding.

    I think that would make me feel more comfortable playing as a main character that way. :>

  • NimbusStev

    Very enlightening discussion, guys! It’s interesting to see a detailed view on your hopes and fears for Persona 5.

    I actually thought you were going to go into a bit on Catherine towards the end of this discussion. I think that game could give us a very good glimpse into what we might expect out of Persona 5. The story-telling in Catherine was some of the best I’ve ever seen in a video game. It delved into some very philosophical issues about relations and real adult problems. Yet it still managed to keep that sort of slice-of-life charm that we saw in P3/P4.

    I think it’s pretty safe to assume that the theme in Persona 5 will be very different from the Scooby-Doo Mystery we got in the last numbered sequel. I don’t mean to keep dragging Catherine into the conversation because it’s not an actual Persona title, but it’s shown that the team is willing to take their work in a more mature direction than we’ve previously seen. The main character of that game is a guy with psychological problems spawned from relationship issues, which is a fairly questionable subject for JRPG territory. The game was one of their greatest financial successes as well, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

    • Bio438

      I do not see Persona 5 going in the direction of Catherine in the same way I do not see Uncharted 4 being as dark as The Last of Us.

  • SetzerGabbiani

    Ishaan wants Persona 5 to play out like “500 Days of Summer”….and I’m okay with that.

  • Warboss Aohd

    the idea of the first romantic social link cheating on you sounds like a GREAT one. No not being sarcastic.

    there is SO MUCH that can be done with that writing wise! Does the main character forgive her? does he break up with her? DOES THE PLAYER GET TO DECIDE?

    better yet, let’s go further with it, let’s make EACH romantic social link have save issue that asks the player at the end “Would you be able to put up with this crap?” Whether it be, like you said, Cheating on you, being overly clingy, being emotionally unstable, being overly suspicious of you, etc.

    ah what could have been.

    • Rake

      If this ever happens.. Imagine the options on how to deal with it.

      >Walk away and never speak to her again.
      >Forgive her.
      >Ask her why she cheated.
      >Find the person she was cheating with and beat his sorry ass.
      >Make her feel guilty and fall to her knees.
      >Slap that hoe.

    • Morningstar

      I can see the cheating thing happening. Its adds an extra layer of challenge to getting all the personae (unless it implements the “Just Friends” option of P3P) and adds a deep level of turmoil to your current relationship making any and all of you social link difficult to maintain.

  • stephane3012

    Are these two masochists or something.

  • Oscar Alberto Abrego Suarez

    Meh im more interested in what games will be made with the Persona 5 engine.

    Hopefully Devil Summoner 5.

  • Bio438

    Persona’s draw for me was never about being perfect in highschool, I never even felt the game was about me but rather it was about all the other characters. The torment that happens to all the characters such as Mitsuru’s father or Junpei and how they deal and overcome this is what the game was about to me. One of my favorite social links was the book store in persona 3 for this reason, they need to overcome their sons death and the protagonist is used as a way of projecting their feelings as when the social link is maxed is when they finally overcome their problems.

    I am assuming Ishaan is talking about how Persona 5 is meant for people dissatisfied with their lives. This is possible to achieve without making the main character perfect. To be honest it would be best to have the protagonist have a hard time for the majority and the triumph at the end. This would be much more impactful to me. But judging by how aatlus have treated persona 4 over the years I can see the concern for persona 5.

    The one thing I hope that change in persona 5 is how the player interacts with social links, give me ways for me to say what I think without hindering the gameplay experience. Make what I say actually matter.

    I defiantly see the problem in the female social links. I should not be able to romance all of them. Let me choose one and only one or I should suffer School Days like consequences.

    In conclusion I feel that in past persona games I did feel like apart of the bigger picture or was the focus but rather everything was about the other characters. I liked persona 3 for this. But in persona 5 what I want is for my character to matter, for him to go through the same hardships as real people do but still feel like it is me rather than giving him a set character.

    • BalmungX

      Well,if i recall correctly in p4 you can’t romance all of them,you romance one,then the others become ‘great friends’

      • Bio438

        My apologies then as I have yet to finish persona 4. But from what I heard is that you can choose between romancing all of them or becoming friends.

        • P4G ‘sorta’ penalizes you if you do try to romance them all, it does it pretty painfully well too on a specific day D:

        • BalmungX

          IIRC,You can basically cheat on them,changing girlfriend when you max the S.Link,the game will say you already have someone,then ask what you want to do,but you can’t romance everybody at the same like in p3.

  • Ni ~Algidus~

    Claps to both of you. Best article that i have read in this site.
    You guys said everyting that i felt about today JRPGs and P4 craze.
    About P5. I would like to see some characters that aren’t as lucky as your standard persona crew. characters that are poor, have a rough life etc.. but i know it’ll just have your typical archtypes that see today (cool senpai, rich kid, “my dad are always travelling and are never at home”, etc.).

    • Bio438

      Atlus and the persona team proved they are capable of creating a story with great characters so I have faith. I don’t mind archetypes like having someone being rich so this and that can happen but I am tired of the rich kid always being stuck up or bratty.

  • Anon-non

    This article made me so depressed.Having a cast member cheat on you, or the whole game being set in juvie sounds so interesting as a game, but the fact that Index is not willing to do it just so that it can sell blow-up dolls makes me all mopey. I wish people would make games for the game’s sake, and not see it as a huge marketing tool, but that’s a discussion for a different time. :D

  • vileBrenman

    Honestly I would enjoy a persona game that mirrors real life. Your idea of have a social link relationship cheat on the player is brilliant. Also I think there should be consequences for the player when they cheat. They kinda had this in p4 golden when you have to reject a girl on Valentines day if you are dating multiple girls but all you get is a half ass suspicion from your girl that you are cheating. Also a more realistic school environment with ass holes that are jerks to you would be nice because honestly its really creepy in persona 4 how everyone in school is your fucking best friend

  • Scrooge_McDuck

    Ishaan, I find it rather weird that you stated that Persona 4 felt too much of a wish fulfillment and then proceeded to say how Persona 3 has a grander plot with a savior-like protagonist who brings out the good in people then saves the world. Isn’t that text-book wish-fulfillment?

    To have somebody who’s unsocial. Somebody who looks meek. Somebody who’s kinda messed up. Somebody who’s flawed like every one of us yet everybody else looks up to him anyway. Isn’t that the basic principle of a wish-fulfillment character?

    In contrast, in Persona 4 nothing is at stake? It’s just a bunch of kids playing detectives? How are those wish-fulfillment, then?

    And the P4MC is just a straight up cool character? Probably a perfect figure not many of us could hope to achieve and identify with? How is that wish fulfillment?

    To clarify, I’m not intending this to be a P3 versus P4 thing. I think most games are basically wish-fulfillment. I just wish to know what exactly did you mean by P4 is more of wish-fulfillment because I felt that your arguments afterwards actually support the opposite.

    • To have somebody who’s unsocial. Somebody who looks meek. Somebody who’s kinda messed up. Somebody who’s flawed like every one of us yet everybody else looks up to him anyway. Isn’t that the basic principle of a wish-fulfillment character?

      Well, that’s just it. Everyone confided in him because he was so good at manipulating them. Outwardly, Minato isn’t very “cool” at all. He just knows the right things to say at the right time. He knows when to empathize and when to disagree. He knows when to point out people’s flaws and when to provide words of encouragement.

      Plus, just his appearance and the way they present him (dead eyes, headphones on, cut off from the world) tells you that he’s not your everyday guy. Something happened to him, and it made him the (seemingly) anti-social husk of a person that he is.

      But then you learn that he’s actually a master manipulator. Possibly the most emotionally intelligent person you’ve met. He has his own emotions figured out because of the things he’s been through, so he’s also able to help other people figure themselves out. He’s earned his traits.

      Souji on the other hand is just plain “cool”. He looks good, he struts about with that swagger of his. Everyone wants to be friends with him. But there’s no good reason for him to be the way he is. He comes from a perfectly normal background. He hasn’t earned any of it.

      • Warboss Aohd

        You just jealous of Yu Narukami’s Super Saiyan Swagger.

        ………you set me up for that one.

      • neocatzon

        Adding to that argument, Minato is also a pimp. He can multi-timing all the girls which Yu can’t.

        One of the charm I get from Persona and most SMTs I have played before is the silent protagonist. While this means we can fill their personality with ours (like Strange Journey), some of the series instead giving hints about his possible personality (badass Raidou). Narukami Yu in my mind is not that different from his anime incarnation. Minato too I found him as a scary person. Silent most of the time and his answer often rather bland in main story, but he has silver tongue in S-links. While for Hamuko, she’s a high spirited girl.

        It would be interesting if the upcoming movie touch more about his background and his thoughts.

        • Adding to that argument, Minato is also a pimp. He can multi-timing all the girls which Yu can’t.

          I think that’s more a byproduct of Persona 3 coming before Persona 4. In 4, they tightened up some of the design that they established in 3. I don’t think that part was intentional.

          • neocatzon

            It’s funny that unintentional findings like this can make amusing characterization by players like Booker the Glutton.

          • I had to look up what that was. That’s pretty funny!

          • neocatzon

            Of course the best one is Fat Booker by Hapstance Film. Why they have so few views, it’s a mystery. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3DHGGBCSdw

      • Scrooge_McDuck

        Outwardly, Minato isn’t very “cool” at all. He just knows the right things to say at the right time. He knows when to empathize and when to disagree. He knows when to point out people’s flaws and when to provide words of encouragement.

        That’s my point, though. I feel that this type of a character (outwardly unimpressive, but hides important talent) serves as a wish-fulfillment more. The immediate apparent flaw he has enables people to identify with him more easily, and the whole “he had a tough life but he prevails” feeds directly to the thought of “I can be like him, too, given the right circumstances”.

        Someone like P4MC, on the other hand, is out of reach from the get go. It immediately severs the emotional similarity any player might have with him and set him as more as “that really cool guy” rather than “what I wish to be”.

        At least that’s my take. Maybe I simply have a weird understanding about what a “wish-fulfillment” really is.

        • Sure, they’re both wish-fulfilment to an extent. The thing, though, is that Minato very clearly had to earn the rest of the group’s respect. He didn’t just fall into the leadership role by being cool. Mitsuru vouched for him and voted that he take control of the group while in Tartarus.

          And that’s the other thing. He’s only the “leader” while they’re in the trenches, expelling Shadows. Outside Tartarus, Mitsuru is still clearly the head of SEES, with Akihiko being second-in-command. Minato is simply the field leader, due to his combat expertise.

          He had to earn that, just like he had to earn the respect of both Junpei and Yukari. The only person who took to him immediately was Aigis, and that was because she was programmed to do so.

          • Scrooge_McDuck

            Ah, I think I understand your point of view. It seems that we differ in how we define “wish-fulfillment”, after all.

            I seems that you measure it by how little effort a character goes through to earn the nice things that happen to them, while I measure it by the original state of the character and how easy to empathize with them.

            Note that I don’t think that wish-fulfillment, no matter how absurd the end goal is, is necessarily a bad thing. Now logical and natural progression (this includes effort as well) are what separate the good and the bad for me.

            Something like this:
            – A story about the Most Awesome Person in the Universe: Less a wish-fulfillment.
            – A story about a loser who, through blood and toil, becomes the Most Awesome Person in the Universe: Very much a wish fulfillment.
            – A story about a loser who one day wakes up and… it’s all a dream! They’re actually the Most Awesome Person in the Universe!: bad kind of wish-fulfillment.

            So P4MC, to me, falls squarely on the first example. Whether that’s a good thing or not, in my eyes, is unrelated to whether that’s a wish-fulfillment or not.

            I realize that this is getting pedantic so I’m going to bail out; I merely want to compare viewpoints. Thank you very much for taking your time on me.

          • No problem, thanks for sharing your POV, too!

          • AnotherTime

            Never thought I’d go in to a spheel on anything, but here goes.

            Wish-fufillment or no, Minato still proved to be the stronger protagonist, I believe. Even if his game was the biggest wish-fufillment since dating sims, I believe his merits set him apart from Yu because he actually grows as a person throughout his game, whereas Yu doesn’t, or his growth is negligible.

            His parents died, he’s been living with experiencing the Dark Hour for years, and all of everything piling up on him exhibited enough stress to turn him away from people. Even at the start of his game you can see that he reacts in very small ways to everything around him, and as it progresses, he becomes more confident and open around his team.

            Minato’s character arcs were very few and far between, and even when everybody was talking about their problems you didn’t get to say a thing, but I think at that point he’d already been established as one of the more strongly developed characters. This, for me, endeared me to him greatly. As a silent protagonist, if you looked in to it hard enough, Minato had been more developed than his team.

            Yu, on the other hand, has never had his past visited because it’s so…normal. As you said, he carried nothing, and his development as a protagonist was nil. In my mind, at least, if the protagonist is strong they can carry their game. Yu wasn’t this, and that was disappointing, but Persona 4 was fun enough to carry itself.

            I’m probably just rambling at this point, but it comes down to one thing. I firmly believe that if Persona 5’s protagonist is as strong as Minato, as cared for as Minato, or as painstakingly developed as Minato, they will carry their game well enough for whatever wish-fufillment there is to be disregarded…similarly to how it worked for him.

            Know what I mean? I ‘unno, maybe I just sound disjointed and crazy right now.

      • Nicolas Simonpietri

        Ok, i’m lost. You said that Minato is a master manipulator but I don’t understand why. Is there a specific point in the game when you realize that he’s a manipulator ?
        I don’t remember that. Sure, he looks like a strange associal guy but that’s all for me.

        • That’s something that comes from reading between the lines. The way he looks is very different from the way he acts. On the outside, he looks quiet, anti-social, and like he just wants to be left alone. He clearly isn’t phased by the Dark Hour either, so you get the impression that he’s very damaged or that there’s something else the matter.

          But when he’s hanging out with people, he knows exactly what to say to them, in order to get them to open up. This is despite the fact that he clearly isn’t like everyone else and probably doesn’t have a whole lot of experience socializing with people. He’s just got this very natural talent for saying exactly what you need to hear. He isn’t a social butterfly, he isn’t this smooth-talking casanova. He just knows what to say, because it’s like he can see right through you.

          This is backed up by the atmosphere and story of Persona 3 as well. Minato is assigned to be field leader by Mitsuru because he’s a natural, for whatever reason. Mitsuru sees his leadership smarts and ability to assess a situation correctly very early on, which is why she offers the role to him. Again, despite the fact that, appearance-wise, he doesn’t look very impressive at all.

          In contrast, Souji has that natural swagger to him. It’s implied he comes from a normal family background, and it’s also implied that he’s a city boy. He’s clearly had friends before, too. He isn’t damaged or dealing with any sort of baggage in the slightest. He’s just a fun, cool guy and people look up to him because he’s outwardly impressive and has depth to him as well, once you get to know him.

          Souji doesn’t have to work very hard for any of this. He’s the head of the Investigation Team, he’s good at school work, he’s admired by his peers as well as his cousin sister. And you kind of get the impression that the only reason he is this way is because he’s a “Wild Card”.

          In Minato’s case, the reason he is the way he is, is because he’s carrying a lot of emotional baggage, and that makes you see the world through very different eyes than everyone else. It makes you more sensitive and more empathetic, and it also makes you more wary of people in general, in both a good and a bad way. Anyone that’s been through a bad time in life will tell you that they came out of it with a better understanding of human beings.

          • Nicolas Simonpietri

            Oh okay, that’s not manipulator in a negative way, thanks for explaining. That makes sense.
            Altough, I’m not even sure that the game makers were thinking about all that stuff.

          • Yeah, not in a bad way. Sometimes the best way to help people is to know what to say and when. Helping folks out with their problems is never easy, just because so many don’t want to be helped. But if they do, and you know the right things to say at the right time, chances are you’ll be able to get through to them.

            I do think the developers thought about Minato’s personality to a great extent, just because they went out of their way to make Souji’s personality different in P4, but yeah, a lot of it is also very emergent storytelling.

  • moonbound

    Persona is a jail setting would be cool, but it made me wonder about a mental institution setting as well. Like anime Cuckoo’s Nest. That would make for non-cliche characters as well as fitting well with the psychology motifs.

  • Saifer Emmerich

    After spending a while thinking about this, I think I can agree. When you really look at it, whether it contains a hint of symbolism or the characters problems did resonate with some players, it really was a wish fulfillment game. And if I may be more bold, P3 is pretty much the same, just from a different angle. I don’t want to make a long explanation about why, so I’ll just refer to the fact that although the Protag’s name is of your own device, and you’re free to choose whatever 3 options they give you in many of the game’s situations, nothing really affects the relationship the protagonist has with the world around him, it stands solid to all players’ attempts to try something that alters how the protagonist is portrayed.

    But looking at it on a larger scale, JRPGs in general share this little quirk. (at least the ones I’ve played, feel free to recommend). I haven’t played many games that make you face the problems you run away from, and many of the games that entail such darkness and melancholy in anything deeper than the background aren’t particularly palpable to the everyday player.

    SMT is a series that has somewhat pushed the boundaries a little. Nocturne is a very good example and Digital Devil Saga is an even better one. Each of those portrayed a world that was merciless and wasn’t very much influenced by what the protagonist did. (Not until some point in the future where the effects of his actions accumulate.)

    Fundamentally, developers want to sell their games. Gamers want to buy games they enjoy. The more beaten path lies in wish fulfilling. A gamer (at least the ones I know) wants to open a game that makes him forget the world he/she is in. If you remember P4, most of it (especially concerning Social Links) is about helping people with their problems, easy ones that have a definitive right answer. So that you (the player) are the big brother that has got everyone’s back. I am aware of this, but I like it. I’m playing P4G now, dancing to the upbeat soundtrack, enjoying an active high school social life as I solve a trivial Scooby Doo mystery and getting good grades while doing whatever the hell I want. It’s a nice break, don’t ya think?

    I can’t tell when Japanese developers will grow the spine to challenge the player mentally rather than being their emotional pillow. But, I would like to think that Japanese games now are at an impasse where they either evolve or die out. And the best is yet to come. (and I end this while making sure that the last comment wasn’t too cheesy.)

    • Ethan_Twain

      This is one of my favorite posts in this entire thread. I think that

      1. Yeah, the high school wish fulfillment angle is also there in Persona 3. We didn’t go into this (since at the time we were going back and forth I had no idea Ishaan wanted to turn this into a post) but I feel like Persona 3 can actually be pretty bitter about the whole high school scene. The protagonist comes off less as everybody’s bro, and a little more as a manipulator. The suicidal imagery, the protagonists’ fate at the end of the story, and the the way the notion of Personas is presented (Igor says something about Personas are masks you wear, which is central to the deception/manipulation interpretation of things). The messianic imagery is really obvious in P3, but in order to establish the protagonist sacrificing himself for the world they first have to show that the world is full of sin. Thematically, I think they totally do.

      I just didn’t get as much to chew on from Persona 4.

      2. Japanese video games don’t move in a void, they’re part of the larger otaku media construct. I think that the time when video games stop being primarily emotional pillows is the time when anime, manga, and light novels stop being primarily emotional pillows. Unfortunately the current trend across the board is going further down that road, rather than reversing course.

      3. I don’t think either of us would be as hard on Persona 4 if Persona 3 hadn’t been so so good on so many levels. Persona 4 is pretty rad dude, don’t let us be big wet blankets here.

  • Seven of The Scions

    I think P4 game is mostly focused on simple/smaller society, self conflicts and the murder plot are just for refreshner.
    Okay maybe the last villain was a little bit forced…but i can consider it’s just how Godlike being try to play with humans mentality (which is they almost inevitably have to appear in any JRPG as tradition).

    Seriously, I’m sure they made this game for bright simpler atmosphere.
    So be it.

  • Seven of The Scions

    by the theme of P5, they seriously have to make things more ‘real conflicts’
    Just like those guys above talked, the essence of betrayal, disappointment, failure as humans will be more exposed.

    And I do expect they will implement character reputation between party members which is affected in battle action, choices of dialog, and some other feature that whatever they will put in P5 game.
    They will have to choose whose friends who will stay till the end.
    Because in reality, we have those people who will be better off without.
    bad afftected friends will support you less and heal you less..

    Not just that, even NPC’s will be affected with player reputation.
    When weapon store owner hates you, the wares in weapon shop price will be skyrocketed, lol

    I also expect the traditional JRPG Villain Godlike entity will appear again as usual (it’s okay if it’s not, lol).
    But i prefer He/she will blend with our society and secretly laugh a lot while watching us suffer.

    Build our emotion toward our comrades, build our hate toward our enemies, and build our love for the place we stay.
    That’s what I hope for Persona 5:)

  • Ben Green

    i am hoping Persona 5 will stay true to the Persona series, and hopefully be more like P4 than P3

    • Bio438

      Staying true to series would mean it would be more like the other four games before p4 in terms of tone and feel. Honestly the series is so divided in feel and game mechanics there’s no way to ‘stay true’.

    • Warboss Aohd

      i’d rather it be more like Persona 2

  • Warren

    I know people will down vote me (but who cares internet)

    People are either going to love it or hate it like the other games. People can wish for stuff and want stuff but just cause you think its a good idea and someone tells you its a good idea doesn’t mean it will work. P5 will be different from P4 and P3 but they arent going to cater to the straight dark-hearted fans cause they played the first two Personas and cause the main color is red. The people who made the first two personas aren’t around so you have to deal with the people now and look at the future.
    If you’re tired of cliches play something else thats dark or better yet make your own game story and try to get it published. You want something new then write it yourself and get a poll to see if people would like it. Plus Japan doesn’t really care what you want they are trying to appeal to they’re target audience (teenage japanese students).
    At the end of the day don’t set your expectations to high because who really cares about what one persons opinion about the depth of characters when you can get a bunch of money from true fans, the target market, or people who aren’t trying to break down everything into calculated facts about whats a good game or not.

    • FivePointedTheStar

      You know, some people are trolls enough just to downvote you for saying that you might get downvoted.

      I agree with all your points. “Expecting too much”, indeed…

    • See, the problem is, the moment you start saying things like “true fans,” your argument goes out the window.

      What exactly is a “true fan”? Someone that thinks the series is perfect in every way? Someone that buys the games regardless of their faults and provides meaningful critique and feedback after playing them? Someone that liked P4 more than P3? Someone that liked P3 more than P4?

      The “true fan” argument is a slippery slope, which is why I feel bringing it up will do little to bolster your argument as a whole.

      • Ethan_Twain

        A “true fan” is someone who likes P3 more than P4 but likes Strange Journey more than either of them. DUH Ishaan.

        • That probably makes me a heathen or something. I can’t stand SJ. >_>

          • I’m interested in seeing what SJ‘s story is about, but as far as game mechanics go, I’m plenty satisfied with where SMT4 ended up at. Call me “spoiled” or whatever, but I really loved how 4 lets me tackle the game at my preferred comfort level; SJ felt like a Sisyphean task in comparison.

  • I am currently playing P4G and i am thinking of buying P3P after i finish it
    Is worth it? As far as I have seen the story is better but the anime movies of P3 have started coming out, so if i am only interested in the story wouldnt ut be better to just watch the movies?

    • Aesma

      Put it this way, the anime only covers Minato (Yuuki)’s story. If you are interested in the Social Links, you can buy it to play Hamuko route.

      Also, it depends on what you mean by story. If you mean, character interaction and social links, it might be better for you to play it, instead of only watching the movies.

    • Cerzel

      You really should play the game instead. The story of P3 is absolutely huge; there’s no way they’ll be able to adequately condense it into a few movies. Plus the P4 anime did a pretty bad job of the story to begin with so there’s not much faith there. The characters will be the real casualty of the short screentime, too.

      In regards to the game though I’d suggest you try and get P3 FES rather than P3P. The portable version is really cut down despite some more content and gameplay improvements. It’s better for going through the game a second time as the female protagonist rather than a first play.

  • Hunts Rattata

    An S. Link cheating on you might be interesting, but I’d really rather see a realistic consequence to the one big wish fulfillment that already reoccurs throughout 3 and 4. When the hero “spends a long time with” one of his romantic S. Links, there should be a chance of getting her knocked up, depending on the date and your respective Luck stats. Let’s see you try to save humanity from whatever its collective unconsciousness is trying to end itself with this time when your healer is teen pregnant.

    • Aesma

      …pretty sure that the only time ‘that’ was implied is in December 25 event or something like that.

      Also, that would cause too much criticism, I think…

      • Sadly nothing was ‘implied’
        I was in Dec. 25 a few hours ago and the only thing that happend was Rise telling me “I think we should spend some time together”

        • Aesma

          Ah sorry, should have worded myself better.

          “The only time when something like that could possibly happen is December 25 event. And if it doesn’t happen there, then there’s no other.”

    • Morricane

      One word: condoms.
      And anyway, would it be lucky or unlucky to be…super effective? ;)

  • Longshadow

    A few comments in defense of P4 here. I’m a new poster, so this comment might not get displayed. Here’s hoping it does, since I put a lot of effort into it!

    Calling P4 a “Scooby Doo mystery” as irreverent as calling P3 a “Sunday school bible story”. Neither theme is fresh, but each game freshens its theme by treating it with subtlety. P3’s treatment was already spoken of in the article, so let me attempt to speak of P4’s here.

    P4’s mystery story blends the mundane with the absurd. It stems from the old childhood fantasy of “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if I could do … and nobody is the wiser!?” Only those touched by the goddess Izanami (i.e. Narukami — and by extension his friends — Adachi, and Namatame) are able to perceive both. By day, the heroes are normal high school students, but by night, they enter televisions and fight shadows to solve a murder. As Ishaan himself points out, jumping into televisions is an absurd concept. How is such an activity believable? It is not, nor is it supposed to be. When the heroes discover that the TV world is being used to murder their classmates, they realize that even if they told the police about it (mind you, informing the police about murder is the rational course of action in real life), the police wouldn’t believe them, and their classmates would continue dying. Thus, the heroes are motivated to solve the murder themselves. From this pretext, the heroes find themselves preserving the mundane with one hand (i.e. living an ordinary life with people they have no hope of convincing about the TV world) while committing the absurd with the other (i.e. fighting crime in this TV world). As a bonus, this dichotomy allows the narrative to subtly weave two disparate gameplay elements together: (1) a high school simulator, and (2) an RPG battle system. No story could craft a “Boy by day! Superhero by night!” more believably than this. In contrast, in P3, the player is expected to simply accept this dichotomy at face value (i.e. Ikutsuki’s expository speech about shadows and SEES at the beginning of the game) and roll with it. P3’s story loses grounding in real life as a consequence.

    Another way in which P4 subtly treats its subject matter is by showing how events from the absurd percolate into the mundane. It begins with Dojima Ryotaro’s character, who is trying to solve the murder by mundane means (i.e. good old-fashioned detective work). The murders are so absurd that they are virtually unsolvable, and Dojima, who is oblivious to the TV world, can’t crack them. We see the effect this ineptitude has on his character. He’s irritable, grumpy, fatigued, and is unable to spend time with his daughter, Nanako, who feels unloved as a consequence. Thus, the absurd brings strife to the Dojimas’ mundane life. Second, while the murders are being committed by absurd means, they are never viewed as such in mundane life. The hanging of victims’ bodies from telephone poles is rationalized using a mundane point of view: Namely, it is regarded as the callsign of some deranged psychopath

    I could go on listing examples, but I’ll cut it short with this big one: Ultimately, when the effects of the absurd begin to not percolate, but cascade into the mundane in the form of a thick, permanent fog, people of the town, who are all oblivious to the TV world like Dojima, start trying to rationalize the phenomenon with bizarre theories. This is precisely what humans do in light of incomplete information. Simply consider all the theories circulating around our internet about fad diets, climate change, disease, nuclear radiation, and so on. Thus, P4’s story is not only subtle, but subversive about the very human nature. Who knows? Maybe the climate change we’re experiencing right now in 2014 is being caused by the whimsy of the gods, and that a group of high school students are fighting to stop it as we speak! This theory is no less bizarre than thinking that aliens are in Area 51, yeah? Of course we won’t believe such a claim. Neither would the townspeople of Inaba believe the TV world.

    Regarding the “poorly defined god of nihilism” that appears at the end of the game: While this god (Izanami) does indeed appear at the end of the narrative, she is not the true antagonist, nor is her defeat meant to draw the plot to its grandiose conclusion. Izanami is the plot’s epilogue. The plot’s conclusion is the discovery and capture of Adachi. Izanami is there simply to fill the plot’s final outstanding plot hole — namely, how these absurd story elements — e.g. the Midnight Channel, the TV world, and Narukami’s ability to use Persona without confronting his shadow — came to exist in the first place. P4 could have ended its story without accounting for these elements. Indeed, many stories do. Even P3 does so with how the Dark Hour and Nyx are connected, how/why Nyx’s avatar first appeared as a high school student, etc.

    As for Izanami’s poor definition, I respectfully disagree. Izanami and her husband Izanagi play a prominent role in Shinto mythology,. According to mythology, Izanami and her husband gave birth to the islands of Japan, as well as to many other deities, or kami, whose descendants are believed to exist in nature today. She eventually died during childbirth and was sent to the underworld, Yomi. The distraught Izanagi, wanting to bring his wife back to the world of the living, entered Yomi in search of her. However, he unwittingly enraged Izanami upon witnessing her rotted body, escaped from Yomi, and sealed its entrance. Out of vengeance, the enraged Izanami claimed that she would kill 1000 of his people every day; Izanagi retorted that he will give birth to 1500 in return. Thus, the cycle of life and death began.

    Anyway, here in P4 we see Izanami substantiating her claim by visiting death and destruction upon Inaba. The Persona that defeats her? None other than The Great God Izanagi (Izanagi-no-Ookami) himself.

    And that final dungeon you walk through to reach Izanami? That’s Yomotsu Hirasaka, the bridge between this world and Yomi, whose entrance Izanagi sealed. It actually exists in Shinome Prefecture, Japan.

    So, in summary, Izanami is not poorly-defined at all if you know your Shinto mythology. Edogawa gives the player a crash course when you visit Gekkoukan high school, but I understand that it might not be enough.

    Finally, I sincerely question the validity of critiquing the differences between P3’s and P4’s protagonists. Both protagonists serve as the player’s avatar. Their characters are intentionally ambiguous for this purpose. They speak no words and voice no opinions. They are the least characterized characters of their cast. To me, critiquing them is splitting hairs.

    • Oscar Alberto Abrego Suarez

      Nah the resemblance Scooby is really accurate in P4.

      That being said thats the game in a nutshell, theres is more to that but in general is a good way to describe P4.

      • JustThisOne

        Wait… so.. what’s Kanji and Naoto? The Mystery Machine? :O

        • Oscar Alberto Abrego Suarez

          They are the game special guest stars.

        • Warboss Aohd

          Kanji and Naoto are Globe Trotters

    • PartEleven

      +1 for a nicely written critique, especially the part about comparing the P3 and P4 protagonists. They both serve as wish-fulfilment vehicles for the player.

      I think that the comparison to Scooby Doo is actually pretty relevant, because the two are quite similar on a certain level. My issue is where Ishaan uses that to explain why P4 is somehow inferior. It’s one thing to not like Scooby Doo because that’s just not your taste, but it doesn’t mean the quality of story is objectively worse.

  • eliram

    just remembered that Catherine was also made by the persona team and it depicted a much darker slice of life, so saying that they dont dare to try new things is doing them a bit of an insult.

    • Oscar Alberto Abrego Suarez

      They do but Catherine was a new IP, Persona can no longer take such risks when P4 has proven to be their biggest cas cow.

      • eliram

        I agree and thats why insted of hoping for persona to “grow up” we can expect the next SMT, or hope for a new IP as the team has shown that it is capable of handeling it.

  • Ouch My Head Said Dionysus

    Great article, guys. You’ve summed up my beef with the direction Persona has been heading in. The first two games were incredibly bleak and uncomfortable. Persona 3 still had a bit of that, but everything that drew me to the franchise had gone out with window by P4. Adding the large amount of lighthearted off-shoot games to the equation, I find myself quickly losing interest in what was once my favorite game series.

    I’m cautiously optimistic about P5, but I can’t imagine they’d make such a bold move as set it in a detention center. I’d love that, but I get the sinking feeling the ball-and-chain is just symbolism and may not hold much weight. :

    • Oscar Alberto Abrego Suarez

      Its confirmed for HS setting.

      • Warboss Aohd

        Mork Dammit!

        i tired of the zogging school setting!

        • neocatzon

          There’s a hope! We don’t know how normal / twisted the school will be.

      • Ouch My Head Said Dionysus

        well, uh, yeah

  • FivePointedTheStar

    It sounds like a lot of people are now expecting too much out of Persona.

    Just like how a lot of people expect too much out of Final Fantasy.

    If we’re up to that, it concerns me.

    Yeah, I’m a bit sour after reading this. This article boils down a lot of points to make a precise argument of their own that strangely does not fit the context of the title until the very end. I was expecting something else out of the article based on its title. It really should have been titled something else. Something else that would get me a lot of flak for writing.

    • Ethan_Twain

      This was actually a tough one to headline. This was originally just an email chain, and then when Ishaan decided he liked some of the contents he decided to turn it into editorial content. But because it wasn’t written with the intent to be a focused exploration of a single thing, it just kinda rambles and touches on a little bit of everything (and that’s AFTER we cut a bunch of irrelevant stuff out).

      Just be glad he didn’t go with any of my headline suggestions. The best ideas I could come up with were “Weekend Reading: Yeah, we’re basically all SMT IV fanboys here” and “Weekend Conversation: A word from your managing editor and
      the new guy”

  • God

    I have to disagree with how seductive going back to highschool is, school is a prision for both the mind and the body, where they limit you to what they want you to learn, both smarter and dumber people are cursed to be made avarage.

    • Saifer Emmerich

      God has spoken!! Praise the Truth!! Hallelujah!!!

      • God

        Who needs to go on an epic quest for the truth when i spent all day vomiting truth all over siliconera?

    • Warboss Aohd

      It would seem my personal belief are aligned with God’s.

      My life has not been for nothing.


      • God

        Don’t worry about it, i’m putting anarchism in the minds of some people right now, so in a few years you can make yourself useful by joining the revolution.

        • Warboss Aohd

          sure why not, we Orks are in.

  • Sakurazaki

    “The reason those games got huge is how INCREDIBLY seductive the illusion of going back to high school is.”

    I don’t know any statistics on this, but I definitely played the Persona series “because cool anime”.

    I was in HS myself when I got into the games.

  • PSI

    I can’t stand games like Persona 4 anymore. It just feels like they’re pandering to me so that I buy more of their stuff. Most RPGs make the player character an important person but P4 went out of it’s way to make sure that YOU were a super special snowflake, what with everyone loving you or being jealous in Yosuke’s case, and you’re the only one with the super special *~WILDCARD ABILITY~* which was standard in P1 and 2.

    I took one look at what Fire Emblem: Awakening was like and instantly got the same feeling I had towards Persona 4 after beating it; the super powerful MU character who can marry anyone and do anything and the supposed main character Chrom (who is less important than MU to the plot) constantly tells you how important you are to him etc.

    I really doubt Persona 5 will be radically different from 3 and 4. At the end of the day it’ll be wish fulfillment because that sells, and if it plays on people’s expectations and turns out to be the opposite, it’ll be about as popular as MGS2 when it was first released.

  • SKull

    I’m not sure if I fully agree on everything being said here on P4 but I think you two just explained why I am not as into P4 as I am in P3. I thought for a while now that it was just a matter of atmosphere, but I see now that this is not the case. So thank you for giving me words to what I was feeling!

    Honestly, the thing that really stayed with me in regards to P4 was Adachi.
    He was a really good villain and…I actually think his whole shtick belongs more in P3 than in P4. Reworked a lot yeah, but Adachi seemed to me to represent Apathy a lot better than the P3 villains. I didn’t really connect with the P3 villains and as someone who is familiar with depression/has crushing apathy at times, they kind of disappointed me. I only connected a little with Takaya at the end.

    Yeah, I know Adachi is pretty well represented by the Hunger card…but Adachi seems to suffer from extreme apathy as well…a dangerous ‘I don’t care about anyone or the world so screw them all’ which I have felt. Although it might be more of a case of us the players not spending as much time with the P3 villains as we do with Adachi, in P3 apathy seemed too much like a vague concept dressed up in religious cult-like themes, which didn’t work for me at all.

    I couldn’t connect with it in order to face it like I could with Adachi. Adachi was malicious apathy personified, and I could see why apathy could be such a threat beyond people randomly falling victim to some ‘disease’. Probably because he was a relatively normal person who fell prey to it, compared to Strega, Adachi’s apathy felt very real to me, like it wasn’t some vague threatening concept in a video game, and reminded me that it is very much a danger to humans in real life.

  • PartEleven

    I’m sorry, but to me all of Ishaan’s problems with P4 sounds like it comes down to personal taste and preference. Everything he said against P4 could also be used against P3’s protagonist. Both were alpha-male and the embodiment of cool. Everyone in school loved them, etc. It’s okay to prefer the characters and personalities of P3 over P4, but I don’t think you can objectively say one is better than the other at being “real”.

    Like some other comments have mentioned, I think there’s a danger of going into Persona 5 expecting too much.

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