Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 was released on December 8, 2008 on PS2 in the United States developed by Atlus. Persona 4 starts off with a silent protagonist whom you name that have been sent to live with his uncle in a small village named Inaba. After adjusting to your new school life you make some new friends: Yosuke is another big-city character like yourself, Chie is a hyperactive girl who loves martial arts and Yukiko who is the daughter from a family who runs a famous traditional local inn. The adventure begins when a fog covers the town of Inaba with a body hung upside down on a power line.
The police can not seem to find the cause of death and you have a feeling that you be the one to end these killings. You discover that you possess the ability to travel to an alternative dimension known as the Midnight Channel. The rumor around town is that if you watch the Midnight Channel it will reveal your soul mate on a rainy night. However this is where victims are trapped before they meet their demise. If you enter the Midnight Channel before the person meet their fatal end you can set them free and stop the killer’s plan.
In this alternative dimension you can summon a personae that is a reflection of your true self. Each personas is aligned to on of the major arcana of the tarot deck. With your persona, you can defeat monstrous shadows and defeat your friend’s inner shadow. With your crew, you investigate a series of dungeons which are randomly created and represents the victims’ insecurities. The game takes place over a course of a year and your progress is dictated to the weather. You only have from the moment you watch the Midnight Channel to when the fog sets back in to save the victim. If you do not save the victim, the game will restart.
In addition to the dungeon crawling aspect, there is a relationship system. This is based on your interactions with your friends and other people in Inaba. As you build up your relationship level, it will allow you to create new personas and unlock new powers for each of your allies. These connections are known as “Social Links” which are tied to the arcana type. To level up these “links” you can go studying at a library, participate in school clubs, working part-time for some cash or even just going out to lunch.
The battle system is turned base and a maximum of four people can be in your party. The shadows (enemies) appear as blobs in the dungeon but when you make contact with them, you battle in a separate screen. Each enemies has a strength or weakness between the seven types. You can discover their weakness by trial and error. When you attack an enemy and cause them to be dizzy, this cases the enemy to skip its battle turn and when all the enemies are knocked down then your party can all rush in for huge amounts of damage. In battle, you have the ability to control all your party members attack phase or have them set to a battle tactic in which they will attack on their own. You gain items/materials from battles in which you can trade them in for newer weapons and armors.
Persona 4 uses a more cartoonish aesthetics with lots of style. The animation sequence is high quality and are fully voiced. Each dungeon are uniquely designed however because of the dungeon crawler aspect of it, you will be seeing repeated textures as you traverse the dungeon. The music is heavy influence by Japanese style with a catchy tune. The entire game is not fully voiced however the voice actors are great and really portray the characters in the game well.
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 is an excellent dungeon crawler with in depth RPG elements that is supported by a sensible cast, a dynamic story that explores their psychological intricacy and making them seem that they came from reality. The battle system is fun and engaging that encourages you to strategize as each dungeon mixes up the shadow types. It is a dark and bizarre game that really stands out in a crowd of generic role-playing adventure genre.
- Great art style and cinematic
- Great Voice overs
- Dynamic characters that have more meaning behind them than they appear
- Engaging story with multiple endings that encourages multiple play through
- Different Theme Dungeons
- Interactions with NPCs in the game has an affect in combat
- Free Music Disc One/Art Book (purchased from Amazon)
- A lot of reused artwork in the dungeons
- Obtaining the Persona you want to fuse can be difficult, need to trial and error each dungeon to find the exact persona you need.
- Death causes you to start from your last save file
- The town of Inaba is really small, can get tired of seeing it over and over again.