GAME: Persona 3
Shin Megami Tensei is one of the most iconic Japanese RPG series out there. And Persona 5 is the most hyped and successful Shin Megami Tensei game in the west. With the sleek aesthetics, the catchy soundtrack and the addicting gameplay there is no surprise why it is such a successful game. Often people forget about the games that came before. Persona 3 is one the predecessors that still remains as my favorite Persona game. If you manage to get your hands on this game say goodbye to 80 hours of your life.
Persona 3Memento Mori
In the world of Persona 3 there is a supernatural phenomenon called the Dark Hour. During this time everyone except for a select few is trapped in a coffin. They are frozen in time and are unaware of what is going on around them. Technology doesn't work and there are strange shadow monsters wandering about. These shadows attempt to get humans out of their coffins so they can feed on their mind. During this time another strange phenomenon occurs. A large seemingly endless tower called Tartarus sprouts out of the ground where your school is.
You begin the game by walking through the world during the dark hour. Your character nonchalantly walks past the bloodied coffins and green skies to get to his new dorm. You begin to meet the cast when eventually, a full moon occurs. After your first battle you without hesitation activate your ability to summon your Persona. Each character has a Persona that they can summon to fight shadows with them. However the main character has the special ability to change Personas at will.
What is a Persona?
A Persona is a manifestation of the users soul. It often takes the form of a creature or god from mythology. Some include Surtur, Orpheus, Thanatos, and Loki.
A core part of this title is the fusion system. You can collect the souls of Personas and either use them or fuse them. By fusing Personas you gain more powerful allies that can help you win battles. The fusion system is incredibly customizable and the inheriting system allows you to carry over some abilities from the source Persona.
Even though you have the unique ability to change your Persona you still need the backup of your party members. Each member of this diverse cast of characters has their own unique Persona. You party has a strange assembly of characters. You find yourself teamed up with high school students, a dropout, a dog, and even a child. Some of these characters have their own subplots. In fact the game features something called social links. If you choose to you can form friendships with a wide range of characters. Some of them are in your party, some are classmates, some are store owners and some are just people you met online.
The main character can choose who he wants to form relationships with and unlock higher tier Personas as a result. I found the subplots of the game to be very entertaining. Each person has their own story and it often takes unexpected turns. And finishing each and every subplot is very difficult unless you plan ahead. The game takes place over the course of a school year and as a result you only have a certain amount of days within a play-through.
The cast for this Persona game is my personal favorite. The game really takes the time to develop the friendships between the characters and each character gets their own moments to develop.
Tartarus is the looming tower you must climb up to uncover the reason for all the strange supernatural occurrences. And it is where you will spend the majority of the game. One of my complaints about this game is that grinding through Tartarus can get tiring. Each floor is more or less the same. You fight your way past shadows and you fight a boss. Since you don't do that many floors at a time and you have a lot of content to do in between your Tartarus trips this didn't bother me that much.
The combat system is Persona 3 is turn-based. You can control the actions of your character. However your party members act autonomously. You can give them commands such as attack or heal but specific requests cannot be made. Frankly the party members tend to make the right choice and you can influence them so this isn't much of a bother either. You can pick which party members to take with you and you can have 4 characters with you in Tartarus at a time. You are sometimes forced to use part members you don't usually use. Either for story reasons or because your usual party member is too tired from exploring Tartarus.
Overview/ConclusionIn Persona 3 you experience a fantastic story, collect mythical creatures, and live out your days as a high-school student. The serious tone of the story appealed to me as an individual. It tackled serious issues like apathy towards life, and finding happiness through connection. You get to speak with a huge cast that divulge their own personal stories. The story isn't as bright or lighthearted as some of the other Persona games and there are parts of the story that will bum you out.
The game has a great value. Nowadays the game comes with the extended chapter called "The Answer" as well as the original "The Journey". These two combined give easily over 100+ hours of gameplay. Some might not want to put that much time into a game and that's okay. The JRPG option probably isn't best for people who are short on time. However those who are willing to play through the entire game will no doubt appreciate Persona 3. If you liked any of the other titles you should 100% give this one a try.