Review by Belgurdo

"Take Final Fantasy VIII, add demons and minor fustration and..."

(This may be altered due to the fact that I'm too damned lazy to finish the game right now. Forgiveaness, please!)

For those of you old enough to remember: Back in the late 90s an installment of the popular Japanese Megami Tensei RPG series was brought over to the states as Revelations: Persona. Fans loved it, but most feel that the lame Americanization (Lunarvale? Gimme a break here) and deletions of certain elements of the game (including a bonus dungeon) hurt the series' budding reputation in the States. The fact that Atlus passed up other Megaten titles 'Soul Hackers' and 'Persona: Tsumi/Innocent Sin' in lieu of crappy Final Fantasy clones like Thousand Arms and Rhapsody didn't help matters much either. Bad Atlus! No profits for you!

But now that Atlus finally got a clue and realized that people don't want games centered around answering questions imposed by flat 16 year old girls with inferiority complexes, they took another leap into the dark, mysterious world known as Persona, and this is the result.

Persona: Eternal Punishment is the continuation on the not released in the states Innocent Sin. The parallels between its story and IS's is explained in the instruction manual and at key points during the game.

Story: Typical of the MegaTen universe and reminiscient of Square's Final Fantasy VIII, EP's story is not a lighthearted one. With a mostly adult cast, tons of references to demon summoning, the New World Order, death, destruction, orange maramalade biscuits, and other spooky stuff like that, this game's story not be for younguns. A magazine editor (Maya Amano, a sub character from IS) is sent to a local high school to investigate reported sightings of a serial killer. When she arrives there, what happens makes the investigation more than just an opportunity to gain a scoop. With the aid of her friend Ulala Serizawa, a police officer, and other allies, she sets to find out the truth about the circumstances surrounding her.

The script is pretty well written (and the language is raw in some places, very original) but suffers from a couple of cases of 'All your base are belong to us' in a few spots, most notably when demons are talking to you. It's forgivable though, given the amount of text in this game. *10*

Graphics: Forgot who drew this, but he has drawn for all of the MegaTen games, I believe. He is an excellent artist, IMO. All of the characters look fairly spooky in their portraits, which is cool. In game animations are jerky and could stand to be smoother, but doesn't really matter since most of the emotion is conveyed through text. Unlike P1, dungeons actually look like their respective landscapes instead of a Cheap DOOM tileset, but are still pretty simple. The horrednous 3D map from P1 has been replaced with a 2D JPEG map of central Japan for easy navigation. Battle fields still have that 'acid trip' look to them, with a flat floor and wavy crap in the background. Cute five years ago, but too minimalist for a sixth generation PSX game. *6*

Sound/Music: Pure aural heaven. If Uematsu would lay off the damned MIDI and pick up a real synthesizer, this is what his stuff would sound like. The variations of a single theme are very nice, and hummable.

The sound effects are very crisp and true to their elements: Gunfire sound like gunfire, burning demons sound like burning demons, and so forth. If you loved the campy RE-style voicework from P1, it's returned; you probably won't get too tired of them as there are a lot of samples. *9*

Gameplay:
-Take Final Fantasy VIII
-remove the ability to refine magic/get it outside of fights
-make finding/obtaining summons 3X harder/slower
-slow down the speed by 200%

and you have EP's basic battle system. I laud the fact that it takes work to gain Persona (done via a new, simplified version of 'contacting'; pick a person or group of people and they'll initiate conversation, no more overkill options) but if you're in a rush to get out of a particular dungeon and or dislike the persona selection, then you're SOL unless you level up or run a lot(running is bad in this game, and is almost negated by the fact that the encounter rate is high.) Plus if you know how to abuse elements, you can destroy your enemies with ease. Tip: basic attacks to squat damage in this game unless you take certain precautions, so be prepared to stock up on SP restoring items...

New to this game is the 'Kotodama/Rumor' system, where for a price you can spread rumors to do things like obtain super armor, find new allies, and so on. This would be a wonderful system if it weren't for the fact that *groan* you have to pay to open certain dungeons, and some rumors have multiple effects, but only one can be activated per game. *7*

Other crap: This game is chock full of secret stuff. Kotodama pretty much constitues several playthroughs if you want to see/get everything, and the bonus dungeons (although I wish I could get to them easier) are a nice touch. Everything about this game seems to be a major improvement over P1. *9*

Overall: *8*
Chances are, if you're an Atlus/Megaten/Persona/FFVIII fan, then you'll love this game, but if you're not willing to use the game's systems to your full advantage, then you'll be disappointed. Perhaps Guardian's Crusade is more your speed...


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/02/01, Updated 03/02/01


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