Review by ShadowInTheMyst
"The Truth Deep Down Inside"
Your parents have left to go on a business trip. From here, you will live with your guardian in Inaba, a town that unbeknownst to you, or anyone else, will soon befall a great tragedy. You will not be pitted against an enemy per se. You will be going against yourself. In this struggle, you will fight to find the truth; the truth of yourself and of the world. You will find and make friends, and you must help guide them along the path and hope they do not go astray. Only you can save them.
In their latest efforts at the Persona series, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4, Atlus Co. has created another beautiful game, one that can be played in both series with the successors or stand alone by itself. Again, it strives on playing with the balance between reality and the other.
Without spoiling any points, there is still a need to express the extend of excellence this storyline reaches. You begin to unravel a mystery before your character is even named, and this mystery just digs deeper and deeper as you both solve the case and discover more about yourself and those around you. There are so many twists and turns, and by granting you the choice of voicing your own opinions, you truly decide when and where your story begins and ends. While there is a pre-selection of certain scenes, you choose who you wish to get close to, how you treat them, whom you fall in love with, etc. You can make yourself into who you want to be, and decide how you want to be treated and how you treat others.
This is tricky to review considering there are three major components of the game that are intertwined.
First is the real world. In this time frame, you will need to complete several functions. Your primary function is to create social links, links with your friends. This will get you closer to certain people, pushing the storyline and further developing your character. To do this however, you will need to do other things, which brings us to our second function. You must develop yourself as a person. You must increase knowledge, courage, expression, diligence, and understanding. These 5 major facets will help you get closer to people, and vice versa. You will also complete quests, take part in school, part time jobs, etc.
The second is the battle-world. This is where your RPG style battle comes closer into play. You use Personas to fight. Each persona has certain skills, and each Persona will grow with your level. You will learn quickly to find the weakness of monsters, how to strengthen your own defenses, strategize, rush (meaning all out attacks), and several other important components of battle. Because if your main character dies, its game over, you quickly need to learn how to balance the power and keep your character alive with the help of teammates.
The third component is the link between the first and second. Personas do not just appear. They are made. Stronger personas are a reflection of the heart, and these reflections come from, guess what?, your social links. This is how the motions of the real world come closer into play in the battle-world. You are no longer just passing school or solving a mystery. You use what you gain from the real world to help you survive out solving mysteries. Not such a bad idea, huh?
There isn't too much to say here. Your character doesn't talk (meaning you get to hear his voice). However, you at many points in time get to control what your character says and does. This plays and important role in gameplay. Not all parts of dialogue are spoken out, but main scenes are and important phrases you'll need to hear/know are indicated by voice.
The sound in this game is terrific. Each dungeon and boss has its own music, accompanied by several other songs, battle songs, etc. They actually have some symbolic meaning as they are to reflect the feelings of the person the dungeon is modeled after. You may not understand this now, but you will soon after playing.
If you're played an RPG before, you've got to pick up this game. If you like anything like Harvest Moon or any of the real life style games, you've got to pick up this game. Rather, if you like games in general, you've got to pick up this game. It combines so many elements that makes a game successful and creates a blend where not just one side matters. There is no way to focus on just one character or facet and hope to make it through the day alive. And hopefully by watching the struggle of the characters find themselves you can start seeing the truth yourself.
Final Score 10/10
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 07/15/09
Game Release: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (US, 12/08/08)
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