She’s just such a hardass and I love it
Screenshot: Soejima Shigenori, official art

Had some time to myself a few nights ago. Fired up Persona 3 on the Vita. Saw that my last save file was dated 11/2017. November of last year. Hm. This should be good.

I used to have no problem playing multiple games at a time. When I was younger, there were the few that I’d always come back to (Pokémon, Dragon Warrior III, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance), even when I was playing the latest Nintendo game. There once was a time where I was really on top of game releases. Up until I was about high school age I subscribed to Nintendo Power and whatever they deemed hypeworthy, I had to pick up. Over time the desire to have the latest and greatest has faded. I don’t have a Switch and I know I won’t pick one up for at least several months, if at all.

Ever since I started playing video games again towards the tail end of the PS3 era, I’ve always had a million things to play. Between catching up on all the greatest games of the last ten or twelve years, PS Plus, and my job, there’s always something happening on one system or another. Games will occasionally fall by the wayside and I’ll have to consciously remind myself to come back to them.

So it was with Persona 3. I finished up Persona 4 Golden somewhat recently after a few years of playing it off and on. I felt satisfied; Persona 4 was my first Persona game I had played, even though I had a copy of Persona 2 for years that I never delved into because of its initial complexity. I loved the battle system, the stylishness, the characters. It felt like a slick and edgy version of the much clunkier RPGs I loved as a kid, like Dragon Warrior. I had heard that Persona 3 was at least on par with 4, so I downloaded a copy for my Vita at some point.

It languished on the device for probably a year or so- until I finally fired it up last fall. I put it on Normal difficulty, something I’m regretting now. I’m familiar enough with the series that I could probably make my way through more difficult combat encounters. Maybe on my next playthrough (where I’ll play as the female protagonist instead). The game starts off with a little more of a narrative thrust than 4. I was in Tartarus within an hour or two of playing, ready to start battling my way up the tower by night and getting to know my classmates by day.

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This past fall was really rough for me, for a number of reasons. Suffice to say, I didn’t fire up the game again for several months. When I finally did, I was pretty damn perplexed.

I was at a save point in Tartarus, but couldn’t remember why I was there in the first place. My party members were no help. The enemies weren’t difficult, but my PC only had two persona, one at level 2 and one at level 9. I don’t think I’d fought any kind of a boss yet, and as I explored Tartarus I realized that I was being gated until something happened outside of the dungeon. I pulled my party out and went to sleep, both in the game and out.

Over the next few in-game days, I slowly pieced together what was happening in the main plot. I’d forgotten all the names of the crew (though I did remember pretty quickly that Mitsuru is definitely my favorite) and certainly couldn’t remember the status of any of my social links. I knew that “bufu” meant “ice” and remembered where the Velvet Room was. I was starting to feel discouraged trying to piece together where I was and what was happening in the game, considering pulling up a guide or walkthrough just to familiarize myself with the situation.

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And then, a sudden realization: I was still barely beginning Act I of this game. Hell, I was barely in the prologue. The Persona series is renowned for the length and complexity of its stories, and I was feeling bogged down for not remembering what was happening in what was basically the first five or ten hours of the game. I breathed a sigh of relief as I came to grips with the fact that I would be fine. There will be plenty of characters to overexplain things to me, recaps that would simplify the plot.

I would be taken care of. The pressure was off.

It’s an interesting feeling to have, a roller coaster of “oh NO I’ll never know what’s going on here” to “wait we’ve barely begun this is fine.” Thank you, Persona 3, for the journey. Looking forward to going on another one with you.