Can you believe it’s been 10 years since Persona 4's English release? In the spirit of celebration, I thought it would be nice to have a place to share our favorite memories about our time in Inaba! I’ll start :)
Major spoilers for the series below!
My first memory is loading the game up on my PS2 for the first time and watching the opening. “Pursuing My True Self” was a catchy tune and as I watched the animation, I couldn’t help but think, “What did I just buy and what is this about???” And then I arrived at the main menu and it was really something else.
From the very first note, this song resonated with me and I knew that I was in for something really special. And then I lingered too long on the menu and the second opening played, when I heard “Reach Out to the Truth” and thought “This would be the perfect battle theme. I’ve never seen a game use a song like this in that way, but it better be the battle theme.” And you can probably figure out how that went :)
I was a bit nervous about there being a kid character in the game. There are many examples where it just doesn’t work (see gaming history). Nanako though, became my favorite character very quickly. From the moment she sang the Junes song, I knew I had to become friends with her! Not so long after, the game let me finish the jingle with her and I could not stop smiling at how happy she was to find a common interest with me :)
I don’t really have much to say here. It was just really cool, when the realization that discovering the truth would require hardship and the Persona manifests!
In a series that spends a lot of time talking about friendship, Chie and Yukiko stand out to me as the gold standard. From the start, you get this feeling that they’ve been friends for years by how they talk and how they’re always together. But we get to their shadows and find out that there is something off about the way they subconsciously treated each other.
Every shadow in the game deals with a hidden truth that the character can’t admit to the world, but these 2 also have something they couldn’t admit to each other. Have you ever sat down with a good friend and tried to apologize to them knowing that confessing will change the relationship forever? It can feel like the most difficult thing in the world. But these 2 did it and their friendship is stronger for it.
I’m still impressed that the game addressed the fact that this kind of openness and honesty is healthy, no necessary, to lasting and genuine relationships. And they become so inseparable, it annoyed me when I couldn’t social link with them because they were hanging out with each other. I mean, good for them, but I’m on a tight schedule here! Speaking of...
Knew it right here. No regrets.
This moment was better on a playthrough of Persona 3, but since I played 4 first, it didn’t mean anything at the time. It did stick in my mind though, so when I did play Persona 3 and got to that social link, the eyes began to water up.
And also, everything about Kanji is the best. That could have its own entire post. Which I may get to someday.
I remember playing through this for the first time late at night and doing everything I could to stifle my laughter, hahaha! And it’s not just a dumb fun moment for the sake of having a fun scene, but it also reveals quite a bit about Naoto’s past.
That’s the thing with this game. There aren’t really any wasted scenes. They all either further the relationships of the cast or they’re about uncovering some hidden truth, even if it’s as silly a truth as the fact that there was no alcohol. I’ll have to leave the other moments off my list, otherwise they would take up all the space, but believe me, I love them all!
Let me tell you, nothing else mattered the day she was taken. The only thing slowing me down was how often I stopped to just soak in the atmosphere of the dungeon.
It’s such a good song! But we have to press forward. Day 1 rescue.
The run up to the ending blew my mind the first time through. It seemed pretty straightforward at first. We thought we were so clever.
When the game said Mitsuo was the killer, we said, “Nope, that’s a trick!”
When the game said it was Nametame, it thought it could use Nanako’s death to cloud our judgment. I chose the wrong dialogue options, just trying to keep Yosuke, Kanji, and Naoto from killing him, but when the credits rolled, I knew it wasn’t truly the end. We said, “Nope, you are hiding something, game!”
And then the game finally revealed it was Adachi and we raised a collective “I told you so!” It was a hard fought battle, but we finally caught him and restored peace to the town. The game said we were finished and in a sigh of relief and joy, I said it was time to go home. And that was it.
Or was it!?!?! No, of course not. Because the game, more so than any other game in the series, really wants to make sure y0u understand the lesson here. The series has what I refer to as “Pop Quiz” moments where it checks to make sure the you’re “getting it”. In Persona 3 and 5, you’re asked to make a choice, and the answer is pretty obvious if you’ve been paying any sort of attention. (I totally failed the Persona 1 pop quiz though, haha. It’s very unforgiving!) But Persona 4, has multiple pop quizzes to really make sure you were paying attention because I’m sure a lot of people, like me, were not.
One of the lessons of the game is that the hidden truth requires teamwork, persistence, courage, and diligence to uncover (actually, all of the social stats, haha). Just as the characters need to struggle, fail, and rise again to the challenge, so must you as the player remain vigilant in your pursuit of the truth. Did catching Adachi answer all the questions? No! But it was certainly easy to forget that in all that was happening at the end. The true ending requires your attention and understanding that you still don’t know the truth! And in that way, Persona 4 really earns the right to have the hidden true ending, more so than most other games, because it took a step into the meta to make you go through what the characters did and fight for the truth.
I couldn’t believe I finally made it to the end. In truth, I didn’t want it to. I wanted to spend so much more time with these wonderful friends. And even though I know that their adventures continued in the spin-offs, it’s still bittersweet to know that this particular adventure had ended.
It’s been 8 years since I finished this game, and there’s been nothing else quite like it for me. I went on to play Persona 3, then 1, then 2, and recently 5, and while they are very unique experiences, I find myself often yearning to return to the small town and close friends of Inaba.
More importantly, I took the lessons learned to heart. Don’t be sad that it ended, but be happy that it can continue through you! And so I did. You can read more about that in one of my earliest posts on this site right here.
Video games, and fictional stories in general, can be so much more than just escapes to fantasy worlds. They can reveal profound things about the world and yourself. The stories and the experience of being part of it can inspire something deep inside. So the next time you sit down with a game, try and ask, “What is this trying to show me?” and maybe you’ll find in 8 years that it was also trying to show you the bigger world all around you!
So, these were just a few of my standout memories of playing Persona 4. If I could, I would write essay after essay about everything in it- what works (so much) and what didn’t really (Marie? Who’s that?) but let’s save that for another day. But what about you? Surely I can’t be the only one with a special little corner of memories of this game! If you have any, please share them with the rest of the class! If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them. You just gotta reach out to the truth!