*This post contains some slight spoilers for Persona 4, though nothing story breaking*
For the majority of you who don't really know me, there is a specific way that I play most video games. I generally play games one at a time and all the way through. I love to sit down and play a game for hours at a time. That being said, there are some games that allow me to become so engrossed that I will play them for untold hours without even realizing it. I want to talk about one such game today.
A game that pulls me in so much that hours pass by without me even having stopped to eat is a game that I consider to be a success. Probably the first time that I really thought to myself "Wow, how long have I been playing this?" was the first time I played Persona 3. The only prior experience I had with Shin Megami Tensei games was with Nocturne on the PS2, until I watched a video on Youtube about Persona 4 and decided I should give that series a try as well. At that point in time I had just gotten a launch Vita but P4G hadn't been released yet, so I decided to download and play the PSP version of Persona 3.
Everything about that game pulled me into it further. The music, the characters, the battles; all of them combined to make an experience that I just couldn't put down. When P4G finally came to the Vita I got to experience the game that would come to control my life. Persona 4 took everything great about Persona 3 and made it better. The music was unbelievably catchy, the characters were fleshed out and meaningful, the battle system was as deep and fun as ever, and living the life of the protagonist became exactly that. When I sat down to play Persona 4 I'm pretty sure that each time I turned on my Vita I played it for a longer span of time than I have ever played another video game.
P4 is about a 70 hour long game, and I played through the entirety of it over the course of about 5 or 6 days on normal difficulty. If you're someone who's somehow never played a Persona game before then here's what they are: Dungeon Crawling, Time Management, Role Playing, Social Sims. You play as a young Japanese man whom you name (Kenpachi Ramasama for myself) and live the life of that character every day for a year. You go to school, make friends, live life to the fullest, all while managing your time so that you can also make forays into the game's dungeons to do battle and collect and fuse Personas.
Determining exactly why the Persona titles resonate so well with me requires a bit of delving into my personal life, which I'll avoid doing too much of as I'm sure that's not really something everyone's interested in reading about. Nevertheless, getting to live the life of someone who gets to make so many real friends, form so many bonds, and still manage to live an exciting, unique, and meaningful life is an experience unlike any other for me. When I finally finished Persona 4 I was left emotionally shattered.
For a week I had spent more time in the life of the protagonist, making his decisions and hanging out with his friends, than I had spent in actual life. I'd wake up each day, get on the internet for a bit, start playing P4G, and likely wouldn't stop until it was time to eat or head to bed. Having to say goodbye to the people I had spent that time with broke me, and seeing the final cutscene of each character saying their goodbyes is one of the only times, perhaps THE only time, I've ever had my eyes start watering from a video game.
It doesn't take a lot for me to enjoy a game. I've very rarely felt buyer's remorse for a title because I can generally enjoy each game for what it is or at least appreciate what it was trying to accomplish. The other side of having such an easy time enjoying games is that it becomes rare for a game to move from "enjoyable" to that feeling of "Oh my god, what a game" that I get when I played Persona 4. I recently sat down to replay Persona 3 purely out of boredom and after enjoying it I was reminded of how much more I loved Persona 4 and immediately began replaying it as well as soon as 3 was finished. The fact that I was able to fall in love with it all over again, when it hasn't even been THAT long since I last played it, was such a great feeling.
The Persona games aren't really games that I'd recommend to everyone, and I could see a number of people not being able to get into them, but there will never be a time that Persona 4 doesn't have a spot in my heart. I'll always have memories of hanging out with my bro Yosuke, teaching Kanji that it's okay to be different, and helping my girl Naoto learn to love herself for who she is.
Each character is so well fleshed out and memorable and provides a different take on the kinds of troubles that people face in society. The lessons that they learn as they face their true selves and have to come to grips with their fears and inner pain are lessons that everyone can learn from and many can relate to. Your team of persona users really feel like you work so well together as a team BECAUSE you're friends, where as P3's team had a habit of feeling like you were friendly with each other because you were on a team, if that makes sense.
I was sad when I saw Agro go down in Shadow of the Colossus, I was moved by Journey, but nothing hit me as hard as saying goodbye to the fine folks of Inaba. It goes without saying that I am unbelievably hyped for the upcoming release of Persona 5, but it has a lot to live up to.
If you have any game that's special to you in some way, whether that be because it's just incredibly fun, because of the memories associated with it, or because it has some deeper meaning to you, then by all means feel free to share your thoughts below!
Every day really is great at your Junes. Thanks for reading.