So a typical day in Persona goes something like this, you go to school during the day, and at night, you head out and kick ass. There is oh so much interaction that goes on in between though, like courtship of the classmates or studying for the semester exams, participating in extracurricular clubs, or joining one of the sports teams. Or you can really pull off a juggling act and go for it all. You really cannot experience Persona 3 the same way after your initial play through is complete, because one, you won’t remember line for line how you played it the first time through, and two, you’ll want to try to achieve everything you possibly can that you missed the first time around.
So while you are going to school you have three stats that are affected: you have academics which is increased by studying, charm which is increased by helping out a classmate answer a tough question or by scoring high on tests, and courage which is increased by brave acts of daring do. These stats will eventually lead you down specific paths to meeting new people. This all has a purpose and I am getting to it.
When you meet new people you create with them, a Social Link. These links are the key to powering the legion of Persona that you can command, as their stats are connected to the level of your Social Link. So that girl at the back of the class with her eye on you, yeah getting to know her will make your Persona stronger. But you’ve got to be Rico Suave before she’ll even look your way. And once you’ve become friends with people what you say to them and how you treat them will affect how much your friendship will grow. Of course friendships can be damaged and reconciled as well, over petty crap I might add. See, it really is like high school all over again, only without getting stuffed in to a locker.
All this interaction wouldn’t be worth much if the writing wasn’t well done. Atlus is known for having one of the best localization teams in the industry, and they have truly outdone themselves with Persona 3. I thought Odin Sphere was something impressive, but Persona’s character interactions take it to a whole new level. The dialogue is sharply written, with a bit of tongue in cheek humor and even a little bit of black humor from time to time. A lot of the dialogue feels very natural, though it is also at times interrupted by the use of Japanese relationships and suffixes. So even though the game is taking place in Japan, it is very strange to hear the suffix ‘senpai’ used after a character’s name.
This is especially strange hearing it come from the English voice track, which I must say is quite excellent. You’ve got some repeat cast from Odin Sphere along with a few other anime series’ veterans out there. One person in particular that shines more than others is the character Junpei. Whoever did his voice over deserves some kind of award, because he is done so well, and through the game the changes that he experiences are conveyed very well by the actor. So mad props go out to the group of actors and actresses that worked on this game, you were a key in making it an enjoyable experience.
You’ve also got a ton of activities to do outside of the normal school hours. You can head to the movies, visit the mall, go pray at a shrine for higher academics, grab a burger or some ramen for dinner, or meet with the friendly police officer who will hook you up with the latest in shadow killing technology. Or just head back to the dorm and play an MMO with a random stranger, who is also a social link I might add. Oh and to the guys and gals at Atlus, don’t think I’m not miffed about you guys pimping out Innocent Sin within Persona 3 without ever bringing out to America. I’m still a little sore about that.
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