So, I’ve been pushing ahead in the game, and like the other Persona games it turns out that the details of the setting tend to fade into the background as the game progresses, so I’m getting more into the game as things go along. In fact, one of the reasons for this post is that I’m 30+ hours into the game and that stopped me from sitting down and writing a different post.
Anyway, the game’s themes are still pretty dark. The next dungeon seemingly involves simple art forgery and fraud, but the famous artist exploiting his students drives them to suicide, and then at the end it turns out that for his most famous work he stole it from Yusuke — one of your team members’ — mother by essentially watching her die. The next dungeon revolves around a crime lord who is running drugs and prostitution, and he ends up getting a fake photo that would get all of the team kicked out of school and thus coerces Makoto into taking out a loan that she can’t pay back, and says that if she doesn’t pay it back in time she and her sister — an important prosecutor — will be forced into prostitution. And the last dungeon involves a young girl whose mother committed suicide and her mother’s co-workers — she was working on some kind of important and secret project — deliberately made her feel like it was her fault, which turned her into a complete shut-in. This is definitely a Crapsack World. (Note: TV Tropes link).
The characters are somewhat interesting, but I find Ryuji one of the more annoying Junpei/Yosuke type characters in the series, as he has a hot temper that he can never control, and it causes him to act like an idiot much of the time. Ann is interesting enough, but she really comes across like a ditz most of the time. Morgana fills the “Teddy” role ably enough, and is less annoying than he was. I actually kinda like Yusuke, although I haven’t gone that far in his S-link yet. He’s eccentric, but the game doesn’t really use that to make that much fun of him, and for the most part he’s relatively calm and series. But I do really like Makoto, who’s probably supposed to be the main or canon love interest given her major role in the events and the fact that she goes with you to most of the events. In the cutscene in the hacker’s dungeon, you even push her out of the way of the main enemy’s attack. I haven’t managed to start her S-link yet, but I’d like to see how it goes.
The dungeon’s aren’t random anymore, and so they’ve really ramped up the gimmicks, not just in the dungeons — where you have to run around getting keys or pushing buttons or getting items to open new ways to go — but also in the boss fights. At the final boss, you almost always need to send a party member to do something in order to make the enemy vulnerable to attack, like shooting a bastila at a flying creature or tossing paint on an enemy to eliminate resistances or stealing a crown or tossing money or items aside to distract the main villain or whatever. The gimmicks in the final bosses aren’t that annoying — although it maintains Persona’s distinctive “I’m going to toss an enemy with a special attack that can kill you if you aren’t ready for it at you. Hope you have enough healing items or are lucky!” approach to boss fights — but in the dungeons. The game isn’t always clear on what you have to do and, specifically, on where you have to go. If you leave the area, it respawns all of the Shadows that were there that you already killed. And a number of them, of course, have those annoying one-hit kill spells that hit far more often than they probably ought to. But if you’re surviving, they’re only a draw on your SP and delaying you from moving on in the dungeon, and not a real threat … unless you’re out of SP and they ambush you, at which point you might well die. And if you are really just trying to push on to the next Safe Room so you can save and go back to the real world, they’re frustrating. Add in enemies that suddenly ambush you, and the frustration only ramps up.
That being said, on Easy, I haven’t had to grind too much, as just finishing the dungeons and doing the Mementos dungeon seems to be keeping me at roughly the right level, and brings in enough money to buy weapons and armour, and to pay for maid visits.
As is again normal for Persona games, there is an undercurrent of a story here, but at this stage of the game things are pretty vague. I have some hints on how things will go from various sources, but I would like to see how it turns out. But what’s most important is how the S-links turn out, and so far they’re interesting, although I wish the Temperance link hadn’t been filled so much with her lying to me from the start.
So far, the game is better than I thought it would be when I started playing it, and now I’m planning on replaying it when I finish this round.