Why you should care and what’s next
IIf you are a noble video game fan in 2021, the pressure is probably building on you to find a Character game, if you haven’t already. A spin-off of its legendary Megami Tensei series, ATLUS has been hitting home with its sleek role-playing franchise for quite some time, attracting dozens of fans with meaty main games and spinoffs that flesh out their worlds.
Much of the recent attention has surrounded modern entrances like those in 2019 Persona 5 Royal, but it might shock you to learn that the franchise has been around since 1996, making it 25 years in September. To commemorate the occasion, ATLUS is planning several announcements orbiting the games, which will be revealed during the year. Along with some potential anime or concert news, we’re almost five years away from the final mainline. Character game, so news of a potential Persona 6 would be a reasonable assumption. Especially when you consider that the Protagonist Anniversary Trading Card Game has a secret, undisclosed design …
Thanks to the popularity of Persona 5, fans also begged for a current and older way to play Character games on modern consoles, so hopefully we’ll see at least a couple of announcements in this area. 2012 Persona 4 Gold launched on Steam in 2020 and has since sold over a million copies, suggesting that ATLUS may be inclined to update a few. A 2006 remaster Persona 3 would be the obvious money printing game, but the portage Persona 5 on Nintendo Switch or PC would also bring down the house.
But before we condemn these great games to your endless backlog, let’s actually take a look at what they’re about. The debut of the 1996 series Revelations: Persona Certainly looks humble by modern standards, but all the features of the series are there. The basic premise of everything Character is that you play as a group of brave students who are trained to investigate a mysterious conspiracy.
But according to the title, the characters all awaken a magic Character that they must summon – in a twisted version of reality – to fight the demons in the dungeons. Along with your own personal Persona, you upgrade and collect additional Personas as you engage in combat, fusing them together to create powerful monsters and fight fire with fire.
Personas are very similar to Pokemon pocket monsters, except with more varied and adult designs. You can choose their moves, level them up, and swap them in battle. The battle is also based on weaknesses and elemental strengths, but don’t expect legions of chirpy hairballs in this series. Most Personas are covered in detail and based on mythological figures or folk tales. A unique feature of the franchise is that in addition to battles, you can also chat with demons you encounter in battle to get items or, in some cases, convince them to join your Persona squad. It adds a delightfully irreverent sparkle on top of the typical combat encounter, matching the more adult themes of the JRPG.
Yet, as deep as the fight is, it’s Persona’s unique structure that makes it sing. For most people, the best part of the show is what you do when you’re not fighting in some twisted real-world pastiche. Of Persona 3 From now on, the game has focused on developing social bonds and confidants outside of combat. So when you’re not fighting demons or stealing the heart of a corrupt individual, you are spending most of your time exploring a school or city, participating in activities, and making friends. The catch is, you only have a set amount of time in the day, and you can’t do it all in one game, so you need to use your real world time wisely. Focusing on studying will improve your stats, but progressing through the mini-story of a social bond can be a well-written emotional roller coaster with ongoing rewards that apply when you venture into a dungeon. Choosing what not to do is half the fun!
I’m not as devout as people who think Persona 5 invented jazz music, but I’ll be happy to tell you why it could be the most stylish JRPG ever. The sinister adventure of Phantom thieves wrapped me around his pinky finger when I played it a few years ago, and since then I have been going back and playing Persona 4 Gold. If you’re worried about being late for the party, it doesn’t matter in which order you play the games beyond understanding a few cute references. Just keep in mind that Persona 5 is a gold mine of quality of life compared to previous entries. As such, not many people venture as far as Persona 1 or 2, but they’re worth exploring if you find yourself obsessed.
It is also interesting to note that Character the games are huge efforts, taking over 70 hours to complete. This is why ATLUS has been smart to develop spinoff games that delve into the characters of the main games so that you feel like the trip was worth it. The trio of rhythms ‘Persona dance’ the games are particularly accessible and well done, building on Shoji Meguro’s incredible journey as the series’ composer. Catchy Persona songs like Last Surprise have become memes due to their cult status, but Meguro’s range across games is what is truly amazing.
The way he manages to bottle and slowly release the emotion of becoming an adult and parting ways with his school friends in Persona 4The ending theme of Never More completely shakes me up every time I listen to it. But perhaps Meguro’s best feature is the way he induces the thrill with which he weaves Leitmotifs throughout a soundtrack, only to have them come back to haunt your emotions after 40 hours.
To invest in a Character game is to invest in a world. Every part of the accomplished property is so meaty with style, nuance, and content that it’s easy to get lost in a rabbit hole, but I wholeheartedly recommend jumping in. With more revelations on the horizon, this will be a fantastic time to be a Character fan over the next year, whether you are a veteran or a newbie!
Persona turns 25 this year – several announcements will come throughout 2021.