You think you're slow at finishing games? This one took me almost a year!
In April 2011, I found out that an anime adaptation of Persona 4 was being made. The game runs on a calendar that happens to cover the year of 2011, and the anime was starting around the same time.
I thought, "Well, that's pretty cool. Maybe the show will sync up with the anime and get super meta and stuff."
Shortly after that, Strain42, whose hilarious comics can be found on drunkduck.com, said that he would be making a comic series chronicling the events of Persona 4 daily, basically in "real time" along with the game's dates. I had already read his comic "Persona 3 FTW" which did the same for the previous game in the series, so of course I'd be reading that daily along with the game's timeline!
So why not go through the game once more? It was like, Persona 4 year and there was no better time to play it. And I did it in the best way I could, in "real time".
In 2011 and 2012 I played Persona 4 for a little bit every day. Usually no more than 20 minutes. I'd turn it on, watch the anime opening (yes, EVERY TIME), and just do whatever I wanted for the day.
It was a little weird to play a game that I've already beaten a few times in such small chunks, but I'd say it made me appreciate it a lot more. I talked to people I'd usually just run past, made better choices about what to fuse and what items to buy so I could complete dungeons in one day, and explored places I'd never been to so I could get more out of the experience. After all, this is an experience that could only ever happen once.
What was REALLY weird was when weather forecasts synced up in real life and the game. Not gonna lie, when it rained in the game and in real life, I was actually watching my TV at midnight to see who would appear...
At the end of the day I'd read the day's comics from Persona 4TW, read @NarukamiYu's Twitter (and all the spinoff accounts it started), and catch up on Persona 4 The Animation.
When I look back on it, Persona 4 is a game that really shook up my tastes in games in general. I've played Japanese RPGs a little before, but this was the first one where I was totally engrossed in the world and characters from the first time I played it. I'm at the point in my gaming career where I'm already kinda stuck in my ways, and will generally just buy games based on brand familiarity or liking the genre. Now I'm more into roleplaying games than I've ever been, and this game opened my eyes to a genre I would've gone my whole gaming career without exploring. All because I took a chance on a game I saw on sale at a a Gamestop.
So, ending my 38 week journey with Persona 4 is a little bittersweet. Playing it in "real time" and taking in all the alternate media doing the same thing was such a unique experience that I've never had with another game and might never have again. I can just play it again (and I probably will!) to see the few Social Links I've never finished or finally fill out the Compendium. But it won't really be as special as this time was.
I'm still looking for the next RPG out there to really capture my heart and attention in the way Persona 4 did. Maybe it'll never come, but I'm glad I took a chance on this game in the first place and I'm glad I played it in such a crazy way that made me appreciate it so much more.
Who knows? Maybe I'll do it again when Persona 5 comes out. I'll definitely record it that time!