Hello everyone, I hope all has been going well. Some time ago, I made a post about Fire Emblem: Awakening on here and a bit of advice someone gave me was to take my writings and putting them forward into vidoes themselves. I knew this was a huge undertaking, and I teamed up with fellow D-toid blogger The Nintendette to make that idea come to life. I had an entire article thought up for Persona 4 and rather than blog it exclusively on here, I took a huge risk and invested a lot of time and money into breaking into the video scene. Completely oblivious to the way most programs work, I would have been lost had Rachel not been helping me. I remember I came back here and wanted to give a little update of my progress so I tacked on a (admitingly now poorly executed) let's play of a GBA game. Very kind hearted people on here provided the feedback I needed and the pep talk to aim higher. I took it in huge stride.
After several months of learning how to work things and picking away at this project a few hours a week at a time after work, I'm really proud to say you guys motivated me enough to make a video. Below is the blood sweat and tears from Rachel TheNintendette and myself. In addition to the video, I will put the entire script below in case you would prefer to read it. Thank you for time and patience with me throughout my tenure in this community. I hope everything keeps going well for you!
Good video games are those who carry a story that hits hot topics or leaves a memorable impression on you; however the best leave you questioning your entire outlook on real philosophical concepts. There's a fine line between overthinking everything and crafting beauty that is often crossed when a game takes itself seriously. In this day and age, social media and other various internet sources will let you know any and everything about games hours after they hit the public market. Reviews will explode hype and boost multi-million sales or attempt to annihilate overly-valued scores that knock on the copious amounts of natural resources one must traverse through a journey. Perhaps that is why there is always a suspension of disbelief of some sorts when you pick up a game anymore, regardless of age. When I set out to begin my series of exploring the positives of gaming, I first selected the well praised Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4; half-nervous that the first game I decided to flesh out positives would be a dud, half scared I wouldn't be able to explain what it did right if it wasn't. What I stumbled into was anything but a dud. Persona 4 is a shear masterpiece in character design that I ended up falling in love with for hundreds of hours.
With anything, I'll try to keep this video spoiler free as I don't really want this to be a synopsis or a review, so much as it is a song of praise for the beautiful notes it hits. Right from the beginning you are brought into the shoes of a (mostly) ambiguous young man who is known officially as Yu Narukami as an exchange student staying with your uncle and cousin in the small rural town of Inaba. Initially, Persona 4 is deceivingly tame given what happens throughout. Yu attends Yasogami High School, joining various clubs and making friends as you would expect. What makes this game depart from the normal slice of life anime you'd see with a similar plot or a manilla modern JRPG absolutely blind-sides you as the player (given you don't already know it's coming). Following a series of bizarre murders stringing from recent turmoil with a scandalous reporter and the young girl whom discovered the mysteriously hung corpse of the aforementioned woman. A spooky rumor involving televisions and lovers lead to Yu and friends to fall into a television world known as The Midnight Channel and that's where the magic begins.
Lead character designer Shingenori Soejima has so much to be thanked for the way this gem shines; all of the playable characters are thought through in a very unique and engaging way. A common complaint in the RPG genre is the magnitude of cast always leave a majority of them to be rather one-dimensional characters (AKA the ultimate killer of any story). While a murder mystery wrapped around an RPG could create a potentially engaging plot on it's own, no one character is wasted in their role in solving the crimes. This is driven so well because each level of the game is the inner-most psyche of Yu's classmates. Everyone has had those thoughts or feelings in the back in their heads that they quickly repressed or denied forever, and the Midnight Channel does not hold any bars brutally fleshing these out. These “Shadow” selves of characters go on rampages in attempt to satisfy their various desires at the expense of their real selves' demise. The more someone denies their “Shadow”, the more hostile and powerful they become, eventually unleashing monstrous creatures rich in symbolism. I found myself struggling through brutal boss fights so I could see these well written characters accept their grimy parts and grow as people. I just knew Soejima did such a good job making his characters because by the endgame, even with only six characters to choose from to accompany me, each one had their own charm or bond established that it became legitimately draining on me to make a decision between whom to leave behind.
Overall, I find the character driven storytelling much more effective than a “mission” kind of story asking the player to go from point “X” to “Y” just to progress plot in trickles at a time. You get so caught up in wrapping around watching young adults accept insecurities and overcoming them with the assistance of friends that you almost never notice you're making progress in catching the killer. There are intense decisions to be made in the climatic moments of the journey and you have to fight with not only your instinct, but the rational reasoning of your peers if you even want to finish the game correctly. If it wasn't for the internet, I guarantee I would have missed it. When the game reaches the end, it almost feels like the end of a terrific roller coaster ride that you can't help but to say “Awh is it over?!” When it all comes together (or whenever you decide to put the ground the story covers together), the topics Persona 4 cover really get you thinking. Is the truth you seek in life worth the pursuit? What do you do when you actually find what you've been looking for? Can you really accept it? What is “truth” anyways? What is your happiness; is it genuine?
As someone who is typically polarized by traditional RPG games, the highly stylish Persona 4 is one of the most beautifully crafted stories that has aged just as well as when it was fresh. If you enjoy writing or even respect how well media can be written, I implore you to invest the time into the PS2 game or the Vita re-release. While the story is a little bent to fit the ticket of animation more, the anime carries most of the heart the game has and gives a quick fix to the memorable journey in Inaba.