I’m about twenty hours into Person 3 FES and I made the fatal error of peaking on HowLongToBeat.com. So far, I am having fun with the game but honestly, what with other commitments, I’m not sure if I’ll make it to the end. And even if I do, the idea of writing a review of such a lengthy RPG sounds daunting. I prefer writing short pieces, which at least have the potential to be to the point, and there’s already quite a bit I’d want to include.
My idea then is to write shorter entries as I progress. Not like a diary, more commenting on an aspect of the game I find interesting. Around 500 words, that kind of thing. That way, if I’m not able to see it right till the end at least I’ll have written something.
Each short bit will state the hours I’ve spent with the game and then talk about a single aspect of gameplay or story or whatever. It’s going to be a spoiler zone as this isn’t a review. Mostly it will spoil game mechanics – as that’s what I’m most interested in at the moment, but if I do delve into plot spoilers that will be highlighted very clearly in the title of the blog.
Though this is just an introduction I’ll include some of my first impressions as a special bonus – so make sure you’re grateful! *ahem:
Though apparently very long, Persona 3 is currently feeling quite small. Which is really to say the game feels local. I know JRPGs have this tendency to open-up half way through to reveal the sprawling planes of a world map, but something tells this isn’t going to happen in P3. Which is both refreshing and worrying.
At this stage I have orientated my expectations of the game in terms of the usual RPG mechanics and tropes. Side quests, stats, NPCs, dungeoneering, all have their analogue here, with various degrees of separation. There are clearly defined gameplay phases, leaving this RPG feeling very modular and board gamey… Not that this is a bad thing, it has a unique and addictive rhythm not found in other RPGs, but I worry whether this strict loop will keep me interested for the entirety of this supposedly lengthy game.
Currently my biggest gripe is the menus. I’ve played Persona 5 a bit (I defeated the first dungeon, then got side tracked by something else) and I was surprised that a lot of the style which P5 exudes (and was praised extensively for exuding) is equally present here. Menus are bright and colourful, the music is fantastic. But then you start to want to know key information. That information is spread over a number of different menus and sub-menus. Want to know what your Persona’s abilities do? Remember the name of the skill (e.g. “Zan-ei”), then go to a master list of all your current Skills and cycle through them to find the correct one. It’s cumbersome. It’s hard to go from SMTIV (the last SMT game I played) to this. But that’s progress, right?
I don’t mind too much about the battle system being limited, but again I worry about this carrying the game all the way through. So far there is a little too much reliance on hitting elemental weaknesses in battle, whereas I enjoy RPGs which require buffs and the like – something which I imagine is hard to pull off when you only control one character.
I love the 3D models of the demons and I love the Social Link stories. I want to talk about Social Links later so will leave it at that. It was mentioned that the story really picks up at a certain point; I don’t feel like I’m at that point yet. It still feels very quaint, very local. At the moment I quite like that, but I’m looking forward to so drama!