On The Eve Of Replaying Persona 4
I love Persona 4 like Nicolas Cage loves Pachinko. And I might love Persona 3 more. These two games were the most revolutionary Japanese role playing games to come out of Japan in the last decade; I’m the kind of person who could debate Persona 3 or Persona 4 for hours.
(There is no right answer to that question, by the way. Persona 4 is the better game, but Persona 3 hits you right in the proverbial feels.)
I’ve beaten both of them just once, though I’ve watched people go through both of them with absolute giddiness. There’s reasons I’ve only played them once. For one, they are intensely lengthy affairs: my first playthroughs were ninety hours each, and I’m not the type to stop and smell the roses. With Persona 3, there’s another obstacle: that game is so emotionally exhausting for me that just listening to “Memories of You” from the soundtrack destroys me. Just typing that sent a wave of something through me*.
Persona 4, meanwhile, feels like going back to old friends, even if one of those old friends now has a different voice (Chie nooo!). If Persona 3 is designed to emotionally manipulate you, Persona 4 is a wonderful slice of life, a friendship blooming for a short time and forever. Replaying it is like going back home after a long trip. I’ll get to see my friends again. Chie’s gonna scream about Trial of the Dragon. Lotus Juice is going to rap with a strange, awkward intensity through one of gaming’s best soundtracks. It’ll be great.
Persona—Shin Megami Tensei at large—is the one series I cannot pretend to be objective about. It can’t happen. Other games wrapped up in my person, I can try to look at from the outside: I might like Chrono Trigger more than you do, but I feel like I can separate it from myself. Persona, meanwhile, thanks in part to its subject matter and in part to when it hit me (around age twenty), has become part of my (wait for it) core persona (hah). Its songs are my songs, its friends are mine.
So replaying it feels like a huge deal. I’ve had the thumbnail-sized game card in my PS Vita for a few days now, waiting for the perfect moment to open it up and play it. It’s hard to commit to. When the game came out, I was in my last year of college; I played it instead of working on my thesis. A ninety hour game seems much more daunting now than it did then.
It’s not a game I can go back to lightly. It’s not as digestible as it once was. But I’m excited to give Persona 4 another go. Even if it means that I’ll have to listen to a slightly different Chie.
So wish me luck, internet. I go, and may not come back again.
*Spoiler Footnote Time:
When one of my college friends and I played through the game the first time, we settled on an interpretation of Persona 3′s ending: that the protagonist lay down and rested. That he was tired, and took a well deserved rest. It made the game uplifting and a little melancholy. Then Persona 3 Fes happened, and I will never play it because that’s what happened. I DON’T CARE, ATLUS. Minato’s in Persona Q, so he just took a nap.