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Falls short of greatness (Story review)
P4 is a game with a high amount of potential which it doesn't achieve due to a lack of character development and a somewhat flawed moral on why you shouldn't lie to yourself.

I was excited to obtain new characters the first time playing as I was eager to see how they would work on dealing with their own issues. How disappointed I was when I learned that the characters don't develop AT ALL. Whether or not you spend time on their S-links, nothing really changes about them outside of battle. By the end of the game, they're still the same person, which brings me to the anvilicious moral of the game...

The game makes it obviously clear that you shouldn't lie to yourself and that you should accept who you are. A commendable effort... HOWEVER, this moral takes a rather unpleasant light once you reach the 7th storyline boss. Simply put, I felt that the moral of the game shouldn't have been "Don't lie to yourself" but rather "Make yourself a better person." Just imagine if you-know-who were to accept who he was and how much more powerful the game would've been. Which leads me to Yosuke...

I can't believe that the writers at Atlus took such a huge step backwards from Persona 3's Junpei. It seemed rather simple: Both are class clowns who suffer similar tragedies and they both share the same arcana. While Junpei becomes more mature because of it, Yosuke unfortunately acts like an obnoxious imbecile who disrespects his own teammates, failing to realize that his behavior throughout the entire game might've been the reason girl he loved didn't love him back, making it hard for us to disagree with her when she said that "he was a real pain in the ass".

The S-links are also another issue I have. Other then Nanako, Dojima, Naoki and Naoto, all the other S-links were bland. While the Arcana/Ally bonuses are quite helpful, it does nothing to affect the main story which feels rather wasted seeing how much it would've worked with the moral I mentioned above.

As for the main mystery plot, I only had minor issues with it (talking to civilians...) though one scene near the end of the game was quite the head banger (before unlocking the 7th dungeon). What happened afterward should've been avoided.

In short, P4 is a huge disappointment in terms of story. Hopefully Persona 5 will fix these issues as P4 truly could be something amazing.
I agree with you for the most part except the "Don't lie to yourself" but rather "Make yourself a better person." part. Its easy to say Make yourself a better person. but most people would never admit that there is anything wrong with them an think that there is no need for improvement. Thus Don't lie to yourself works better.
comment #22420 LeithSol 6th Dec 13
I actually liked how the character development was more subtle because it seemed more realistic. People usually don't do complete 180's outside of a traumatic event, and they also don't go announcing to the world that they've changed. You have to let the characters grow on you and pick up on the little signs of progress. As for the moral, I agree with Leith Sol; "Make yourself a better person" seems obvious to everyone but is entirely subjective. If applied to your example, it would actually be worse than the game's original message. Think about it like this: most people would consider getting better at your job an improvement, right? Now, what if someone was a thief or murderer? To them, becoming better at stealing or capable of killing without remorse IS making themselves better people. On the other hand, "Don't lie to yourself" is a good lesson for anyone. If someone was a murderer, would they really be any worse for accepting that fact? Funny enough, I actually found Junpei a lot more irritating than Yosuke. It's been a while since I played Persona 3, so I don't remember any specific reasons why. I think I would actually be disappointed if Persona 4 "fixed" these "issues." Maybe (ironically) you actually enjoy stories that are more anvillicious in character development.
comment #23058 AlexUnknown 29th Jan 14
In contrast to these last two comments, I agree with you. Though I came to like all the characters, I realize that the narrative of Persona 4 is shallow relative to it's predecessors.
comment #23059 Blacknumber 29th Jan 14
@Blacknumber Hm, maybe. It's definitely more lighthearted, but that doesn't necessarily make it more shallow. Besides, too much depth makes a story harder to understand and enjoy. The Persona series already has complex story lines as it is, so this seems more like personal preference (ex. Liking red more than blue) than story quality issues.
comment #23062 AlexUnknown 31st Jan 14
It has nothing to do with preferring stories that are more anvillicious. It's more me being annoyed at Yosuke for constantly being angsty over Saki dying, saying that he'll live on for her, yet still acting like an annoying pervert, which really rubbed me the wrong way. It's the reason why I mentioned him as an example in the review, along with the comparison with Junpei.

Now, as for saying that becoming a better person by becoming better at their job? I wouldn't really use that in this case, considering how morally questionable said case was.
comment #23640 MooMinion 1st Apr 14
"It has nothing to do with preferring stories that are more anvillicious. It's more me being annoyed at Yosuke for constantly being angsty over Saki dying, saying that he'll live on for her, yet still acting like an annoying pervert, which really rubbed me the wrong way. It's the reason why I mentioned him as an example in the review, along with the comparison with Junpei."

Ah, so Yosuke just rubbed you the wrong way. Fair enough. I personally found Junpei more annoying, which is why I disagreed with your comparison.

"Now, as for saying that becoming a better person by becoming better at their job? I wouldn't really use that in this case, considering how morally questionable said case was."

That's exactly the point. Becoming a "better person" depends on what the person in question sees as an improvement, and therefore, is not always a good thing. Most cases where this turns out to be good advice are rather obvious, possibly to the point where the lesson becomes patronizing. Even children know they should try to improve. However, they don't always accept that there's something wrong with them. I'd actually be disappointed if they went with "make yourself a better person" and didn't deconstruct what would happen if you told it to someone who didn't value morals. After all, when's the last time you've heard about someone winning a medal for kindness or ranking in the top ten for most generous?
comment #23677 AlexUnknown 3rd Apr 14
The game sure felt like it deconstructed the whole "Don't lie to yourself" moral considering how the culprit was able to do what they were able to do. If anything, I wouldn't take advice from a remorseless killer who did what they did simply because they wanted to, as well as their "excuses" prior to fighting them.

Also, the more I thought about it, the more alike the two morals I presented were. I just feel that becoming a better person is better, provided they showed how it can be misused by some people...
comment #23688 MooMinion 5th Apr 14
"The game sure felt like it deconstructed the whole "Don't lie to yourself" moral considering how the culprit was able to do what they were able to do. If anything, I wouldn't take advice from a remorseless killer who did what they did simply because they wanted to, as well as their "excuses" prior to fighting them."

The culprit actually proved why the moral is important. And so did you, just now. Otherwise, why would you call them "excuses?" He WAS lying to himself. Even after saying he did it because he wanted to, he kept blaming everything besides himself and would say anything to make it look like he wasn't the one at fault. He just couldn't admit that the reason "everything sucks" is because of his own perspective. Otherwise, he would've known what the problem was and either try to fix it or just tell the heroes, "Yeah, I know I'm evil. Just come get me so we can fight." If he wasn't lying to himself, things could only be the same or better. The fact that he was giving this advice showed just how hypocritical he was and how much he was lying to everyone.

"I just feel that becoming a better person is better, provided they showed how it can be misused by some people..."

How ironic since that's what I've been saying about "becoming a better person" this entire time. The culprit didn't misuse the lesson "don't lie to yourself." He LIED and tried to CONVINCE everyone they were lying to themselves. The fact that the group had already faced their shadows and didn't have to lie to themselves anymore made them see right through his excuses. It's like this:

Villain: Quit lying to yourself! You're just doing this for your own reasons, too! You're no different! Person who lies to themselves: Maybe he's right... maybe I am no different... Person who accepts themselves: Hah, no. I know exactly why I'm doing this, and it's for a completely different reason than "I'm bored."

"Become a better person," on the other hand... Well, I think I've already shown how that can be taken the wrong way.
comment #23701 AlexUnknown 5th Apr 14
Any moral can be taken the wrong way and abused by anyone. I just think it's a more important moral that should be elaborated on since I was left wanting more by the time I beat the game since it was a bit... unsatisfying, for the lack of a better word.
comment #24226 MooMinion 2nd May 14
Hm, fair enough. I thought it went well with the rest of the game's "keep searching for the truth, even if living in a fog of lies is easier" theme.
comment #24270 AlexUnknown 4th May 14
Oh, and one last thing. This should be obvious by now, but I disagree that "make yourself a better person" is more important than "don't lie to yourself." To summarize my previous points: 1. You need to recognize that something is wrong before trying to make it better. 2. "Make yourself a better person" is too general and obvious. Who doesn't want to improve? It almost sounds insulting, like you're talking to a child that doesn't know any better. 3. It's much more easy to abuse than "don't lie to yourself." I have yet to think of a situation where lying to yourself would be beneficial in the long-term, but I will allow the possibility to exist. However, I've already pointed out multiple situations where "making yourself a better person" can be morally questionable. All three of these are things that I have previously pointed out, and you have yet to disprove. To be clear, I am not arguing that "make yourself a better person" isn't an important lesson; I'm arguing that "don't lie to yourself" is more important and might even be necessary to truly benefit from "make yourself a better person." I don't know what your reasoning is for believing the inverse, but I will leave this here for anyone that might stumble upon this page and isn't quite as stubborn. Have a nice day. Or night. Or whenever you happen to read this.
comment #24306 AlexUnknown 7th May 14
I think that the "make yourself a better person" argument is reasonable on some level. I think that the author is trying to say that accepting your shortcomings only does so much if you do not feel the need to work to overcome them, which is perfectly valid. However, the S-links for most of the party members do revolve around them attempting to work out their issues after being forced to acknowledge them.

Furthermore, not all of the Shadows represent traits that are objectively bad. In fact, only a couple of them are about straightforward character flaws. They just need to be something that the character is suppressing.

However, I do agree that it would have been nice to see some character development take place in the actual story. It kind of seems like Teddie is the only character who changes in a meaningful way after joining the party.
comment #25923 Emu0 25th Aug 14
I can't really claim to speak for this, since I've never played Persona 4 (I have watched story cutscenes though), but Junpei from 3 is one of my favourite RPG characters of all time, so I want to give my views on the Junpei vs Yosuke thing.

The thing is, while at first glance the two's issues seeme similar: their love interest dies, that's an extremely shallow way to look at it. If you look deeper, you'll find the circumstances around each death is VERY different.

Junpei's love interest gave her life to save him. Not only that, she essentially confirmed she loved him back. While her loss may be sad, the resolution to the romatic arc was still comparatively positive, meaning it's understandable he would make an effort to change for the better and "live for her".

Yosuke's love interest, on the other hand, was suddenly murdered for reasons completley unrelated to him, and not only that he also finds out she never loved him, but actually hated him. This is VERY different, and I can see how circumstances like this would only make things worse for someone. I kinda feel it's understandable to angst about something like that, because that's seriously harsh.

The other thing you have to take into account is WHEN these moments occur in the plot. Junpei's occurs very late in the game, when Junpei has already had plenty of time to be comic relief. By the point it happens, his role as comic relief is no longer needed, and the plot makes use of that to chance him into someone better. Yosuke's moment, however, takes place right at the beinning of the game. Not only has he not had much chance to develop, but his role as comic relief is still needed, so he has to keep it up even when by all rights he should have grown out of it. So in a sense the reason Yosuke suffered as a character compared to Junpei is more to do with how the plot unfolds around him rather than his own personality. Maybe if he was one of the later characters to confront his Shadow, he could have been better (I don't think it's coincidence that Naoto, the last one to do so, is one of the most-liked characters in the game) but I also can see why he was first: they needed a more relatable, "normal" character to introduce the player to the concept of Shadows. In short, I don't think Yosuke's an inherently bad character, but the plot structure held him back from developing.
comment #26186 BigKlingy 17th Sep 14
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