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Don't believe the hype
Let's start with what Persona4 does right. The combat system's, due to the option to directly control your team-mates and a slightly refined weakness-hitting system, is a welcome improvement on the Persona3 system. Also welcome is the availability to view skill descriptions at any time. Oh, and there's a most deserved Take That to Twilight.

The story's concept is very good, if borrowing a bit from the previous entry. As a student being relocated for a year from the city to the country, you discover Another Dimension on the other side of T Vs, which conveniently ties in with a murder mystery in that someone's throwing people into this other world where they'll be devoured by a monster formed by their suppressed self when the fog arrives in the real world. You, your friends and the Persona beings you control must save the victims and identify the killer.

The concept and other ideas are good, but the execution is... put simply, there is no execution. Apart from 'rescue someone' and a Red Herring or two, nothing happens at all until the very end. A very disappointing end (and I'm not just taking about the three bad endings).

It's clear the game was meant to be more character-centric, however in this case it fails entirely. Apart from Kanji and Teddie, every single playable character is either obnoxious and/ or boring, and the supporting cast is only slightly better. The problem here was simple. Atlus tried way too hard to make the cast endearable and relatable, "just like back in high school", that they ended up with a bunch of irritating brats (Heh, just like back in high school). It doesn't help that all Character Development is confined to the social link side-stories.

There's also a lot of humour in this game, however, while some isn't so bad, pretty much all of it is groan-inducing, predictable, cliched (Lethal Chef anyone?) and unfunny.

The game centres around an Aesop of Truth and being true. Unfortunately, Persona4 is one of the most unforgivably Anvilicious games since Eternal Sonata. I wanted to punch the screen every time the word truth appeared.

Although most Persona designs are good, most of them have been recycled from Persona3.

A mostly awful cast, no subtlety whatsoever, painful humour, an overrated soundtrack, a mishandled plot and decent, but not stellar, gameplay: Persona4.
I think you're overstating things.

It's hard for me to call the game derivative; the Persona series has a storied history of being about high schoolers who lead double lives. The persona designs aren't just lifted from P3, some of them go back to Nocturne. This is a good thing, because it means that they can put more and more models in the game... the old ones plus the new ones. Variety ain't bad.

"Truth?" You can't handle the truth? Er, sorry, couldn't help it. Repetition for the purpose of storytelling is as old as storytelling itself. Without it we wouldn't have Gilgamesh, Grimm's fairy tales, or any of thousands of other works using catchphrases or repetition.

Anyway, I'll admit that some of the cast got on my nerves (Chie's voice actor had to grow on me a long time before it didn't bother me), but P3 had, well, Fuuka. And Ken. Nothing's perfect.

Finally, about the end (see what I did there?)... The "good" ending is a little disappointing, but the "true" ending is... not. C'mon. Seriously. Go back and play the bonus dungeon at the end and say that it's disappointing. I was a little annoyed that the game tricks you into not getting that ending, but... once you get it, it's good. Plain truth.
comment #110 Draconis 27th Apr 09
1. I never said the game was derivative, I only said the concept was just a little bit, although I did find a lot of the overall structure to be very derivative, I just didn't get space to mention it. Also, since when were Maya, Ulala, Katsuya and Baofu high schoolers?

2. Who cares how far they date back? This doesn't change the fact that pretty much all of the designs appeared previously in Persona3, even if this wasn't their first appearance, which is still rehashing and unimaginative, and quite a few designs were used in the same position as before (Odin's still the ultimate Emperor Persona, Kohryu's still the ultimate Hierophant Persona). Also how can you praise them for variety, old and the new, when there's barely any new (by P3's standards)?

3. Gilgamesh has been around for millenia, Grimm's for centuries. Persona4 came out in the PAL region in 2009. Being Anvilicious may have worked back then, but now, in an age where subtlety and cleverness is vastly preferred, Persona4 is only annoying, blatant and unclever. Just because The Oldest Ones In The Book did it that doesn't make it excusable, namely because P4 isn't Gilgamesh or Grimm.

4. I actually didn't find Fuuka and Ken that bad, but by your logic, in P3 it's Fuuka and Ken. In P4 it's Main Character, Yosuke, Chie, Yukiko, Rise, Naoto, Nanako and most side-characters. That's a bit more than just two people, and believe me Chie's VA was the least of her problems.

5. Er, the true ending is exactly the same as the good ending, only with another big Boss to kill, symbolism derived from a completely stupid Japanese legend, a horrible rehash of an effective scene from P3 and the truth Aesop further shoved our throats. The "true" ending is... bad.
comment #113 Guest Of Dishonour 28th Apr 09
1. The flaw in your P2:EP cast listing is that P1, P2:IS, P3 and P4 had highschoolers as the main cast. 1 out of 5 makes it the minority. Even if you "ignore" the existence of P2:IS as it never came to the US, 1 out of 4 is still the minority.

2. They had noticeably more Hindu and Asian demons, most of the Greek/Roman ones were missing. So what if the top tier ones were the same what about the REST of the compendium? I admit I would like more variety but in all honesty I could care less. I liked how many new skills they put in though.

3. The main theme of P4 is not just truth, it's -hope-. Since you liked Teddie so much you should have been able to figure that out but I guess that subtly doesn't work on you because they didn't repeat it so much and used your coveted subtlety.

4. Difference of opinion, so I can't comment as much on that. I guess you find normalcy annoying. Maybe optimism or inherent character flaws (not caused by tragedy) is not your flavor of character but that doesn't make it a bad game or a bad cast.

5. Since you think the True Ending is the same as the Normal Ending I think you missed out on some of the subtlety. Same applies for the purpose of the Herring in P4. He is a disturbing foil as is the Killer if you put a little brain power into it.
comment #116 69.235.146.164 28th Apr 09
1. Yes, but it is proof that not every Persona game is about high-schoolers.

2. The rest of the compendium was pretty much the same too, I was just using the top tier as one example. Saying that over half the designs have been recycled is no exaggeration, I counted myself.

3. Never said it wasn't. However the main theme is mostly and primarily truth, and that was handled horribly, even if the one about hope wasn't. I will admit there were some occasions where "truth" was handled subtly, there just weren't enough of those and they didn't make up for all the times it was handled atrociously.

4. Normalcy is fine, trust me. I'd rather a cast of ordinary, everyday people in my Japanese RP Gs than the stock anime cliches we often get *cough*Tri- Ace*cough*. The problem with P4's cast is, as I said in the review, they were either obnoxious (e.g Chie, Yukiko) and/or boring (e.g protagonist, Yosuke, Rise, Naoto), plus Atlus tried too hard to make them relatable rather than just writing them and let the relatability (is that even a word?) flow naturally, thus I ended up hating the characters. Being unsympathetic brats does make for a bad cast. Also, since when did I say Dysfunction Junction was the only way to make a good cast?

5. The differences were you find out that Izanami/ Gas Station Attendant was behind it all, you enter Yomotsu Hirasaka and kill her (in a manner too reminisicent of Nyx's sealing), there's the Ghibli Hills thing, and then it's the same as the Good Ending. Also I never said anything bad about the Herring.
comment #126 Guest Of Dishonour 30th Apr 09
Alright, I admit "no subtlety whatsoever" was overexaggerating, but it never needed to be as Anvilicious as it was.
comment #127 Guest Of Dishonour 30th Apr 09
Wow, this review could practically define Hype Backlash.
comment #129 Rebochan 1st May 09
Er, yes and no. If it wasn't overhyped dramatically, I'd probably dislike this game just as much for all the same reasons, although I wouldn't hate it as much.
comment #134 Guest Of Dishonour 1st May 09
"Stupid Japanese legend"

I stopped reading there.
comment #160 Cybele 5th May 09
You know, he does raise a good point about the Character Development being relegated to Social-Links, seeing how said changes aren't reflected in the main game.

Seriously, they might as well didn't happen for all the good they do story-wise.
comment #167 201.214.176.234 5th May 09
"Alright, I admit "no subtlety whatsoever" was overexaggerating, but it never needed to be as Anvilicious as it was."

P3 - Everyone and the dog has had someone dear to them die and only by overcoming this fact do they magically "become better people." Save for one exception who had extremely lame interaction time, this is true for everyone in the game. vs

P4 - Who is causing this? Why is this happening? You ask questions and seek the answers. It's up to the player to figure it out and follow through on it (ooooh noes). You didn't even get the point of the True Ending so it's fairly safe to assume you just didn't play through it and if you did, the meaning flew over your head.

Also I fail to see who is the greater offender of "beaten over the head" themes here, they're about equal.

Also, yes it's true that the party's S. Links aren't reflected in the main story (save for Teddie's) but the question is how on earth would they be? On a partial side-note they "kinda" are reflected in-game. Go to the dungeon after it's clear and no one needs to be rescued and they chat about it, yeah it's minor but it's not like it's completely nonexistent.

TL;DR Oh god not another P3vs P 4.
comment #171 69.235.146.164 5th May 09 (edited by: 69.235.146.164)
When exactly did I praise Persona3 for not being Anvilicious? In fact, the only time I ever mentioned P3 was to say that the battle system's similar but with party control, the story borrows a bit from it, and a lot of the Persona designs appeared in both entries. Before you say "Oh god not ather P3 vs P4", just remember, you started it (unless that's what TL;DR means, I can never remember).

Also I got the point of the True Ending completely, but that doesn't mean I have to like it or think it was well done or that it meant anything to me.

Re: Cybele - By "stupid Japanese legend" (well, more a myth) I'm referring to the ancient Izanagi/ Izanami conflict, and that was ultimately stupid (exactly why did she even had to eat from Yomi in the first place?, among other things). Then again, apart from using some of it as inspiration for my own works I've never really thought much of mythology anyway, apart from as a part of others' cultures.

Bottom line, I did not like Persona4, I'm never going to like it and I'm not prepared to continue this conversation any further.
comment #172 Guest Of Dishonour 5th May 09
Who's saying you have to like it?

People are simply saying that your review seems to miss facts or exaggerate flaws.

I've not finished P4 yet, but I love it to pieces. I love the atmosphere, I like the characters (more depth than in most games I've played. Sure, they pale in comparison to some characters in novels and stuff, but this is a game, so I'm comparing it to other games.), I like the mystery, I like the battle system, and I love the changes that have been made since P3 (which I really didn't like as a game.)

To each their own, of course, but if you're going to criticize (or praise) something, you have to be prepared for criticism yourself.
comment #282 GDwarf 22nd May 09
How can you criticize the protagonist, a mere reflection of your own choices, to be boring. That's like being given a blank slate and saying that it bores you because you can't see what to do with it, yet appreciating another, slightly darker slate (obvious reference to P3's MC). Neither of them can be boring, and if they are, it's your own fault for not giving them a personality that you don't find boring. I'm not even going to argue with the other points, because you've said so much to invalidate your own points in my eyes that I just don't care anymore. Plus, this would get really rambly, like your review.
comment #505 Allhailthetv 29th Jun 09

comment #598 24.5.231.106 14th Jul 09
"A mostly awful cast, no subtlety whatsoever... a mishandled plot"

I am laughing so hard right now.

I found everyone in P4 likable, and most of the time when I play an RPG there is someone I hate with a passion. I found them more fleshed out than the characters in P3 from start to finish and the fact that there was no major personality swings (Yukari in The Answer, anyone?) only strengthens my liking for them.

"By "stupid Japanese legend" (well, more a myth) I'm referring to the ancient Izanagi/ Izanami conflict, and that was ultimately stupid"

Yeah I just hate mythology.

Overall your review seems harsh for no reason other than for the sake of being harsh. You make mountains out of molehills and mislead the reader to believe that you are hating on it more than you actually are (which can be noted with your comments).
comment #726 Razer 2nd Aug 09
I know nothing about Persona other than that my friend likes it and asked me to check it out.

From the Po V of someone who knows absolutely nothing about Persona, I didn't think that the reviewer was being overly harsh, judging merely from his/her word-choice and sentences etc. I did get the feeling that some naysayers were a bit too defensive about their own perceptions of the game...

Yeah.
comment #771 65.49.2.10 9th Aug 09
"A mostly awful cast, no subtlety whatsoever, painful humour, an overrated soundtrack, a mishandled plot and decent, but not stellar, gameplay"

hey what's with this baseless rambling? "mostly awful cast"?? Okay, just because they probably weren't to your liking, doesn't mean they're "awful". They had a personality and weren't all obnoxious, i mean seriously in your highschool years you were probably like that too. Sure a cliched cast as well~~ but every Jrpg has a cast like that. The humour was pretty nifty, though some a bit forced, and the soundtrack was likeable (overrated? No, not at all) Overall a very enjoyablle game (heck one of the most satisfying games ive played~ if you get through to the normal and true ending)

Youre review was mostly just rambling about little things that irked you. If you didn't like the game then why did you play it?
comment #898 Suzu 28th Aug 09
Youre review was mostly just rambling about little things that irked you. Well, duh. That's what most reviews do, although there's no rambling here.

If you didn't like the game then why did you play it? To find out if he liked the game, and apparently not as much as he would have liked to. He then decided to tell other people about his thoughts on the game. (To save them money? Seems kind of him.)
comment #899 Mr Lostman 28th Aug 09 (edited by: Mr Lostman)
"Sure a cliched cast as well~~ but every Jrpg has a cast like that. "

... That's one hell of a Logic Bomb you got there.
comment #902 Someguy 29th Aug 09
How on earth do you find the characthers in Persona 3 less boring?

their pretty much 1 line wonders we have

Junpei: Stupid guy Yukari: Naggy girl Misturu: Cool headded girl Akhio: Boxer who wants to be stronger Ken: token shota (why was that needed, anyway?0 Aigis: Token robot for people who have a fetish for emotionless girls

etc. Every characther in Persona 3 is just a dulla rchtype without any change or variety.

And how the hell is Person 3 less cliched than Persona 4?

Also if you don't think the gameplay of Persona 4 is awesome, how the hell did you endure Persona 3?
comment #2010 92.6.236.219 7th Mar 10
This entire comment chain seems pretty dumb and rapidly somewhat degenerated into a P3 vs. P4 defense

Reviewer did not like Person 4, and he took a pretty odd and venomous stance about it. That's all to see here, move along.
comment #5485 Katana 19th Dec 10
"every single playable character is either obnoxious and/ or boring"

Wrong.
comment #7260 PataHikari 13th Apr 11
"1. Yes, but it is proof that not every Persona game is about high-schoolers."

Majority rules. You can't just say what is not when the series is undoubtedly centered around high school students.

"2. The rest of the compendium was pretty much the same too, I was just using the top tier as one example. Saying that over half the designs have been recycled is no exaggeration, I counted myself."

FYI may I direct your attention to Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, Pokemon, Digimon, etc. Have you seen ANY of the games in question and not see a design recovered for later use? This game actually sets standards by having demons of the same class NOT be palette swaps of pre-existing monsters. If you ask me, that is an EVEN BIGGER gripe.

"3. Never said it wasn't. However the main theme is mostly and primarily truth, and that was handled horribly, even if the one about hope wasn't. I will admit there were some occasions where "truth" was handled subtly, there just weren't enough of those and they didn't make up for all the times it was handled atrociously."

The main theme was finding your true nature which is stated up front to you. Persona 1? "Be your true mind". That was the point. Why do you think the game is even called PERSONA to begin with? The overarching theme sets the game well and it gives it something to drive character development instead of dragging the plot along. The handling is actually very good and it only really becomes more of an anvil than a theme when you get to the final boss.

"4. Normalcy is fine, trust me. I'd rather a cast of ordinary, everyday people in my Japanese RP Gs than the stock anime cliches we often get *cough*Tri- Ace*cough*. The problem with P4's cast is, as I said in the review, they were either obnoxious (e.g Chie, Yukiko) and/or boring (e.g protagonist, Yosuke, Rise, Naoto), plus Atlus tried too hard to make them relatable rather than just writing them and let the relatability (is that even a word?) flow naturally, thus I ended up hating the characters. Being unsympathetic brats does make for a bad cast. Also, since when did I say Dysfunction Junction was the only way to make a good cast?"

The anime of the game. XD Now to be serious, this is just a bumped up version of Japanese life. There are exaggerations and there are eccentricities but for the most part, this is Japanese culture. As an English dude, of course this seems like an anime, BECAUSE IT IS BASED ON JAPANESE LIFE. For the most part, the character archetypes are based on their values and also are not MEANT to be characters for you to relate to. They are essentially perspectives, and the other part of the overarching theme, which is tarots. Obnoxious and boring? That in itself is also a major problem since this makes the review an opinion and not fact.

"5. The differences were you find out that Izanami/ Gas Station Attendant was behind it all, you enter Yomotsu Hirasaka and kill her (in a manner too reminisicent of Nyx's sealing), there's the Ghibli Hills thing, and then it's the same as the Good Ending. Also I never said anything bad about the Herring."

No it is not. Do you even understand the concept of endings? Play any actual visual novels before? The true ending is meant to resolve any unfinished ends. The other endings provide closure but does not tie up any loose ends
comment #7415 XATMOS 24th Apr 11
  • reading this*
I don't even wanna know.
comment #7679 Kiniest 14th May 11
Looks like the reviewer wasted a lot of his time.
comment #11106 VeryMelon 28th Oct 11
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