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A Pale Companion
Thankfully, being released three years after the original game, in 1999, left this game feeling a lot more modern. With many more, admittedly nowadays dated, CG cut scenes, and a permanent isometric perspective, stomaching Innocent Sin is a lot easier for the modern gamer.

The main gameplay of this game include traversing the town of Sumaru, killing demons, fusing cards to create new Personas, which are manifestations of the parts of your personality. The game this time follows Tatsuya as his past comes back to haunt him. The one gripe about the gameplay I have is that the final battle felt like no challenge at all even on the strictly numerical hard difficulty. By the end the, the numerous battles were a complete cakewalk. The dungeons were huge, labyrinthine, and a pain to navigate. One dungeon in particular early in the game was such a bad idea.

The story of this game, though, is that rumors are becoming reality and a mysterious entity named Joker is going around making life in Sumaru unbearable. Tatsuya Suou teams up with his school's resident beauty Lisa Silverman and their rival school's head hoodlum Eikichi "Michel" Mishina to get to the bottom of both mysteries. Personally, the characters were what I enjoyed most out of the game. There are lots of cameos from the first Persona, but for the most part your party feels like a lively circle or real friends.

And as with the former, this game is also pleasantly remastered. With new after-game scenarios taking place in cameo locations and English voice acting at important junctions in the story. Also pretty cool is the new option to play with the modern remixed music or the old school tunes from the original release, sure to please diehard P2 fans, of which there are more than you'd think.

The classic Persona themes and gameplay also return, which I enjoy. This time, the game is thematically tied to the poem Der Doppelganger, but the Jungian psychology that the mystic guide and main battle mechanic of the game is borrowed from are here in full force. Though, the Persona mechanics remain archaic, with many utterly useless or weirdly balanced, and you can get through the game mostly with the Personas handed out to your characters, the system is still interesting.

All in all, Innocent Sin is the first half of a whole narrative and one worth experiencing.
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Not truly great yet
Persona was in a slow evolution process for about ten years. The first one was a mess, a great story sabotaged by an ass-backwards first person view and nightmarish battles.

The second, my gateway drug, introduced the genesis of the Social Links, a permanent isometric view (thank you), a great interactive city, and a less rigid structure. Unfortunately, the battles are still pretty tedious. The encounter rate is high. The game starts out intimidatingly tough, but the sheer number of battles end up beefing your party to the point where you wipe out slews of enemies with the same Fusion attack ad naseum.

Curiously, there are like a hundred Personas to find and develop, but you can plow though the whole game with your starters. (And, later, the Greeks you get for free.)

The mazes are now third-person, but still bafflingly huge. You will dread those dead ends, not because of the difficulty, but because of the five million Nazis you will have to roast with Nuclear Blast before the story finally resumes. Sure you can run away, but it takes just as long as a two button command does. Fortunately there's an item which eliminates lower-level enemy encounters.

Which is too bad, because this is an epic storyline with great characters. It's like Chrono Cross if it had actually committed to eight of so of its crackpipe characters, and rolled with it.
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