Reviews: Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

Story Review

Note: I suck horribly at fighting games, so I have no right to review the gameplay of this one.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is not only the continued story of the first Arena, but also a sort of Grand Finale to both the P3 and P4 storylines and characters. So how does it hold up?

Well, firstly, when I played the P4 story, I was very disappointed. The plot is pretty much your bog-standard Tournament Arc, with a villain who tries but fails to elicit sympathy, and a Big Bad who suffers from "King Sombra Syndrome" ( Generic Doomsday Villain who does a lot of plot-affecting things off-screen but when actually fought, he's killed pretty anticlimactically.) But really, the only reason I bothered with the P4 story in the first place was to unlock the P3 one. Being a fan of P3 more than 4, I was eager to see all the characters from that game finally return. So, I get to the P3 story and...

To my surprise, I find a VASTLY better-handled plot. And I don't want to sound like I'm biased here: this isn't because I'm more a fan of P3 than P4, it's because I genuinely feel the story is better-written on this route. Instead of just being "go here, fight this Shadow, keep going, repeat", there's an actual plot. It has development, mystery, tension, and gives everyone a chance to shine, even a certain Enemy Without that isn't seen AT ALL in the P4 side...

Sho's character is a HUGE improvement over the P4 story. He actually gets enough screentime to fully establish his motives. His flimsy excuses ARE called out as such. His past with Ikutsuki gets explored (Ikutsuki as a villain in P3 was severely underused, I'm glad he gets more fleshed-out posthumously), and the reasons for Minazuki existing are explained. He's developed via Not So Different comparison with Labrys, and he comes off as less of a Karma Houdini in the end.

We actually get to see what happens while the shadows are flooding the tower, with characters rushing to rescue those still in the town, and the subplots never feel like they're in the way. And I really like what they did with Ken. Before, I could kinda see why he was hated. Now, he's one of my favourite characters, due to the interesting Deconstruction of the Adorably Precocious Child and Kid Hero tropes.

It still has its flaws, which I don't have time for here. Unfortunately, it seems like the P4 route is canon.