Hello and welcome to my liveblog for Persona 4, in which I'll be covering a playthrough of the game.
As you may know, Persona 4 is the fourth entry in the Persona series and a surprisingly lighthearted chapter compared to the rest of the series and the overarching Shin Megami Tensei franchise as a whole. I'm playing Golden, the Updated Re-release for the Playstation Vita, which adds a great deal to the game, including two new Social Links, an entirely new bad ending, modifications to some party members and their skills, and more.
This specific playthrough will be on Very Hard mode, and will not be in a New Game+. While it's fun to destroy enemies with Lucifer's Megidolaon, I often like the challenge of building up my levels, stats and Personas from scratch. Most spoilers will be unmarked unless they're things that are both significant surprises and far ahead of where we are in the liveblog.
With that out of the way, let's begin.
The game begins with a cinematic showing a blue limousine and Igor welcoming you to the Velvet Room, a place that exists between dream and reality. You're asked for your name, and Igor will give you a Tarot card reading- first the Tower in the upright position and then the Moon, also in the upright position, suggesting that you'll be faced with a disaster and a mystery you'll have to solve.
An introductory cutscene plays, showing "a totally unrelated 15-year-old girl in a bikini" in a TV commercial for Quelorie Magic (which is actually a non-combat recovery item in the game). Meanwhile, in also unrelated news, you hear a story about a council secretary named Taro Namatame cheating on his wife, Misuzu Hiiragi (who apparently kept her maiden name), and some vague yet disturbing glances at Mayumi's murder.
You then arrive at the station, where you meet your uncle, Ryotaro Dojima, and your cousin, Nanako. It's indicated that he has seen you before, but when you were a baby, and that you haven't met Nanako at all. Nanako's quite shy around you, and it'll clearly be a while before she gets to the point where she's saying "Welcome Home, Big Bro!"
If you're playing Golden, as I did, you'll encounter Marie, who helps you pick up the note with Dojima's address that she dropped, but brushes off your attempts to thank you for it.
You then go to a gas station, and find a gas attendant, who offers to pump the car while Dojima goes to smoke and Nanako goes to the bathroom (with the attendant ruffling Nanako's feathers with an unsolicited explanation of which way is right). The attendant says Inaba is boring, and that you'll be hanging out with friends or doing part time work (although contrary to what he says, the gas station is not an option, as you find out from an NPC later on). He gives you a handshake and you feel ill as a result.
Dojima gets back and notices that you don't seem well. He offers you the chance to walk around and see the shopping district's southern half. Apart from the Dojimas, you can talk to Marie, who seems a bit confused as to whether she saw you before, see Saki and Naoki Konishi having a dispute over the former eating the latter's snack, and see some stores you can't visit yet. You can also save your game.
Once you get home, the game switches to Evening. Exact times are rarely mentioned in Persona (except for midnight), but the general time of day is often shown.
- Early Morning: Before you go to school.
- Morning: Your commute to school, homeroom and morning classes.
- Lunchtime: Lunch at school.
- Afternoon: Afternoon classes.
- After School: The time after school when you can work on social links or do other things.
- Daytime: Your free periods on Sundays and holidays. Curiously enough, though, you only have time to do one time-consuming action.
- Evening: After night falls, ranging from dinner to nighttime activities to even watching the Midnight Channel.
In the evening, Dojima welcomes you to the house, but soon gets a call and has to leave, evidently being glad that he didn't drink alcohol with the meal. According to Nanako, he's a detective and this happens all the time. You then watch the news, which is mostly a repeat of the news about Namatame, his wife and his mistress, followed by a commercial for Junes that Nanako happens to enjoy.
At night, you can walk around the house, but you can't do anything of note. Nanako has nothing of importance to say, you can't check the weather, and the only food in the fridge is some fried rice, which does nothing if you eat it.
You then have a dream, in which you end up in a mysterious foggy hallway that turns out to be the third floor of the final dungeon, although the layout doesn't quite match, with a mysterious voic taunting you to lure you onward. After going through a door, you then start your first battle with a mysterious foe. You can hit it with attacks, but after a few rounds, the battle ends with another taunt from the voice.
You wake up and find Nanako there without Dojima. She serves up breakfast- the only thing she can actually make herself- and then mentions her father is at work. She offers to show you partway to your school, then leaves for hers.
On the way to school, you meet a male student, whose name is Yosuke, but you don't know that yet. Unlike most characters who get only a single placeholder name before their names are revealed, Yosuke gets six.
- Biking Student: When you first meet him
- Pained Student: When he has his accident.
- Bleak-Looking Student: When he gets to class.
- Cycling Student: When he goes up to Yukko after Mitsuo's failure at the Amagi Challenge.
- Rolling Student: When he gets stuck in a trash can.
Kinshiro "King Moron" Morooka comes in, and gives you the most insulting introduction he can manage. Virtually everyone chooses "You calling me a loser?" at this point, if only for the free Courage boost. This remark results in shocked reactions from the entire class (except Yosuke, who seems out of it). After taking a moment to put you on his "shit list," King Moron then goes on to discourage you from hitting on the girls, not realizing that there's no fewer than seven options who attend or will come to Yasogami in the future- four party members and three clubmates (two of whom are mutually exclusive in a playthrough).
As class ends, King Moron announces that the next day will feature normal lectures, but then an announcement comes over about an incident in the school zone, for the purpose of keeping the kids away from it. Naturally, almost everyone in class wants to check it out.
Chie walks over, introducing herself as the person sitting next to you from earlier. You can say you don't remember her for a funny remark. Chie then introduces you to Yukiko, her best friend, who's somewhat more shy and reserved in comparison. Take note of the fact that Persona 4, in its English release, chose to keep the Japanese honorifics in (but also uses "Mr." and all variants thereof at times, as well as English professional titles), so the fact that Yukiko and Chie refer to each other by their first names without honorifics indicates that they are very close friends.
Soon after, Yosuke comes by and tries to return a DVD to her, evidently trying to pre-empt her retribution. That completely fails, as when he tries to run off, Chie catches up to him, kicks him in the crotch and realizes that the DVD is cracked, just like Yosuke's privates are. Yukiko seems worried about him, which he appreciates, but Chie tells you to get going.
At the gates of the school, a creepy-looking boy from another school comes up to Yukiko and asks her out, but when she politely refuses (without fully understanding what he wants), he suddenly gets angry and runs off. Yosuke, evidently having recovered, comes up to Yukiko and mentions that she did the same to him- she's turned down so many that she's unwittingly started the "Amagi Challenge".
Chie and Yukiko walk home with you, with Chie being a bit surprised that you only transferred over because of your parents' jobs (Considering that the hero of Persona 5 got into trouble with the law, this comes off in an entirely new light). Chie mentions how Inaba's a bit boring, and there isnn't much there apart from the inn Yukiko's family runs, before mentioning Yukiko's popularity with the guys. Yukiko, obviously embarrassed by this, gets flustered and tries to deny it, inadvertently giving the impression that it's not true that she's never had a boyfriend.
By coincidence, the three of you end up accidentally stumbling upon the crime scene. Dojima introduces himself to the girls and while he seems to believe you that it was a coincidence, he also tells you to get going. His partner, a young detective named Adachi, runs by and throws up, inciting Dojima's anger and suggesting that if he keeps it up, he'll be transferred back to Central. For now, let's just say that Adachi's the last Chekhov's Gunman for a while, and that being transferred out of Inaba's probably what he wanted, at least at one point.
You can look around town, but there's only a few townspeople to talk to, and virtually every area has a police officer who suggests that you go home.
Once you do go home, you find out that Dojima's not coming home, and that the deceased is none other than Mayumi. The news report also gives you the first report about the fog that recurs throughout the game. You can also sing the Junes theme alongside Nanako, who's proud to have memorized it (and one day dances to it, too).
On the way to school, you see Yosuke, who has another accident, ending up headfirst inside a trash can. The worst part is that it isn't even the most spectacular display of his consistently bad luck throughout the game. Yosuke then properly introduces himself, and you have the chance to express sympathy for him or his bike.
In class, Yosuke offers to treat you, and when Chie demands that he pay her back for Trial of the Dragon, he reluctantly complies. Chie invites Yukiko, but she passes, since she's concerned about her weight, and she has to help out at her inn. Yosuke's impressed, but Yukiko tries to downplay what she's doing, saying that she's just helping out during a busy period.
Yosuke takes you and Chie to Junes, and it turns out that Yosuke's the son of the store's owner, who moved to Inaba to manage the new branch of the Mega Corp. six months ago. Yosuke seems to have a more favorable view of the chain than most of the town does, since some local merchants blame them for driving them out of business. Yosuke insists that Junes isn't entirely to blame, which seems to suggest that while he doesn't enjoy having to move to Inaba, he doesn't hate Junes.
Yosuke then spots a girl he recognizes and walks over. The girl is Saki Konishi, daughter of the owners o the local liquor store and apparently the object of Yosuke's unrequited affections (as well as apparently the only named third-year student). She engages in a bit of good-natured teasing, apparently to get over the stress that she's been under lately. Chie also teases Yosuke about his love for her and suggests that he look into the TV screen at midnight on a rainy night- known as the Midnight Channel- to see his soulmate.
At home, you see Saki on the news, although no one except Dojima seems to recognize her. The show then mentions that the storeowners are worried about losing customers, and Dojima mentions that if anything, the media coverage is more of a problem. A commentator complains about the police's inability to find a suspect. A commercial for Junes comes on, and Nanako asks Dojima to go, but he's asleep.
At midnight, you go up to check out the Midnight Channel, resulting in a surreal experience that apparently involves you witnessing Saki's final moments, almost getting pulled in yourself and falling backwards, waking up Nanako. I tend to skip this cutscene, and often fastforward through the rest of the Slow-Paced Beginning.
On the way to school, you encounter Chie, and after a brief Together Umbrella situation, you promise to discuss things more in detail.
In class, Ms. Sofue, a teacher who wears an Egyptian headdress, gives a lecture, and asks you what the year before 1 AD is. Since they haven't invented 0 at the time, and there aren't negative numbers, the correct answer is 1 AD. Doing this question correctly gives you a bit of Knowledge, while answering one for someone else(Yosuke, Chie and very rarely Yukiko) gives you Expression and relationship points with them.
After school, Yosuke's a bit hesitant to talk, but Chie reveals that Saki is the one who found the body. Chie's also quite confused about her soulmate being a girl, but the one thing she, you and Yosuke are sure about is that you all saw the same person. Chie and Yosuke laugh at your story about the Midnight Channel, but then segue into how Chie needs a new TV, and Yosuke offers to take her shopping.
While Chie's shopping with Yosuke, you put your hand into a TV and, through a chain of events, everyone accidentally falls inside. You have the opportunity to ask if everyone's OK for Understanding points. While most dialogue choices outside of Social Links don't have any major consequences, it's nice to see some that occasionally do impact gameplay, since it keeps you on your toes.
You then begin your first foray into the TV world, finding yourself in a foggy area that serves as a Hub Level for your dungeon expeditions, and finding your way into a creepy bedroom with pictures of a woman in a kimono with her head cut off, a scarf tied into a noose and other such things. I mostly skip over this part on subsequent playthroughs. Meanwhile, Yosuke's more worried about his Potty Emergency, which underscores that the protagonists still think that the only dangerous part about the TV World is that you apparently can't leave.
On your way out, you find a strange creature in a clown suit known as Teddie who informs you that it's not safe there. He doesn't know what to call the world, but he does know that he's lived there for all his life- an undetermined period of time- and that humans don't belong there. He offers to get you home, but after summoning the TV portal, makes it clear that you don't have a choice when he shoves you through.
Outside, Chie and Yukiko are surprised that it's already the evening, since they recognize the sale that's going on. It's an interesting bit of Show, Don't Tell without saying the actual time. Meanwhile, you see pictures of the woman from the TV with her head on, and recognize her as Misuzu Hiiragi.
You return home exhausted and late for dinner. Dojima asks you if you know about Saki, whom he says has gone missing. Meanwhile, the news reports tell about the oncoming fog.