Persona 4 journal - entry two

I’m really digging the balance of characters and their respective roles so far. They’re all clearly specialized, but still decently flexible, which is highly appreciated. I’m starting to get the hang of fusing personas too, opting not to have much overlap in abilities if possible (I mean, what’s the point of having two or three personas for my main characters that all do basically the same thing?). The prospect of having the protagonist interact with party members, schoolmates, and others around town is a unique way of advancing your strategies and abilities, and makes the ‘social simulator’ side of things strategic as well. You’ll have to pick your battles between work, school activities, and hanging out with friends, because you simply can’t do them all every week.

I like the concept of the bonus ‘chance card’ found behind some persona cards after a battle, but the actual application of some cards seems quite lopsided. The cards can all be drawn face-up or face-down – the former granting the player a benefit and the latter doing the opposite. That said, a bonus like gaining more experience points from battles for a brief period does you better in the long run than having the entire map of a dungeon exposed for a brief period. Likewise, having your party members’ health bars drained to near-zero, while annoying, is easy to remedy, whereas a sudden shift in enemies gaining preemptive strikes (or advantages, as they are referred to in Persona 4) for a brief period can actually put you at a major disadvantage quickly - the more attacks your foes can get off immediately, the longer you have to wait to counter or heal up.

While the general floor layout of the dungeons are similar to older Final Fantasy titles and similar RPGs, I consider their aesthetic designs to be one of the game’s highest points. Sure, Yukiko’s Castle was typical fantasy JRPG fanfare, but it was colorful and just plain fun to explore. Meanwhile, Kanji’s Bath House is ridiculously silly, but also one of the freshest ideas I’ve encountered in the genre in a long while. And that’s something I’ve felt about the game as a whole – it takes a lot of classic staples of the JRPG genre and gives them new twists, some more drastic than others.

P.S. - While I really like Persona 4's battle system, I could do without Teddie's narration. He states the obvious, freaks out when my health drops even a little bit or one of my party member's defense drops, and is just an all-around obnoxious character.

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