The lights are on
In the PlayStation 2 era, role-playing games reigned supreme. It was nearly impossible to keep up, but I always finished off one and moved on the next seamlessly. Jumping from RPG to RPG started to take its toll. By 2007, it felt like I had seen it all, and RPGs weren't surprising me or doing anything that drastically different from the next. Then came Persona 3.
Persona 3 was a breath of fresh air. Seven years had passed since the last entry in this cult series, so I wasn't even sure what to expect. But when I loaded it up and saw the characters put the gun-like evokers to their heads, I knew this game would be drastically different. Watching regular people transform into coffins during the mysterious Dark Hour was like a warning: death is all around you. This entry also marked the debut of social links; chatting with classmates and locals became one of my favorite parts. What I loved so much about social links is how they represented so many different struggles and let you feel like you helped these people through the tough times.
Additionally, Persona 3 has one of the best RPG casts to date. I love the banter between Junpei and Yukari and how Akihiko and Mitsuru work so hard to be great role models. I dungeon crawled my way to about 88 hours my first playthrough. I would get so lost in the world and scenery of Iwatodai, with its realistic setup of everyday shops, a movie theater, and a night club. And doing the simple things like attending class only to get quizzed on the material and hanging out with friends on the weekends had a normalcy I appreciated.
I wasn't expecting the ending to hit me as hard as it did, as it struck hard about the human condition and how sacrifices happen for the greater good. Although as soon as I finished, I wanted to play again. Some social links are impossible to unlock on the first playthrough because they require certain personality traits at a particular tier. I waited until the FES expansion came out, since it featured bonuses like new scenes and the ability to take Koromaru for a walk and my save would carry over with my enhanced abilities. I anticipated getting through quicker this time around, but still put in an admirable amount of time, hovering around 77 hours. I'm glad I played again because I found my favorite social link: Mitsuru Kirijo; her story about standing up to her family and choosing her own path is admirable.
After experiencing all the social links, you would think I'd be done with Persona 3. However, when Persona 3 Portable came out, I played through it once again. I couldn't resist the opportunity play as a female character and chat up modified social links like Akihiko and Junpei. Call it being a completionist or seeking the thrill of battle and finding new personae to fuse, but I can honestly say Persona 3 ranks up there as one of the games I logged the most hours in. I'm not one who replays games very often, much less in short amount of time, but Persona 3 changed everything. How telling is it that I've ventured into Tartarus for close to 300 hours?
To this day, Persona 3 remains one of my favorite games. I still contend it has some of the best video gaming writing, and even as writing this piece I'm reminded of some of powerful moments like Chidori and Junpei's relationship and watching how all the social links came together at the end in your epic battle. And who could forget the music? Embarrassing tidbit: I still have dance parties religiously to "Burn My Dread."
Email the author Kimberley Wallace, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
I expect a lot of these articles to be RPGs.
Time Sink- Pokemmo
I've been playing this on my PSP.
I still need to get this game. -.-
Wonderful feature, and great choice for a time sink Kim! I too played the heck out of Persona 3, running through every release of it as well. I put maybe a good 400 hours into. I completely understand why you played it so much too; I'm right there with you!
I know next to nothing about the Persona series, but this article has fused my interest. Thanks Kim.
How could I forget about the Persona games as one of my favorite time sinks?! I've spent so much time running around Tartarus and the city doing the side quests and Social Links. ^_^
FES was my first entry to the Persona series this past October. I absolutely loved it, and got Persona 4 Golden as soon as it came out. I've sunk more hours into those 2 games than any other rpg
Wonderful choice, Kim! Persona 3 is easily one of the few games that I've logged at least a 100 hours or more. Persona 4 kind of ranks up there as well with about 80-90 hours. Love those two games! Other JRPGs that sunk time in is the "Tales of" games; I think I played Tales of Symphonia like 10 times. XD
This is my second favorite RPG ever (Higher up than Chrono Trigger, but lower than Persona 4: Golden), and I can totally see how it's a time sink. It took me 66 hours to beat it my first time on P3P, and that was with me being able to fast travel -a feature not found in the PS2 versions. The only reason that it's lower on my list than Persona 4: Golden is because everything is a bit extreme in P3. Everything seemed more human and understated in P4G, and yet it was somehow darker nonetheless. This is honestly my favorite series of all time once Persona 3 hit.
I just played Persona 4 a few months ago and it has to be one of the best and unique games I've played.
Just started playing again...Im playing both 3 and 4 atm.