235 Persona, On Being Rewarded With Narrative

The most successful trait of Persona 4: Golden, my most recent obsession, is its ability to reward the player at the right time with something meaningful.

The game has a consistent gameplay arc, that repeats about 9 times or so (if you get the true ending!). Something like:

  • Build relationships and improve your group’s stats through school work and meaningful interaction
  • Major story event happens related to the game’s overall plot
  • Explore the “other world” to solve a mystery, improve your persona’s abilities, and become stronger as a group
  • Fuse personas
  • Return to the real world, continue to build relationships, take exams at school… and repeat

And it’s a very successful flow of activity. But what makes this game so playable (for 90 hours the first time through!?), is what happens in-between these major events. You’ll find yourself going on a vacation to a beach with your friends, only to find the macho-man of the group show up in a tiny speedo. Then you’ll visit an inn to find out it might be haunted, to again find out it’s the sound of girl crying because they lost the beauty pageant you were at earlier that day. And so on…

These scenes are given out as narrative reward to the player. They are what you look forward to throughout playing the game. Some of them are even full animated cut-scenes, which are even more exciting!

I think it’s a unique aspect of the Persona series to focus on building character personalities so strongly that the player craves to know more and see more from them.

[ Today I Was Playing: Hand of Fate and Persona 4: Golden ]

August 23, 2015