Description official descriptions
A group of high-school students decide to play a ritual-like game called "Persona". Unexpectedly, they are knocked unconscious and have a vision of a mysterious being called Philemon, who bestows upon them the ability to call powerful creatures known as Personae. Afterwards, the students go to visit their sick friend, Mary. Once they exit the girl's room in the hospital, they see their home town has changed. They can't leave it, and it is infested by demons. At first, it seems that the giant Sebec corporation and its manager are the ones responsible for the terrible accident. But this corporation is not the only enemy the young heroes have to confront - they must look deep into their hearts, and perhaps find the truth there...
Persona is the beginning of a sub-series within the Megami Tensei universe, and one of the first Megaten titles to be released in the West. While overworld locations and battle screens in the game are isometric, the maze-like 3D dungeons are explored from a first-person perspective. Player-controlled characters fight randomly encountered demons in round-based combat, using melee weapons, firearms, or spells. As opposed to most other Megaten games, player-controlled party (up to five active combatants) consists entirely of human characters. Verbal communication with demons, however, still plays an important role in the game.
Each character possesses a unique set of four communication styles, e.g. insult, flattery, etc. The player may select combinations of various characters and their approaches during conversation with the demon. Depending on the player's choices, as well as the current Moon Phase, the demon may end up responding in one of the four emotional ways: anger, fear, joy, and interest. The last two types responses are beneficial to the player: the demon may give the party a useful item or a spell card.
If the player combines various types of spell cards, more powerful creatures (Personae) can be fused in a special location called Velvet Room. Personae act like equipment sets and can be attached to player characters, modifying their parameters, strengths and weaknesses, and teaching them new spells.
- 女神异闻录 - Chinese spelling (simplified)
- 女神異聞録ペルソナ - Japanese spelling
Credits (PlayStation version)
71 People (67 developers, 4 thanks) · View all
|Dungeon Graphic-Command Design|
|Dungeon Texture Design Assist|
|Command Design Assist|
|Persona Graphic-Effect Design|
|Map-Event Mode Planning|
|Map Graphic-OP/ED CG|
|Extra Scenario Event Planning|
|Event BG Graphic|
|[ full credits ]|
Average score: 72% (based on 11 ratings)
Average score: 3.0 out of 5 (based on 19 ratings with 1 reviews)
Persona is the starting point of a successful off-shot series of Megami Tensei (or simply "Megaten"), a stylistically unique franchise within the realm of a cliche-ridden, conservative genre. Unlike other Japanese RPGs, Shin Megami Tensei didn't choose to glorify simplified Ultima mechanics with "kawaii" aesthetics and hours of cutscenes. Instead, it honestly admitted its derivation from Wizardry and added demon conversation and summoning to the maze crawling.
Persona is somewhat of a compromise between the unusually dark, abstractly shaped Megaten and the more character-driven, accessible mainstream Japanese RPGs. There was always horror in Megaten games, but it was the horror of destruction, of the struggle between mythological powers, of human life turned meaningless in front of cosmic disasters. In Persona, a different kind of horror appears - the cozy horror of a small town, of a closed society, of our dark thoughts, of nightmares coming true. While the game ultimately doesn't succeed in creating a convincing horror atmosphere, it deserves praise for deliberately avoiding the cheerful tone of its genre brethren.
The game preserves many classic gameplay elements of the series. Unlike earlier Megaten games, you can't summon demons here, but you can "equip" a fused demon (called persona) on your characters, changing their parameters, strengths and weaknesses, and making them learn different spells. There are two kinds of weapons for every character - sword and gun, and therefore two types of attack that do different damage to different foes. Your position on the battle field matters, as you can't attack with a sword from a back row, and many spells are restricted to areas. The moon phase that influences the demon behavior is also still there.
There is one thing I like in the infamous English localization, and that is the reduction of random battles. Slow combat speed and enemies popping out after every few steps are a lethal combination indeed.
The gameplay of Persona just isn't very exciting. It feels more like a somewhat disjointed combination of different concepts than a really satisfying experience. In a way, this is symbolized by the game's choice of perspective: the transition between first-person 3D exploration and isometric battles is jarring, and neither mode is satisfying enough on its own to make it tolerable (unlike Albion, which had a similar problem). Combat is slow and unspectacular at the same time - something that single-handedly ruined many a Japanese RPG. There are some strange balance issues with overpowered spells on certain Personae that turn much of the game (even the harder Japanese version) into a cakewalk. Tiresome RPGs often triumph if their difficulty is high enough to challenge our competitive instincts, and easy RPGs can be saved by fast and painless battles. Sadly, Persona takes the worst out of both types.
The dungeons can absorb you for a while - at least they haven't yet turned into the dull, remotely viewed passages featured in the sequels. Yet they are long-winded more than they are intricate; in other words, they are complex just for the sake of complexity. There are no interesting tasks to accomplish, just crawling and never-ending series of random battles. Completing one such dungeon feels okay, but then it's just the same thing all over again. Naturally, like most other Japanese RPGs, Persona is linear, so you have to tackle the dungeons in one specific order.
The English version of the game is sadly known for its weird localization that took unnecessary liberties with the setting, attempting to replace Japan with USA and changing names and backgrounds of all the characters accordingly, going as far as painting a character's face brown to make him African-American. A bigger problem is the quality of the translation, which includes terrible phrases that even the most retarded students of English language would not utter. Spelling errors are common (for example, you often win in battles a stone called amethest). A good translator should possess sufficient knowledge about the contents of the original work. So if said work starts with a Zhuangzi quote, he should not translate the name of that famous Chinese philosopher as Soshi, which is merely the Japanese pronunciation. The localization also removes a side quest that contained a huge optional dungeon and a different ending to the game.
The Bottom Line
Persona is an interesting title that helps infuse Japanese RPGs with much-needed personality and original ideas. But the awkwardness of its design coupled with the increasingly outdated general mechanics of the genre make it lose to its more edgy Megaten predecessors.
PlayStation · by Unicorn Lynx (180476) · 2014
|Snow Queen quest||Donatello (453)||Jun 19th, 2009|
The American incarnation of Persona had some interesting and often major changes:
*Mark was originally Caucasian, the American artists changed him to African-American. His hat was also changed.
*Beer logos for two major American breweries were in the window of Yin & Yan corner stores. In the American version they were removed.
*Encounter rates were dropped down to about three to five times less than that of the Japanese version. The monsters caused less damage and took more. They also gave much more experience in the American version.
*An entire dungeon (the Snow Queen quest) was removed near the end of the game. This included an entire alternate path in the story, a new ending, several CG cutscenes, a new playable character, and a very sexually explicit demon. Reason cited by the company was time constraints. That would've gone double for players; the dungeon had a sixteen hour stretch between two save points! The Japanese version was also buggy in this "lost dungeon," rearranging party order and making members vanish during combat.
*The game was originally based in Japan, but the translators made an attempt to pass the setting as America. Certain cultural signs (the high school numbering system, standees in the drug stores) mark the setting as distinctly Japanese, however.
Related Sites +
Information about Persona at Wikipedia
- MobyGames ID: 4422
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Vance.
Game added July 2nd, 2001. Last modified September 28th, 2023.