This has been an interesting year for gaming. A pretty quiet year, to be honest. At least up to the end. Things have gotten pretty loud and insane over all the to-do with EA, and I have no sympathy for the. Last night we got to see everyone gush about Kojima’s latest game, but here’s my question – when are we gonna get to see gameplay? That’s my deal. Naturally, Nintendo had everyone fawning and gushing, but for me, It’s Sony who stole the show. My two favorite games this year were exclusive to them, and both were amazing. The margin for favorite game comes down to such a narrow margin that I had a hard time picking. But here it is. My totally important pick for best game of 2017.
Never in all my years did I think I would end up hearing the words AAA JRPG. This game had delay after delay, and man did it pay off. Never has my belief that I don’t care how long a game gets delayed, if they can make it perfect been vindicated. This game is a marvel of its genre. We live in an interesting time. We have AAA stealth games, AAA arena FPS games, AAA fighting games, and AAA survival horror games. The AAA market is learning that players have gotten bored with the same old thing every year. We want something new. And wouldn’t you know it, Atlus decided to make it happen.
This game is a masterpiece of the genre. An almost-perfect masterpiece. The center of it is the story and characters. I love every one of these characters, except Haru. She’s kind of dull. You have such a vast cast of characters that you can forge relationships with and then inevitably become either life-long friends or in some cases lovers with. The levels are fun and all, but I always was way more interested in finishing those up fast so I could spend time with my favorite characters. When I got to go through New Game Plus and develop all of my companion relationships and the rest of the cast, it made it so much more enjoyable. My biggest gripe with the game is that because the time system is so skewed, we don’t get to spend enough time developing our character and growing the confidant relationships. No such issue in New Game Plus.
Voice acting in this game is at the top of its game. Every character has such personality that bursts onto screen in the best ways. The Confidants should have just been boring subplots, but they’re not! With so much of Tokyo to explore, you can take people around and get to know them in different ways. So many permutations of interactions and places to see in different ways, it felt like I could never run out of things to do.
But the rest of the game is fantastic too. The battle system is clearly mapped to the controller and combat flows as smooth as silk. As you develop relationships with the confidants and companions, it affects your play style in a vast number of ways. But the pinnacle of each dungeon are the bosses. I love how unique and interesting every boss in this game is. No two is alike, and while some of the later ones drag on (the final boss is ridiculously long to fight, almost to the point that if you don’t have a fuck-ton of potions, it’s going to really suck), they are still a real test of your skill.
One thing I like is that making confidants and growing tight with them isn’t just a fun narrative to explore. There are real consequences to it in the rest of the game. Leveling up with companions allows you to trade characters with them, have them back you up during hold-ups, or even take a hit for you when you’re at your lowest point. Confidants can teach you things like how to trade out any character on the fly, customize your weapons, get better healing items, and become better at negotiations by getting leadership skills from a confidant who is a politician.
What’s more, the game has even more depth. See, some characters can’t be leveled up until you level up yourself. By paying attention in class, studying, and doing various activities, you can level yourself up. The sheer amount of stuff to do is amazing. It really wraps you up in the world of the game. I can take on a crazy burger challenge one night, hang out with a friend at the movies, and then see my girlfriend the next. So many options, except when the game takes away control from you. Again, ties in to my biggest gripe.
Finally, there’s the music. The jazzy tunes are the best! I have so much of that soundtrack on my iPod. So much of that gets stuck in my head. The woman they got to do most of the numbers is just amazing.
Overall, this game is a milestone for its genre. JRPG games are treated as just this niche thing that will never have a place in the rest of the market, but to have a game this good come from this genre, and for it to be a AAA title is just magnificent. Atlus did an amazing job, and I am eager to see what they come up with next.
Until next time, a quote,
“When I took you in, I thought I was the one helping you,but it turns out it was the other way around. Take care.” – Sojiro Sakura, Persona 5