Developed by Atlus, Persona 3 is somewhat of an unknown within the JRPG genre. The Persona series, a sub-series of the Shin Megami Tensei line of games, is spearheaded by its most popular title Persona 4. Although Persona 4 is a phenomenal game, it’s unfortunate that it overshadows its predecessors, leaving them high and dry in terms of popularity. Persona 3 isn’t the least-known game in the series but, for me, it is the most awesome.
Persona 3 is a Japanese role-playing social simulator with extremely dark and controversial themes. It follows the tale of an unnamed high school student and his friends as they form an investigation group under the guise of an extracurricular school club named SEES (Specialised Extracurricular Execution Squad) to uncover the truth about “The Dark Hour” – a strange 25th hour of the day only certain individuals are aware of. In this hour, monsters called “Shadows” roam the streets, feeding on the minds of unsuspecting human beings.
Members of SEES can summon Personas – a manifestation of their inner, true selves – to fight the Shadows. Persona 3 has been the subject of controversy because in order for one to summon their Persona, they must use an Evoker – a small, handheld device resembling a firearm, which once aimed at the temple and fired, draws out the user’s Persona. Some felt this contentious trope connoted suicide and this meant that it was shunned after its release – perhaps a contribution to the fact it is a lesser known game.
Persona 3 is most definitely my favourite video game of all time. Period. Paired with its inclusion of dark and contestable themes, and its fantastic style of gameplay, I really do believe that it deserves a lot more credit than it receives. Its successor, Persona 4, also deals with controversial topics such as murder and child mortality, but I think that Persona 3 takes a better approach when it comes to handling these kinds of issues. It is an emotional rollercoaster, and actually had me in tears at certain points making it a true heartbreaker – take that, Final Fantasy VII! The way that the characters manage to worm their way into your heart creating an emotional bond is something that many games simply fail to do.
If you’re looking for a game with a fascinating story to keep you on the edge of your seat, and make you shed a few tears that you don’t want to admit to, then Persona 3 is undoubtedly the game for you.
By Meg Bethany Read
Available from Amazon: Shin Megami Tensei – Persona 3 Portable (Standard Version)
*Ok, yes – we realise our ‘Awesome Unknown’ series doesn’t mean completely and utterly unknown games. But ‘Awesome Lesser Known’ just sounded a bit rubbish…