For the last few weeks, I’ve been absorbed in Persona 3. The fourth in the Persona series is usually credited as the one that left the biggest impact on its players (Leigh Alexander, “High School Memories”, Polygon, 4 April 2013), but, though I’ve only played halfway through its predecessor, I can’t imagine any game improving on Persona 3. It’s a truly excellent game, and it’s disappointing that it seems to often get lost in its successor’s shadow.
Persona 3 casts the player as a newcomer to a Japanese private school, where a hidden “dark” hour after midnight puts all but a few students into stasis. During this hour, cracks in the world open up and allow monsters to emerge and suck out people’s minds while they’re vulnerable. The power that the player character and his classmates uses to defend the town, their personas, grows as the player builds friendships with people in everyday life.