For someone who loves the Persona series so much, it’s unfathomable that I still haven’t beaten Persona 5. Really, it took the P3 and P5 dancing games to come out earlier this month to reignite my interest in picking P5 back up.
So right now, I’m about halfway through my year at school (and thus, the game itself). I’ve just completed the final team member’s palace, so I believe I’m about to enter the next act of the game. Given the reliance of these palaces to date, I’m interested to see how they use them when it’s not for a team member. With any luck, I’ll be finished by the end of January.
Persona 5 was probably my most anticipated game of 2017. I was still on a high from recently discovering Persona 3 and 4, so my excitement for P5 was unlike any other game release, expect for maybe the Witcher 3. Sadly, it was pushed back a few weeks closer to my move, so I really wasn’t able to savor it as much as I would have liked before packing it up. As a result, my interest waned. I still haven’t beaten it. I just recently picked it back up, actually. Now that I’m playing again, I’m kicking myself for not returning to it sooner.
What I like about it
Seeing Persona on the big screen (P3 and P4 were played on handhelds) has been great. I’m really enjoying the updated mechanics found in past past games, but better refined for the current consoles. There’s a ton to do and the pacing never really lets up. The puzzles in the dungeons have been clever but not too difficult. The battle system has been updated and is a lot of fun to work with. The confidants you meet to improve your social status are unique and funny most of the time. The music is fantastic, of course.
What’s maybe not so great
I hate to say it, but when I’m playing P5, my mind tends to wander back to P3 and P4. It may be a case of “you never forget your first time,” but there’s something off about P5’s characters and story. I’m not as engaged with them like I was in older games. I’m using them in battle more for their abilities than I am because I really like them as characters. Maybe I built P5 up in my head more than I should have leading up to its release. I hear it gets a lot better as you go along, so I still hope I can find that connection that made P3 and P4 so engaging.
While I’m not as enraptured with P5 as I was with P3 and P4, I’m still having a lot of fun playing it. I hope this will change as I continue to play it because it really is a great overall experience. If anything, it makes me want to go back and play P3 or P4 when I eventually do beat it.
What it is Horizon Zero Dawn is a post-post-apocalyptic third-person action role-playing game. You play as Aloy, and you spend your time trying to discover who your mother was or is, all the while saving the world and overthrowing diabolical plots. You know, standard video game stuff. The main combat situations revolve around battling mechanized animals, with standard human fighting filling in during many of the actual quests.
What I like about it
First, Horizon Zero Dawn looks absolutely gorgeous. I would say it looks even better than the Witcher, which is high praise. Traversing from biome to biome is always breathtaking. The added weather effects really get in your way as you make your way around.
The general story idea has been done before in other mediums, but it really hooked me in Horizon Zero Dawn. I went from very little interest in playing before launch to instantly hooked after the first fifteen minutes or so. The story takes you on a journey not only for Aloy, but also for humanity’s past as well. Digging around in the ruins and finding old data logs has been immensely rewarding, much like the audio logs were in the first Bioshock game.
The combat mechanics are wonderful. I’m not much for bows or sniping in games, but there’s nothing better than taking dead aim and letting loose on HZD’s various enemies. The different weapons and ammo types have been really fun to play around with as well.
What’s maybe not so great
Though I really enjoy the story, the way they’ve broken it up in terms of progression has been slightly annoying to me. Just when I think I’m entering the final section, they throw a little twist in and then make me traipse halfway across the map to essentially repeat the process for a few more nuggets of information. Maybe my patience just can’t handle longer games anymore, lol.
I really had no interest in Horizon Zero Dawn up until about a week prior to launch. I’m not super into science fiction that relies on a deconstruction of technology and humanity. I’m not a big fan of Planet of the Apes, for instance. Thankfully, the few videos I watched beforehand managed to change my mind and take a chance. HZD scratches similar itches in me that the Witcher has. It certainly won’t dethrone the Witcher in any way, but it has been an enjoyable substitute when I don’t feel like playing a fantasy game.
The worst, or most disappointing, game of 2016 for me goes to Final Fantasy XV. It’s a real shame too, because I was really looking forward to it, and I had a decent enough time in the first few hours of playing it.
Since I hadn’t played any of the past games, except for maybe an hour of the first one back in the day, I was coming into FFXV completely fresh. At its base game level, FFXV is a buggy, disjointed mess. While it plays mostly fine, I found the story was extremely patchy. I had a group of companions with me for the 15-20 hours I played and I still can’t tell you all of their names, even though they loved saying them every ten seconds. They became a bunch of babies at times too, which made me cringe until they finally made up. Bromance was in full effect…
The final straw was encountering a game freezing bug during one of the many gameplay stages I typically hate in video games. It was stage where you have to defend something with a health bar while trying to take out a ton of enemies. I really dislike this mechanic in games, as it removes a lot of the control you would normally have. So not only was the stage not enjoyable (common), but the freeze that happened near the end of the stage (that then forced me back to the beginning when I checked my game save) was enough for me to quit and delete the game entirely from my system.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever played a game where the buildup of bile and dislike for said game was so evident as it was while playing FFXV. Maybe it’s because I’ve been playing the Witcher so much that made all of my personal gripes more obvious. Whatever the case, I’m really bummed FFXV didn’t turn out to be a better experience for me.
Persona 4 Golden is probably my favorite game of the year, though it was technically released a few years ago. I started playing it in January after finishing the spin-off P4 game Dancing All Night (which is also great). Though the gameplay is fairly repetitive, you’re basically dungeon diving for each of your team members most of the time, it’s the story and overall immersion that drew me in.
For P4, you’re attempting to solve a series of murders taking place in a small town you’ve been shipped off to for a year. Along the way, you meet new kids at school who will eventually become part of the investigative team. The big hook to the Persona games is the need to form social links with people you meet over the course of the game. Each person you connect with has a side story that when progressed, strengthens your ability to form new Personas, which are the beings you use to fight with in battle. Battles can be pretty tough, so developing new Personas with stronger abilities is a must.
You get to know your friends and people of the area pretty intimately throughout the game, so when it ends, it tugs at the heart strings a bit. I wouldn’t say I cried at the end of Persona 4 Golden, but I was definitely a little sad when the train pulled away from the station with my character on it.