Persona 5 is a goddamn slog

Phantom Thief

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For me, the most anticipated anything ever has been Persona 5- I waited eight long years for it, I obsessively followed media, news updates, rumors, speculation, everything for it. I watched the same trailers as many times as I could, I pored over the soundtrack, and every single delay (four of them!) to the game's release killed me a little on the inside.

The long, torturous wait for me came to an end on 4/4/17, when, at long last, I got to play the follow-up to what was at that point (and may still be) inarguably the most important game in my life, ever, period.


My feelings towards Persona 5 are extremely mixed. When I started playing it, I was unhappy for the longest time- to be clear, the first 10 hours or so. The first palace of the game is absolutely terrible in just about every way (it's not complex enough to be engaging, not simple enough to be completed by a disengaged player, not short enough to not matter), and the pacing was an utter, total, absolute disaster. A lot has been said about Persona 4's slow start- but in the end, i think I prefer Persona 4 not giving me much control for the first few hours over Persona 5 giving me control, but then railroading me, because to me, the latter situation is a lot more frustrating. If you give me control, cede control to me- don't give me control to give me the illusion of agency, and then proceed to railroad me and get me to do what you want.

Happily, I started to really come around to the game by the second palace- it opens up then, it lets me do what I want, and the story kicks into gear, too. I proceeded to love the hell out of the game from then on through to the end, and by the time I was finished, I was so happy that I promptly declared that it was my favorite game of the year, beating even BotW, which I thought could not be beaten.

I did take a bit of a break from games after it- playing BotW and P5 (both of which I had been waiting for for years, and which are both enormous games) burned me out. However, after a few months, I decided I wanted to replay Persona 5. This was not the best idea in the world. This is when the cracks and flaws in the game began to show.

Multiple problems immediately begin to become apparent to me on a playthrough. In order to keep things short (because this would be a really long thread otherwise), I'm going to list them out as bullet points:
  • The pacing of this game is an utter disaster. To me, this is the most inexcusable flaw any story can ever have. There's no consistency to the flow of the story, it hits the ground running, slams headfirst into a brick wall, slowly begins to pick up, gathers momentum, hits a brick wall again, continues gathering momentum as if there was no dip in pacing, builds to a conclusion, grinds to a halt to put you through a protracted gauntlet, has an extended coda with some extremely unnecessary story developments, and then ends. This is not how a good story should be structured, and it is frankly exhausting. The pacing exacerbates, and is further exacerbated by, a second issue this game has:
  • It is too damn long. It is a game that does not know how to end. It outstays its welcome. An average Normal mode playthrough of Persona 5 is 90-110 hours long. That's absolutely ridiculous, especially because so much of it is unearned. The game is replete with padding- characters repeat 5-10 minute long conversations all the time, you are spontaneously railroaded without reason because the game decides it is necessary, some dungeons are unnecessarily long, the final gauntlet is absolutely ridiculous, and most importantly, once the true final boss is defeated, the game proceeds to go into an extended epilogue where literally nothing of consequence happens.
    Joker is imprisoned (for reasons that are never made fully clear, this is necessary to indict Shido), and then he is... released from custody. So what was actually the point of him being arrested in the first place?
  • Related, but the game likes to undermine a lot of its own plot developments. The most egregious example of this is not one, but two death fakeouts near the end- the first one feels poignant and almost well earned (and I do feel if it was not a fakeout, the character involved would have had a better arc overall); the second one is absolutely cheap, comes five minutes after the game assures you the character is gone, and cheapens a lot of the message the game intends to sell you on in the first place
  • Repetition. There's way too much repetition in the game. Characters have an important conversation that excruciatingly explains and lays out everything that happened- while I am not a fan of the tell, don't show form of storytelling, I recognize it is endemic to a lot of Japanese media, and Persona games in particular, so I'm fine with that. But then they proceed to have that conversation again. And again. And again. And again. They drive the point home by hammering you over the head with it, and by the end, you are groaning when Ryuji, Ann, and Yusuke start discussing the mysterious masked interloper that Madarame talked about in the Metaverse for the fourth time straight.
  • The game unnecessarily restricts the player in the name of storytelling. So, for example, take dungeons- you will end up spending at minimum four days on every dungeon, no matter what. You spend one day for recon (this is a story event, it cannot be skipped), one day at minimum going through the dungeon, and then you send the Calling Card, and... for some reason, you skip that day, and you also skip the next day, which is dedicated to the boss fight and nothing else. Why does the Calling Card take two days? Why can it not take one day? Why can you not send it in the morning and then fight the boss later in the day? Or if the plot demands that you send it a day before the actual fight, why is the day you send the calling card locked out? You don't go into the Metaverse, but all Social Links and side activities are also locked out. Why? This is especially problematic because
  • The game randomly decides to lock you out of its wealth of side activities without cause or explanation. There are multiple nights when Morgana will refuse to let you go out without any proper cause, and restrict what you can do during the day. This further limits the time you have to actually go out and do things. This is another problem because
  • Relative to the amount of things you get to do, Persona 5 offers you the least amount of time to do them compared to 3/FES/4/Golden. It adds more to the sense of being railroaded, and removes agency further
  • Actual palace design is wildly variable. The second palace is great, the fourth is fantastic, the sixth is a highlight; meanwhile, the first one is trash, the fifth one almost made me want to quit, the third and seventh ones are good but way outstay their welcome, and the final challenge is... well, you know what, I'll excuse that because, again, it's end game, so whatever.
  • The writing is weak, the translation is a mess, and there are some jarring story elements (the story is about rebelling against conforming to society, the themes are about that, and then the game proceeds to make fun of gay people. Real classy).
Now, with this said, I need to be very clear: I actually love, adore Persona 5. My name, my avatar, that should make it very clear. Actually, I love Persona 5 so much, it's one of my top three favorite games ever. I love its sense of style, I love its soundtrack, in spite of some problematic elements, I love its core theme, which has energized me and has incredible resonance with me; I love most of its characters, I like the story and where it goes, I think in terms of gameplay, it is the best the series has been. It's going to be a frontrunner for my Game of the Year.

But I am capable of loving something and seeing its flaws, and Persona 5 is full of them. I think that, objectively, it is a step back from 4 Golden in gameplay terms (the one area where it is indisputably better is dungeons, and that's it). 4 was better paced, integrated its character arcs into the main story far better, balanced the time resource management with the amount of things on offer the best, and never became as overbearing in general as 5 does.

So, I love Persona 5- it's a fantastic game. But it had an eight year long, fractured development cycle, and I think in many ways, that shows. I really hope a Persona 5 Rebellion or whatever comes along- polish up the problematic elements, and you will have what might be the best game ever created if you do. Until then, you're left with something that can be one of the greatest, but there's too many flaws that many will just check out of the game rather than put up with its bullshit.
 

purseowner

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,332
This is a great write-up.

Pleased I'm not the only one who

A) Thought the first dungeon was terrible compared to what followed

B) Is more in love with the stylings and OST than the meat of the game itself.

Persona 3 still king for me.
 

Ex-Psych

Member
Oct 25, 2017
742
What a long post. You should go to bed.

-Morgana

Great post. I agree with most of your points.
 

delSai

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Oct 27, 2017
1,363
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Even when i skipped all encounters, cutscenes and fastforwarded all dialogue in my second playthrough to get the remaining trophies it still felt like it was 60 hours too long.
It's a weird game and as more time passes i dislike it more and more. Had so much hype for it but man couldn't it live up to it. P4G won't be beaten i guess.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,592
How you can deem something to be a slog but it still be in your personal top 3 is not something I can comprehend (yes, even in spite of your OP)

I bought the game on releaae day and got stuck in palace 1 and never picked it back up. Hated the fact that enemies respawn right after you leave an area. Prolly will dip back in over the holidays.
 

luulubuu

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Oct 25, 2017
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I swear to god, every damn thread about P5 makes me to play P4 even more.

I agree, P5 has tons of flaws, is still a good game but,
 

Heckler456

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Oct 25, 2017
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I'm gonna finish it up at some point, but it'll take a while.

Mind you, the same happened with Golden - that took me like a year to finish too.
 

KZXcellent

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Oct 25, 2017
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This is just another reminder of the passion people end up having for games their series as a whole. You can put so much work writing about your issues with the game convincing someone you really don't enjoy it and by the end say "I really do like it."

It shows how passionate people can be about the games they enjoy. They end up being more critical and are sensitive to the game's failings more than the average person would.

For me I enjoyed the game thoroughly. With my only issues being the "go to bed" railroading and the plot developments before the Spaceport palace. I guess I'm a bit more accepting or ignorant to things because I see fans of the series complain about writing and pacing with P5 often but I never had much of an issue with it.
 

Sulik2

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Oct 27, 2017
3,168
I'm in the middle of October and I completely agree. Every dungeon is too long and the pacing is absolutely glacial. I'm 70 hours in and I like the characters enough I think I will slog through it, but I was really expecting better dungeons then persona 4 and they are still just overlong and monotonous.
 
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Acquiescence

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Oct 26, 2017
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The slog for me was 3. I got halfway through it before I had to quit, because the story had still not taken off and scaling the tower was pure monotony.

4 and 5 on the other hand were obscenely long games that I had a great time with from beginning to end.
 

Valonquar

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Oct 28, 2017
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noitsthechildrenthatarewrong.jpg
If you didn't know you were signing up for a visual novel with an RPG tacked on I don't know what to tell you.
 

Filament Star

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"It is too damn long. It is a game that does not know how to end. It outstays its welcome. An average Normal mode playthrough of Persona 5 is 90-110 hours long."

I'm not disputing that the game is too long, I think it absolutely is. But how did it take people 90-110 hours to beat it? My first playthrough clocked in at ~75 hours, and I did basically everything (almost all links maxed, all mementos quests, social stats maxed, etc.) I don't know where there's room for anyone to spend another 20-30 hours with it. That's a lot of time.
 

Nora

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Oct 25, 2017
1,659
I didn't finish it but agree with all of what you said as far as I got (about 50 or 60 hours, I finished the 5th palace). Terrible pacing, uninteresting dungeons for the most part, a story that has no understanding of its own themes, dull characters, really gross homophobia and sexualization of female characters (despite the first story arc being about how it's bad to sexually take advantage of minors.....). Only I don't love this game, or think it's fantastic. I would think it's just extremely dull were it not for the mishandling of its core themes. The problems are very bad, but the writers of Persona 5 are perfectly happy to contribute to their causes. It pushes the game into being contemptible, to me.
 

Thrill_house

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Oct 27, 2017
4,685
Other than Morgana forcing me to go to bed and losing massive amounts of time to it and the fact that the last few months of the game you don't even really play, I really enjoyed it. I liked it more than 4 but a little less then three. 4 was just too goddamn bright and poppy I guess you could say.
 
Gonna keep repeating myself. Lol

Kamoshida Arc is one of the best experiences. That includes the intro AND the conclusion of that arc.

Yeah, the Palaces do drag but fighting is so stylish and fun that I didn't mind... that much.

There's various plot heavy things that should've be different... like Goro Akechi.

Soundtrack only has a few songs I like.

Love the cast.

Early P5 is best P5.

Joker is awesome.

Morgana is awesome.
 

Imp the Dimp

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Oct 25, 2017
4,270
Yes, it is. Worst paced game I have ever played honestly. Took me almost 9h of reading anime crap between dungeon 2 and 3 I think. Out of the 50h so far I'd say ~40% were dialog.
 

CellarDoor

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Oct 27, 2017
316
As a person who adores 4 and thinks 3 is even better I just can't bring myself to buy 5 yet.

Should I just wait for this mythical "crimson" version that's been touted. Which would fix allegedly a lot of the brokenness and slog of 5. Or should I just jump headfirst into 5 anyway?
 

Enforcer

The Fallen
Oct 27, 2017
1,329
It is. There's something about this one that just makes me feel fatigued.

The previous ones were slow but I was compelled to keep playing and finish the games. This one I couldn't.
 

SecondNature

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Oct 25, 2017
6,456
I gave up around or after the desert level.

Absolute slog that killed my interest. Might get back into it but I have no idea if I can
 

Cyclone

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Oct 25, 2017
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The Cyclone State
I absolutely love the game, and it's my GOTY, but I agree with some of your points. The game is way too long, and lacks variety in missions. Whereas with 4 Golden I hated that all the dungeons were the same, with 5 I love the unique dungeons but hate that the task is exactly the same in each.

My initial playthrough, which I just finished, was 99 hours.

That being said, amazing game.
 

Cisce

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Oct 25, 2017
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B) Is more in love with the stylings and OST than the meat of the game itself.

Persona 3 still king for me.
I pretty much feel this way too. Big fan of Persona 3 & 4 and the SMT series in general, but I found it extremely hard to finish Persona 5. The game just didn't want to end and I felt that the story was way too long and sloppy. The OST and visual style of the game (designs, menus, animations etc) are amazing though, it's just a shame that I have no intention to ever play this game again.

Also, there is no reason why this game had to be 90-110 hours long.
 

Council Pop

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Oct 27, 2017
1,241
This is a very interesting thread. I haven't played the game, but want to (will hold out for a few years in case of some sort of Switch version, and if not get it cheap on PS4 and play as much as I can manage).

This thread does seem to confirm some of my fears about the game, but I also think it's perhaps unwise to replay such a repetitious and long game just a few months after first completing it.
 

Soul Skater

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Oct 25, 2017
5,349
I'm probably more down on it than any other game I'd still give like a 9/10 or even higher if I had to score it. But that's the standard I hold Persona to I guess.
 

Viale

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Oct 25, 2017
1,569
I liked it more than the preceding personas by a notable margin, but I can see where you're coming from. It's definitely a game you have to buckle in for and the length while a bit on the more obscene side didn't bother me. Ultimately, it still scratched the persona itch for me in just the right way, and it's probably my favorite game as a result.

I will admit though, while p4g made me more excited for another persona in a similar style, persona 5 makes me hope for something radically different going forward.
 

Azoor

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Oct 25, 2017
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This is a great thread that explains the flaws of Persona 5, I enjoyed the game, but man it could have been much more.
 
OP
OP
Phantom Thief

Phantom Thief

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Even when i skipped all encounters, cutscenes and fastforwarded all dialogue in my second playthrough to get the remaining trophies it still felt like it was 60 hours too long.
It's a weird game and as more time passes i dislike it more and more. Had so much hype for it but man couldn't it live up to it. P4G won't be beaten i guess.
I think for me, it is the opposite. The more time I spend away from it, the more I like it. Put simply, I like the idea of Persona 5 more than I like actually playing Persona 5.

"It is too damn long. It is a game that does not know how to end. It outstays its welcome. An average Normal mode playthrough of Persona 5 is 90-110 hours long."

I'm not disputing that the game is too long, I think it absolutely is. But how did it take people 90-110 hours to beat it? My first playthrough clocked in at ~75 hours, and I did basically everything (almost all links maxed, all mementos quests, social stats maxed, etc.) I don't know where there's room for anyone to spend another 20-30 hours with it. That's a lot of time.
Really? That's amazing haha. Were you playing on Normal?

noitsthechildrenthatarewrong.jpg
If you didn't know you were signing up for a visual novel with an RPG tacked on I don't know what to tell you.
Again- my problems are with relation to the rest of the series.

This is just another reminder of the passion people end up having for games their series as a whole. You can put so much work writing about your issues with the game convincing someone you really don't enjoy it and by the end say "I really do like it."

It shows how passionate people can be about the games they enjoy. They end up being more critical and are sensitive to the game's failings more than the average person would.

For me I enjoyed the game thoroughly. With my only issues being the "go to bed" railroading and the plot developments before the Spaceport palace. I guess I'm a bit more accepting or ignorant to things because I see fans of the series complain about writing and pacing with P5 often but I never had much of an issue with it.
I think my love for P5 comes from all of its non game elements. I love the characters. I love the OST. I love the sense of style. I love its themes.
Actually playing it makes me want to cry.
 
Oct 31, 2017
529
Yeah, I hated this game.

Took everything that made 4 special and made it feel like a cheap commodity. You ever play Silent Hill Homecoming and it has the part where Pyramid Head just walks on the screen and leers at you with no context to anything else? Nearly every major plot point in P5 felt that way.

No real evolution of the formula, makes you wonder what took so long.

I liked Morgana, though.
 

Sanctuary

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Oct 27, 2017
4,799
The pacing of this game is an utter disaster. To me, this is the most inexcusable flaw any story can ever have. There's no consistency to the flow of the story, it hits the ground running, slams headfirst into a brick wall, slowly begins to pick up, gathers momentum, hits a brick wall again, continues gathering momentum as if there was no dip in pacing, builds to a conclusion, grinds to a halt to put you through a protracted gauntlet, has an extended coda with some extremely unnecessary story developments, and then ends
If it was that bad pacing wise, I'd probably lose interest before the halfway mark. As it stands, the high school/friend simulator aspects bored me to death in both P3 and P4 and was my main reservation about P5.
 

Deleted member 22649

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Yeah... I wasn’t able to finish this game. It’s not terrible, but I agree with most of your points.

The one thing I would add is that the combat system is not fun. That’s an opinion, of course. For me, though, each battle ultimately came down to:

1. Sneak up on enemy
2. Cast magic against each enemy’s weakness
3. All-Out Attack

Repeat for over 100 hours and I just couldn’t take anymore. I’ve heard from several folks who loved the game despite all this, and I’m glad to hear that— I may be done with this series, though.
 

Cranston

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Oct 31, 2017
1,377
Couldn’t agree more.

I count P4G as one of my top five games of all time, but five was just.......a chore. Gave up after about 30 hours.
 

Mgs2master2

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
1,290
This is a good write up.

I want to address one thing, about the end game spoilers

he violated parole, plus he was a thief, escaped from jail, violated a bunch of laws. Kinda makes sense

Also I like your username and avatar, it kinda fits here.
 

Dullahan

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Oct 25, 2017
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Sounds like you hate the game, and are still trying to convince yourself you like it. Like your "love" at the end of your review, feels half-baked and canned. Compared to your obvious dislike of a lot of it. It's ok to hate things!

It's my GOTY and my favorite Persona over 3 (and 2)
 

itshutton

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Nov 1, 2017
447
I put it down 5 months ago half-way through dungeon 5 as I was getting bored.

Picked it up again today and played 10 solid hours and have gotten super into it again. Take a break OP, it needs it.
 

edgefusion

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Oct 27, 2017
814
Good read, thanks Phantom Thief!

I echo a lot of the sentiment here, although I haven't completed it yet as I was so appalled by its medieval representation of gay men that I had to take a rage-induced break. I do think the game is overall pretty good, the soundtrack is phenomenal and the art style is practically unmatched. Its shortcomings though? Hoo-boy does it ever have shortcomings. Apart from the repulsive portrayal of homosexuality (which managed to dodge much attention by being buried deep in the story) the translation is a train-wreck with characters frequently being puzzling at best and totally incomprehensible at worst.

Unless Atlus significantly step-up their game I'll be taking a rain-check on Persona 6.
 

Novel Mike

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,220
There are honestly more problems then that, I've touched upon them in the past but I'm not sure we need another really long post to really explain it all.

Simply put I'm fine with people who enjoy Persona 5 but its is deeply flawed with its most important elements (story and characters) actually being some of the biggest problems the game has. Sadly though there is problems in every aspect of the game from the dungeon design, to the combat, to the cover mechanic.

I've being trying to be nice about it but at this point I'll just say it. Persona 5 is not a good game. It's not horrible but its pretty close to just flat out being bad. If you don't look at the game critically theres a lot to like here but the more you think about every problem the game has the more you realize just how poor the game actually is.
 
OP
OP
Phantom Thief

Phantom Thief

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I'm probably more down on it than any other game I'd still give like a 9/10 or even higher if I had to score it. But that's the standard I hold Persona to I guess.
I'd even give it a 10 if I have to, I adore the damn game. But like I said, I adore it in spite of it being a repetitive, grindy, slow, boring, tedious piece of shit.

Obviously slightly hyperbolic there :P
 

Cisce

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Oct 25, 2017
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I'd also like to say that this game got me interested in finishing Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (I'm about 25 hours in). As I feel that TMS respects your time way more than P5 does.
 

Strangelove77

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,789
This is how I feel with 3. P5 is great though.

Sounds like you hate the game and are in denial though. It's also obscene to play a 100+ hour rpg twice in one year. It can only be a negative thing to do.
 

Cloud-Hidden

Member
Oct 30, 2017
1,837
I feel the exact same way, OP.

Did you play Tokyo Mirage Sessions? Because if you didn't, I think it might be the game you were waiting for.

Edit:
I'd also like to say that this game got me interested in finishing Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (I'm about 25 hours in). As I feel that TMS respects your time way more than P5 does.
This person knows.
 

Pandora012

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
2,144
This thread reminds me that I still have to finish 5. I think I stopped around September.

This is a great write-up.

Pleased I'm not the only one who

A) Thought the first dungeon was terrible compared to what followed

B) Is more in love with the stylings and OST than the meat of the game itself.

Persona 3 still king for me.
As it should be. Of course this is a world in which 2 doesn't exist.
 

Flandy

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Oct 25, 2017
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I'm probably alone in this sentiment but I honestly wish the palaces in this game weren't hand crafted. I don't find any of the mechanics, puzzles, or navigation of them fun. As bad as the dungeons were in P3 and P4 at least I could tune out and do them mindlessly while doing something else. Dungeons in this game required me to pay more attention to them which just made the slog feel even longer
 

dmaul1114

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Oct 26, 2017
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Yeah I put 50 hours in before finally walking away about half way through (by number of dungeons). Wish I’d walked away sooner. I think I’m just done with turn-based games and anime-ish type games for the most part as they tend to never grab me and something has to REALLY grab me to get me to put that much time into it.