Music Monday: Persona 4 Monday
If you’re like me, Persona 4 was the best game that you didn’t play in 2008. If you weren’t already familiar with the series, the prospect of a 60+ hour JRPG on last-generation hardware probably wasn’t all that appealing. I never did play the PS2 original but I was driven to finally pick up the enhanced port for the PS Vita, Persona 4 Golden, after it made nearly everyone’s Top 10 lists last year. I can say that after finishing it recently that it is not only an exemplar of the genre but a game so excellent that it made me reconsider my belief that no one makes good JRPGs anymore.
Set in the fictional, rural Japanese town of Inaba, Persona 4 follows the twisting story of a group of high school students trying to solve a bizarre series of murders. This mystery leads them to discover the power of Persona – the other self – and to do battle in highly stylish class uniforms inside of an alternate-reality TV world. Central to the game is forming Social Link relationships with fellow classmates and townsfolk. These links are fostered and strengthened by spending time interacting with characters and are a major source of depth in the story. To sum it up in not too derisive a way, the game is sort of like a modern day Japanese Scooby Doo with great writing and a fun battle system.
As much as I enjoyed the story, writing and gameplay of Persona 4 Golden, the soundtrack is outstanding as well. Long time series composer Shōji Meguro returns with an excellent collection of songs that perfectly capture the themes of the game. Music is used to consistently reinforce the rhythmic beats of the game. Early Morning, Class, Lunchtime, After School, Evening. Repeat. Music colors and informs every part of the game. That it manages to do this is a feat. That it manages to do this and remain fresh throughout the course of a long story is something else. Meguro displays his apt for game music composition by frontloading so many of his tracks with a great opening. They consistently work even when the player is running from scene to scene interrupting them.
Exceptional game soundtracks are those that you can’t imagine the game without. Whether loafing around Inaba with friends on a sunny day, pondering over clues to the mystery or battling in the TV world, the music plays an integral role in a cohesive setting rarely realized in gaming.
Like a Dream Come True
Signs of Love
Umi e Ikou ze
I’ll Face Myself – Battle
Time to Make History
Shin Mitsuo Tensei
Corner of Memories