Persona 3’s Unique Effect

Persona 3 is a game I’ve written about before, but I wanted to go back to it for a little bit to discuss it from a more personal perspective. Over the years, I’ve noticed a particular effect this game has on myself and others alike. That effect has become even more apparent to me now. Part of it is the fact that I keep coming back to it. When I deal with depression, I’m usually not in the mood for any game, nor am I in the mood to write. (Which leads to other complications, but that’s another story.) However, I restarted this game today, and played for almost three hours without even realizing it.

There’s a certain charm to Persona 3, specifically the PS2 versions. Don’t get me wrong; the PSP version is amazing and I absolutely adore the female protagonist. But something about the PS2 version feels different, and keeps me coming back even after I’ve fallen victim to Night Queen for the billionth time. The obvious answer would probably be nostalgia, since FES was the game that started my passion for the Megaten series. However, I feel like that’s just looking at it from the surface. I think there’s more to it.

Persona 3’s themes cover an internal struggle, overcoming grief and depression, and perhaps one of the hardest things we as humans must face: accepting the inevitability of our deaths. The first line in the game is “Time waits for no one. It delivers us all to the same end.” I didn’t realize the significance of that intro until long after I played the game for the first time and started understanding the true meaning behind the game. While it is about death and depression, that’s not all it’s about.

I feel like everyone could come up with their own interpretation for the game’s deeper implications, but here’s what I’ve come up with. It’s less about the sorrowful elements of the themes and more about how accepting the inevitability of death is only half of the equation. Once you’ve accepted that and acknowledged that you have a limited amount of time here, enjoy the time you have. Tell the people closest to you that you love them. We never know what tomorrow may bring, so treasure the time we have today.

So, that’s my not-so-revolutionizing revolution about Persona 3’s themes. What does this have to do about its special effect? It’s the simple fact that even though these themes aren’t super obvious, the game was so well-crafted that it’s hidden everywhere in the subtlest of places. You can feel the passion behind the game, the care that was put into making sure it told the story it was meant to tell and to convey the messages the writers wanted to get across. It may not be my favorite Persona game, but it has changed my life for the better, and I will continue playing it for many years to come.

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