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Played in 2023
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Feels like a Yakuza all-stars game, but Samurais. While there's certainly nothing wrong with that, it was a little tricky to remember who some of the cameos were because they were a secondary villain in one Yakuza game. It does take a while for the game to get going, but that's normal at this point. Once it gets into the real meat of the game, it's fantastic, with compelling characters and story. Sometimes you want to ignore the great side stories and bonds just to find out what happens next. The combat is fun and fluid, with you using a Katana and Gun, switching style to best suit the situation.
For a sequel, I was hoping they had improved on the formula somewhat. Instead, this was the same game as the first, but without the origin story making it better. This is one I could have saved myself some time and watched a video of the cutscenes. It did serve as a good reminder of how awful Quick Time Events are and how glad I am that they aren't as bad as this anymore. It's hard to believe that this originally came out in the same year as games like Bioshock and Heavenly Sword.
I didn't think it would be possible for Atlus to make me fall in love with another cast of characters as it did with Persona 5, especially for an earlier game, but here we are, they achieved it. At first, the game felt aimless as you were just going through the motions without a central plot tying it together. However, it didn't last long for the threat to be established. The game largely revolves around ascending the mysterious tower known as Tartarus, with segments blocked off until you've progressed in the main story. Tartarus itself is very mundane, as it's the same process of walking through procedurally generated hallways, fighting enemies and collecting loot for over 200 floors. As with the other games, the characters and your interactions with them are where it excels. Spending time with the various NPCs and understanding what drives them never gets old. These games are always very long but at the same time, you never want them to end as it means giving a bittersweet farewell to those you've come to know and love.