I first played this maddening, messy masterpiece in 2017 on a friend's PS3. Then I moved out of state, and away from the aforementioned PS3. I'd only made it 25 hours in. There was nothing keeping me in the Metaverse. Not my chair; not my problem. Could've left it there.
"Shoulda," she mourns, swigging back a dram of whiskey. "Dun gummed it all up, I did."
Instead, I bought a PS4, downloaded ye cursed JRPG, and started a new game.
Why? Why did I do that to myself?
What harrowing deal had I made with Father Time, trading uncountable years off the end of my life, such that I felt confident I had the spare leisure hours to embark for a second time on this endless anime romp?
"Take your time," the loading screen mocks me now. It knows I just spent an hour getting through a corridor in Shido's Palace, only to have my ass kicked and sent back to the previous save point. For the fourth time. Today.
Just one in a series of Sisyphean efforts endured over my 127 hours. Cut off my arm, relieve me of this boulder, I beg of you.
Sorry, James Franco.
Wizened woman though I've become playing it, the folly of my youth long behind me in these twilight save file hours, this is good game. A consistently and gorgeously stylized game, and an absolute feat of art direction. A game with crunchy-quick, puzzley-satsifying combat, chock to the brim with excellent character design. And, for all the JRPG over-expositing I'm convinced has contributed to at least 107 of those 127 hours, the story still manages to surprise. Even, at times, delight.
Also due credit: the charmingly well-realized "high school simulator" system of time and resource management, with an authenticity of routine and environment that makes the world feel awake. Party members and murmuring passers-by alike go about their myriad, often quintessentially Japanese, business, imbued with purpose that seamlessly threads the main narrative.
AND THE TALKING CAT COMPANION THAT TURNS INTO A BUS SOMETIMES, OKAY? FINE. Fine. You can have that too. That is, indeed, a winning quality.
All of that, I grant this game. All of that, Persona 5, you may claim to fame. You may steal our hearts with your buses cat, and your shops ramen, and your streets neon.
But you know what still puts a crink in my craw?
I'VE BEEN PLAYING THIS GAME FOR 127 HOURS.
Actual footage of my face when I run out of SP items.
And I'm pretty sure I have at least another 20 to go before I beat it, say nothing of complete.
Do you know how many other games I haven't played in all that time?! Disco Elysium is sitting in my backlog! Hades! I hear a new Paper Mario came out, and I didn't even know one was coming.
For YOU, Persona 5! Because I'm trying to beat YOU! I can only invest in one game story at a time! AND YOU HAVE SO MUCH OF IT. I just... *sob*... you have so much of it... and I'm a game writer, you know? I gotta... oof. I gotta read all of it.
...my god. All of it. There's still so much more to come, isn't there? Shido's villain speech is easily going to be, what, three, four hours long?