A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while this game feature high school students as protagonists, this is an M-rated game intended for those 17 and up. The game contains a dark storyline, and is full of cussing, references to alcohol and smoking, along with occasional partial nudity. Within the first hour, you'll witness flirting by boys that's too pushy. At a crime scene, you'll see blood on the walls. Some of the script that you'll read has references to female monsters who have sexual relations with men. People act drunk as well. But even more than this, there are characters who seem to be severely depressed and the nightmares that the main character enters feel real. The horror and sadness is palpable, and that may require more maturity from the player to reckon with than the violence, sex references, partial nudity, and references to tobacco or alcohol.
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What's it about?
The Persona series of role playing games are notable and generally lauded because of their seamless mix of every day reality with dark fantasy.In SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI: PERSONA 4, an M-rated, anime-like PlayStation 2 game, a teen boy moves from the bustling city to a small Japanese town. Just as he starts school, a woman involved in a love triangle is brutally murdered nearby. In this foggy, rainy town, he and his new friends set out to solve the twisting, turning mystery.
Persona 4 plays somewhat like an old school adventure game. In a limosine that looks like a funeral parlor, you'll meet the hook-nosed Igor, who'll help you proceed through the game. Using the 'X' button, you listen to and scroll through the words of townspeople and of those in a strange dream world. As you ask questions, you get some experience points. When you're taken to the dream world to play as persona Izanagi, you'll turn into long-coated warrior wielding a blade and magic spells. Here, your other characters have their own personas and will help you out with spells. When you win, you level up. You'll need to save frequently, unless you are in Beginner Mode (which lets you retry the game after dying).
Is it any good?
From the get-go, you'll be privy to mature sexual themes like love triangles, a foul-mouthed school teacher, and references to drinking and smoking. Yet this is no over-the-top Grand Theft Auto IV. All the references just make the game more intriguingly real, not satirically hyperreal. If you're used to an action game, the nature of this RPG is slower. But the curious will be rewarded with some scares along with a deep storyline and well-rounded characters who run the gamut of personalities.
The odd, nightmarish dream world may be too much for some with its long-tongued creatures and bears who have nothing inside their bodies. Though the weakest part of Persona 4 is the artwork, the anime style keeps it from being too frightening. The turn-based fighting can get a somewhat dull at times if you're not into the strategy that goes into defeating each strange foe. Ultimately, though, Persona 4 is a carefully honed game with a story that may not be unique, but is nonetheless as compelling as a page-turner. The game also includes a bonus soundtrack disk.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the dark mystery within the game. How does it compare to books and movies that are equally dark? Which of the characters appeal to you most, and why? Do they seem real to you? Which of the characters in the nightmare sequences do you enjoy and which disturb you? What exactly disturbs you? Do the nightmares feel real or too real? Do you ever want to stop playing because everything seems overwhelmingly sad? Or do you look of it as just a game in which you can easily separate the fiction from reality?
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