A quick post on Persona 5 dungeons. The first of which I completed two nights ago.
Before all else, let me present this image:
This is what comes to mind whenever I use the word “dungeon.” Featureless, repetitive tunnels supposed to represent entire schools or towns, or massive labyrinths one can’t move two squares down without triggering an encounter. It feels like only yesterday that I was doing my best imagining I was adventuring in post-apocalyptic Shinjuku, when all I had before me were black lines and flat colours. And you know what, it was still exhilarating. Shin Megami Tensei I was one of the best JRPGs I played in the 90s.
The first Persona game was released for the PS1 there about four years after SMT 1. There were lots of improvements, obviously, and dotted here and there were unique looking rooms. But with that also came loading issues. Every encounter brought on a loading screen. In spite of that, I still played through the entire game.
Persona 3 and 4 upped the standards substantially, as you can see from above. Everything was essentially still a maze, but there is no longer such a heavy labyrinth feeling everywhere.
Between 2008 and now, Atlus went into hand-held console mood. It released a flurry of titles, both remakes and new ones, for the PSP, DS and 3DS. Again, there are noticeable improvements. But even with Shin Megami Tensei IV and Apocalypse, there’s still that retro dungeon crawling feeling. I remember several reviews terming these titles to be homages to the retro dungeon crawling era.
Jump forward to 2017, and we now have these in Persona 5 dungeons.
For the first time ever, I do not get that repetitive tunnel feeling. There are still lots of corridors in the dungeons, especially in Mementos, but all are intersected with enough variety of background or quirky dialogue to remove dungeon crawling tedium. Perhaps I’m imagining things, but Persona 5 dungeons also feel smaller and faster to clear. Unlike what I anticipated earlier, the lack of a save-whenever-you-want function turned out not to matter that much.
This would sound silly, but writing this post gets me emotional. How much gaming has improved! How fast time flies too! Have I really been playing Shin Megami Tensei and Persona for over twenty years? Wasn’t it only yesterday that I shivered after my first “step” into underground Tokyo?
And what down the road? How great would SMT V or P6, P7 be?
Seems like there are indeed things to look forward to in life. Small things. Perhaps unimportant and irrelevant to many too. But these are what prevents us from slipping into shadowy gloom.