Persona 2: Innocent Sin Review

How do you describe a game like Persona 2: Innocent Sin? A JRPG that originally appeared in Japan in 1999 from Atlus; Europe has had to wait 12 years for the game to arrive over here. Has the wait been worth it? Well that depends on whether you’re a fan of classic RPG gaming and the Persona series.

Persona 2: Innocent Sin follows Tatsuya Suou, a student at Seven Sisters High School which is one of the best schools in the fictional city of Sumaru, and his fellow companions. The story is quite an interesting tale and introduces some nice elements to the game. Rumours that are getting spread around town end up becoming truth and change the world around you.

Then there’s the mysterious character known as The Joker, who can either help people live their dreams or wipe people from reality, as if they never existed. The Joker relys on people summoning him through The Joker Game to accomplish this. The Joker also holds a grudge against Tatsuya and his companions but they don’t know why.

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[drop]The story manages to tackle themes of people’s dreams, the effects of rumours and overcoming personal dilemmas in the face of adversity. Innocent Sin carries this remarkably well, with each character having their own distinct personality. It also helps that NPCs respond to the changes in the world as various rumours take effect and become reality. Atlus managed to create a very involved world here.

However, the gameplay is a mixed bag. The battle system is quite a good one and the ability to make contact with non boss enemies is definitely a unique feature. This feature plays out by selecting to contact an enemy and choosing one of your party to talk to them. Depending on your actions you can make the enemy feel Anger, Eager, Happy or Scared, each one getting a different reaction, from them fighting you to making a pact with you.

The Pact dynamic is an interesting one, and when successful can be beneficial to the player getting extra money to spend in the game shops, information and even Tarot cards. The Tarot cards are important as they allow you to gain new Personas to attach to your characters. These Personas can grant you new abilities, improved stats and different ways to withstand enemies. Gaining rare cards allows you to unlock rare and powerful Personas.

But the battle system is also flawed. You go through each character and select their moves, confirming on each one but then, before the next round in the turn based system starts, you’re asked again to confirm that you’re happy with these moves. Once the moves are confirmed the battle commences and you’re treated to a bit of an underwhelming display. The attacks aren’t as polished as they could be and even the big attacks don’t have that feeling of awe about them. There’s a bit of a loading time before and after each battle begins too.

[drop2]This would be forgivable if you didn’t take about 5 steps in each dungeon before being thrown into another fight. It feels like a bit of a cheap way to extend the play time of the game and the battles start to become tedious affairs. The Auto battle feature helps get rid of some of the tedium but then it feels like you’re just a spectator watching the game play by itself. There’s also quite a bit of backtracking involved in the game, forcing you to tread the same ground to advance the story

Then there’s the game design itself. I enjoyed the soundtrack and the character interaction is good. The opening cinematic is incredibly put together and the sprites of the characters are nicely designed. However this is an 11 year old game and it shows. The dungeons themselves are quite bland and don’t give the impression that you’re playing in a game where there are so many interesting events going on.  On some occassions you just want to get out of them because of their repetitive design.

Pros:

  • Interesting story and characters.
  • The Contact feature in battle is interesting.
  • Will last a long time.

Cons:

  • Not greatly polished.
  • Frequency of fights gets tedious.
  • A bit slow to start and get going.
  • Gameplay could do with improvement.

So, what can be said about Persona 2: Innocent Sin? It’s definitely an old school JRPG with random encounters and classic grinding. There are some interesting game mechanics, like the rumours. However gameplay itself doesn’t do the story the justice it deserves. Persona 2: Innocent Sin will probably  be liked by fans of Persona and classic JRPG. However, newcomers to the series or genre will be turned off by some of the game design elements.

Score: 6/10

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4 Comments

  1. Shame, I was hoping that this didn’t feel too antiquated. I’ll no doubt check it out at some point as I’m an RPG nut, but will put it on the back burner for now.

  2. i’ve never actually played any of the persona games before, but i like the look of them, they’ve never been the easiest games to find.

    and i love grinding out some levels in an old school JRPG so this could be right up my street.
    a lot of the 100+ hours i spent on one playthrough of ff vii were spent grinding.

  3. As I’ve ditched Skyrim to play Final Fantasy VIII and find myself enjoying it so much I have trouble going back, I would say that there’s a good chance I will like this. So is this a downloadable PSP game I take it from the PSP:Go image?

    • It’s both retail and downloadable.

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