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I let my Discord pick the 500th game I would log onto my Backloggd, and this won.
Fearful I had been trolled, I streamed the game (On a Monday, eating lasagna on camera for the lols), and found this is....not that terrible!
A competent Kart racer built around some colorful iconic characters. Has some hilariously stupid physics mishaps from time to time. Also, I don't really understand the themeing of a lot of these courses (when did Garfield ever go to Egypt?). But otherwise: Fun!
The only way I typically put the effort into finishing a massive JRPG is if the cast of characters is well developed enough to get me to care. P4G's ensemble is one of the best gaming has ever seen. A diverse group of well written individuals that actually become more impressive as you get to know them. Working together with this band of friends/sleuths to solve the murder mysteries of Inaba was fantastic.
The battle system in this was equally appealing. Having activities you perform in the social links affect your character's stats was a welcome reprieve from straight up combat grinding. The attack chains and combo moves were also exciting and fun to figure out and pull off. Enemies were always creative in their design and attacks. I usually just focus on RPG move-sets that see me favoring all out power moves to end things ASAP, but here, I WANTED to take my time balancing buffs/nerfs, and status attacks to get everything right. It's a system that encourages playing thoroughly.
I wish I could be as positive on the dungeons design. Even given its PS2 roots, the randomly generated bland hallways got so boring after awhile that I would actively avoid combat just to get through the dungeons faster. Which sucks, because then I was avoiding the very fun combat! I've heard 5 improves on this, so I'm excited to experience the Palaces. On a negative narrative note: the "True Ending" reveal is pretty limp. This game has a lot of TWIN PEAKS vibes, but where that show was smart enough to never fully reveal all the details of its supernatural elements, keeping things ambitious to heighten the intrigue and the vibes, P4G shows you its hand and as a result, fucks up what was otherwise a pretty great story. Sometimes things just DON'T need to be fully explained.
Worth playing, but not worth going 100%. I had a long-form discussion with another first time P4G player where we compared our social link choices and which endings we got. Check it out at: https://youtu.be/bda88z0bilk
Me 20 Minutes In: The only way I could love this more is if it snuck in a TWIN PEAKS reference!
SPOILER: I LOVED IT MORE!
Put together a long-form review/discussion on what this game could mean for future action-rhythm games with Game Pass Expert Chris from 1 Hour 1 Decision! Enjoy our convo at: https://youtu.be/EGr9outdGfI