So here is one I think many people love, and I’ll admit I think I am fishing for an explanation as to why. I gave the game 3/5 stars because I can see a lot of good in it. I enjoy a lot of the mechanics, I enjoy the setting, And to a certain degree I really started to like some of the characters (for a time).
What bothers me about the game is how profoundly problematic certain narrative elements tend to be. There is some serious body shaming, food shaming, homophobia, and transphobia to name a few. I attempted to engage with them in the assumption that there was some criticism of these elements within the game but realized, over time, that the game intends one to side with the characters on some of these elements. We can use Yosuke as an example. I deeply dislike Yosuke. To me he represented the bigoted, small minded friend in the group. The one with highly problematic views that the others did not harbour. I thought, if I ignore Yosuke I will enjoy this game more than if I schlep him around with me. Sadly, as the game progressed, it became obvious that Yosuke was not alone in his feelings. Where he was overt, everyone else was subtle, but the problematic views were mostly shared. It made it very hard for me to feel comfortable playing the game.
As a disclaimer I very much enjoy media that pushes boundaries, that forces discomfort/displeasure to encourage the viewer/reader/player to reflect and to engage in ways they may not otherwise. I thought and hoped that this was what Persona 4 was doing at first. However, it became clear to me as a played further that the ideas displayed within the game were meant to be largely agreed with, that I was supposed to be sympathetic to some highly problematic elements.
I do agree that it is very possible to enjoy problematic media, to be conscious and critical of what we consume while still being able to enjoy it. I have no doubt many people who disagree with some of the ideologies displayed in Person 4 still love the game. There is a lot in it to enjoy. But I felt so alienated by the characters, their statements and actions, that I felt alienated from the game. I grew weary by the end, worn out by truly painful things displayed by characters I was supposed to love and identify with.
I know this is a cherished and well loved game and I do not think ill of anyone who does enjoy Persona 4. Perhaps people can share some of their reasons, or relationships to the game so that I can better understand the phenomenon that is Persona. For now I am less inclined to play Person 5, which is unfortunate in some respects because it looks like a polished piece of work that is aesthetically intriguing. However I am wary due to my experience with Persona 4 and hope that maybe some can shed light on what they find redeeming about the series (also, whether I should play Persona 3 given my feelings regarding 4).