In case the title didn’t give it away, spoilers! If for some reason you’re as late to the Persona franchise as I am, here’s a picture of a Junes Bomber for your trouble–now go read some other post.
I guess this is a thing that I do when a video game ending leaves a bad taste in my mouth somehow. At least, I had to jump on here and rant at the end of FFXIII-2, and now I’m doing it again, though I’m not really ranting this time. I’m not even really upset about this one; just a bit disappointed.
Anyway. I’ve been thinking about this off and on since I finished Persona 4 Golden a few weeks ago, and the more I ponder, the more I feel like the so-called “true ending” to P4 is just annoying.
In case you didn’t know already, P4 has two “good” endings, but only one is the “true” ending. That’s fine, I guess. But you actually have to go out of your way to find the “true” ending, and if you don’t know it’s there at all, you probably won’t even be able to guess that it exists.
In the normal ending, after you solve the murder mystery and go confront Adachi in Magatsu Inaba, you face what you’d probably think is the final boss for the game: Ameno-sagiri, Adachi’s shadow and a creature that controlled the detective to try to cover the world with fog, reflecting mankind’s desire to hide from the truth. The whole game had a theme of “reaching out to the truth” (heck, it’s in the name of the main battle theme), so that’s not so surprising. Ultimately, you clobber the thing, it decides to lay off, Adachi gets arrested for murder, and everything goes back to normal. You can spend some time running around to finish up social links, and finally, your last day in Inaba approaches.
On that last fateful day, you can run around and say your last farewells to your social link buddies, all set to some poignant music. Once you’ve spoken to the last person, you are given the option to go back to the Dojima residence to get ready to leave. You’d probably think, “Well, there’s really nothing left to do at this point besides sell off my weapons and stuff for NG+ money, so I’ll just do that and then go home.” Cue animated cutscene, lots of feels of not wanting to leave Inaba, and credits with awesome music.
However, if you go straight home after talking to all your social links, you’re missing out on the game’s final dungeon. You can actually go back to Junes and call the Investigation Team back together. If you do that, everyone will suddenly realize they still have no clue what was really happening throughout this case. Why did the protagonist, Adachi, and Namatame have the power to enter the TV in the first place? What created the Midnight Channel? Just what is the world inside the TV? What if something goes crazy again and tries to release the fog?
Time to split up again, gang! That’s right, you’re back on the case to figure out…stuff…Oh, all right, let’s just play along.
My sentiments exactly, Chie. To this image, and to the true ending.
In case you don’t remember that creepy gas station attendant from way back at the beginning of the game, apparently she’s Izanami, the game’s true antagonist. She awakened the power to invoke a persona in the MC, Adachi, and Namatame…as an experiment. She wants to bring happiness to mankind, and somehow, she decided that humans want nothing more than to escape the truth, so now she wants to turn the whole world into mindless shadows. Of course, MC isn’t having any of that BS, so after losing all his friends and getting dragged into the underworld, he gets some power from his social links, summons a souped up Izanagi, and blasts Izanami’s true form with one last attack.
I’m Izanami! I’m going to turn the whole world into a bunch of shadows. Problem? Oh, you don’t want that? But…cousin Nyx said…oh, oh well. Just defeat me and I’ll leave you alone.
I was worried at this point that the game was going to rehash all of the ending to Persona 3, but at least it didn’t go quite that far. After you defeat Izanami, everything pretty much plays out the way it did at the end of the normal ending. Cue cutscene, feels, and credits.
The whole thing really did feel like a last ditch effort to make the plot more “epic” than it needed to be. Sure, the team in P3 saved the entire world from Nyx, and sure, it made huge statement about people not wanting to accept responsibility for anything, but would it have been so bad for P4 to just be about saving Inaba? All of P4 is so much more light-hearted and focused on the character arcs that I would never have asked it to take itself more seriously. I promise.
Besides, there’s no way I could take it any more seriously after stuff like this.
If it was all for the sake of a plot twist, then that’s almost worse. I’ve never been a fan of throwing in a “true” antagonist right smack at the end of any story, video game or otherwise, unless the writers do it well. In this case, it feels random and unplanned, and it really doesn’t fit into the plot. It’s just jarring.
It’s also just kind of disappointing that you’ll never know the true nature of the TV world unless you randomly decide to go to Junes instead of ending the game. Turns out, the whole place really is a reflection of human hearts, and it’s actually quite a beautiful sight to behold when Izanami’s rotten personality isn’t stinking up the place with fog and crazy shadows. Turns out there’s some hope for all of us after all, if a place that nice can exist within us.
I guess I can try to play devil’s advocate to myself here…If you think about it, the true ending (at least, the new info about the world and the extra dungeon, minus all the Inazami silliness) could be a reward for the people who, like the MC, don’t want to leave Inaba. Maybe you want to get one last look at all the locations in the game because you got attached, so you go back to Junes along the way, and that’s how you’re supposed to discover it. Then, it might be a pleasant surprise to find that there’s more gameplay to be had, more personas to pick up, and more time to spend with the Investigation Team.
Admittedly, more dungeon time is nice, because at least in P4G, it means more funny costume quotes from the team.
You could also say that in the normal ending, the team is just confirming Izanami’s idea that people don’t want the truth by not seeking out all of the answers behind the case…
Eh. Naaaah. I still think it’s a pointless ending that feels tacked on for no good reason other than trying to make the plot have a global scale again. What about you?
(All that said, holy crap I love this game so much! So good! Started NG+ right away, which is how I found out about the true end while I was looking at a guide. Secret cheevos people. Cheeeeev-ohhhhs! )