Once in a while a game is almost totally ignored by players and press alike. These forgotten games begin in relative obscurity, but slowly and surely, if they're lucky, they garner die-hard and hard-core fans and gain "sleeper" hit status. Altus' Persona for the PlayStation easily qualifies as a sleeper hit.
In most areas, Persona is a truly different RPG. Instead of relying on silly medieval themes, it takes place in modern times. It should come as no surprise, then, that the game's characters are mere teenagers, not buffed-out, sword-wielding maniacs. And because the setting is the modern era, the characters aren't exclusively equipped with swords and knives - guns, including 9mms and AK-47s, also come into play (so to speak). And instead of always fighting monsters, players are given the opportunity to sweet talk their way out of fights. Players who use the silver tongue, instead of the shiny sword, earn components of spells. And the more components a player has, the more powerful his spells ultimately become. The only part of the game that holds true to the old RPG standard is the gameplay. Fights are turn-based, some encounters are random, and the dungeons are large and easy to get lost in. These are indeed elements that make RPGs great. But there's a downside to this game .
The dialogue in Persona is, in a word, insane. Safe money says the translation team stayed up late watching Jerry Springer while they were working, because a good portion of the lingo is of the "Oh, my bad!" and "Girlfriend!" variety. The rest of the text, well, makes no sense at all.
Graphically, Persona is adequate, but it doesn't really stand out. Though the majority of the game is seen from a three-quarter view, the game does move among a few different perspectives. However, the dungeons are seen from a first-person perspective that's highly reminiscent of the annoying maze levels in Golgo 13. Walking around town is done from yet another angle, allowing players to see the sights of town as they traverse it.
Even casual fans of the genre should enjoy Persona. All in all, it's a solid RPG: There's a lot to do, and players have a good chance of getting wrapped up in the game's storyline. The weird dialogue gives the game a campy flavor, which is a plus or minus, depending on your point of view. Just be careful when you're fighting the toilets. You'll see.