Persona 5, and the Rare Joy of Replaying Games

Shaun and Michaela have been playing Persona 5 recently, and that has rekindled my itch to dive in again myself.

With my time for gaming getting cut down as I go deeper into my 30s, there aren’t very many games that I’ll go back and replay. It’s hard enough finding the time to get to everything that needs to be experienced; I never got around to titles like Cuphead and Nioh last year, and I’m still trying to find the right moment to immerse myself in Breath of the Wild. So when a game has that much of an impact on me, it means something.

(Of course, we’re talking about games with more of a full-fledged story experience, like RPGs or certain platformers or shooters. I used to play a ton of each year’s NBA 2K game, but that was more about powering through a career mode that lends itself to replay value. Same with Rocket League, where one of the game’s appeals is the fact that you can always jump in and do a quick five-minute match.)

That’s not to say that it never happens. I go back through Chrono Trigger every few years because it’s still my all-time favorite. Link to the Past and Super Metroid are two classics that I’ve played at least a half-dozen times. I don’t even want to think about how many hours I poured into different save files of Tales of Symphonia (it’s at least 500 and that’s horrifying). But those examples are few and far between.

Even right after I completed Persona 5 — all 85 hours or so of it — I knew I wanted more. Even P3 and P4, two games that I enjoyed quite a bit, didn’t have that same impact. And it probably goes without saying that it has to be damn good if I see the playtime and go “mmmmmmmyep, I could do that again.” To be honest, I think I could have started a New Game + right then and had few regrets; now, with the passage of time, I know that wasn’t just a gutcheck reaction. I truly loved it and would eagerly go for more.

There are confidants I didn’t get to bring to max level, potential romances I never got to see, dozens of songs I’d happily put in the background for hours. Hell, I probably won’t even mind hearing Morgana say “It’s almost scaaaaary how good I am” another 3,864 times.

The flip side of this is a game like Super Mario Odyssey. I looooooved Odyssey for all sorts of reasons, and it was my top game of 2017 — yes, beating out P5. Every hour I poured into it was a joy, from the carefully crafted experience to the new platforming options to the bits of nostalgia here and there. But I don’t know that I’m in a huge rush to play it again, having found 90% of the moons and purple coins in my original playthrough. Maybe a few years down the road, once I’ve forgotten where many of the secrets were.

What’s the point of all this? Simply to say that if you find a game that you cherish, make sure you revisit it from time to time. Like a good book or movie or TV show, the truly great ones should stick with you for years to come.

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