The Case for Persona 6 to Be Shorter Than Persona 5

The Persona series has had one of the most impressive creative journeys that a game series could have. Originally conceived as a spinoff of Shin Megami Tensei, Atlus’ original flagship franchise, the games were originally supposed to offer more “accessible” versions of the classic Shin Megami Tensei formula. The first two games were well-liked, especially the Persona 2 duology, but the series remained dormant until 2006 when Persona 3 came out. The series then developed its current, recognizable identity and slowly separated itself from mainline Shin Megami Tensei, to the point where the series dropped the label as of Persona 4 Arena. After Persona 5’s success, it is safe to say that the series is not only separate from Shin Megami Tensei, but replaced its parent series as Atlus’ signature work.

Being RPGs, and Atlus RPGs at that, the Persona games are known for being long. To some people’s dismay, the series’ titles just got longer as the franchise evolved, with an average playthrough of the vanilla version of Persona 5 being easily capable of reaching the 100-hour mark. Persona 6 is currently in development, but nothing else is known about it. However, it is perhaps time for Atlus to “regress” in certain ways regarding Persona. In particular, it would be best for Persona 6 if it were shorter than its predecessor.

RELATED: The Case For Another Persona Spinoff Before Persona 6

The Overwhelming Length of Persona 5

RPGs, especially JRPGs, primarily stand out from other genres due to being associated with a heavy emphasis on storytelling in comparison to other popular genres like platformers, shooters, and fighting games. Due to the presence of developed, layered plots, RPGs are not typically about going from one point to the other in the name of a goal that is just an excuse in practice. The end destination is the uncovering of the story itself. As a result of a typical RPG flipping the script of the usual gaming dynamic that normally prioritizes gameplay at the expense of story, the genre’s games are longer than most. Persona is no stranger to this habit.

The original version of the third Persona game, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3, which came out on the PS2 by the time the 7th generation of consoles started, is reportedly 82 hours long, meaning that the subsequent updated rereleases, FES and Portable, are probably even longer due to their additional content. The vanilla version of Persona 4 is about 10 hours shorter than its predecessor, but Persona 4 Golden’s additional content similarly makes up for it. On average, Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal are approximately 100 and 120 hours long respectively, beating every previous Persona game and most single-player titles in the process.

Although more hours of a story that managed to captivate people worldwide and finally put an increasingly popular series into the mainstream should be good, it can easily backfire. People, especially adults that are supposedly part of Persona’s target audience, do not have all the time in the world to play games. A 100-hour-long single player campaign should be a sign of deficient pacing, not a game with dense content. There are admittedly plenty of things to do in Persona games, but that should not excuse the mandatory main storyline being longer than most people’s playtime of an average multiplayer game.

Persona 6 would certainly benefit from being shorter than not only Persona 5, but Persona 3 and 4 as well. Not only are people busier, but they currently live in a culture that is not demanding as far as attention spans go. Completing a game, let alone beating it, takes a bit of dedication. This is especially the case with RPGs, which can easily alienate individuals depending on their tastes, lifestyle, and personality, even with the genre’s undeniable popularity. Persona 5 might have been one of gaming’s biggest success stories in 2017, but that did not prevent some people from dismissing it due to its length.

Persona may not “need” new fans, as the fan base is bigger than it has ever been and hardcore fans will stick with the series regardless of whether the campaign takes them 100 hours to beat. However, one thing to keep in mind is that Persona 5 attracted hordes of newcomers, and that happened despite the game being as long as it is. If Persona 6 is shorter than its predecessors, it might attract even more people than Persona 5. A shorter Persona 6 would alleviate one of the major criticisms directed at Persona 5, potentially winning over any detractors.

At this point, Persona is one of those series that is nearly guaranteed to succeed whenever a new mainline game is released. Persona 6 has nothing to lose, and much more to gain if it prevented itself from overstaying its welcome. By being shorter, Persona 6 would be able to tell a more concise story and avoid unnecessary sequences, another aspect of Persona 5’s writing that was criticized.

Persona 6 is in development.

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