Persona 5 – The Morgana problem

Persona 5 is a fantastic game but I have one major gripe with its design and that is Morgana. If you haven’t played persona he is a talking cat that is basically with you at all times as a type of a guide. Since the protagonist is mainly silent you need to have someone fill in for that non-talking role, at least I can imagine that was the logic behind that decision.

The fact that they made him be with you all the time hand holding you through everything, telling you what you can and cannot do is annoying to say the least. This guidance was fine at the start of the game as it gradually shows you the ropes but it wears thin about 10 hours into the game. He will constantly explaining things the player already knows not just about the games systems but with the story.

Hearing things something to the effect of - “We should rest for now.” “Let’s not do that now.” “Let’s not go out.” Internally I am just screaming him for to keep quiet. It wears thin…

Another problem is with the actual dialogue. If you go to shop and you don’t buy anything he remarks “Just window shopping…” with the audio clip of “come on…”. Instead of letting the player play how they want, it feels like the game antagonizes the player for such trivial things as exploring. The most glaring example of blaming the player when they have done nothing wrong is when you go buy weapons from the fake gun shop. In the game if you don’t have enough ‘guts’ you cannot ask the owner about the contents of a paper bag he gave you earlier. Every time you go to buy weapons Mona will chastise the character and in turn the player for something they can’t do anything about. This will go on for a long time until your guts stat are at the level required.

 Thanks...

Thanks...

In Persona 3 and 4 they did not have this type of character and it was perfectly fine. The decision to have this annoying character around you all time is baffling. Imagine having Teddy in the same role in Persona 4 (OH GOD). He can become useful when he reminds you of something you completely forgot but those occasions are few and far between.

Persona 5 does a great job of gradually introducing systems as you play and opening the game up (maybe a little too slowly for my liking) but it does a good job non-the-less of not overwhelming the player. Morgana is part of this hand holding but unlike the rest of the hand holding this part never goes away!

What is the solution?

If you are going to have this level of hand holding either make it go away after a certain point or just have it be optional for the player. Better yet design the game where a character like this is obsolete.

If you have to have this kind of character how can you make it tolerable?

·         Make the dialogue infrequent.

·         Make it meaningful to plot or to characters. Less throwaway lines and more reason for the player to actually pay attention.

·         Have it actually enjoyable to listen/read. Make it witty if it is just a throwaway line.

The (Non) Problem of repeating dialogue in games

For a lot of games this is unavoidable and not an issue because implementation is seamless and works well with everything in the game. Dev’s put it in so the player don’t miss an important bit of dialogue due to an accidental button press, so you have the dialogue cycle. However, the problem arises when it (i) adds no value and (ii) it wasn’t your intention to talk that NPC in the first place. It is a game about spending time with characters who you want to get to know but it seems to go against this design by being attached to someone you didn’t choose to be with.

For example when you talk to a normal NPC in Persona 5 their dialogue will repeat but it is entirely up to you to talk to them and hear what they have to say.  A normal player will see dialogue repeat stop talking to that NPC so there no issue in that scenario but when that dialogue repeats when the player doesn’t choose to see/hear it then it becomes annoying and nothing more than a wasted few seconds for the player. If I wanted to talk to Morgana I would do that but hearing unnecessary commentary all the time damages the experience. I want to be alone and not have an annoying animal buddy.

This may feel like a rant and it kind of is. You don’t want your player base to come away from an experience hating something you intended for them to like especially when the rest of the experience is so fantastic. A lot of people seemed to have liked Morgana and only had slight problems. While I came away hating the character. Some times you just can't please everyone.