I was reading Tipa’s post about Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine (aka Megaten, aka Persona Online) this morning, and not an hour later Massively had a post announced beta client and keys were available from Filefront.
I was kind of in an “Off the grid” mood tonight so a beta mmo where I was completely anonymous sounded like just the thing (that, and Tipa hasn’t steered me wrong yet). I snagged the client, patched up and jumped in. I was warned going in that the servers were being a bit flaky tonight; they just rolled out some big patch I guess, and this *is* beta, and sure enough I didn’t get too far in before I got disconnected and as of right now even their web site is throwing an Error 500.
But from the half-hour or so I got to play, I was very pleasantly surprised. The game starts feeling very much like a JRPG, with you an untried hero ready to fight against the demons that have invaded our world from otherwhere. The perky older, more experienced warrior that guides you through your first steps is a comfortable cliche and does a good job of teaching basic controls (and I’m pretty sure this first bit was a solo instance). Oddly when you leave her side, you go to a ‘virtual battlefield’ where a crusty old cliche warrior walks you through the same steps. I imagine one or the other of these sequences will be cut from the release game.
Tipa’s post covers the early game well enough that there’s no need for me to rehash things, and she got more time in. Combat is active/actiony, and thankfully WASD movement is supported (not always a given in Eastern MMOs). The interface felt clean and crisp. The art-style is pure Persona and so is the music. It just had a real nostalgic feel to it. Unfortunately a lot of the storyline text is still in Japanese, and the fact that this bugged me in itself says something about the title: I want to know what happened!
Definitely another title to put on my “to play” list. These Free-To-Play MMOs are really growing in quality lately. Not very long ago they were all cookie-cutter grind-fests, but not any more.