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S-Links to Confidants, an evolution of character interaction.

Persona has evolved over the years in a multitude of ways, one of the easiest ways to gauge this change is with the Social Link system, introduced in Persona 3 and only improving from each game onward.

What's a better way to make you care for characters beside making interacting with them a central mechanic to the game? Ever since Persona 3 depressingly rolled on to the Playstation 2, one of the main focus points has been the Social Link system, a game mechanic where you are tasked with simply befriending the supporting cast to gain perks useful in one of the games other mechanics, Persona fusion. And the Social Link mechanic hasn't left the Persona series ever since, excluding the spin off titles. But people really dislike mentioning the spin off games for some reason, I guess they just really don't want a dancing Nanako Dojima accompanied by a remix of the Junes theme. I can't possibly think of why not. 


Since we have had a game or two after Persona 3 and the mechanic of Social Links hasn't left us since P3 it has changed and improved to the point where Persona 5 has perfected it and even gave it a new name and aesthetic. It's actually quite interesting to go back to the original version of Persona 3 and see how much the Social Link system has changed, and how even from the start it wasn't actually too bad. That's probably just a testament to Atlus' game design aptitude and I'm no stranger to pouring praise on some of my favorite game developers. Back on topic though, Persona 3 started the S-Link system which was used to flesh out characters on your off time which could also be used to grind for experience, increase your social stats which also tied into the S-Links, purchase equipment for you and your team, or progress further in the main dungeon. It was a really good mechanic that did have its quirks but worked for what it wanted to do, adding more depth to already interesting characters and giving us interesting character interactions. 


Persona 4 and Persona 4 Golden improved on this mechanic substantially, making Social Links easier to increase, bringing the mechanic further into the forefront of the game, making each character more interesting and more worthwhile to interact with, and making it more difficult to decrease your S-Link level. This made Social Links even more interesting to play through since each and every character was deep and interesting. If you've played P4 or P4G then you can probably make a list of your favorite Social Link to complete, and of course with each anime game that you can enter romantic relationships with characters, there's the obvious waifu wars, the battles between who is the best girl and who is actual trash. I actively choose not to stoke the flames but I will admit to liking Naoto Shirogane, whether that endears me to you or makes you want to actually crucify me is your decision. 


Now, Persona freaking 5, the biggest hype train since No Man's Sky. Although this game didn't piss people off. And as stated previously Persona 5 has S-Links, although changed a pretty substantial amount. Persona 5 changed S-Links into Confidants, and added a perk system into them. Now when increasing your Confidant level with people, you not only gain an XP boost with Persona fusion, you also gain some kind of extra perk. Things such as being able to swap out your team members mid battle, specialized items in shops, discounts in shops, special skills used in battles, and new forms of Persona fusion. There's obviously tons more but I would much rather not spoil it, both because I want you to play the game and I'm worried Atlus might be a bit miffed at me, which I don't want since they haven't been too nice to people spoiling things. But I can say it's a huge improvement which goes to show that all those delays weren't just Atlus sitting on their collective thumbs and was instead them working the game the entire time, leading to what people have been called a perfect game. The S-Link system has evolved in a really grand way since Persona 3 unlike allot of systems in games. Occasionally games evolve to the point of barely being recognizable, like Saints Row which started as a GTA like game about gang violence and quickly changed into an insane over the top Matrix like meme spouting game about the president who was once a gangster saving the world from an alien invasion, in the Matrix. Persona and its Social Link system has changed dramatically but it is still recognizable for someone who may have only played P3.

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