Persona 4 gives you an “Analysis” thing during battle which some games (e.g. Final Fantasy) give you as the “Scan” spell, to check enemy hit points and weaknesses or whatever. It’s kind of like “peeking at the spreadsheet.”

It’s a pretty big deal in Persona 4 though because there are a TON of enemies, and their elemental weaknesses don’t always make sense — oftentimes the encounters are completely different between two floors of the same dungeon.

But you know one of the funny things I’ve noticed is that enemies are mostly challenging when they’re 5-10 levels higher than your party.

I don’t really get that.

Persona 4 does some other things that I think are pretty interesting — most enemies only get a single turn for example, even bosses. They don’t spam multiple turns (i.e. cheat) though they tend to have massive hit points.

Inflated hit points for bosses is kind of a thing — they tend to be more about preparation and endurance than round-to-round survival like most regular enemies. Overall, the game seems to be “challenging but fair.”

Maybe I’m looking at the wrong stuff however — I noticed the game’s difficulty increasing when my primary Personae were closer to (or less than) my MC’s level. Really, I was at my peak when the Personae were 5+ levels higher.

But that suggests that when the monsters are 5-10 levels higher than the party, the game is “less difficult” when my main character is 5+ levels higher than the rest of my own party — is this making sense?

The game is way harder if you aren’t taking advantage of the elemental “One More!” system that grants you extra actions when you exploit a monster’s weakness. But the linchpin seems to be character/monster level.

In a “straight fight,” where the monsters are the same level as my party, the monsters don’t stand a chance. I mean like, “I don’t break a sweat” chance. The game is difficult when the monsters are several levels higher.

What is the monster level then?

Is that the level that I should be encountering the monsters at, or the level I should be when I’ve finished with the dungeon?

Admittedly, this is more or less the same system I’m using in Mother of Monsters. Where I use it, monster levels reflect when the PCs have a fifty percent chance of winning in a 1:1 slugfest.

Monsters determine their targets randomly and the player is expected to use tactics like focused fire in order to win through the Action Economy.

I guess the main difference where I use it — the monsters are only three levels higher than the party, and remain challenging while at the same level as the party, and sometimes challenge a party several levels higher.

In the playtest for example, the players had parties 5-10 levels higher than suggested, and were still challenged by the standard encounters.

I like Persona’s use of elemental types and whatnot for enabling characters to punch over their weight, and I might implement something similar in a game of my own — but I’m worried about the difficulty dropping off.

I want to reward smart tactics, but it’s hard for the game to keep up.

I’m not sure, between Persona 4 changing up the monsters on every floor — while providing monster analysis freely — where the balance of “challenge” lies.