When I first played the series, the dialogue trees were the selling point for me. I loved the story and I enjoyed the characters, so I was delighted to explore the lockdown how I wanted.
Of course, it’s just an illusion of freedom, which is a concept all good story games are based off. The choice I had for my player character were given to me by the developers. I had no real say on what I could do beyond a few choices of dialogue, which could be frustrating when the responses were between ditzy, smart and uninterested.
But it was fun, and it was implemented well in the first and second games.
There are important decisions, and Atlus implemented consequences well. In the first game, time management was most important, as it would decide who you could save and which routes you would unlock. The dialogue choices were only vital when the game told you so, and the options were usually very clear.
The second game changed this, by having a “Fate” system which borrowed from Persona’s “Social Links” and was a numerical value for your friendship with another character.
It worked into the multiple route system and dialogue trees, giving more importance to the way you speak to NPCs.
So it’s funny how silly the second protagonist turned out.