HomeReviewsPersona 3 Reload review: a high school reunion better left in the...

Persona 3 Reload review: a high school reunion better left in the history books

On the twenty third of Might, I strode out of the examination corridor with my head held excessive. Not solely had we cleared out the forty second ground of the cursed extra-dimensional horror home that was our faculty’s midnight alter-ego, I’d additionally simply aced my midterms. I spent the afternoon serving to my french international trade pal sew a kimono for his estranged uncle, then killed a while earlier than mattress by consoling the small baby I’d been hanging out with recently about her mum or dad’s divorce.

So goes a median day in one of many very, very many days stuffed into Persona 3 Reload’s yr lengthy style of demon-slaying highschool life. An enthralling fantasy? Maybe! There’s a lot right here for followers who don’t thoughts an old-school strategy to grinding whereas exploring heartfelt, albeit tacky, friendships. Those that do not get on with anime tropes, although, would possibly discover it exhaustingly written and repetitive.

A be aware, to begin: I’m a Persona beginner, and I’ll largely assume you’re too. In the event you’ve performed the unique and are searching for a chunk that speaks to how properly the fifteen year-old recreation has been modernised, you’re higher off elsewhere. On the flipside, for those who’re merely Persona curious and contemplating leaping into Reload with minimal JRPG expertise, then my pre-playing perspective matched yours. On to the reviewing!

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Picture credit score: gamenewspost Shotgun/Sega

You’re a switch pupil with a murky, mysterious previous – a pupil who’s remarkably unfazed when the evening sky turns inexperienced and puddles of blood ripple via a metropolis with an ominous lack of individuals however an odd abundance of big upright coffins. Seems you’re strolling residence within the Darkish Hour, a creepy liminal time the place demons known as Shadows stalk the streets and your soon-to-be highschool transforms into Tartarus: an Escher-esque tower stuffed to the brim with ground after ground (after ground, after ground, after ground…) of the bastards.

It’s not lengthy earlier than you be a part of a gang of Shadow hunters, who’re conveniently additionally your fellow college students and dormmates. You’re a Persona wielder, see, blessed with the flexibility to summon a combat-ready monster/god/novelty snowman from the depths of your soul. Since you’re super-duper particular it seems you possibly can choose from a number of personas, whereas each different chump will get caught with one.

Fight is usually a Pokémon-like affair of selecting which Persona to invoke and which spell to make use of, with wrinkles that hold issues fascinating for just a few hours tops. You and your foes are weak to sure sorts of assault, and there’s a knockdown system that offers you an additional motion every time you efficiently goal a weak point. Ideally, you’ll chain assaults collectively till each opponent is on their knees and your complete crew can cost in for an “all-out assault”.

It’s telling that you just’re given varied instruments to make the fight largely play itself. When you’ve discovered these weaknesses, both via trial and error or a specific character’s particular skill, you possibly can press F to mechanically choose an assault or merchandise that may goal it. In the event you’ve already triggered a knockdown in your flip, urgent F may hand your bonus flip over to a pal with an applicable skill readily available. This baton-passing is clean, slick, and senseless. You too can assign your teammates behaviours in order that they’ll play out their turns for you, conveniently sparing you from three quarters of the button hammering.

Taking on a horrible heart boss in Persona 3 Reload.

Picture credit score: gamenewspost Shotgun/Sega

Ultimately you unlock particular assaults, which cutely cost up by taking actions typically vaguely related to that character’s persona. I grinned via the primary one I noticed, having fun with a bit sprint of flip-filled anime pazazz. I wasn’t grinning by the point I’d seen it for the 79 bajillienth time. Mercifully, there’s a button that quick forwards via every regular fight animation (not the particular assaults, you’ll bafflingly have to observe these in full), however for those who go away it held down then you definitely’ll simply do often-piddly fundamental assaults along with your geared up weapon. My principal engagement with combating quickly grew to become timing the urgent of that button with the beginning and finish of every assault.

I suppose you would see it as extra of a useful resource administration kind problem, with every combat consuming at your – easily-restored, nevertheless – well being and mana. On greater difficulties, small selections over whether or not to debuff an enemy earlier than attacking them would possibly matter extra. Taking part in on a problem above regular looks as if the one option to make deviating from merely focusing on weaknesses every time attainable a worthwhile technique, doubtlessly avoiding fight devolving into simply making the identical selection over and over. Even then there’s no actual breadth of choices for tips on how to sort out every combat, and curveballs like monsters with no weaknesses wind up simplifying your decision-making slightly than making it extra fascinating.

Sadly, I wouldn’t contact the upper difficulties with a ten-foot barge Persona as a result of even on regular there are enemies that may one-shot your character (relying on how a lot grinding you’ve achieved), thus insta-ending a doubtlessly 20 minute lengthy combat. I’m not exaggerating – the way in which some enemies have an infuriating behavior of therapeutic themselves all option to full had me howling at my display screen.

A close up of the Kingfrost persona in Persona 3 Reload.

Picture credit score: gamenewspost Shotgun/Sega

Navigating Tartarus is wrapped up in its personal tedium, with no finish of superfluous mechanics hooked up to both initiating or avoiding fights with the bads moping about on every ground. Earlier than lengthy I merely selected to dash previous all of them.

In the event you do not dash previous them, there is a separate system the place you possibly can mix Personas into new ones that carry over your selection of spells out of your earlier ones. I discovered it initially intriguing, poring over the assorted monstrosities I may concoct. Earlier than lengthy, although, it felt like admin, attempting to maintain monitor of which assaults I is perhaps shedding with every fuse. It’s additionally the case that a number of the assaults are merely extra highly effective variations of earlier ones, slightly than those who provide new tactical prospects.

To its credit score, a number of the Shadow and Persona designs are ingenious. I favored displaying off my tentacle brain-monster persona, and the particular story encounters chucked some impressively un-hinged creatures at me. I may go on, however sufficient of Tartarus: suffice to say there are too many flooring, and they’re far too repetitive. As tiresome as all of that’s, whether or not or not you’ll like Persona most likely hinges extra on whether or not or not you just like the writing and the characters.

You’ve bought your traditional unfold of stripling archetypes: there’s the brash cocky dude, the shy nervous lady, the bookish nerd, the machinegun wielding robo-girl who can speak to the pet canine. They’re not with out attraction, and a few scenes drew a smile (even, as soon as, a chuckle) out of me. There may be a number of overly-earnest schmaltz, however there are additionally foolish twists and playful surprises – although a number of the turns are comically grim. You go right into a bookshop, hang around with the great aged couple working the place, they inform you in regards to the tragic demise of their son and your Hierophant Persona ranges up. Blissful days.

A man at a bar asks the Persona 3 Reload protagonist what sort of women they're into.

A character asks the protagonist which of the Persona 3 Reload girls in swimsuits is his type.

The Persona 3 Reload protagonist decides to play games all day in his bedroom.

The Persona 3 Reload protagonist plays a dating sim in an arcade.

Picture credit score: gamenewspost Shotgun/Sega

For probably the most half the writing isn’t a lot on the nostril as it’s hammering your nostril into your cranium, one cliche about believing in your self or friendship or not working away out of your issues at a time. It’s additionally laced with perviness, together with a very icky seaside vacation phase the place one character performs swimsuit choose to all of the 16 – 18 yr previous feminine bikini-clad characters as they flip up for a swim. Possibly that’s ignorable for some, however personally I discover it laborious to rally behind the ability of friendship when one in all my buddies is a large perv. It hasn’t aged properly, and a remake was a missed alternative to go away this and different elements on the reducing room ground.

To be honest, my first 10 or so hours had been carried alongside by a sure momentum. The times do have a compulsive rhythm, at first, pinging you between assessments and chats and dungeon runs. I even felt a way of delight in getting all of the trivia questions proper on my first semester finals, alongside ploughing sufficient evenings into working at a espresso store to max out my braveness and charisma. That’s a part of a really barebones system that gained’t allow you to speak to sure individuals till you’ve progressed from a timid, plain slacker to a badass charismatic genius. Most optionally available actions are hooked up to such rewards, which really feel rather more important earlier than you see the restrict of their influence. Though, I can see how they could work higher for people who find themselves eager to lean into the fantasy of hanging out with high-school buddies, having fun with a mixture of low-stakes mall-based escapades and extra critical household dramas.

Transferring round city could be very slick, I’ll give it that. You may get to nearly wherever with just some keyboard tippy faucets, diving straight into your subsequent dollop of friendship forging frippery. I’ll say once more, a few of these drew me in! I’m glad I indulged my curiosity in regards to the drunken monk within the evening membership that I undoubtedly shouldn’t have been allowed into, and I loved mulling over whether or not to inform that little lady it was her fault her mother and father had been divorcing. The scenes are hit or miss, although, and it’s important to sit via an terrible lot of nothing interactions for each enjoyable encounter.

An old couple opened up to your character in Persona 3 Reload.

Picture credit score: gamenewspost Shotgun/Sega

Extra importantly, for me, any shot at depth or profundity misses the mark completely, which is sadly what the principle plot spends most of its time aiming at. Characters are wheeled out with traumas and grievances I couldn’t deliver myself to care about, as a result of they don’t speak or act sufficient like actual individuals do. Their ideas and actions swept alongside by dogmatic adherence to predictable, performed out notions of revenge, obligation and unsubstantiated nihilism. No knowledge Persona 3 can impart goes past the notion that life sucks typically, but it surely’s nonetheless necessary to maintain combating, to imagine in your self and – above all – to embrace the ability of friendship. In the event you don’t thoughts that form of cheesiness, perhaps the extra heartfelt moments will land for you. For me, it’s emblematic of writing that depends on appeals to generic truisms slightly than genuinely knotty ethical, existential or private issues.

Maybe, for you, anime characters not appearing like actual people is all a part of the buy-in, and it’s foolish to anticipate in any other case. That’s effective! Up to now I’ve very a lot loved reveals with the same friendship-worshipping ethos, swamped as they’re in earnest cliche. They don’t transfer me, although, and a 20 minute TV present is a greater context for me to take pleasure in characters as quipping, plot-propelling toys slightly than individuals. Anime trappings don’t let me see them as anything.

For me having fun with anime comes down as to if I can climate the inevitable anime tropes, and right here they overwhelmed my flood defences. I discovered little solace in fight that was both overly merciless and grind-demanding or mindlessly simple, but at all times agonisingly repetitive even on the simplest and due to this fact speediest issue. I am positive current followers shall be happy with the modernisations, and newcomers who need tacky anime, low stakes conversations, and dungeon crawling will discover a lot to like right here. However for those who’re Persona-curious, I’d be cautious of leaving your big avenue coffin.


This overview relies on a overview construct of the sport offered by publishers Sega.

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