A tall claim perhaps, but no less a true one, as Persona 3 has what very few JRPGs since the PS1 glory days have displayed: Heart. Real, genuine, emotional heart to it.
Playing as a silent protagonist who you name yourself at the start, you transfer to a new city and new school in Japan where you quickly find that your dorm mates are all members of a mysterious organistion called SEES that is dedicated to the eradication of 'shadows', demonic creatures borne of 'The Dark Hour', a 'missing' hour of the day that occurs after midnight that only a few select people are aware of the existence of. All you know about the Dark Hour at the start is that when it occurs, your new high school temporarily transforms into a huge, menacing structure known as 'Tartarus', a tower that you will have to gradually explore as time goes on to find clues about what's going on, while simultaneously dealing with the increasingly powerful shadows as they attack the city every month during the full moon. All this, and you must also juggle your private life with your 'night life', as you control the relationships you form with others and the direction those relation ships can take.
It might all sound a bit heavy, but Persona 3 is an absolute joy to play from beginning to end as you control your character over the course of most of a year, deciding on your own what to do with your time each day as a huge amount of choice is thrust upon you. Do you join an after school club? Work on your studies or your charm? Try to make friends with any one of a huge cast of characters? Or live the dream and try to get off with any of a number of pretty girls who you'll have to win the trust of and romance as best you can? It's an RPG like no other as the gameplay is very heavily driven toward making you form relationships with others(It does serve a purpose to the main story, as well as offering bonuses to the 'combat' centric parts of the game.) and nurturing these relationships as best you can. The number of characters with their own unique personal stories for you to invlove yourself in is astounding, as each one plays out like it's own mini-soap opera where you control how conversations go through things like how you talk to your friend/girlfriend, what gifts you give them, whether you spend time with them on holiday days, etc. It's an immensely deep experience and does a wonderful job of making each character someone you can actually care about, with impressively written dialogue and some really good voice acting(Though the voice acting is mostly reserved for the main story parts). The heavy focus on character development as opposed to OTT world ending plots and convoluted plot twists and mincing villains(Though it has elelments of these things in more minor forms it must be said, even if they never dominate the game in any way) is a stroke of genius, as is giving you the freedom to determine how you spend each day.
The dungeon crawling Tartarus sequences are where the game's 'other half' comes into play. Taking the form of a traditional JRPG, you explore randomly generated floors of Tartarus, fighting shadows as you find them(No random battles either, you decide how you initiate battles as shadows walk around in the dungeons like you do) and collecting items, fighting bosses... it follows a fairly repetitive pattern to be honest, but that's sort of the point of it in a way.
The battles themselves are normal turn based affairs where you control only the main character as the other members of SEES are AI controlled(Though their AI is very impressive, and you can set how they approach each battle, whether that be cautiously conserving HP and SP or hitting the enemy with all they have.), where you use magic offered by 'Personas'(Creatures you can collect through battle as the game goes on, Pokemon style) to use various abilities to defeat shadows. The combat is easy to manage, but can get quite difficult quite quickly if you aren't careful and don't take the time to level up as much as possible(In fact, I'd recommend playing the game on 'beginner' setting firast thing, as it is quite unforgiving in places even on normal).
Graphically the game is somewhat less than spectacular. The visuals are nice, with a good sense of style about them, but they simply aren't in the same league as the likes of FFXII or Knigdom Hearts 2 or the like.
The soundtrack though... THAT is awesome, with fantastic tunes throughout(Often fully vocal songs are used for background music too, which creates a really nice atmosphere) that fit the game perfectly.
I can't see the game appealing to everyone of course. It does have a very 'anime'-esque style to it, with many classic anime cliches, character types and storylines aped in some fashion or other throughout the game(And yes, it isn't shy with the fan service either fellow otakus :)) and it requires an enormous time investment(I finished it in 80 or so hours, and that's not taking the time to do everything OR playing the 30-40 hour bonus 'Epilogue' game 'The Answer' offered on this FES edition of the game), but in all honesty, this is simply the best JRPG I have played since the likes of Xenogears and Final Fantasy IX were eating up my time into the early morning hours. It is a genuinely gripping emotional rollercoaster that consistently finds ways to surprise and engage on a number of levels. It is a true JRPG classic.
You NEED to buy this game, especially at a price under 20 quid new. Your only regret will be the amount of sleep you will lose playing it. It's THAT good.
on 8 November 2008
.....It could very well be- if you're into JRPG's and anime in general, then it's likely this will be the big shiny jewel atop the PS2's crown for you.
For those who don't know- this version is essentially a 'director's cut' of the original Persona 3- which became my favourite RPG ever (until this version came out, of course.) It has everything he original had, plus more- more characterisation, more Personas to find/create.... but that's not the main thing. This version contains the extra chapter- "The Answer," that take place after the main story (called "The Journey") Yeah- that's up to about another 30 hours play time crammed in with all the other extras!
The story focuses around a young hero (you) moving to a new city and transferring to a new school where he soon discovers he has a power called "Persona"... a power that allows him to enter the "dark hour" and fight enemies that only people with the power can see- the Shadows. He find he's not the only one with such a power and joins a school group that fights the shadows for the sake of..... well, you'll find out. ^_^ Unlike his fellow Persona-users though, the hero has the ability to command up to 170 different Personas! But the game's not all about fighting- half of the game is about going through a year in the hero's life in school- making friends, girlfriend(s) :), and various activities- it all adds so much to the game's overall experience and creates an incredibly deep world full of characters you will feel a real attachment to. And that's what an RPG should do, right? ^_^
To sum up: it's an incredible game and well worth getting even this late in the PS2's lifespan- it blows many 'next-gen' RPG's clean out of the water. The modern japanese, unique, and often morbid style of the game (did I mention that the character's summon their Persona's by shooting themselves in the head?) will easily appeal to anime fans, and even if you aren't a said fan, you're still getting a near-flawless RPG.
on 20 January 2009
This is a fantastic game. I played through the first, original copy, yet still found the need to buy this copy when it came out - and for good reason!
This is essentially a director's cut of the original game: some grievances of the past game have been smoothed out, and quirky little extras have been added ranging from new battle outfits, a brand new 30+ epilogue to fill in some unanswered questions in the game, a new Social Link, even more Personas to create to chance to take your dog for a walk in the park! The extras range from useful to just plain fun, and the chance to replay the game again is a refreshing reminder of just why I love the story so much.
If you haven't played it before - why not? This is a must have for any RPG fan; from the interesting aesthetic and unique soundtrack, to the surprisingly dark story and some of the strongest characterisations I've seen in a long time. Well worth every penny.
on 2 November 2011
I can't believe I only just discovered this gem a few months ago. Whilst a little hard to get into at first, once the preliminary story bits are out of the way and it is established how to play the game, it gets really immersive!
If you haven't played the series before, your character fights with the aid of powerful magical entites called Personas, which are represented by different suits of the Tarot main Arcana. These Personas are described as a 'second you' that live inside certain people and can be called out to fight for you.
In terms of combat its a classic dungeon crawler with turn based combat, advancing up levels of the dungeon and facing more powerful enemies as you do so, with bosses at intervals and your character and their personas leveling up as you progress.
Outside of the dungeon the game takes on a life sim spin. Your character has to attend school most days, juggling an acedemic and social life. The social life is actually an important aspect of the game. When creating persona's, their initial power relies on the strength 'social links', which only become stronger as you advance in relationships. You also have the opportunity to visit the dungeon most nights with your party, whom apart from the main character you don't directly control, but can set tactics for so they fight in a certain way. This speeds up battles quite nicely, as you'll be having a lot of them.
Just because the dungeon seems optional, don't think you can get away with just playing the life sim side of the game though! You'll see from the start that every day has the phase of the moon at that time next to it. On every full moon you'll be expected to fight, and if you haven't been using your time effectively to become stronger, you're in for a big surprise!
With the FES edition comes a whole new story line, which takes place after the main game, which also has some major changes too, and due to the length and complexity of the game, it can be played multiple times with maximum replay value.
If you're into unique JRPG's, life sims, or dungeon crawlers, this game is a classic must have with an amazing story.
on 3 September 2011
I'd say I'm about halfway through this game, and I'll definitely be finishing it.
For many of us buying the game, this means going back to SD PS2 graphics after playing current-generation consoles. This isn't a particularly good-looking PS2 game either, with other choices such as Dark Chronicle, Rogue Galaxy and the Final Fantasy games being much more detailed. That said, even though it looks a bit faded and blocky, it's a very cleanly presented game that rarely looks offensively bad. The worst-looking parts are probably when it zooms in on the character models after a battle. Thankfully these models aren't what you're expected to relate to- the characters are represented in dialogues by larger, animé-style sprites, similar to those in the likes of Trauma Center, and these look great. Otherwise, you're never going to be impressed, but it's unlikely Persona 3 will disgust you.
By day, the game is something of a visual novel, where your character goes to school, walks around town, and interacts with people they meet. By night, you traverse a massive dungeon, taking out the malevolent ghosts using your Persona powers. The social element is quite engaging- the characters each have some depth to them, so chances are you'll choose a few early on and focus on their storylines, which is a fine strategy, since this will result in souped-up, powerful Personas for those "Social Links". You'll spend a lot of time talking to people and reading text, so if you're the kind of gamer who's always eager for action, the game probably isn't for you.
The battle system works well- they're a bit like Pokémon battles, but with teammates to give you a hand. They do threaten to become repetitive, but the game mostly avoids this by offering you plenty of challenges and bits on the side to do. You'll acquire new Personas all the time, adding to the games playability, Plus, you can usually access the dungeon whenever you choose to. Would you rather have an early night and kick some social ass tomorrow? Or get some studying done to impress people? The game will offer you that choice. This freedom is very welcome and offers a sense of immersion.
The game offers three difficulty levels. Playing on Normal, I get the feeling the game could become difficult if you don't access the dungeons regularly enough; again, the regular challenges offer incentive for you to explore and gain unique items and Personas. The difficulty curve is gradual however, and the mechanics are easy to grasp. There are a few frustrating one-hit KO moves that can result in you losing progress, and will result in you needing to save often, but there are ways of preventing them.
Story and Presentation:
Persona offers both the overarching storyline and the character's individual storylines to follow. The game involves a few archetypes, but for the most part is quite original, with the occasional animé-styled cutscenes being very artsy and modern. It has a fairly casual tone to it, since your socialising and battling is based around day and night, and a yearly calendar, so the game takes the attitude of day being 'play', and night being 'work'. The game isn't overtly Japanese in it's humor or likability- it's clearly set in a Japanese town, there's a shrine and the like and there are Japanese names, but there isn't any 'moe' moments or quirks like that, which will please some gamers.
The English voice-acting can be a mixed bag but it's actually quite a decent job I feel. The actors sound into their roles enough, with certain characters such as Yukari, Mitsuru, Akihiko and Junpei standing out, with others like Fuuka and Pharos being likely to grate. I was personally occasionally annoyed by how some of them pronounced Japanese phrases- none of them appeared to know how to say the name "Akihiko"- but like the graphics these problems become ignorable after a grace period.
Overall, Persona is a satisfyingly deep game with plenty to do, a unique character to it and rock-solid gameplay. It offers everything a hardcore JRPG fan could want, while remaining fairly accessible if you don't mind a bit of reading and dungeon crawling, since the game's variety should make up for any qualms.
on 1 September 2013
This game is horribly addictive. I didn't expect to like it, but I couldn't stop once I did. Actually, I think that this is the rarest of games: the kind that keeps you interested over a long period of time, but doesn't demand that you spend every waking hour on it. I found that about 2-3 hours a day was enough to satisfy my interest, while still keeping me eager to play it again the next day.
This game can be pretty easily divided into two separate sections: the social gaming and the dungeon crawling. The social gaming is complicated so I'll cover it later. The dungeon crawling is pretty basic RPG fare. You run around Tartarus (a giant dungeon that takes the place of your school in the Dark Hour) and if you hit any of the little monsters running around you enter a turn-based battle mode. The combat system is fairly standard as well, although the ability to knock characters down and issue an all-out attack can be both a lifesaver and a massive nuisance. The biggest problem with it is that you can only control your character and not any of the others, which can lead to massive defeats that could be easily avoided since the death of your character results in a game over even if everyone else survives. Tartarus is divided into over 200 floors whose layouts are randomly generated each time you visit. This all becomes rather repetitive, but somehow the rest of the game can make up for it.
The social gaming is the truly innovative part of this game. I understand that social games are popular in Japan, but they never took off over here so it feels completely fresh. You spend your day as a secondary school student in Gekkoukan High. You go to class, make friends, and attend societies. At night you can go to Tartarus and kill demons. The game takes place over most of a schoolyear so you have plenty of time to do all four. The day is divided into five main periods: early morning, morning, lunchtime, after school, and evening. Most of them are scripted (it is a school after all) but you have control over what you do in your afternoon and evening slot, as well as during your Sundays. You can choose to go out with friends, study, or do solo activities. You can even play a game within a game which I think kicks you down to the level with crumbling skyscrapers. As you make friends you establish things called "Social Links" which allow you to build better Personas (the main fighting mechanic) and have character development. Otherwise the social gaming would be fairly unconnected to the main quest.
The control you have over your character's life is compelling. Depending on your decisions you can get a girlfriend, make friends, ace tests, bomb tests, etc. It really feels like leading a second life. I was surprised at how quickly I settled into the mode of a high school student. In some ways the dungeon crawling is actually a distraction. In other ways it is the glue that ties everything together. Without the supernatural element I'd probably have bored of the school life a lot quicker. And without the school life I'd have bored of the dungeon crawling in a heartbeat. It's quite strange how well the two work together.
Two other aspects that must be discussed: story and characters. The story here is really good, even aside from the character-development scenes. The sense of impending doom is captured pretty well by the end, even though the repetitive attending of lessons does rather lesson its impact. The only real problem with the plot is that it is (by necessity) repetitive. My favorite events are the scripted ones like the beach holiday (mandated by Japanese law to appear in every Anime) and the school trip but generally you have complete control of your life except for once a month when the shadows arrive. Also, towards the end it seems to lose its focus, only to regain it in a slightly odd direction that doesn't seem to work as well. The characters are all strong, with Akihito, Junpei, Mitsuru, Ken, Yukari, and Aegis being the chief standouts. Err, I think that's pretty much all of them. At any rate, it feels great just hanging out for a year with these cool guys in their sweet dorm.
This game has a few problems but they are minimal (the Sumerians were NOT writing in 4000 BC dammit! Stupid teachers and their innacurate questions. grumble grumble). The elements I worried I'd despise (such as the social gaming, the emo-looking protagonist, and the loud rock music during fight scenes) turned out to really help pull me in. The game as a whole is compelling and draws you into the life of a normal Japanese schoolboy in a way no other game can match (I assume fighting demons by night is normal for a Japanese schoolboy, right?). But really, anything bad I had to say about the game would be nitpicky. If you have any interest in RPGs at all then play this game.
FES also includes an additional chapter entitled "The Answer" as opposed to "The Question", which is the title they give to the regular game. I cannot recommend playing it. Aside from the fact that it provides a few definitive answers that were better off left vague and teases a happy resolution when it can provide none, it also ramps the difficulty up to eleven. Atlus has a tendency to make impossibly hard games that can only be beaten by hardcore gamers (see Devil Survivor for a prime example). I don't understand that business model since not everyone is capable of beating the games on such difficulty. Surely offering challenging as an option is sufficient for the developers? Anyway, what makes this chapter so difficult is that it A. Reduces your characters back to level 25, B. Features some tough new enemies, and C. No longer allows you to buy back Personas that you've already made. This last one in particular means that you need to go online and find a fusion guide. I don't know how else you could do it. Without the social links it is merely a linear dungeon crawler, and not very interesting for the most part. While some of the character development is insightful, I was much happier where the original game ended. It was bittersweet, but fitting.
Quick note: this game is available on the PSN, the only PS2 game on it that I know of. That's where I played it and it works well. The game is also available for the PSP as Persona 3 Portable. It gets rid of the awesome cutscenes and replaces the walking around with a 2D image, but adds the ability to play as a female character. It's a pretty good addition and worth checking out even if the PS2 version is still better. There is also a sequel called Persona 4 (also available as Persona 4: Golden for the Vita) which is arguably even better. It's set in the countryside and has a more lighthearted murder mystery angle. It streamlines some of the control issues and the dungeons but keeps the social gaming. The first two games (one and two) didn't have this and aren't so interesting as a result. They are still worth playing for their stories (especially 2) but you never feel as close to the characters as when you're controlling their daily lives.
on 29 April 2009
Well here's a new one on me...RPG meets The Sims.
Well not quite but it does mix RPG mechanics with a very heavy element of keeping up your social networking. The story of Persona 3 sees you as a young male student, new in town and joining a new school. You find out early on that something very odd happens to this school every night at midnight: a tower called Tartarus which is filled with monsters appears, and you (along with a few school chums) have been assigned to explore it and climb to the very top. As you go higher and higher in the tower, the monsters get tougher and there's a boss fight every few floors. You find items along the way and gain experience.
Now this is all pretty standard RPG stuff. Fighting is turn based, and you have a arsenal of spells and physical attacks at your disposal. As in other Shin Megami Tensei games, all the enemies have certain weaknesses that you can exploit to get extra attack turns (and in the same way, so can they). Spells all have similar names as in the other games of the series (Agi, Mamudo, Rakunda, etc), and the usual status ailments still apply. This is all good fun and makes for battles that you usually have to think about rather then run in blindly every time. Monsters are visible in the tower so you can choose whether to attack or run past - whack them from behind to ensure your turn comes first! And if they catch you first they get the first turn in battle which can sometimes be lethal. In fact towards the end of the game, any time the enemy goes first can spell Game Over. Another thing to understand is that you can have a team of up to four people but apart from your own character, everyone else acts on AI. So you have to issue "general" orders to your team mates (ie Heal Only, Full on Attack, Save Magic points, etc) and let them decide how to interpret these. The good news is that the computer AI for the team mates is fantastic. Even when I left everyone on "Act freely", they always did really sensible things. And if you use the "analyse enemy" support function, they remember the enemy weaknesses in all future encounters and only use effective attacks. Very clever. I found this one of the best computer controlled team-mate games I have ever played.
Apart from this, it's pretty similar to other Shin Megami games, especially in the annoying habit of enemies using far too many instant death spells which is cheap and REALLY annoying!
The series also retains the process of monster fusing. As in previous games you keep a team of monsters (called Personas in this game), and as your collection grows you can fuse them together to make better ones. The slight difference is that they are not captured in battle any more (all the monsters you fight are different to the Personas), but have to be "won" as random rewards at the end of battles. These will be familiar to fans of the series, as Pixie, Ganesha, Sati, Angel and all the rest are back to entertain you again, plus a few more. You can keep a stable of monsters with you at any time and try them all out! In contrast your team mates only have one permanent Persona each, but they all have interesting abilities and weaknesses, so you'll be choosing carefully who you take with you into boss fights.
So now, here are the differences. And they are mainly in what happens when you are not fighting your way through the tower. Well, when you are not fighting monsters, you spend game time leading a pretty normal life as a teenager in modern day Japan (game-world Japan, of course!). The game has a very big emphasis on time and dates. Unlike most RPGs where time is just kind of generally moving forwards, here it is divided into days on a calendar, and each day has it's own morning, daytime, evening and night-time sections. You'll soon find out that the times of the day dictate what is available for you to do, for example, every week daytime you are at school (boo!), and in the evening the shops are closed. On Sundays and school holidays you are free to do whatever you like, but during exam weeks, you can't do anything. And in the evenings you can go out, chat to people, or explore Tartarus. What will take up most of your attention during the days, though, is trying to establish lots of social links. This means making friends with lots of people, and making clever choices in conversations so that they start liking you more. It sounds a bit lame but this is actually a requirement of the game, as the monster fusing is more effective depending on how strong your personal relations are. So get on with everybody and you'll find you get stronger monsters! In a rather mean twist, the hero can have unlimited male friends, but be careful with the girls because as relationships grow, you'll find that they get jealous of each other so you can only ever have ONE strong female relationship at a time. Kind of limiting as there are about 6 girls in the game you can potentially create social links with. I guess there's no such thing as "just friends" with girls in the Persona universe.
The game is fun and very addictive, but to my disappointment, it did verge on being repetitive at times. Each day that rolls past is pretty similar to the one before it. And climbing the Tartarus tower can start to lose it's novelty too, because the floors all follow a single standard design (it changes every 20 floors or so but still!), and some of the bosses can be tough, so you really do have to explore the same floors multiple times just to level up (the characters even call it call it "training"), which can really get tiresome. However the growth of personas is always a great lure to keep edging those levels up (what will be the next skill they learn??), and the battles are generally good fun, so I didn't mind too much. The story is also pretty good. Even the after-battle item rewards are fun: you get shown a choice of tarot-style cards with rewards on them , which are then shuffled before your eyes face down, and you have to watch carefully and then try and pick the one with the best reward on it! As basic as that sounds I found this NEVER got old! Oh yes, and one very odd part of the game overall is that in battle, the way to summon a persona is to shoot yourself in the head with a special gun! Let's hope no impressionable kids try to copy that one eh?
on 4 January 2015
Don’t worry, this is not a horror game, this is a wonderfully weird Japanese turn based RPG with social simulation game elements, from the same people that made the Shin Megami Tensei RPGs.
This is my first time in the Persona RPG series, that began in the PSOne, but only came the first time in Europe, in 2008 for the PS2, more than ten years after, with Persona 3 (the first one was remade for PSP in 2009).
You are a orphaned teenage boy, that founds out that has a special gift and returns to the town he grew up, to attend the Gekkoukan High School.There he joins the SEES (Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad) a club that has the same gift as him, the ability to summon (with a shot in the head with a gun-like object called Evoker, the iconic move of this game)Personas, a creature that personificates a psicological aspect of the character that summons it, with influences of Tarot lore, to fight evil creatures called Shadows, wich feeds on humans minds and after leaves them in a catatonic state, only appearing in the mysterious Dark Hour, a time period between one day and the next (nothing much out of the ordinary in a High School).
You play the game between the day, in the school, building your social relationships with the other characters of the game, that improves the strength of the Personas, to use in combat at night in the Tartarus tower, the game main dungeon.
Persona 3 FES is a extended version of the original Persona 3, containing the original and extra content,”The Answer” quest, much like DLCs now a days, so I recommend this version, for more value in the package.
The game has only one big dungeon, the Tartarus Tower. The environments can be a bit weak on the design part. Seeing teens shooting themselves in the head, can be a bit shocking for some, but this is a 16+ age game. The extra content, “The Answer” quest, does not have the social Link system and you do not attend the High School, becoming a more traditional Japanese RPG.
The setting of a day-by-day modern Japanese High School, so different of other RPGs, that are mostly in fantasy worlds. The addictive social relationship simulation aspects of the game(no you do not have sex in this game, you Mass Effect and Dragon Age pervert !). The intelligent AI of your companions in combat, speeding in a dynamic way the combat. Seeing teens shooting themselves in the head, to summon creatures for combat. The extra content, “The Answer” that continues the adventure right after the final events of main game “The Journey”, giving as the name suggests some answers to the weird mysteries , giving extra value for the package.
A flawed but very refreshing and slightly different take on the Japanese RPGs, that I recommend for you to try, for a very reasonable price.
on 29 July 2013
Persona 3 FES is probably one of the most memorable role-playing games you will ever play.
I bought the game largely off of the recommendation of a friend, and also after a small amount of research to determine just what the game involved. Looking into it (but not too much, lest spoilers arise) most people would appreciate that the gameplay involves tactical, turn-based battles (much like other typical JRPGS) combined with a heavy emphasis on storytelling and, of course, the franchise's almost flagship 'social link' system, which involves using genuine role-playing to make friends with NPCs, then cashing in on those bonds to get a significant tactical edge in battle. For the sake of convenience, I'll divide the detail of this review into a few sections.
- Plot (and the abundance of it) 9/10
The storyline is this game's making and, for some people, its undoing. If you're a fan of story-driven games with relateable characters, plot twists and genuine emotion throughout, this game was practically made for you. However, if you're not so big on this, the often lengthy conversations and cutscenes may grate slightly as you progress. Some small spoilers follow, but nothing you won't learn within the first 30 minutes.
The basic breakdown of the plot is that you are a transfer student to Gekkoukan highschool. Barely off the train, you experience the mysterious 'Dark Hour' and, arriving at your new dorm, you find yourself bound by a foreboding contract presented to you by a strange kid who- you guessed it- immediately disappears. Shortly thereafter monstrous Shadows start popping up all over the place, and having realised your true power- that of 'Persona'- it's up to you and a group of troubled students to do something about them. Suffice to say, though, that nothing in this game's storyline is what it seems. End of potential spoilers.
- Gameplay (I hope you like grinding) 8/10
The game is essentially split into two sections: the first takes place day by day, with your character having to attend school and being able to take part in after-school activities, while the second takes place in the time known as the 'Dark Hour'. During the Dark Hour, you can choose to explore a vast dungeon with randomised levels, loot and enemies for endless replayability. This might sound rather enticing, but in actual fact the dungeon levels are rather bleak, sterile rooms and corridors punctuated only by the odd enemy or box of loot. And so one of the game's main flaws arises: the repetetive nature of the Dark Hour gameplay. You will spend probably around half the game fighting your way through these almost identical dungeon levels, beating an (admittedly very interesting) variety of enemies. Don't get me wrong, there's more to it than I can include here and it's nowhere near as terrible as it likely sounds, but after 50+ hours you'll likely want to focus more on the daytime gameplay than the Dark Hour gameplay.
Having said this, the tactical battles are challenging and very unforgiving at times, so you'll have to stay on your toes or frequently face defeat. Unlike most turn-based RPGs, you only have direct control over your own character, with your party members (up to 3 not including yourself) acting according to the vague tactics you set them. They won't always do what you want them to, but for the most part the AI is excellent and rarely makes mistakes. Similarly, the enemies have an impressive range of AI, with basic monsters often playing into your hands and more powerful foes ruthlessly taking advantage of your weaknesses. Turn-based fans will not be disappointed.
And of course, finally, the 'Persona' system deserves a mention. As you progress through the game, you will gain more Personas, which allow the execution of advanced skills and attacks in battle according to which one you have 'equipped'. You can combine two or more Personas to create more powerful ones, and with ~170 different ones to choose from, you're practically guaranteed not to find them all in one playthrough. Combine this with the fact that your social links from the daytime game make your Personas more powerful and you have one very, very unique system, which I greatly enjoyed.
- Music and Voices (your ears will enjoy this game) 10/10
On a quick note, Persona 3 certainly reflects the quality of its story and gameplay in the music it features. There's an incredible variety in there, from haunting, beautiful vocal tracks to the upbeat dance pieces played during daytime gameplay. If you're a connoisseur of gameplay music, there's bound to be something in here that you love.
Similarly, the voice acting is generally excellent, which really helps confirm most of the characters not just as memorable, but as badasses in their own right. If you're not a fan of Japanese honorifics being used in English dialogue, however, it may take a little getting used to. Not a big deal though.
- Conclusion (the rambling doth end) Overall- screw it, 10/10
Concluding, I realise just how little justice I can do this game merely by talking about it. It is an investment to finish, true, and while the gameplay time is estimated at ~70 hours, it took me well over 100 hours to finish, excluding the epilogue story which is in itself around 30 hours long. Thus, this is not a 'casual' game, nor is it a game you can expect to breeze through. But if you do pick it up, you will find that Persona 3 is so much more than you anticipated, irrespective of its flaws. You will not be disappointed.
on 28 June 2013
It's a perfect game for anyone who likes JRPGs with a really interesting story line.
Which as far as I can see, is unique.
In terms of game play it blends turn-based combat with a time management system
which is used to achieve skill points. The best part is both the combat and social system
are completely inter-linked which means you have to used both effectively to proceed in
the game. Couple that with the large amount of content available and it might be one of
the few games which lasts long enough for people who never like their favorite games to
The only issue people might have with the game is the out-dated graphics compared to
current games and those who have no patience for long dialogs. Which can occur
periodically throughout the games storyline.
Give it a try at least! :)