Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
Atlas’ history Persona series of JRPGs is interesting – spin off of the wider one Megami Tensei_franchise with _Revelations: Persona on the PS1 in 1996, Persona is now better known and more popular than its parent series. It’s been a long road to get there though, and while the likes of Persona 5 Royal are now considered exemplars of the genre, previous entries that helped build that reputation have become more difficult for modern players to experience.
That’s part of what makes this 2006 re-release Persona 3 wearable such an interesting time capsule. While Atlus has also re-released modern ports of successor – and fan favorite Persona 4 gold in addition, the sequel, which had already been released on PC in 2020, was immediately available. Unlike, Person 3 has long been unplayable: if you missed the physical PS2 or PSP versions, released over a decade ago, you were out of luck – until now.
That unavailability was a real shame, as it’s both a standalone JRPG and a formative installment in the powerful series that Persona has since become Persona 3 wearable remains (usually) a pleasure. Like much of the series, it’s a mix of end-of-life relationship management and genre-typical dungeon crawling, but it’s also the beginning where so many well-known mechanics of later Persona games have really crystallized. For one thing, Persona 3 wearable abandoned the grid-based combat of its immediate predecessor, favoring a more dynamic visual approach to turn-based combat.
It’s also where the series began capturing some of the bold aesthetic and stylistic choices, even at the game menu level, that Person 4 and 5 would refine later. There are even some images that retain the ability to shock all these years later, most notably the sight of the largely teenage cast shooting themselves in the head to bring out the power of their Persona, the eponymous demons from their own psyche and based on Tarot arcana. Person 3 maybe not the first Persona game, but it is the one who set the course for those who followed.
In the plot, the protagonist – canonically named Makoto Yuki in most adaptations, but left to the player to name here – moves to the town of Iwatodai for a new student life at Gekkoukan High School. However, forget about the usual trials and tribulations of transferring to a new school – instead you’ll be sucked into a twisted alternate world known as the Dark Hour, a short period between each day when the real world turns into a nightmarish reflection, where most people unconsciously slumber. in coffins as demonic Shadows haunt the few who are aware of the change. As such a lucky person, you join the ‘Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad’ or SEES – a secret organization made up of, conveniently enough, several of your classmates, and the only group that can unravel the mystery of this alternate reality.
Person 3 fighting wasn’t hugely revolutionary even in 2006 and seems positively dated to 2023, but at least for fans of the genre it will feel comfortably nostalgic.
While there are plenty of relationship management and social activities Persona is known for during every school day, often driving past major storyline developments or forging social bonds that in turn enhance the protagonist’s abilities, uncovering the secrets of the Dark Hour usually involves nightly excursions to Tartarus, the ever-changing tower that takes the place of Gekkoukan during the dark hour – and it is true here Person 3 starting to show its age.
With each visit, your party charts new areas – a fairly repetitive prospect in itself, enlivened somewhat by the ability to send party members out to explore branching paths at the risk of encountering only enemies – and further and further into Tartarus to go as you grow in power. Despite each visit offering a procedurally generated selection of floors to explore in an attempt to add some unpredictability, each journey feels functionally identical: clear out every shadow enemy, grab loot chests, and defeat the occasional boss.
Battles against the Shadows themselves depend on the power of your Persona and the powerful elemental the Persona can unleash. These play a big part in the “one more” combat system – make use of a Shadow’s elemental weakness and you’ll make them falter and get to attack again; repeat to stagger an entire group of enemies, and your entire party can join in a team attack that often wipes out enemies in one fell swoop. While this adds a unique touch to combat beyond the usual turn-based offerings of attacks, item usage, and defense, encounters can still feel rote. Person 3 fighting wasn’t hugely revolutionary even in 2006 and seems positively dated to 2023, but at least for fans of the genre it will feel comfortably nostalgic.
While Persona 3 wearable devices Indeed, protracted research into Tartarus and the Dark Hour falls into a routine of daytime social activities and nighttime combat, it remains one that is strangely satisfying, despite its more antiquated aspects. The rhythm works particularly well on the Nintendo Switch (version tested), mimicking the portability of the original PSP release and lending itself to chunks of intermittent play.
Still, Atlus’ choice to base this modern port on the PSP version is also one of the biggest problems when it comes to gameplay Person 3 in 2023. As well as carrying over most of the dated visuals and low-poly 3D character models, running the game on Sony’s handheld in 2010 meant removing resource-heavy elements. The most obvious impact of this is that instead of manually exploring environments outside of Tartarus, as players did in the PS2 versions of the game, you move a cursor across static screens to interact with objects, more like a pointer- and clicks. adventure. It’s a change that’s kept here, even though the current hardware doesn’t have the same limitations as the PSP.
Likewise, there is a large amount of (arguably) absent content. Back on the PS2, the original Person 3 saw an extended release as Person 3 DOES, which added a lengthy new epilogue chapter. That was missing in the PSP release and is therefore absent here. However, we do get the Portable–original addition of a playable female protagonist, who plays as who can change some elements of the story, and new difficulty levels.
In an ideal world, Atlus would have given Person 3 a full remaster to bring it out of retirement, combining the full environmental movement and new story material from FES featuring the female protagonist, branching story elements, and additional difficulty levels of Portable to one final edition. It might be rude to complain about what the game isn’t when what it is is remains an important item in a beloved series. Its age and lackluster presentation may make it more suitable for devotees Persona fans or completists, but if nothing else, it’s a delight that they can easily experience the game again.