Review: Persona 3 Reloaded represents the definitive way to experience the world of Persona 3

A snappy rendition of “Full Moon, Full Life,” heard in last year’s trailer showcased at The Game Awards, set against an array of colorful backdrops serves as your introduction to the world of Persona 3 Reloaded. A multitude of interesting characters flash by as well, evoking nostalgic familiarity or newfound curiosity.

The narrative involves your character (the main protagonist) coming to Tatsumi Port Island as an exchange student back in 2009. He is assigned to live in the hotel-turned-living quarters, Iwatodai Dorms, which is also the headquarters of SEES (Special Extracurricular Execution Squad). This group operates by day as a normal club at the nearby Gekkoukan High School, though their primary function is to exterminate “Shadows” who have infected much of the populace with “Apathy Syndrome” basically robbing them of the will to live. (Though let’s be honest, if high school students were actually coming down with “Apathy Syndrome,” how the heck could you tell??) In between your Dark Hour duties you’ll also go to class, take exams, cultivate friendships, raise attributes, gorge yourself on ramen, hit the arcade, sing bad karaoke, etc. If this sounds like a lot, it’s because it is.

Boasting arguably the darkest storyline and themes of the modern Persona trilogy, the various protagonists of the game struggle with a number of existential issues, most notably coming to terms with the end of life. The symbolism of this can be seen in various ways in the game. For example, during the Dark Hour, an extra hour hidden from the members of the normal Persona-less society, regular people are portrayed as being trapped unmoving in coffins. Your fellow protagonists summon their Personae (“manifestations of their true selves”) with visual panache, by using evokers, specially made guns that fire bursts of light instead of bullets (into the brain, naturally). Your shadow patrol detail takes place somewhere outside of reality, in a large tower with seemingly endless floors, known as Tartarus.

persona 3 reload

Tatsumi Port Island is bustling with a couple malls and various locations you can hang out at to raise your attributes or earn a few bucks (you can now work at the movie theater). One of the nice new quality of life features is the fact that you can zip to any location that you’ve previously visited using the convenient fast travel option found in the navigation menu. Another nice feature is that any character that can affect your social link (represented in game by various Major Arcana cards) will have a floating semi-translucent glowing blue card over their head, which is nice if you happen to forget which character you need to hang out with on any given day. Even better, these card icons will show up on the main map of Tatsumi Port next to locations that will contain one of these characters.

The visuals in the game boast an abundance of style and charm. Summoned Personae shimmer to life in combat firing off elemental based attacks that freeze and shock enemies with billowy clouds of mist and crackling energy.  The various surfaces of Tartarus throb and pulse with hidden power. The darkened endless elevator of the Velvet Room periodically flashes with light, as if illuminated by an unseen storm outside. The various anime-inspired protagonists and other characters animate beautifully and come to life in the various scenes they each inhabit. Each of the main characters has a role in the larger narrative and it’s a delight to watch them all play out.

persona 3 reload
Akihiko is as much of a lovable meathead as he’s ever been in Persona 3 Reload.

The soundtrack offers a variety of musical themes, from the bustling Paulownia Mall to the dramatic Gatekeeper boss battles, to the quieter moments when your protagonist is simply relaxing in his room at the Iwatodai Dorms. The music is all rather well done and punctuate the low and high moments in the game nicely.  The voice acting is also uniformly excellent and it’s a pleasure to listen to the wide array of characters.

Persona 3 Reloaded represents the definitive way to experience the world of Persona 3. With an art style fairly reminiscent of Persona 5 and a punchy soundtrack highlighting the busy exploits of a Gekkoukan High School student, it’s never been a better time to grab your evoker and revisit all your old (or new) friends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *