Persona 3 Portable Review – More Shin Megami Tensei Than Persona
Persona 3 Portable was one of the first titles in the Persona franchise to fully embrace its social aspects. Its original release was on the PlayStation 2, and it introduced new 3D visuals to the series. The game was considered a success and set the foundation for future games in the series. Like Persona 4 Golden, it also received an enhanced release on the PSP, which included new content such as a female protagonist and new social links. The gameplay was also improved in this version, with the addition of the ability for players to control party members, making the game more accessible and enhancing the flow of combat.
Now, Persona 3 Portable has finally been released on consoles and PC. Although it has taken a significant amount of time to arrive, it is an exciting release as it reminds us of a time when the Persona series had a darker tone and was closely associated with its Shin Megami Tensei roots. The game’s visuals are not as colorful and vibrant as those seen in Persona 4 Golden and Persona 5. Instead, the game focuses on a group of students living in a dormitory who hunt down shadows in the tower of Tartarus at night.
Each entry in the Persona series, like other JRPGs such as Final Fantasy and Tales, takes place within its unique world. Each game offers a new location, new characters, and a distinct theme for its story. Persona 3 Portable is no exception, offering players the choice of a female protagonist for the first time in the series. This feature was not part of the original release and was only added to the portable version, but it does not feel like a superficial addition as the story plays out differently depending on the chosen protagonist. The main character is portrayed as a silent character and does not speak much, but the game provides plenty of dialogue choices for the player to make during the story.
While the portable version of Persona 3 Portable offers several improvements, it also has some notable drawbacks, such as the removal of 3D traversal, which was a feature present in Persona 4 Golden. Instead of allowing players to roam freely in 3D, the exploration in this version is more akin to that of a visual novel, with the player able to navigate through different points of interest represented by static images. Decisions are made through the use of a cursor, and a shortcut menu can be utilized to quickly move between different points on the map. This version also lacks the anime cutscenes as well as the true ending which is known as The Answer.
The story of Persona 3 Portable takes place in the Japanese city of Iwatodai. The game’s premise revolves around the existence of a period known as the Dark Hour, which occurs when the clock strikes midnight. During this time, certain individuals transform into coffins and mysterious creatures called Shadows roam the city. The Gekkoukan High School, where the main protagonist and other party members attend school during the day, transforms into a massive tower called Tartarus, which is infested with Shadows.
The main protagonist lives in a dormitory with several other characters who are a part of an organization known as the Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad (SEES). The purpose of SEES is to investigate the nature of the Dark Hour and clear Tartarus of any Shadows. They possess the ability to summon beings known as Personas by firing a gun-like object, known as an Evoker, at their heads. This ability is crucial in their fight against the Shadows.
Persona 3 Portable is a game that is known for its philosophical and thought-provoking themes. It explores darker and more depressing social links than its successors, Persona 4 Golden and Persona 5, which may not appeal to all players. Despite this, the game is still well-regarded for its gameplay elements, which are considered to be almost as good as the other games in the series. However, the original release of Persona 3 FES is still considered superior in terms of its story.
One aspect of the game that is often criticized is the tower of Tartarus. It is a repetitive and monotonous dungeon that is necessary to explore to progress the story. The repetitive textures and enemies can make exploring the tower unenjoyable, but it is a requirement for the story to reach a certain floor to progress to the next stage. Additionally, the difficulty of the game is higher than its successors, with some battles being incredibly challenging, especially for players who tend to skip most fights in Tartarus.
Overall, Persona 3 Portable is a solid game with a darker tone and philosophical themes. The gameplay is enjoyable, but the tower of Tartarus can be repetitive. The main cast of characters is likable, and the social links provide interesting side stories. However, it is important to keep in mind that it may not have the same level of quality content as its successors. It is still worth playing for fans of the series, but newcomers may prefer to start with a more recent entry.
Persona 3 Portable Game Information
- Price: $19.99
- Publisher: Sega
- Developer: Atlus
- Platform: PS4 (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher