Review – Persona 3 Portable (P3P) (PlayStation 4)

Tantalising Tartarus

Persona 3 Portable is one of the newest Console games alongside Persona 4 Golden to release on the same day on PlayStation 4, Switch and Xbox. Atlus really are treating us well. Persona 3 is probably the first in the series that most Persona fans were familiar with, it certainly was for me as it became first available on PlayStation 2 and then PlayStation classics on the PlayStation 3 console. Persona 3 Portable is an updated version which is of course on PlayStation Portable but is now on modern consoles.

The first thing to notice is the option to play as a female protagonist. This changes the dialogue and gives you the option to pair with the male candidates of the game. This option is recommended for those who have finished the game at least once but the option is there, it’s welcome and gives the game much replayability. The story follows the protagonist as they arrive in the city they once grew up in and arrive at a dormitory where they will stay as a transfer student. All isn’t as it seems though as the green eerie hue of the city turns normal people into coffins and bodies of water turn red like blood, a giant tower also appears that resembles an M.C. Escher design with blood dripping from the outside. This creepy phenomenon is known as the Dark Hour, those who survive the night lose their memories and those with the ability to summon Personas are fully active during the Dark Hour. As the protagonist, you arrive at the dormitory to find you are not alone in witnessing the strange phenomenon and that a group named SEES is aware of your ability to survive the Dark Hour and wants you to investigate the strange tower that appears during this Hour when the tower is active and monsters run rampant.

Persona 3 Portable reminds you constantly that death is everywhere. The game gives off a foreboding atmosphere constantly and it never stops. The eerie music of Tartarus also elevates this uneasy feeling. Now while this isn’t the strongest Persona game in the series it definitely wins on the atmosphere. While the game doesn’t take too long to get into before you’re able to move you will find yourself on a map-style menu where you will need to navigate where to go. As this is a PlayStation Portable game that has been remastered for modern consoles Atlus brought this rather dated mechanic over also and while the game looks great this mechanic feels kind of off especially playing on a home console. While not completely hampering the experience it does take the fun out of being able to explore. Once you are inside Tartarus though, you are free to explore everything beyond the entrance at least without navigating a point and click menu.

The floors to Tartarus are eerie and dark with blood puddles dotted every so often along the floors. Monsters roam the floors and you initiate battles by hitting them and getting an advantage in battle. Floors are Procedurally Generated and do not change much. You can grind in the tower but unfortunately, this is limited as you can incur a tired status effect on characters. Should this happen characters will underperform meaning missing attacks, being more vulnerable and generally getting their ass kicked. Therefore it is imperative that you keep characters in top form so they don’t succumb to the tower, Grinding is still easy as you can heal up at the entrance for a small fee and jump back in but still, overexerting yourself will be costly to your health and take you a few days to fully recover.

Battles are turn-based and relatively simple. The main premise is to exploit enemy weaknesses until all enemies are down and initiate an all-out attack to either knock them out for good or at least do a fair bit of damage if it doesn’t. If you’ve played other Persona games you will know what to do, if you don’t well Mitsuru will inform you in battle as she is your tutorial guide for much of the beginning. One thing of notice is the smiley face on each character’s portrait, should the smile turn upside down then that’s a sign to retreat as previously mentioned, it means your allies are tired and in need of rest. Your characters will pull a fake gun and fake shoot themselves in the head to summon personas to do their thing. This definitely fits the theme that Persona 3 was going for. I think the biggest and most welcome change for Persona 3 Portable here is the ability to fully control your party as you were only allowed to control the protagonist before, this meant you had to rely on them and hope they would do what you wanted them to do. Being able to control your team fully means you can fully control battles also and have a lot less risk of wiping to an AI’s poor decision.

There is not much to explain in terms of exploration as there isn’t any outside of the towering dungeon. As previously mentioned most of the exploration is done through a point-and-click style menu however this did not bother me too much. Outside of this, you do have the social interactions and activities you can do, in the early months though there isn’t a whole lot going on which is quite fortunate as there isn’t a whole of confidants this time to max out. It’s in the later months that the story really takes off and you will find yourself in much less abundant story sections early on in the game compared to other entries in the series.

Overall the game is still playing despite being the oldest of the Persona games on modern consoles. Don’t let the slightly outdated graphics fool you, this is still a great game and even though some features might feel dated for any JRPG fan, it is still very much a game not to pass up.

A PlayStation 4 Review Code was provided by Atlus

Source link