There is a timelessness to Persona 3 – its story of confronting loss of life with imperfect braveness and carrying on within the face of tragedy left an eternal affect on me once I first performed it on PS2, whilst RPGs advanced and the Persona sequence continued to develop. As I’ve gotten older and skilled the very issues it is about, I’ve grown to cherish the earnestness of its message, the way in which it is framed, and the characters who embody these struggles much more. That makes it simple for me to get caught up within the hype of Persona 3 Reload, however it additionally units the bar as excessive as Tartarus as this remake tries to recapture the magic of its authentic variations. However after spending 70 hours enjoying by means of it, I can now not think about Persona 3 with out Reload. It is a shining instance of seemingly small modifications including as much as make a major affect, uplifting its best qualities whereas staying true to the supply materials. And it greater than proves why the darkest and boldest Persona but deserved this new lease on life.
Though I would argue there is a explicit vibe and elegance to PS2-era RPGs that simply cannot be replicated, Reload’s visible overhaul is a significant strategy to reframe a world I’ve spent numerous hours in, as if this was how I at all times needed these locations to look. At first it was a bit surreal to see Tatsumi Port Island recreated and these beloved characters transformed for a brand new era – one thing so simple as giving them candy jackets, superpowered armbands, and black gloves are neat touches to enrich the flamboyant new fight animations. And but it is all so acquainted on the identical time; the traditional assault animations are true to kind, the battle portraits are similar, and the way your crew blast themselves within the head with an Evoker stays the sickest and greatest in-lore strategy to summon a persona. The contemporary aesthetics and stylings extra akin to Persona 5 additionally make these characters cooler than I might’ve ever imagined them to be.
Persona 3 Reload PC Gameplay Screenshots
This was the primary entry within the Persona sequence to make use of the varsity calendar system and social sim components as a basis to maneuver by means of its story, planning actions through the day and going dungeon crawling at evening. Persona 3 Reload reveals there’s nonetheless a novelty to balancing regular life and relationships with the duties of defeating shadows within the Darkish Hour – a mysterious twenty fifth hour the place time stops as monstrous forces come out, people flip into coffins, and your college transforms right into a deranged 250-floor tower.
This can be a construction I nonetheless take pleasure in, even when it falls right into a predictable routine of visiting particular spots to improve my social stats or discovering the subsequent character to hang around with to rank up their Social Hyperlink. You possibly can inform that this was the components’s first iteration at instances, particularly when Social Hyperlink character arcs stay largely the identical as they had been within the authentic, a couple of of that are fairly primitive or crude. However as shallow or awkward as a few of them could also be, there are helpful little tales to be present in Social Hyperlinks that both feed into the broader message about discovering goal or are simply entertaining sufficient to see to their conclusion.
Reload additionally consists of absolutely voiced Social Hyperlink scenes for the primary time, and that works wonders by way of giving them extra weight and worth. All romances are elective as properly, which wasn’t the case in earlier variations of Persona 3 (besides when enjoying because the Persona 3 Moveable-exclusive feminine protagonist), and it is fairly wild to suppose again and understand you was once pressured to have a relationship with each feminine classmate you bought to max rank. High quality of life enhancements like textual content messages assist preserve monitor of what is out there each day through the day and evening, and the web exercise tracker offers you an concept of what different gamers have prioritized. Each are clutch for shortly deducing what’s necessary and discovering a lot of the brand new content material that bolsters Persona 3’s present world.
Above all, Persona 3 Reload has new social occasions and actions that really elevate its central characters. These create a stronger sense of togetherness throughout the get together, exhibiting them actually forming pure bonds with one another and having lives exterior the confines of their duties with SEES (the Specialised Extracurricular Execution Squad, which is an afterschool membership for persona customers, thoughts you). One thing so simple as examine periods on the dorm provide help to improve your educational stat shortly, however extra importantly, include endearing scenes of the crew interacting with one another in plausible methods, serving to out with math formulation or simply venting concerning the mundane.
You possibly can take your get together members on particular person actions, too, like gardening or cooking collectively to get new well being objects, which additionally lets them divulge heart’s contents to you in methods they hadn’t earlier than. Watching a scary film with my cheerful bestie Yukari or reviewing boxing matches with my fitness center bro Akihiko don’t simply supply social stat factors, they provide a little bit of perception into their personalities. Studying books with Mitsuru, Aigis, or Fuuka additionally serves to reward you with each stats and charming little interactions, and even the valuable canine Koromaru will get his personal lovable side-arc to spherical him out as a extra full character.
Reload even makes a concerted effort to handle the truth that not one of the male get together members beforehand had Social Hyperlink routes. Whereas they don’t seem to be historically structured, distinct alternatives to spend time with them now pop up all through the story and ultimately result in revelatory moments for these characters. Since these are freshly written for Reload, there is a noticeable distinction in high quality in comparison with the unique social sim conversations, making me want the outdated dialogue had been punched as much as match the heights of those new interactions. They’re well-written and truthfully touching at instances, lastly permitting your bros to be absolutely realized characters. And a few scenes get different get together members concerned to showcase a greater group dynamic that looks like a pure extension of Persona 3’s ethos.
All these additions develop into a part of the each day routine and add a real texture to characters I assumed I knew so properly already. However the tangible reward comes within the type of fight perks like everlasting stat buffs and standing results, and extra considerably, additional Theurgy assaults – mainly new Restrict Break-style strikes that every get together member can unleash. It is one convincing method for the facility of friendship to be made manifest.
As is custom for Shin Megami Tensei video games, the turn-based RPG fight revolves round accounting for elemental affinities, flattening enemies to earn additional turns, and establishing these iconic All-Out Assaults. Persona 3 Reload makes use of the identical basis as the unique however builds upon it in ways in which mitigate the monotony of churning by means of battle after battle. The aforementioned Theurgy assaults are relegated to a meter that fills throughout fights, every serving a strategic goal given their restricted use and character-specific results, be that large injury or main stat buffs – they usually all include some improbable animations, too. By way of the fusion system, which permits your essential character to wield completely different personas Pokemon fashion, you may unlock a bunch of distinctive Theurgy assaults, and a few of them are as harmful as they’re hilarious. Those that’ve performed Persona 5 will acknowledge the Shift mechanic, too, which works similar to the Baton Cross; while you hit an enemy weak point, you may move the additional flip to a unique get together member who can preserve the ache practice rolling or hit remaining foes even more durable.
Fights include a swift momentum that is effortlessly stylized to match the kinetic look and tempo of fight. And that is key for a turn-based RPG, retaining issues shifting and by no means letting you get slowed down as you undergo the motions of what might in any other case really feel like fairly related battles. And similar to watching every of them take an Evoker shot straight to the dome to solid spells, I by no means acquired bored with seeing my get together’s personas shatter their portrait cutouts when hitting a weak point.
Acquainted RPG mechanics are made all of the extra gratifying by some difficult new enemies that check your mastery and ask you to have interaction with Reloads fight programs creatively. As you ascend the randomly generated flooring of Tartarus, the place all of Persona 3’s dungeon crawling takes place, minibosses will meet you at a gentle tempo. Typically these foes do not even have weaknesses, so you could create your personal openings with buffs, debuffs, and standing results that may flip the tide in your favor. That usually needs to be balanced with managing a slew of devastating standing illnesses and hard-hitting assaults, so issues can spiral uncontrolled in case you do not play it sensible. The most effective examples of this come from Monad doorways, that are all-new rooms throughout the Tartarus flooring – particularly, the boss gauntlets discovered at progress checkpoints. These fights throw considerably unconventional fight eventualities at you that deliver out the most effective of those satisfying turn-based battles whether or not you line up a sequence of assaults completely or barely make it by the pores and skin of your enamel.
Tartarus itself has been revamped to offer it a sinister new vibe and a extra distinct search for every block of flooring. From Giger-like biomechanical labyrinths to shapeshifting industrial halls, Tartarus is no less than extra visually attention-grabbing than earlier than, and the flooring themselves are typically laid out much less like tedious, sprawling mazes. It isn’t a drastic overhaul that can utterly stave off the repetitive nature of ascending Tartarus, however it’s simply sufficient to stop it from feeling just like the weak hyperlink it might have been. Past Tartarus, bespoke story-centric boss fights await you on every full moon all through the story. Though they’re comparatively fast in how they unfold, all the brand new mechanics and visible thrives of Reload give these battles a bit extra gravity and spectacle, particularly as you inch nearer to Persona 3’s daring, daring, and shifting conclusion.
All these thrilling fight encounters, Tartarus flooring to blitz by means of, and heartfelt moments tucked away within the social points of Persona 3 Reload present a wealthy context for what this sport is actually about: discovering goal. For as goofy and irreverent as Persona 3 could also be, its best power is its emotional sincerity. Its storytelling largely manages to keep away from drained tropes and lets its characters be actual individuals who endure tragedy and ponder the vacancy they really feel within the lack of family members. However they discover their very own strategy to come to phrases with that loss and let or not it’s their power as they struggle to the tip, even when the temptation of nihilism stares again at them.
Revisiting this story in 2024 by means of the lens of Persona 3 Reload put a whole lot of issues into perspective. In too transient a time frame, I skilled what it’s wish to lose the individuals you maintain dearest and see these family members move with desires unfulfilled. I’ve additionally confronted my very own mortality with well being circumstances introduced on by merely drawing the quick straw once I was born. Persona 3 has taken on a wholly new that means for me, even because the story stays the identical. After I see these characters categorical their ache after loss, I don’t essentially really feel an intense unhappiness, however quite a sure empathy and understanding I simply didn’t have earlier than. Once they query their goal in life and seek for that means within the face of impending doom, I’m now not shocked, however as an alternative assured they will work by means of it and benefit from the hand they’re dealt.
Chasing the reality behind the Darkish Hour, the existence of personas, and the rising circumstances of Apathy Syndrome that’s overtaken the world like a widespread pandemic creates an unmistakable existential dread that lingers over this world. And the unique story stands the check of time due to how sharp it was in bringing these darker themes collectively. A number of characters look at their will to stay when there’s a lot struggling to endure, however Persona 3 fires again with fulfilling, bittersweet solutions that it doesn’t at all times must outright say.
All that point you spend with these characters in Reload, studying about them and going by means of a typical day collectively, reveals the worth of a standard life. However they weren’t introduced collectively by selection; at important moments within the story, their sophisticated histories create a plausible stress that boils over, typically harboring resentment for one another and doubting their belief. Weathering these storms collectively builds a practical dynamic that evolves past merely tolerating each other. They’re the epitome of this traditional viral tweet – Persona 3 is Trauma Bonding: The Video Sport.
One of many largest explanation why every part comes collectively so powerfully in Reload, particularly, is the way in which the brand new voice solid brings its characters to life. I can not overstate how the improbable voice performances completely seize the unique spirit of every get together member, then elevate them to develop into even higher variations of themselves. It’s spectacular contemplating how distinct every voice was to start with, however proper from the bounce, I knew this solid had nailed every position. Massive heartfelt scenes, intense battle cries, and moments of levity have a newfound enthusiasm whereas sounding so acquainted, as if these had been their voices all alongside. I’d crack a smile in any respect their little quips and really feel my abdomen knot once they pour their hearts out. Though the primary story hasn’t actually modified, the portrayal of characters I’ve identified for thus lengthy gave me a brand new love and appreciation for my favourite Persona crew.
And, in fact, the glue that binds any Persona sport collectively is its music. At this level, it feels routine to sing the praises of an Atlus soundtrack, however Persona 3 Reload is a case value inspecting due to its fusion of the brand new and outdated, and the storytelling embedded within the songs themselves. Within the mid 2000s, it stood out for having a wild mixture of funky J-pop and the nu metallic rap rock pattern that was prevelant within the years main as much as its launch. But that’s what has made it stand the check of time; there’s simply nothing prefer it and the extra time has gone on, the extra it has been ingrained in Persona 3’s id. Returning tracks have been rearranged with new singer Azumi Takahashi and I’ve grown to like her renditions. On the identical time, there’s one thing comforting in listening to the deep vocals and distinct move of rapper Lotus Juice once more. For Reload, the brand-new songs not solely match splendidly alongside the originals, they’ve shortly develop into among the sequence’ greatest tunes, which I don’t say frivolously given its monitor report.
The brand new, upbeat battle theme “It’s Going Down” you hear when shock attacking enemies throughout exploration enhances the soulful traditional “Mass Destruction” properly, and I didn’t thoughts failing to leap the enemy so I might sing together with an enthusiastic “Ooooh yeah! Dada-dada, dada-dada!” the identical as I did years in the past. Nevertheless, it’s the fantastically chill evening time theme “Shade Your Night time” that units the temper with acquainted instrumentation and lyrics that wistfully replicate on the occasions of Persona 3 – I can assure it’ll develop into a fan favourite. However the one tune that brings all of it collectively is the banger of an opener “Full Moon, Full Life,” which makes use of intelligent melodic and lyrical callbacks to Persona 3’s musical historical past whereas representing the message of its story to a tee. So even when the extra granular particulars of Persona 3’s story begin to fade, these songs can evoke the reminiscence of an unforgettable journey.