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Can you believe it? 17 years have passed since Persona 3 first graced our screens, and since then, Atlus has entranced the world with this captivating franchise. Following the massive triumphs of Persona 4 Golden and Persona 5 Royale, Atlus is setting its sights on recreating that success with Persona 3 Reload, a remake of the somewhat lesser known yet beloved third entry in the Persona series. With that in mind, let’s look into the 5 things we know about Persona 3 Reload.
Persona 3: Story
Persona 3 Reload, being a Persona game, isn’t your run-of-the-mill narrative. At its core is the mysterious Dark Hour, an hour that exists outside the boundaries of ordinary time, manifesting around midnight. It’s during this mysterious period that the towering edifice known as Tartarus emerges from the ground, and like any Persona game, high school students take center stage. Throughout the game, your party will embark on nightly expeditions into Tartarus, fighting powerful enemies like shadows along the way. Our protagonists are not without special abilities either. They harness Personas, manifestations of their innermost selves made tangible, providing them with the power to materialize supernatural beings that fight alongside them. Such beings include a huge range of mythological figures like Abrahamic angels, Norse gods, Japanese yokai, and Hindu deities. Evoking these powerful beings, however, is a little off-putting. Okay, that’s probably an understatement. Through the use of something called an Evoker, those with an affinity can summon and freely control these Personas.
Overall, Persona 3 Reload is not merely a dungeon crawler. It delves into a profound exploration of the theme of mortality. You can pretty much tell with the Evoker, death is an important theme in Persona 3. Each character, through the course of the game, grapples with what mortality means to them personally. This theme runs deep, weaving its way through the story and prompting players to reflect on these important questions.
Persona 3: Theurgy Attacks
Persona 3 Reload isn’t merely a remake, it’s an ambitious expansion of the original game keyword, original game. More on this later, Atlas has gone to great lengths to introduce new features and refine existing ones. One of the standout additions is the brand new theurgy attacks. These special abilities add a layer of strategy to battles, allowing characters to unleash powerful attacks when the associated bar is fully charged. They can be used against both standard shadows and formidable bosses.
These Theurgy Attacks are character-specific and associated with their personas. For example, Yukari Takaba’s Cyclone Arrow delivers heavy wind-type damage and is noteworthy for its ability to bypass an enemy’s natural affinity, ensuring it deals significant damage. Junpei Iori’s Hack and Blast is another Theurgy Attack that inflicts heavy slash damage, regardless of an enemy’s affinity. This not only adds diversity to combat, but also encourages players to strategize based on the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents. The Protagonist, as always in Persona games, has the unique ability to wield various personas. This feature allows for a wide range of Theurgy Attacks, depending on the active persona in battle.
However, a notable change is the Protagonist’s weapon choice. In Persona 3 Reload, the Protagonist wields one-handed short swords exclusively, limiting the weapon options compared to the original game. Despite this limitation, the game retains the three physical weapon damage types, Slash, Strike and Pierce.
The dorm acts as a center for a variety of activities in addition to providing possibilities for character development and stimulating social connections. The ability to work part-time employment is one of Persona 3 Reload’s main features. These occupations greatly advance character development in addition to being a means of obtaining in-game cash. For instance, your character’s charm and bravery stats are increased while you work as a barista. These metrics aren’t simply meaningless figures; they really affect your gameplay options and interactions with other characters. There is also a public computer in the lounge of the dormitory that you may use for research and intelligence gathering. Studying is a useful way to gain important abilities for battle and exploration, not merely an academic endeavor.
In order to improve your character’s skills and relationships, don’t undervalue the significance of studying, performing part-time jobs, and living in the dorm rather than venturing into Tartarus or facing shadows.
Fully Voiced Social Links
Persona 3 Reload prioritizes strengthening bonds with its social connections. The relationships and ties you form with the many individuals in the game, or these “social links,” have always been essential to the Persona franchise. But in this installment, there’s a significant difference. Every single social link scene, regardless of the link skill level, will be fully voiced. This represents a notable departure from previous games in the series. The addition of full voice acting to the social link scenes adds a new layer of immersion and connection to the character’s stories never seen before, making your interactions with other characters all the more special.
Persona 3 is Reloading a Little Different
You see, there are actually three existing versions of Persona 3. The base game, Persona 3 FES and Persona 3 Portable. The unveiling of Persona 3 Reload at the Xbox Game Showcase triggered a mixed reaction. On one hand, it’s an exciting prospect that the game responsible for shaping the current is receiving a well-deserved visual and gameplay overhaul, aligning it more closely with the likes of Persona 5. However, there’s a bitter aftertaste to the news that Reload won’t include many of the beloved features introduced in the Persona FES and Portable versions. It leaves me with the realization that there might never be a definitive version of Persona 3, which is somewhat disappointing.
Let’s break it down. Persona 3 Reload will mark the fourth iteration of Persona 3. We can safely exclude the original PS2 version from this discussion. Then there’s Persona 3 FES, which stands as the only version featuring the answer, an extended epilogue that, while somewhat of a grind to play through, offers valuable character moments for those eager to spend more time with the SEA’s crew. On the other hand, Persona 3 Portable, originally released for the PSP and now available on modern platforms, lacks The Answer but compensates by allowing you to play as the female protagonist Kotone, who offers new social link options and other differences. She even appears in the spin-off title Persona Q2 New Cinema Labyrinth. There was a glimmer of hope that Reload might bring all these distinct pieces together, but the game’s producer, Ryota Nitsuma, confirmed to IGN that it won’t include the major additional elements from FES and Portable. Still, Reload introduces some quality of life improvements, such as direct control over party members in battle.
In some respects, Persona 3 Portable was the true definitive addition. Portable streamlines the experience by adopting a more visual novel aesthetic, granting full party control in battles, and introducing the additional main character. For newcomers, it’s a solid choice, but when someone asks about Persona 4 or 5, it’s easy to recommend Persona 4 Golden and Persona 5 Royale, respectively. They build upon the originals, adding new characters, scenarios, mechanics, and quality of life enhancements. Persona 3, unfortunately, doesn’t have such a straightforward answer, and Reload further complicates matters. Reload appears to be the best-looking and most modern-feeling version, but the omission of the answer and the additional protagonist relegates it to just another version, rather than the definitive one. Although there’s a possibility that a Golden Royale-style version or DLC may emerge down the line, it’s uncertain.
As of now, Persona 3 Reload is confirmed for Xbox, Game Pass, PC, and PlayStation, with no official word on a Nintendo Switch port. However, past Persona ports followed a similar pattern, with Switch versions being announced later in Nintendo Direct presentations.
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