Review: Persona 3 Portable (Switch, PS4, Xbox, PC)

The test is carried out in the Switch version, mainly in portable mode.

Atlus insists on releasing Personas in an order that defies logic. After releasing Persona 4 Gold after dancing the night away, here comes the turn Personality 3 Reaching all media after Dancing in the Moonlight and even after Persona 4 Arena Ultimax. It’s hard for neophytes to understand the ins and outs of each of these games without being badly spoiled. But hey, now the three most popular parts of the series are playable on current machines. Almost…

In effect, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 It was released in Japan in 2006 on the PS2, but it Persona 3 FES, released in 2007, considered canon. It adds Characters, some game tweaks, new quests and above all an epilogue, AnswerThis adds up to about thirty hours of gameplay. Then it came out in 2009 Persona 3 Portable, as the name suggests, is only available on the PSP. So now it’s this version available on Switch, PS4, Xbox and PC.

Your playground. Yes, it’s small (Switch version)

The action of the game takes place in 2009. Our hero, who can be either male or female (this is unique to the portable version), arrives at night in Iwatoda, where he has been transferred for the start of the school year. When the mysterious boy arrives at his dorm, he asks him to sign a contract, where he is met by members of his high school club, SEES (Special Extracurricular Execution Squad). At midnight, he experiences the Dark Hour, a hidden clock that turns normal people into coffins and causes an “apathetic syndrome” that turns its victims into wandering lost souls. There’s no reason to live. Our hero discovers that he, like the other members of SEES, can remain conscious during the Dark Hour, and that the Shadows that appear in Tartarus can summon their Persona to fight the tower that only appears at that moment and can escape. to our world when the moon is full. The challenge is quickly clear: Find a way to end the Dark Hour.

Those of you who have never played Persona 5 or not Persona 4 Gold will not be out of place, because the game cycle is almost the same: during the day, our hero goes to school, more or less follows the courses, then he can go shopping and spend time with SEES members, classmates or even. NPCs met in town. Each character you bond with is identified by a tarot arcana, and spending time together raises your bond level, called an S-Link, to potentially level 10. Each connection has its own schedule and will only be available on certain days. certain places.

It is possible to engage in various activities or odd jobs, to earn some money and above all to improve one’s charm, courage and intelligence in order to start certain relationships. For example, to open a bond with Akihiko, you need to be attractive enough to overcome the jealousy of the other girls in high school.

I assure you, they even consider it bad in the game (Switch version)

Tartar indigestion

In the evening you can go to town or make some connections, but it’s always important to explore Tartarus: this tower is actually a sequence of 250 randomly generated dungeons that are quite small. Depending on the progress of the main plot, its various sections are revealed with increasingly powerful enemies.

Battles take place on a turn-based basis and incorporate the gameplay elements it introduces. Personality 4 : each member of the team can attack, use magic by summoning their Persona, or defend themselves. Every character and almost every enemy has an affinity for one or more elements, as well as weaknesses. If this weakness is targeted, the hit is critical and the combatant falls to the ground. Once all the enemies are down, an all-out attack can be launched, which deals massive damage. Each critical hit also repeats the attack, and sometimes a teammate double attacks another random enemy.

Your teammates can take the risk (Switch version)

Therefore, exploring dungeons is quite regular: we look for stairs to climb to the upper floor, and on our way we find dead ends, monsters and sometimes a chest. After the battle, a tarot card is drawn, most synonymous with gaining money, XP, or healing. On rarer occasions, we may also add a Persona to our inventory.

Because our main character is the only one in his team who can place multiple Personas in his heart and change them during battle. They gain XP and new skills through combat, but in such small quantities that the only viable way to unlock their potential is by joining the Velvet Room. By combining two or more Personas, you get a new one that inherits certain abilities, but above all is entitled to an XP increase proportional to its latent S-Link level. For example, if your friendship level with Yukari, who represents the Lover’s arcana, is level 5, all Personas of that arcana will have an XP bonus corresponding to that level. Since it’s almost impossible to significantly improve a Persona in battle – and anyway, after a while they no longer gain new abilities – so we spend a lot of time combining new ones to avoid using them during only one or two explorations of Tartarus. ..

Screen you’ll see often (Link to version)

Tarter is one of the really weak spots Persona 3 Portable. The decor is very repetitive, the level design is non-existent, even the music is a bit of a hit on the system… Fortunately, it can be changed after a while. You only face about a dozen different enemies in each section, and they’re frequent paddle switches enemies encountered at low levels with various proximity and power surpluses. Exploration can be boosted a bit by accepting the Velvet Room host’s challenges, but they are simple and only require returning an item dropped by a specific enemy. At least, progressing on Normal difficulty isn’t a chore: fully exploring each floor is enough to level up enough to be more or less calm during battles, provided of course you pack your team well and get down. treat themselves from time to time for a tidy sum. It’s possible to let our teammates explore the dungeon on their own to earn more XP, but that’s pretty risky, as is showing them their way during battles. It is better to give them direct commands (which was not possible in P3 and P3 FES) or at least general instructions.

RT if you’re sad

Except maybe if they aren’t famous for their dungeon’s interests personalities 5, and the games in the series are distinguished by their scenario and characters. And indeed, those who are Personality 3 it’s quite interesting. Many have been touched directly or indirectly by bereavement and feel unloved or abandoned. Some are associated with a common drama, but experienced from a different point of view. In short, they all have a crack or a trauma that we slowly discover as we deepen our relationship. This is where the choice of hero comes into play: if the overall gameplay is pretty much the same, the crafted S-Links depends on your gender. A female hero can form different S-Links than a male hero, especially with SEES members, and become romantically involved with some of them, but she can also choose to remain friends only after maxing out, which is not a guy’s job.

By the way, let’s talk about S-Links. For this test, I chose to play with a female protagonist to have a more playful character and to get to know my dorm neighbors and battle partners better. Unfortunately, new interactions with our team members that could lead to romance are a complete mess, and romance development in particular takes up most of the interaction to the point of overshadowing deeper exchanges. . In the end, we don’t form a strong bond with our teammates, and even worse, a 10-11-year-old can be romanticized. Fortunately, we can quickly rule out this possibility, but we wonder how it happened. Also, a mod came out right after the game to remove romance options with this character…

It doesn’t look like it, but it’s really an emotional moment (Switch version)

But the real concern is that we’re having a bit of a hard time bonding with our small team. We never see them all interact outside of battle; in high school they don’t all study in the same class, they don’t seem to see each other outside, even in the dormitory they all study in their own corner. It really lacks an esprit de corps that brings them even closer to their mission, difficult to make sense of before many hours of gameplay. The script takes a long time to get going and the stakes remain pretty murky and unattractive. for a very long time. There really is no such thing as a fraudulent study Personality 4and there are no sequential arcs for characters personalities 5. There’s really no sense of tension or urgency, as we’re content to take a trip or two through Tartarus and hang out with friends while we wait for the next full moon, and therefore the next real step forward in the story. .

A slightly lethargic portage

It should also be noted that the choice is worn P3P doesn’t really help to feel invested: if we can accept the disappearance of action stages in the city, in favor of a cursor to move on the screen, as a noticeable saving of time in an already very long game, we still lose in immersion. The same goes for the lack of animated sequences that were present on the PS2 but not on the PSP version for obvious space reasons at the time, creating a slightly ambiguous atmosphere here. There are relatively interesting characters that we definitely empathize with, and well-written, well-crafted dialogue (we finally get to hear them in Japanese) and, for the first time, well-translated characters in near-flawless French.

These 2023 ports do not revolutionize the original game: the game runs at 4K / 60FPS (even 120) on PC and Xbox Series X and 1080p / 60FPS on PS4 and Switch, still for a game originally released on PSP is happy These versions mainly provide quality-of-life options, such as the ability to save and quit at any time, change the difficulty instantly, or restart at the beginning of the explored floor in case of failure. backup copy. In short, it is clean, there is a bare minimum, but that’s it.

Kaz is the male protagonist of the exclusive S-Link (Xbox Series X version).

The Persona franchise has thrived for well over 10 years, and today the interest in Persona 3 Portable isn’t obvious. If the series has any charm, the mechanics and presentation have really worn off, especially thanks to good character design (but still looking a bit like itself) and likable characters. In terms of pure gameplay, the choice of a P3P port makes sense, but we can wonder if it wouldn’t be smarter to adapt Persona 3 FES by adding the ability to control our teammates, the interest of the female protagonist. it is not clear. Or better yet, a mix of the best of both worlds, but apparently that wasn’t the plan. By the way, Persona 3 Portable is still playable, but if you want to try it for your culture, really start with it, or you’ll lose it.

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