Persona 3 Reload Review: A Worthy Remake of A Beloved Classic

Shin Megami Tensei’s Persona 3 Reload (P3R) is Atlus’ latest addition to its 2024 roster. P3R is a remake of Persona 3 that was published in 2006. The game is set in 2009 and you play as a high school student who becomes part of the “Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad” (SEES), a team of students exploring a time-related anomaly called the “Dark Hour.”

This period allows SEES members to access Tartarus, a towering structure inhabited by monstrous beings called Shadows. By using a gun called the Evoker, they summon their Persona, a manifestation of their inner self, to combat these creatures.

For many international players, Persona 3 was their gateway to the Persona series. So the decision to remake a much beloved game is a wonderful decision by Atlus, not just for old fans to relive a favourite, but also for new fans to experience the Persona 3 world with improved features. After 20 hours of gameplay, I can safely say that P3R is a worthy remake of its predecessor. If you enjoyed Persona 5 then you can expect the same treatment to be given to this game.

For those that are unfamiliar with Persona games, it is a social sim mixed with a turn-based JRPG. However, do not let the turn-based system deter you as any game from the Shin Megami Tensei franchise is known to be challenging and ruthless.

On normal difficulty, P3R packs the usual punch; battles are challenging and time management is key. One wrong move during your grinding session can actually send your party to their end. Players will have to manage their time between exploring Tartarus, levelling up their skills (see: Academic, Courage & Charm) and building their Social Links with various NPCs in the game.

Story-wise, P3R largely stays true to its source material. However, the highlight is definitely the quality-of-life improvements. The first notable improvement is the camera position. Previously, the default camera angle in Persona 3 was quite distant between the player and the character, but in P3R, Atlus has revised it to a much closer position, lending a more immersive feel for the player. There is also a 360-degree camera feature that is available for the majority portion of the gameplay.

The next improvement is the amount of stuff that players can do during the daytime. Most of the shops that were previously background decorations in Persona 3 are now interactable, and by purchasing their products or services, directly improves your character’s stats. It is also nice that at nighttime, players can now opt to stay in and spend time with other SEES members in the dorm. I particularly enjoyed the feature where you can do group study when exams are near.

The final and greatest highlight in the list is how Atlus improved Tartarus. Old fans would know that one of the biggest criticisms for Persona 3 was the absolute monotony that players experienced in climbing Tartarus. Atlus managed to break the rhythm by improving the visuals for each section of the tower, level layouts are randomly generated, and gatekeeper battles occur at random blocks.

While it isn’t likely that we will be getting Persona 6 anytime soon, Atlus is off to a strong start in 2024 with Persona 3 Reload. I truly enjoyed my time with the game so far and am looking forward to playing more. You can play Persona 3 Reload on PlayStation4/5, Xbox One, Xbox X/S and PC.

This article was contributed by Yang Safia. When not hoarding books and makeup, she enjoys reading books and playing video games. She has yet to write that fantasy novel that’s been living in her head. Follow her on Instagram or read more of her writing on her blog.

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