Following years of fervent fan requests and swirling rumors, players are now on the verge of receiving a contemporary reimagining of quite possibly one of the most pivotal chapters within a highly acclaimed JRPG franchise. The launch of Persona 3 back in 2007 forever altered the course of the Shin Megami Tensei spin-off series. While innovative mechanics like social links introduced in Persona 3 have since become defining features for subsequent entries, it has become quite challenging to return to either the original version or even its enhanced iteration known as Persona 3 Portable that Sega recently adapted for modern platforms due to technological advancements and numerous quality-of-life improvements showcased in games like Persona 4 Golden and Persona 5 Royal. Nevertheless, with the advent of Persona 3 Reload, everything is set to change drastically.
Persona 3 Reload is an impressive remake that stays true to its original roots, completely reconstructed with the powerful Unreal Engine. The enhanced graphics, improved gameplay features, expanded Tartarus, and a fresh soundtrack make this version a dream-come-true for fans of Persona 4 and 5.
During the early stages of the game, Mitsuru Kirijo leads the party consisting of Makoto, Yukari, and Junpei through the ever-changing walls of Tartarus. This hands-on demo allows me to experience firsthand how combat unfolds in Persona 3 Reload. Having played through Persona 5’s extensive campaign twice (both vanilla and Royal versions), I find the combat mechanics and presentation to be strikingly similar to that acclaimed recent entry. Considering Persona 5’s reputation as one of the best modern-day JRPGs, this remake receives my highest praise. Furthermore, it is worth noting that in this remake, players have direct control over the entire party, although there is still an option to switch party members to auto-execute strategies like in the original if desired.
In my second gaming session, I encountered The Arcana Priestess as the first boss in the remake. This exhilarating battle took place aboard a high-speed monorail hurtling towards another train. Our objective was clear – defeat her before time ran out. With an initial countdown of 30 minutes, every passing moment brought us closer to failure as she accelerated the train’s velocity during our clash. Throughout this intense encounter, she bombarded my party with devastating spells and summoned minions that possessed unique vulnerabilities. However, despite her formidable arsenal and cunning tactics, our squad emerged victorious and successfully brought the speeding train to a halt just in time. The inclusion of a clock mechanic within our turn-based combat system injected an element of urgency into our otherwise calculated decision-making process.
As the game continues to receive numerous enhancements that enhance the overall gaming experience, I am particularly eager to witness the positive impact on the social links. With over 15 years of development expertise, I am excited to see how the team will revamp and improve these crucial aspects of the game. Although my team’s link level increased after defeating the final boss in my recent session, I anticipate that there will be other methods available to strengthen my relationship with them. P-Studio’s approach in modernizing Persona 3’s social simulation elements is something I am eagerly anticipating.
The release of Persona 3 Portable on current consoles earlier this year left fans feeling unsatisfied due to its lack of modernization. However, with the upcoming launch of Persona 3 Reload, these concerns are expected to be resolved as it brings one of the most impactful RPGs from the last two decades into the contemporary era. This remastered version has potential to become a preferred entry point for newcomers interested in exploring the Persona series. Regardless if you’re a rookie or an experienced player, mark your calendars for February 2 when Reload arrives on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC platforms.