The promotional poster used during the release of Persona 3 Reload. It features the protagonist of the game.
The promotional poster used during the release of “Persona 3 Reload.” It features the protagonist of the game.
Photo credit: Atlus

Persona 3 Reload makes a game-changing installment to the Persona franchise

After months of waiting, the highly anticipated remaster of Atlus’s Persona 3 provides improved visuals and character interactivity.

A heartbreaking and depressing turn of events led to a remaster of a game from 2008. Although this is the fourth iteration of “Persona 3”, “Reload” aims to target a new audience of high school students. The game is about overcoming the griefs that come with life whether that be betrayal, death, heartbreak or all of them at once. 

“Persona 3 Reload” (P3R) was released on Feb. 2 and available for preorder in late October. After pre-ordering the game in late November, I was ecstatic as I had never played any of the previous “Persona 3” games. As a diehard Persona fan, I had purchased the $100 game bundle. This featured a copy of the game, the digital artbook for the game, a digital soundtrack with the remixed songs and various other downloadable content (DLC). 

The game’s story revolves around the Latin phrase, “Memento mori,” meaning that death is inevitable. Your goal in the game is to get rid of the “Dark Hour,” a hidden time that serves as the “25th hour in a day.” This is done through reaching the top of Tartarus, an enormously tall clock tower boasting a total of 264 floors filled with mazes and treasure chests.

As all other games in the Persona franchise, it is a Japanese role-playing game and is known for its music. The intro sequence for opening P3R was animated smoothly and was a fitting start to the game, featuring the cast and the summoning of their Personas. The opening song that plays alongside the sequence, “Full Moon, Full Life,” reflects the story accurately as its lyrics are subtle but liven the mood.

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The gameplay overall was stagnant as turn-based combat but is still entertaining. Discovering the maze-like system of Tartarus was annoying and made it feel boring as I spent nearly three minutes on each floor walking around and another five battling shadows. Shadows are the enemies that you will have to fight along Tartarus and take on many different forms such as knights, mythical creatures or tanks. Despite this, finding the staircase to each floor was relatively simple and with every few floors contained a mini-boss. 

Storywise, the mystery behind Tartarus was enjoyable along with what made Persona 3 big in the first place: Social Links. This system allows for players to interact with characters in the story and form relationships with them, whether that be learning about their tragic past and helping them through it or watching their lives crumble before them, unable to do anything about it. Overall, this is just what I love about the Persona franchise as a whole. 

Considering that I had only played this game following my third playthrough for Persona 5 Royal (P5R), the transition was fairly smooth. The two share practically the same features in terms of combat. Story-wise, the functions are identical to both P3R and P5R and makes gameplay easier for those transitioning from P5R to P3R. I would highly recommend that you try this game out through the various platforms such as the PS4 and PS5. Xbox or Steam offers the game for $70 or $100 with all DLCs. It is available on Xbox Game Pass for a short period of time and makes for a great way to get into the Persona franchise. 

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