Persona 3 Reload (PS5) Review

The Persona 3 crew gets a modern upgrade, and it is marvelous.

Persona 3 Reload (PS5) Review
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With Persona 3 Reload, Atlus has proved that if a considerably long time has passed since the release of an original video game, completely revamping it using modern technological upgrades is actually a pretty good idea.

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Nearly two decades after the beloved OG title was released in 2006, the new and improved version solidifies the franchise’s strong hold on the role-playing and social simulation genres because one can instantly tell just how much heart the developers have put into this remake. The game makes the player actually care about how the protagonist spends his day, realistically juggling various aspects of life into a confined 24-hour window.

Of course, the social links and interactions that the protagonist has each day do not even scratch the surface of what the main plot of Persona 3 Reload is about, but they are undeniably the standout elements of the entire experience. What is surprising is that the actual serious narrative that accompanies the average anime high schooler’s shenanigans seems intriguing at first, but the way it is presented leaves a lot to be desired.

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However, the vibrantly stylish visuals, fast-paced turn-based combat, extracurricular activities, and more turn the Persona 3 remake into a highly memorable experience.

Persona 3 Reload will be released for PlayStation 4/5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S on February 2, 2024.

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Persona 3 Reload Embraces Its Anime Visuals, Resulting in a Vibrant Spectacle

Persona 3 Reload's visual presentation is simply outstanding, complete with anime cutscenes and vibrant in-game graphics.
Persona 3 Reload‘s visual presentation is simply outstanding, complete with anime cutscenes and vibrant in-game graphics.

The graphical upgrades that developer P-Studio has blessed Persona 3 Reload with are undeniably one of the greatest that have ever been seen in the Persona franchise, incorporating a brand new style that makes every frame look like a well-crafted work of art. Combined with the 3D elements that accompany those gameplay sections, the game feels wonderfully alive, instantly immersing the player in its world.

From the very beginning, the animation and CG cutscenes are so smooth that one can tell, right off the bat, that they are in for a visual spectacle.

In fact, the opening movie of Persona 3 Reload is more than enough to get players excited for the adventure that awaits them in this bustling universe. Naturally, one cannot have a fully revamped remake if the characters themselves do not get the fitting updated costumes, so the main crew pulls up to every fight with some extremely fresh combat uniforms, and they all look great.

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The art style in Persona 3 Reload is simply stunning.
The art style in Persona 3 Reload is stunning.

The game also tries to make its UI a bit more aesthetically pleasing, and thankfully, it does not overdo it to the point where it becomes overcomplicated or convoluted, since it is pretty confusing at the beginning as it is.

Quite possibly the least interesting part of Persona 3 Reload is its turn-based combat, which does not exactly do anything that Persona fans have not witnessed before, especially considering how Persona 5 Tactica managed to accomplish much more with its own battles just a few months ago. It does not even play that big of a role in the game as a whole since most of it basically takes place during the most monotonously repetitive sections of this remake.

Similar to plenty of other turn-based RPGs, one can choose a party of up to three people for the fights, and once the battle begins, the options are all quite straightforward.

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One can choose to attack the relatively generic enemies called Shadows with their melee weapons like swords, unleash the power of numerous Personas on them, use items in cases of low HP or other similar scenarios, defend against the opponent’s offense, or just choose to flee from the battle. Persona 3 Reload introduces the ability to direct individual members of the party, but even that does not feel like enough of an innovation when it comes to the genre.

The combat could have actually been more layered if, for example, different kinds of minigames followed various types of attacks or Personas, because it is currently quite one-dimensional.

The Repetitive Dungeon in Persona 3 Reload Leaves a Lot to Be Desired

Tartarus in Persona 3 Reload is so repetitive that it makes one want to go back to the normal Japanese high school life.
Tartarus in Persona 3 Reload is so repetitive that it makes one want to go back to normal Japanese high school life.

Since Tartarus is basically the only main place where one can actually fight Shadows in Persona 3 Reload, it was essential for its revamped comeback to be amazing, but unfortunately, it is the game’s weakest link.

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P-Studio does try to add some new elements to it, such as giving the player the choice to dash and cover more ground quickly, but most of the dungeon consists of treasure chests that do not really matter, enemies that feel way too generic, and floors not having nearly enough variety of things to do. Which makes running around Tartarus seem like a never-ending chore as every floor feels like an exact replica of the last with nothing fresh to offer.

The Persona 5 battle system that has been incorporated in Persona 3 Reload is definitely smoother and more fluid, but none of that matters when all one wants to do is get out of Tartarus and head back to the good old normal Japanese high school life instead. Even the super-strong Shadows do not have any extraordinarily memorable designs, and they are all more of the same.

Again, the concept of this dungeon tower sounds extremely intriguing, but it is the execution that does not exactly hold up, making the Dark Hour the most tedious section of the game.

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Persona 3 Reload does not only borrow the battle system from Persona 5, as it also includes the Fusion feature, which lets the player fuse any two different Personas into one stronger being. But since the social simulation elements are much more superior than the combat ones, visiting the Velvet Room does not really become a frequent trip as it mostly feels unneeded.

The social activities in the Persona 3 remake are simply the best bits in the game as there is always something to do with the protagonist’s friends or even himself. Players can join numerous clubs in the high school, including the Student Council and other extracurricular groups, and this is where the RPG truly shines.

The character can get acquainted with new people, go out with them after school, head over to the mall for some fresh ramen, talk to them and listen to their problems while providing possible solutions, and it all feels way too realistic since fitting multiple different people or groups into one’s daily schedule is next to impossible.

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Simping over an attractive teacher in Persona 3 Reload is all part of the realistic high school experience.
Simping over an attractive teacher in Persona 3 Reload is all part of the realistic high school experience.

Each new relationship that the protagonist forms unlocks a new Persona, which can be leveled up as one meets that specific character more frequently, giving even more weight and motive to the social interactions. The attention to detail put into these activities is quite impressive. For example, if one wants to watch TV in the dorm, the content changes on it every day, giving the world of Persona 3 Reload a livelier feel.

There is a lot to do in Persona 3 Reload, ranging from playing an online MMORPG and finding the potential love of one’s life to studying for the midterm examinations, or from going to the arcade to check out some games to visiting an old bookstore owned by a nice elderly couple.

Something is almost always happening in the game, although a couple of more hours to just explore the city every day would have been nicer since most of the time, the game automatically sends the character back to the dorm after one proper social interaction, and there is usually no point in going out then as it is usually quieter outside at nighttime.

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The only complaint that could arise about the social interactions is that it is way too hard to hold a conversation with people one actually wants to talk to since they end it by giving one-sentence replies, leaving the protagonist to be forced to interact with the more random NPCs.

Persona 3 Reload: Final Thoughts

To survive the Japanese high school in Persona 3 Reload, one requires a lot of rizz.
To survive the Japanese high school in Persona 3 Reload, one requires a lot of rizz.

Persona 3 Reload takes the concept of remaking a beloved title and goes all the way through with it, especially when it comes to the visual finesse and the excellent presentation. The social simulation, interactions, and activities are some of the best ever put into a video game, making it feel immersive from the very first day at Gekkoukan High School.

There is always something to do in this wonderful city, ranging from the grand reopening of an old book store at the mall to heading to numerous restaurants to spend time with friends.

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While the social links stand out as the undisputed highlight in Persona 3 Reload, it is the monotonous Tartarus and generic enemy designs that ironically slow things down and make the combat feel a bit dull compared to the other aspects of the game. The storyline is gripping and intriguing at the beginning and stays that way later on too, but because of the more serious elements that are never fully realized, it starts to lose its hold as time goes on.

However, the stunning animation, fluid gameplay, wide palette of character types, great soundtrack, and bustling setting make Persona 3 Reload a highly enjoyable remake.

8/10

8 out of 10

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Persona 3 Reload was played on PlayStation 5 and reviewed on a code supplied by Indigo Pearl.

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Written by Osama Farooq

Articles Published: 331

Extensively talking about everything pop culture is something Osama truly enjoys doing, so when it started to get a little annoying in person, he joined FandomWire and found a whole community to share his thoughts with. He consumes media in almost all forms, including linear story-based video games (The Last of Us), hip-hop/R&B music (The Weeknd), top-tier television (Better Call Saul), classic movies (Superbad), as well as reading books and watching anime.