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Persona 3 – Game Review

Persona 3 – Game Review

    Last Updated on June 13, 2023

Atlus’ Persona games are famous for their immersive storytelling and truly memorable gameplay experiences. So much so, that it is now effectively the benchmark for any JRPG that strives to mix modern concepts with traditional approaches. For many of us, our first exposure to the exceptional series is Persona 3. This game is perhaps the Persona title that opened the eyes of most people thanks to its gripping narrative and thought-provoking themes. In fact, some put Persona 3 as the pinnacle of excellence. Not just among JRPGs, but among the whole gaming space itself!

In that case, is Persona 3 really that great? Or are we simply putting it in high regard because of nostalgia? Well, join us as we take a look back at Atlus’ supposed magnum opus, Persona 3. Let us dive straight into the Midnight Hour once again with this article review.

What is Persona 3?

Persona 3 is a role-playing video game developed by Atlus and published by Sega. It was released in Japan for the PlayStation 2 in 2006, and in North America and Europe in 2007. The game is set in the fictional depiction of Iwatodai Japan. During the “Dark Hour,” which is a supernatural time period that occurs between midnight and one o’clock in the morning, various mysterious events play out. It is up to you to solve this mystery and get rid of the Dark Hour itself for good.

Persona 3 Characters

The player controls a high school student who joins SEES, a group of students who fight Shadows, creatures that appear during the Dark Hour. Persona 3 is a hybrid of role-playing and social simulation games. The player can spend their time during the day attending school, hanging out with friends, or exploring the city. Conversely, at night, the player can enter Tartarus, a labyrinthine dungeon where they can fight Shadows and collect Personas, powerful beings that can be used in battle.

Narrative Brilliance

For most of us, the greatest strength of Persona 3 is its hauntingly beautiful narrative. While most Persona games do indeed have great stories to tell most of the time, there is just something different with how Persona 3 handled its themes and story bits. It strikes a delicate balance between the mundane realities of high school life and the extraordinary battles against the enigmatic Shadows. You assume the role of a transfer student to Gekkoukan High School who quickly finds himself in the middle of an overarching mystery concerning the mysterious Dark Hour. 

Standard stuff for the most part but what separates Persona 3 from other JRPGs is its bold approach on certain mature topics. The game explores themes of life and death, existentialism, friendship, and each person’s purpose in life. This game will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions that will stick with you long after the credits roll. In fact, it is still with me even after decades have already passed since I finished it for the first time. Take note that almost every character involved in the game’s central story arc are all memorable as well.

Memorable Characters

Persona 3 boasts a cast of diverse and unforgettable characters, each with their own unique struggles, desires, and personal growth arcs. From the enigmatic, silver-haired boxer, Akihiko Sanada, to the endearing and optimistic Yukari Takeba, the game masterfully brings its characters to life. 

Additionally, you also have the Social Link system which allows players to form deep connections with these characters. These further immerse players in each character’s individual stories and unlock new abilities for battle. Witnessing the growth and evolution of these characters throughout the game is a gratifying experience that further solidifies the emotional bonds forged along the way.

Engaging Gameplay

In Persona 3, Atlus revolutionized the traditional turn-based combat system with an innovative twist. The game introduces the concept of Personas, physical manifestations of one’s inner self, which players can summon to aid them in battle. Furthermore, the fusion system allows for an extensive range of persona combinations, enabling strategic customization and encouraging experimentation.

Persona 3 Gameplay

The evocative “One More” system rewards smart tactics and grants additional turns when exploiting enemy weaknesses. Balancing the daily life of a high school student with nocturnal battles against the Shadows adds a layer of depth to the gameplay, creating a captivating rhythm that keeps players invested.

Aesthetics and Soundtrack

Atlus’ attention to detail is on full display in Persona 3’s visual and auditory presentation. The game’s stylish and distinctive art direction blends modern and supernatural elements seamlessly, contributing to the overall immersive experience. 

The dynamic and unforgettable soundtrack, composed by Shoji Meguro, effortlessly captures the game’s mood. It ranges from catchy pop-infused tracks to melancholic melodies. Iconic tunes like “Burn My Dread” and “Mass Destruction” have become synonymous with the Persona series. Overall, the awesome soundtrack enhances the emotional impact of pivotal moments throughout the game.

Persona 3 Pros and Cons

Here are some of the pros and cons of Persona 3:

Pros:

  • Memorable cast of characters. You will remember most of them long after you finish the game
  • Engaging social simulation elements. The game will make you feel as if you are back to being a high school yourself
  • Fun and strategic combat. Persona 3’s combat loop never gets tiring.
  • Great soundtrack. You will unironically take some of the game’s soundtrack outside itself! That is how bopping good some of its music is!
  • Lots of replay value. Persona 3 can easily convince you to give it another go even after already spending hundreds of hours on a single playthrough.

Cons:

  • Some technical issues (e.g., loading times)
  • Can be a bit slow-paced at times
  • Some of the social simulation elements can be repetitive

Persona 3 Conclusion

Overall, Persona 3 is an excellent JRPG that is well worth playing, even today. If you are a fan of role-playing games, or if you are looking for a game with a great story and characters, then you should definitely check it out. It is arguably the best Atlus has to offer. Picking up this game is simply a no-brainer for JRPG fans. While we cannot conclusively say that Persona 3 is the best among all Persona games, it is certainly worth the recognition. 

Persona 3 Reload

Nevertheless, there is no better time to take interest in this game than now. Persona 3 is set to receive a modern remake treatment soon with the recently-announced Persona 3 Reload.

Written By
Eidervan Frago

A gamer his whole life. Can go the whole day talking about everything gaming-related. He now mixes his love for writing and passion for gaming to create informational and helpful articles for all.

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