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Persona 3 Reload Review | I’ve Been Waiting For This!

96
Story
9
Gameplay
10
Visuals
10
Audio
10
Value for Money
9
Price:
$ 70
Clear Time:
75 Hours
Persona 3 Reload is a captivating reimagination of the beloved 2006 game. It brings the PS2 game into the modern era with stunning visual upgrades, quality-of-life improvements, and additional story and character elements. This not only enhances the overall narrative but also sets a new standard for the series. The only downside? You'll find yourself wishing the Dark Hour was a real thing, just to snag an extra hour savoring this absolute gem. No doubt, it's a top contender for Game of the Year, effortlessly unleashing 'Mass Destruction' against its competitors with pure brilliance.

Persona 3 Reload is a remake of the genre-defining 2006 RPG Persona 3, developed by Atlus. Check out our review to see what it did well, what it didn't, and if it’s worth your money.

Persona 3 Reload Review Overview

Persona 3 Reload Pros & Cons

Pros Cons
Checkmark Looking Cool Reload!
Checkmark Excellent Quality of Life Improvements
Checkmark Music Will Color Your Night~
Checkmark Some Minor Nitpicks

Persona 3 Reload Overall - 96/100

Persona 3 Reload is a captivating reimagination of the beloved 2006 game. It brings the PS2 game into the modern era with stunning visual upgrades, quality-of-life improvements, and additional story and character elements. This not only enhances the overall narrative but also sets a new standard for the series. The only downside? You'll find yourself wishing the Dark Hour was a real thing, just to snag an extra hour savoring this absolute gem. No doubt, it's a top contender for Game of the Year, effortlessly unleashing 'Mass Destruction' against its competitors with pure brilliance.

Persona 3 Reload Story - 9/10

Persona 3 Reload weaves a timeless narrative, delving into the grim realities of death that surprisingly still resonate in the present day. Despite the story being retold through various Persona 3 games and movies, the developers skillfully maintain fidelity to the original plot and essential themes. The developers didn't just merely stick to the original story; they elevated it by introducing refreshing elements that addressed minor concerns about the game's initial narrative. This led to a more profound development of almost every character and provided moments in the spotlight for those who might have been overlooked before, letting them truly shine.

Persona 3 Reload Gameplay - 10/10

The original game laid the foundation for this unique mix, and while it had flaws, many of those outdated mechanics have thankfully been addressed in this game. Notably, the battle system underwent significant improvements, taking elements from Persona 5 to make shadow encounters more dynamic and satisfying. While certain elements, like some social links, may still feel a bit dated, it's often more a reflection of the writing than a flaw in the gameplay itself.

Persona 3 Reload Visuals - 10/10

While the Persona games may not have always boasted cutting-edge graphics, they compensated from Persona 3 onward with stunning art direction and visuals. The focus on specific colors and designs made the user interface (UI) truly stand out, and this trend only got better with each new installment. Persona 5, in particular, reached the zenith of this visual excellence, redefining not just the series' style but also making a mark on the entire JRPG scene with its breathtaking aesthetics.

Excitingly, Persona 3 Reload has raised the bar further, potentially becoming the best-looking Persona game to date. Every element, from the menu to the cutscenes, exudes style and confidence, showcasing a visual masterpiece in the world of gaming.

Persona 3 Reload Audio - 10/10

Now, if there's one thing the Persona series always nails, it's the music. Atsushi Kitajoh, taking over from the original composer Shoji Meguro, not only excels at remastering one of the best video game soundtracks ever created but also puts his own awesome twists on it. The new music is truly amazing and serves as fantastic additions that complement and perfectly fit the series.

Persona doesn't just excel in music; it nails the audio experience overall. Both the original Japanese audio and the new English dub cast do a phenomenal job of breathing life into the characters. One standout performance is definitely Suzie Yeung as Fuuka.

Persona 3 Reload Value for Money - 9/10

The $70 price tag is a bit steep, especially if you're new to the Persona games. However, if you're already a fan, it's a no-brainer – this game is worth every penny, as it's far from a lazy remake. For newcomers, it serves as an excellent starting point for diving into the series. Despite being the third installment, Persona games are standalone and don't require prior knowledge of the series. With over 80 hours of addictive gameplay and a compelling story that tugs at your emotions, you're guaranteed to get your money's worth.

Persona 3 Reload Review | I’ve Been Waiting For This!

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The original Persona 3 on PS2 was my first dive into storytelling in video games. I was captivated by the dark and gripping tale of teenagers battling to save the world from impending doom. The recurring theme of Memento Mori – a Latin phrase meaning remember you must die – hung over the narrative, providing a profound and interesting backdrop. As a kid, I always thought of it as cool but now, as an adult replaying the Persona 3 games, I've come to realize how the themes, stories, and characters' experiences resonate with me on a much deeper and emotional level, creating a connection that lingers.

When rumors about a Persona 3 remake surfaced, excitement bubbled within me. It only heightened when the speculations proved true, and the promising trailer dropped. Yet, despite the anticipation, hints of hesitation and fear lingered. What if Atlus somehow fumbled with this important and meaningful game? How will this remake compare to the original? Or better yet, Persona 3:FES which included a continuation of the base game, and Portable which included the fan-favorite Female Protagonist.

In a recent interview with TheGamer, Persona 3 Reload developers said that they wanted to "respect the original while trying to create something new." And that’s exactly what they did.

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Persona 3 Reload not only holds its own against those games but also recaptures the magic of the original from its story, gameplay, and atmosphere. Thankfully, it's not a mere copy-paste with updated graphics; it embodies the spirit of a true remake by enhancing, redesigning, and adding new twists to make it stand out. Let’s dive into what Persona 3 Reload has to offer.

The story remains largely intact, following a teenage protagonist navigating the challenges of a new school, forming bonds, and battling creatures called shadows at night with Personas, summoned by shooting oneself with a gun – typical teenager stuff. Although the narrative hasn't undergone significant changes, the overall presentation has transformed the experience entirely.

The improved graphics, better animation for character models, and stunning sprites breathe life into the characters, surpassing the original. These enhancements contribute to making the story much more engaging and compelling.
By the end of this nearly 80-hour journey, tears streamed down my face as the credits began to roll. The execution was nothing short of "magnifique," as Mitsuru would aptly put it.

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"Magnifique" perfectly encapsulates the overall improvements in gameplay. The engaging dungeon exploration, strategic turn-based combat, and the rich social simulation aspect, known hallmarks of the Persona series, are executed flawlessly with several impressive enhancements. Quality-of-life improvements abound, balancing the game's day and night cycle. From small conveniences like the ability to rewind time when saving in case you forget tasks to significant additions like the introduction of new battle techniques called Theurgy, the game is a delightful mix of refinement and innovation.

The game tackles numerous issues from the original, as it lays the groundwork for these innovations. While there are still a few small flaws, like the occasional dull writing in some Social Links, the addition of Link Episodes comes to the rescue. These side stories not only weave entertaining tales about your teammates but also reward you with special skills and fusion recipes. It's a fun and engaging way to develop the S.E.E.S members, especially the male party members who missed out on social links in the original.

One thing we can all agree on Persona music always slaps, and Persona 3 Reload is no exception. Once again, Persona reigns supreme in this category, with the return of tracks like Iwatodai Dorm and the introduction of amazing new ones, like the new battle theme that still has me debating if it surpasses Mass Destruction.

Persona 3 Reload is, without a doubt, a masterpiece that flawlessly retells the incredible PS2 story while introducing enhancements, making it the (almost) definitive version of Persona 3. I say almost because the inclusion of the Persona 3 epilogue and a female protagonist option, possibly as DLC, would truly elevate it to the ultimate Persona game. I'm sincerely hoping it garners numerous Game of the Year nominations and perhaps even sparks the creation of a Persona 4 Golden Remake.

Pros of Persona 3 Reload

Things Persona 3 Reload Got Right
Checkmark Looking Cool Reload!
Checkmark Excellent Quality of Life Improvements
Checkmark Music Will Color Your Night

Looking Cool Reload!

The Persona series stands out like the Louis Vuitton of RPGs—flashy, bold, and a step above the typically dull look of other games in the genre. Persona 3 set the trend, transforming simple menu boxes into something fabulous, but it was Persona 5 that took the artistic vision to new heights. The UI's striking visuals not only compensated for the graphics but also elevated them, seamlessly blending with character models. The vibrant red mixed with shades of black created a stunning and chic appearance that not only avoided eye strain but also made everyday tasks like studying or navigating the menu unexpectedly enjoyable.

Excitingly, Persona 3 Reload takes the fantastic elements of Persona 5 and cranks them up to eleven. Not only have they significantly enhanced the base graphics with richer shadings and colorings, but they've also achieved the seemingly impossible feat of making the UI even better than Persona 5. Reload oozes dynamic aesthetics, evident not only in the menu but throughout the entire game.

Every Persona game has a distinct color theme guiding its art direction: orange and yellow for P4, red and black for P5, and for P3, it's all about the color blue. Reload skillfully incorporates blue into every aspect of the game, standing out as even better than its predecessors. The relaxed tone of the color gives the game a more classy and refined look, making the entire experience visually captivating.

This game is a beauty, showing us that realistic graphics aren't the be-all and end-all.

Excellent New Additions and Quality of Life Improvements

Persona 3 Reload brilliantly addresses all the issues I had with the original game, starting with the combat. I'm thrilled to report that Tartarus is no longer a tiresome ordeal to navigate. The game goes out of its way to ensure each randomly generated dungeon is visually appealing and easy to traverse, a vast improvement from the original where dungeons felt grindy and monotonous.

The combat has seen significant enhancements too. Now, you have control over your party, mirroring the mechanics of more recent Persona games and the portable version. A new ability called SHIFT, akin to baton-pass, allows players to pass their extra turns to party members if they down an opponent. You can even dash into weaker foes to dodge unnecessary battles. Goodbye, illnesses – a frustrating hindrance in exploring Tartarus. While the party can still get tired, it's a welcome change from the original game.

Adding to the mix, there's a new combat feature called Theurgy, essentially special techniques that party members can unleash. If you recall Aigis's Orgia mode, it's basically that. Every character boasts a unique Theurgy move. Take Junpei, for instance; he's got the Hack n' Blast Theurgy, delivering severe Slash damage to enemies. On the other hand, Yukari showcases Cyclone Arrow, inflicting strong garu damage. It's a fantastic addition that introduces fresh dimensions to how you strategize and take down opponents. The fusion mechanics in The Velvet Room have been modernized, and now you can choose the specific skills you want your Persona to have. As if that wasn't exciting enough, there are also several new Personas added to the compendium.

While school hours may feel somewhat familiar, the game introduces fantastic new features borrowed from Persona 5, like the ability to save anywhere and freely use the camera to look around. Beyond that, the added content, such as the Link Episodes (distinct from Social Links), provides extra scenes that allow characters to truly shine, delving deeper into their development and enhancing the overall weight of the story. These emotional journeys make the narrative more impactful.

Additionally, the new side activities are enjoyable and bring a welcomed layer of fun that also boosts your stats. Social links although somewhat remain the same, the fact that they are fully voiced now makes their individual stories and character growth more impactful with amazing performances.

There's plenty more in additions, but I'll hold off on the details to avoid giving away too many spoilers.

Music Will Color Your Night~

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When they announced that the iconic composer Shoji Meguro wasn't working on the music for Persona 3 Reload, and it was Atsushi Kitajo instead—a name I'd never heard—I was honestly a bit worried. I had my doubts and wasn't expecting much. However, I'm thrilled to report that Kitajo knocked it out of the park with his compositions for this game. Not only did he do a fantastic job remastering classics like Joy and Changing Seasons, but he also delivered new bangers like It's Going Down and the opening song for Persona 3 Reload.

While Rapper Lotus Juice makes a return to the series, the original lead singer, Yumi Kawamura, has been replaced by Azumi Takahashi. Although I'll miss Kawamura's bold and powerful voice, Takahashi steps in admirably. Her rendition of P3 songs brings a different vibe, as she often sings in a more relaxed tone. It's an interesting choice that, in my opinion, works quite well.

"Color Your Night" stands out as my favorite track in the new soundtrack, showcasing the evolution of Persona music while staying true to the distinctive style of Persona 3. Much like the art direction, the musical direction varies from game to game within the series. Persona 4 featured more trumpets and pop, Persona 5 leaned towards jazz, and Persona 3 has a definite mix of rock and rap. While Persona 3 Reload largely stays faithful to its themes, it also introduces a blend of genre songs from both Persona 3 and Persona 4.

In terms of music quality, Persona 3 Reload is undoubtedly on par with Persona 5 and even surpasses the original game. The soundtrack is a testament to the game's ability to evolve while maintaining the essence that fans love.

Cons of Persona 3 Reload

Things That Persona 3 Reload Can Improve
Checkmark Some Minor Nitpicks

Some Minor Nitpicks

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Before you point your Evokers at me! Finding any significant faults in the game is challenging, but as a fan since its 2006 release, I do have some nitpicks and gripes. While they don't substantially impact the overall game, they do nag at me a bit as a devoted fan.

One nitpick that really gets to me is how, at times, the in-game and anime cutscenes don't quite capture the original game's tone. Even though the new cutscenes are more polished, they miss the same sense of dread and edge that the original Persona 3 portrayed. Those first few cutscenes in the original, especially the opening and the protagonist's Persona awakening, had this weight and ambiguity like the characters were hesitant to pull the trigger. In Reload, the new cutscenes felt somewhat lackluster in comparison.

Despite Reload's polish and style, it seems to sometimes lose focus on Persona 3's overarching theme—death and its looming presence in humanity. While the new cutscenes are undeniably amazing, the older ones resonated more with the game's theme.

I've got a couple of other minor gripes. First off, why doesn't the game have music playing when you launch it from the start menu? It's like a missed opportunity to set the vibe right from the beginning. And then there's the clock—why doesn't it shatter into pieces when the dark hour hits? It was a cool visual detail that should’ve never been removed.

Is Persona 3 Reload Worth It?

YES

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Despite the hefty $70 price tag, Persona 3 Reload is an absolute treasure, worth every penny. Whether you're a dedicated Persona fan or a newcomer to the series, this game promises an unforgettable experience. While considering the other versions of the game (portable, and FES), one might wonder if Reload is the definitive version of Persona 3. It certainly stands as the definitive version of the original PS2 game, but there's hope for the future – the addition of The Answer Story and a Female Protagonist option as DLC could truly make it the all-encompassing Persona 3 experience. Overall, it's a must-buy and undoubtedly deserves to be a contender for Game of the Year.


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Persona 3 Reload Overview & Premise

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Persona 3 Reload, much like the original, follows an unnamed protagonist, a high school student returning to his hometown and residing in a dorm. Upon the revelation that he can summon a Persona, a manifestation of his inner self, he becomes a member of the Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad (S.E.E.S.), a group of individuals (and a dog) with similar Persona-summoning abilities. Their mission: ascend to the summit of Tartarus, defeat enemies called Shadows, and unravel the mysteries of the Dark Hour.

Persona 3 Reload FAQ

The Real Name of the Protagonist

The promotional material of Reload uses the protagonist's canon name, Makoto Yuki, from Persona 3 The Movie. In the Persona 3 Manga, his name was Minato Arisato.

Persona 3 Reload Gets Localized in These Languages for the First Time

Persona 3 Reload is the first game in the Megami Tensei series to be localized in Brazilian Portuguese, Polish, Russian, and Turkish.

Where Can I Play Persona 3 Reload?

Persona 3 Reload is now available for PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, and PS5.

Persona 3 Reload Product Information

Persona 3 Reload Cover
Title PERSONA 3 RELOAD
Release Date February 2, 2024
Developer Atlus
Publisher Sega
Supported Platforms PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Genre RPG, Strategy
Number of Players 1
Rating M 17+
Official Website Persona 3 Reload Website

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