Welcome to the Dark Hour

  “You can close your eyes. I’ll always remain here by your side.”

  The original Persona 3 and the improved version Persona 3 Festival, more commonly called FES, were cult classics. Persona 3 introduced the main story and characters whereas Festival brought lots of quality of life improvements with a new epilogue story called “The answer” following the main cast after the events of Persona 3.

  Due to having such huge success this game’s battle system was used all the way until the present day, and it had a lot of impact on the structure of the games. Every game since then has had a social link/daily life simulator with a plethora of characters to get to know.

  Since the game was so incredibly popular, fans had asked for a remake countless times, and after eighteen years, we got what we asked for. 

  A myriad of changes were added to this new version. New DLC personas were added featuring personas from 4 and 5. Music packs also allowed you to change the music played during your exploration of Tartarus, this game’s dungeon. Alongside this, there were costumes available for purchase, allowing you to wear sports uniforms and costumes from previous games. 

  Additions made to the game included completely redrawn character portraits, new voice actors, and fully voiced social link events for every character. To help remedy a lack of social links with male members of SEES, link episodes were made. These are special one-time events similar to social links to help learn about the male characters and get to know them on a deeper level. 

  One of the gameplay changes in this iteration is the ability to run. Sounds simple, but in the original Persona 3 and FES, you had to walk everywhere, even while exploring Tartarus. This is an amazing change because it allows the player to move through Tartarus more freely as well as giving the player an easier time avoiding or starting fights how they want. A big change for exploration was the ability to get a fortune telling, giving you access to buffs for the entirety of your Tartarus exploration, but only for that day. This is an amazing change in my opinion due to Persona’s genre. It greatly increases the chance of rare enemies to spawn, letting you grind for experience faster. Grinding still feels slow and tedious, but rewarding. It strikes a good balance between going slow and feeling like progress is being made.

  A newly added item, Twilight Fragments, allows the player to open locked chests costing at least 1 fragment and using a special clock on the first floor to completely refill the party’s HP and SP at the cost of 7 fragments. 

  The polish on this game is great. The character models are so incredibly well made, and the environments you can walk around feel so lived in. A great change added to the game was the addition of NPCs that would walk around the various locations, making the locales feel more lively. 

  Due to being a remake, the battle system in this version is a little more relaxed than the original. Wherein getting up from being knocked down would take a whole turn, this is removed and instead placed with a status ailment that comes from being hit with a strong attack while knocked down. The fusion system allowing you to make new and stronger personas is still the same. Although there are little to no new personas added, save for the DLC personas that are locked behind paying for them.

  The soundtrack has been a big point of controversy as the music has been redone, and the person behind the vocals, Azumi Takahashi, was criticized for her performance on reload versions of old tracks. Despite all the heckling, the new tracks are simply amazing. All they are is new takes on old classics, and because they are trying to convey something different, I believe they cannot be judged side by side.

  But what does all this mean for the future of the series? It means that older games have a chance of getting their own remakes. Old beloved games like Persona 1, Persona 2 Innocent Sin/Eternal Punishment can be remade for newer audiences to enjoy. It adds new hope for the next mainline installment, showing that while this game is very well made, the new major installment will go even further than this one and be a new frontier for the series. If the series continues to churn out games of this quality, I have every belief the future games will only get better and better.

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