With Persona 5 releasing next year, what better way to celebrate than reviewing one of the best Persona games out there!
Noted for its’ dark plot, deep characters and rewarding battle system and collection mechanics, Persona 3: FES, the expanded version of Persona 3 is the complete edition of this tale, delving into the world of Tartarus, a mysterious castle-like entity that arises on a secret 13th Hour after Midnight known as the “Dark Hour”…
The story begins with Makoto Yuki, our protagonist (Although you can name him / her whatever you like) transferring to Gekkoukan High School, a new school in a bustling suburb of Japan for a year, whilst his parents are away for business – Upon joining he meets various students, with a select group of them being part of S.E.E.S – An incognito, secret school society that investigates the aforementioned “Dark Hour”. This Dark Hour is a time where those with the ability to summon their true selves, their Personas, are trapped for an hour to fend off and defeat the evils of the world, known as Shadows. Located within the Dark Hour is Tartarus, the fortress of these evils, and a manifestation of the challenges that the main characters will have to overcome.
With each iteration of the Dark Hour, a new form of evil arises, containing a piece of Death incarnate within it – S.E.E.S is tasked with eliminating these pieces of Death, in order to prevent the mass public ‘Non-Persona users’ from being sucked into the Dark Hour and being slaughtered. Things, however, aren’t this simple – As with every force of light, there is a force of darkness, people who sympathise with the Shadows, and want to release the parts of Death in order to show Earth its’ “True Self”. It’s up to the members of S.E.E.S to prevent this, and to stop the Dark Hour from merging with the real world!
Now, with Persona games there are two halves – The School Phase, and the Dungeon Phase; School Phases are, as the name suggests, periods of time where the main character can explore the real world, attending classes, increasing their skills through clubs and books, and, most importantly, hang out with friends to forge new and stronger bonds between them through the Social Link system – This, in turn, gives the player access to stronger Personas (Effectively like Pokemon) that they can create and summon to aid them in the Dark Hour. The Dungeon Phase is where the main meat of the gameplay kicks in – Randomly generated dungeons and encounters will stagger the player as they attempt to ascend Tartarus, with optional side quests, Super Bosses and unique puzzles and mechanics alike – If you like dungeon crawlers, then this game is for you.
The characters are really where Persona as a franchise shines, with so many relatable stories across its’ diverse cast of colourful characters, there’s bound to be one encounter that strikes a chord with you – I’d definitely recommend trying to reach Level 10 in each Social Link possible on your first playthrough; some of the tales and situations may even change how you think of certain circumstances or people, and may even bring a tear to your eye.
This is all wrapped up neatly with the addition of the FES Expansion, which adds at least another few hours gameplay on-top of the titanical 70+ hours that the base game provides, tying up the original story in a very satisfying way.
Like I said before, if you love dungeon crawlers, games with an engrossing plot with amazing characters, monster-collection games like the Pokemon games… Or games that will make you laugh, cry, and hate some of the more devilish characters, then this game is for you!
Truly a forgotten gem.
Until next time folks ~