Persona 3 Reload Will Take Some Getting Used To | Hands-On Impressions

A New Moon.

Last week I got roughly 30 minutes of hands-on time with Persona 3 Reload, the upcoming remake that is slated for 2024. Whether you’re a long-time fan or hopping into Persona 3 for the first time, there’s some stuff you should know.

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Image via SEGA

First off, If you’ve only played Persona 5, you’ll need to temper your expectations a bit. Persona 5 revolutionized the franchise with its more heavily designed and themed dungeons, making each feel like a different theme park ride. Persona 3 follows Tartarus, a randomized layout of floors incredibly similar to Mementos which you’re probably more familiar with.

The remake does very little in the way of switching things up. You’re going to climb all 250 floors of Tartarus, and you’ll need to decide if you’re on board with this type of RPG up front, because it’s a core part of what makes Persona 3 and its story so compelling.

The first part of my demo focused on clearing the first five floors of Tartarus, which consisted of blue hallways with very little detail or points of interest. I’d clear out a few enemies and look for the stairs to move on, culminating in a small boss fight against some tougher enemies. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to see that the team took some of the quality-of-life improvements and flair of Persona 5 and weaved it into Reload.

Image Via SEGA

However, a lot of the repetitiveness of this section was washed over by the intangible coolness factor of Persona 3. Persona 3 is easily the darkest story and aesthetic in the series, with each character summoning their personas by literally shooting themselves in the head with a gun called an “Evoker.”

When you finally hit an enemy’s weakness with a Persona attack, a flashy screen break happens and, when it hits just right with the redone soundtrack, you’re suddenly reminded how sick Persona 3 can be. This is only enhanced with the updated visuals.

The second demo I played was the train car sequence from the beginning of the game. It was an even more straightforward demo, but showcased more of the redone soundtrack and voice acting, both of which are fine but ultimately don’t stand out or have the same bite as the original.

Image via SEGA

Once I made it through a few slightly more difficult fights, I got to the end of the train car and the first major boss appeared. Using the different Personas at my disposal, I made quick work of the boss, and the demo was over before I knew it.

While it was such a small slice of a very long game, it was enough to see that Persona 3 Reload is Persona 3 with the Persona 5 style slapped over it. It smooths out some of the edges that time has sharpened, but it still remains to be seen if Reload can retain the edge that made it stand amongst the other games in the series.

Persona 5 fans will certainly need to adjust to an older design philosophy in terms of level layout and dungeons, but it’s a story still worth revisiting today. It’s a bummer that it does not include some of the extra content and characters that P3 Portable and P3 FES added to the game.

Image Via SEGA

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Jesse Vitelli
Jesse loves most games, but he really loves games that he can play together with friends and family. This usually means late nights in Destiny 2 or FFXIV. You can also find him thinking about his ever-expanding backlog of games he won't play and being constantly dehydrated. Do not contact him.