Reload Persona 3 is a basic remake of the original persona 3 – a game that stands as the pinnacle of the long-running franchise. Recreated in the Unreal Engine, it looks phenomenal. Character portrayals and graphics look great, the menu is as stylish as ever, and most importantly, it captures the essence of persona 3 and what made it so great from the start.
I had the opportunity to play through two sections of Reload Persona 3, which included exploration of the first levels of the near-endless dungeon of Tartarus and a more story-driven encounter in one train. Both sections ended with a boss fight and were each quite easy.
However, I went into the game with previous knowledge persona 3, which immediately came to mind as “Mass Destruction” (the game’s battle theme) started playing. Remembering which enemies had which elemental weaknesses, I took the chance to knock them down to perform an all-out attack and quickly take down anything that got in my way. For those unfamiliar with the system, exploiting elemental weaknesses means you can unleash an extra attack that potentially knocks down any enemies encountered. This always feels satisfying and keeps the pace of combat high.
This is especially important when exploring Tartarus. Enemies appear in the form of “shadows” that you attack or avoid as they roam through each floor. If you fight them and use all-out attacks, you’ll be rewarded with buffs that last for your Tartarus Run, or Personas – summons that you can equip that have abilities of their own. I fought every available enemy in Tartarus, grabbing all the Personas I could find just to see what was available. I managed to get Angel and Pixie, but ended up using Orpheus anyway, the protagonist’s “canon” persona, since everything on the level was weak for Agi.
Yukari provided support and supplemented my part when our HP got too low. Their healing was generally stronger than the items I found along the way. And Junpei provided the extra damage per second I needed to take down enemies when I wasn’t using an all-out attack. Party synergy was high and I was mowing down enemies before reaching the last level of Tartarus I had access to. And within three rounds, the boss that was waiting for me was down and I moved on to the next section, which was the train that players explore fairly early on.
Much like Tartarus, I took advantage of knocking down enemies and quickly eliminating them with an all-out attack, or just finishing them off with your standard attacks. This section is more story-focused as the group investigates a mysterious train during the Dark Hour. Dialogue can be sped up, but these micro-cutscenes cannot be skipped entirely. This means that if you fail a section, you can simply scroll through the dialogue automatically, much like fast-forwarding on a VHS tape or hitting the 2x speed button on a YouTube video.
This section also ended with a boss fight that was limited in time. The more you dismembered the boss, the faster the train went, saving your timer more than a handful of minutes. It creates a certain level of suspense when you start out with around 30 minutes but end up with barely three left depending on how quickly you can get through it. She also summons adds, but can be quickly eliminated if you have the right Personas.
However, one thing that struck me was that Yumi Kawamura, the lead singer of persona 3He didn’t come back to re-record the music for the game. It wasn’t obvious at first, but as certain tracks played it became more apparent. And it’s not a problem, but it definitely knocked me out of the game for a hot second. However, the new singer is just as good and the tracks are practically the same and always good to listen to. In addition, the new cast is great and does a great job mimicking the previous voice actors while adding their own accents. I especially liked the new voices of Yukari, Junpei and Mitsuru. Aleks Le is also great as a protagonist, although all you really hear is shouting “Persona!” or grunt in pain, he sounds just like the previous voice actor.
Even if my time is playing Reload Persona 3 Was relatively short and made me sit cross-legged in my room as a teenager and roam Tartarus until the early hours. It reminded me of what I initially loved about the Persona series, with all its shortcomings, and pulled me back in with the memorable score and simple but effective combat system. It shows me that the Persona 3 I loved is back and that new fans can experience what might be one of the best entries in the series. And honestly, what more could you want from a completely new remake?
Reload Persona 3 is in development and will be available sometime in early 2024 on PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, Xbox Game Pass and Windows PC via Steam.