Lately I've been interested in Persona video game series, as Persona 5 Royal release ignited my passion for the franchise. I decided to write some articles about the series in general and this is the 2nd article of how I first encountered Persona games.
Persona 3 Protagonists & Their Assistants
I wrote in the first part that the first Shin Megami Tensei I played was Devil Survivor. Years after that, I tried the first game in Persona series Revelations: Persona on a PS1 emulator. I only played for an hour or two. My first actual experience was with its sequel Persona 2: Innocent Sin which I played a good chunk of, but didn't finish... Now, I'll talk about the next Persona game I played: Persona 3 Portable.
Persona 3 Portable
I first heard about Persona 3 from a magazine I used to read. It wasn't a gaming magazine but it had 2 to 4 pages a week about video games. I think it was around 2010 that Persona 3 for PS2 appeared in the TOP 10 list in that magazine. I liked the white silhouette on the blue background of the game's cover. Looking at such a "modern design," I wondered what was the game will be about.
Fast forward few years, (I think around 2013,) my brother got a bunch of PSP games from his friend and I got to play them. Other than the Visual Novel DanganRonpa, they were mostly RPG games including Persona 2: Innocent Sin and Persona 3 Portable. I went for P2 until I eventually stopped. Only then I tried the third main title in Persona franchise.
The Dorm's main hall in P3 Portable
Persona 3 is the first title in Persona franchise to feature Social Links: A relationship simulation system between the player and certain characters. The player's persona strength increases as they becoming closer to these characters.
Persona 3 features the 22 Arcana of the Tarot Cards and uses the concept heavily in story and gameplay. Each Social Link and/or Persona is tied to one. Important characters have story arcs based on what their Arcana represents. The protagonist is represented by "The Fool" Arcana which symbolizes the infinite possibilities they hold, as it's the first card of the Tarot deck. I find the Arcana topic very fascinating and I hope to write about it here on the blockchain one day.
"I Am thou... Thou art I..." The "thou" part is important!
The only Persona 3 version I played was the PSP version. It's a different experience from the original PS2 version. The ability to explore 3D enviroment around the town was removed compeltely, and P3P doesn't feature the sequel story "The Answer" that was featured in the updated release: Persona 3 Fes.
Persona 3 Portable instead is unique in that there is a female protagonist option. She even has her own set of the Social Links. Her cheerful personality changes many of the story interactions and some story elements and it's nice to compare her version of the story to the original distant protagonist.
Another change between the PS2 and PSP versions is the updated gameplay. P3P includes the many improvements of the battle system that were first introduced in Persona 4, like "Guard," "Direct command." The party members now can take a fatal hit for you. For people like me, the ability to control every character in a RPG (instead of just the protagonist) is a deal breaker. I'm glad I was introduced to Persona 3 via the PSP version which had all these quality of life changes.
Now, as I said in Part 1: Games made by ATLUS are pretty hard!
I played Persona 3 Portable on Easy Mode but I still got a "Game Over" screen a bunch of times. It's very tactical. There is an exclusive Easy Mode item that revives the party with full HP/SP if the main character falls in battle, but it can only be used certain number of times and can't be obtained again. With my play-style I only used it when the death was unavoidable, I reload a save otherwise.
In Persona 3 (and probably all Shin Megami Tensei games) you can get a "Game Over" easily. (Low chance insta-death spell casted by a random monster?) Worse, it could happen just before the next save point and results in losing all the progress made in the past 30 minutes. I guess it's one of the charms of this game, haha.
A battle inside Tartarus
Persona 3 story follows the mystery of the Dark Hour. An hour between the days in which shadows prosper and only few people are aware of it, while the others turn into coffins. People who are attacked by the shadows in this hour lose their mind catching the "Apathy Syndrome."
On each full moon night, a strong shadow attacks the city and it's the job of the player party, a group called SEES to unravel the mystery and stop the Dark Hour from happening again.
I didn't finish the story of P3. I did reach the month of December so I know most of the story, and I spoiled the ending for myself. If I'll ever go back to this game I'll try the "Female route" or just get Persona 3 FES. (If the latter was released on PS4 along with Trophy Support I'd buy it.)
After Persona 3...
Playing Persona 3 left me a good impression for the series. Soon after I did, Persona 5 was announced, and I would check every new trailer for P5 since... Few years later in 2018, I finally bought a PS4. Persona 5 was the first game I bought in the Physical Blu-ray form.
The Dark Hour is nigh!
My brother's friend also had Persona 4, and played it on an emulator on PC, I wanted to try it after finishing Persona 3 but couldn't. I tried it this year on emulator but it's out of Persona main titles, P5 is the one I still know the least about.
That's all for part 2 of my Early Experience with Persona...
If you're interested in Persona 3 you can read my previous post in which I talk about the battle theme: Mass Destruction. I'll write about Persona 5 in my next article so stay tuned!
So, what do you think?
Have you played Persona 3? What's your opinion on Shin Megami Tensei titles? I'll be patiently waiting for your comments!