Persona 3 Reload review – a classic 2006 RPG updated in hit-and-miss style

January 30, 2024
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Persona 3 has always been somewhat of an outlier in the high-schooling, monster-bashing series. Going back to 2006, Persona 3 was the first in the series to layer visual novel social elements on top of the turn-based combat and party-centric stat fiddling. Now, it’s perhaps the only modern Persona game that doesn’t enjoy a ‘definitive’ edition for first-timers, and with the release of the high-definitioned remake Persona 3 Reload, I can’t say the situation’s changed.

Of course, Persona 3 Reload does tweak and turn knobs in almost every corner of the original, providing a streamlined and easygoing take on the classic, but some aesthetic adjustments in particular don’t exactly gel with the teens-dealing-with-death tale that pulls everything together. And as much as Reload reaches into the future to borrow from Personas 4 and 5, the best things about it are still from 2006. Still great, then.

Persona 3 Reload follows the original game’s story very closely, focusing on an orphaned transfer student who begins life anew at Gekkoukan High School and Tatsumi Port Island, which receives a blindingly bright glow-up compared to its relative murkiness on the PS2/PSP. He soon discovers the powers of the titular Persona – magical alter-ego warriors – and joins a group of fellow students (plus a very, very good dog) on their journey to end the Dark Hour, the time between days when mysterious creatures come a-running to feast and all the regular humans remain oblivious, trapped in sinister coffins.

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