We can’t forget about you, now can we? It’s only fair that you get a review too. Here’s Persona 3 FES!
Besides Persona 5, Persona 3 FES is one of the main series games we haven’t reviewed on The Backlog. I started up the game sometime after I finished Persona 2 Eternal Punishment but I beat it before the holidays? I can’t remember but it has been a while. So let’s see what I can remember of the game.
I believe we can all remember what the story is of Persona 3 since there are three editions of the game, a manga, and four movies. But if you can’t remember, then I’ll give you the cliffnotes version. You are a transfer student who comes to a new school and has been thrown into a dorm of students who fight shadows within the Dark Hour. With the ragtag group you are now associated with, it is up to you guys to solve the mystery of the Dark Hour. There is also a robot and a dog. Have fun.
The gameplay in this installment of the Persona series is a first. As I can recall, this is the first game that you only have control over your own actions. That’s right. You cannot dictate what your party members do. There are commands you can give them like making them give support or to attack the same target as you. But being able to actually make them do what you want? That’s a no go. This mechanic made battles long and quite frustrating. In the final battle, Mitsuru healed the final form of the boss because she was charmed and my turn happened before the boss’s and since I had no control over the other party members, she remained charmed and I turned off the game. This game mechanic was rectified in the PSP port of the game and in future installments.
Shuffle Time is how one will be able to get money (besides finding it in treasure chests), a boost of EXP, weapons, healing, and the oh so important Personas. I didn’t talk about it much in my P3P review so I will elaborate on it here. Shuffle Time plays out as cards on the screen. The cards will either shuffle about on screen trading places or disappearing off screen only to reappear. The speed of the cards will start off slow, allowing the player to be able to track the card that he or she desires but as the game progresses, the speed will go faster making it hard to track the card the player wants. Along with that, there are cursed cards. They appear with a skull and crossbones and have negative effects. So try hard not to get those otherwise you might come into contact with the Reaper.
Persona 3 introduced status effects outside of battle. It only appeared in this game which probably means players didn’t like this mechanic. While traversing through Tartarus, the only dungeon of the game, members of the party will become tired if you are in the dungeon for too long. This means that once they become tired, their attacks will become a bit weaker and they will most likely want to leave the dungeon. The following day, that party member may have recovered, are still tired, or have become sick because of staying in the dungeon for too long. So if you wanted to keep using that party member, tough luck cause they are tired. It becomes a pain because you cannot heal this status. It sticks around until the party member recovers from it and you can also suffer from it too like they can.
Persona 3 is what introduced the world to Social Links. Throughout the game, you have a chance to get to know your party members and a select few other people in school or around town. Each person’s social link correlates to a certain Arcana. With every or every few ranks, there will be a perk given to you. Once you max out a social link with a party member, their Persona will evolve creating a new Persona which is more powerful than the previous one. With the addition to evolving Personas and battle perks, there are experience points bonuses when fusing Personas in the Velvet Room depending on the Arcana social link.
With the change of obtaining Personas, the Velvet Room has changed as well. Igor still chills out in the room but his homies are gone and now there is only one person accompanying him: Elizabeth. Igor will fuse your Personas into new ones and Elizabeth offers quests to do and a possible romance. The quests she asks of you ranges from seeing certain items (some are time specific and attainable from party members), fusing Personas with a particular skill, and taking her out on the town. These quests will help you kill time in Tartarus and you will gain a few more levels due to all the grinding.
One more thing to point out in this game is stats. No, not battle stats. These stats are your knowledge, charm, and courage. They have nothing to do with battles but they definitely help with getting social links. Knowledge can be gained from answering questions in class and studying, charm can be gained from watching certain types of movies at the theater and so can courage. Pursuing these stats are up to you. If you find them useless, then don’t bother with leveling them up to the max level of 5. But if you want to start a social link and future romance with Fuuka, I need to get my courage to max.
That’s pretty much it for the main game but there is still the case of the mini-sequel… The Answer.
The Answer is only available in the FES version of Persona 3. Taking place some time after the main game, our ragtag gang decides to empty out the dorm but disaster strikes and now there is a hole in the floor with a dungeon. You now control the lovable robot Aigis as she tries to fix the problem. Someone call a contractor… The floor is a mess.
The mini-sequel has the same gameplay as Persona 3 so no need to talk about it again. The Velvet Room is still there as Aigis now has the ability to hold more than one Persona at a time but there are no quests to do. You can still shop for items and equipment from the mall via a space, time door in the dormitory.
The only thing that is different is difficulty. You cannot change the difficulty. It’s a default level which I have no idea what it is but it is hard. Normally I play the Persona games on easy/beginner because I want to enjoy the story, not throw my controller on the floor in frustration. Unfortunately The Answer said, “No, I picked the difficulty and you are going to like it.” I did not like it. This lead me to grind levels for hours which was not fun. Luckily, Youtube is around and on smartphones which made it more bearable to grind levels for hours on end just so I can beat the next boss.
The bosses are nothing to write home about. They are the basic reskinned enemies that are found throughout the main game and this mini-sequel. You remember how in Tartarus when you got to a certain floor and there was a boss standing there keeping you from continuing? It’s here too. Those are the bosses in The Answer. All the good bosses are at the very end of the game.
Persona 3 FES is a good game which I recommend to any RPG fanatic. The series is a big staple in the RPG community that it is surprising when someone says that they haven’t played it yet. So if you haven’t played it, please do.
The game has good jams yo. The Answer is hard… I was sad. I felt empty when I beat it… My soul left me.