Persona Q Is Possibly The Wackiest 3DS MegaTen Installment
The world of Persona is quite fascinating, as you've no doubt seen over the past week or so with our looks at the games you should be playing, but the ride's not over yet, with Persona Q and its unique brand of gameplay. What happens when your favorite characters from Persona 3 and Persona 4 meet up to investigate a bizarre happening within the Velvet Room? We're not talking fanfiction here -- this is Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, a cheeky tale that unites fan-favorite characters and the best elements of first-person dungeon crawling to tell a unique tale that could only work in the Persona universe. It's a decidedly different departure than that of the normal Persona titles, but certainly every bit worth your time and money.
This is a classic crossover tale, bringing together the characters of Persona 3 and 4. Through the power of the Velvet Room and a rather strange occurrence surrounding it and its mysterious host Igor, the members of Special Extracurricular Execution Squad (S.E.E.S.) of Persona 3 are transported to Yasogami High School, where the Investigation Team, or the Persona 4 crew, has been trapped. The two groups meet up and while attempting to escape the school stumble upon a series of labyrinths. Players have a choice between using the Persona 3 or the Persona 4 cast and the plot varies depending on which group you utilize. New characters Rei and Zen are integral to the plot as well. Suffering from amnesia, they must fight through the labyrinths in an attempt to restore their pasts.
This game is first and foremost a dungeon crawler in the same vein as Etrian Odyssey. Players will spend most of their time in the labyrinths, exploring and fighting the monsters known as Shadows as they attempt to restore the memory of newcomer characters Rei and Zen. The game, like most dungeon crawlers, requires a lot of self-starting from the player. You have to choose your objective and your limitations. The game doesn't hold your hand and tell you where to go, and there's nothing but a vague overall objective of "explore the labyrinth." This may be a turn-off for some, but it's worth trying out given its propensity to force you to look at things from a different perspective. It's also purposefully disorienting, which makes its most interesting feature all the more challenging.
Of course, there's more to the game than simple dungeon exploration. You'll undoubtedly come for some hilarious and lighthearted exchanges between the characters or the novelty of seeing them interacting together. Elizabeth of the Velvet Room is in rare form, making plenty of jokes at her twin brother's expense. It's all in good fun for most of the game, but in some areas you will find it begins to grate on your nerves hearing the same kind of banter over and over. Luckily, fantastic and enthusiastic voiceovers make the dialogue there is feel interesting nevertheless.
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth succeeds in bringing the tight gameplay of the Persona series to the 3DS and mixing it up in unexpected ways. Although the perspective may be first-person, the dungeon gameplay is a great blend of Persona and Etrian Odyssey, which was a fantastic game on its own. Of course, it's most definitely a huge time sink, especially for completionists, and unless you're a fan of the genre, the lack of the feeling of progression might be a turn off. However, if you want dozens of hours of dungeon crawling with a Persona flair and enjoy setting your own goals in games and accomplishing them without much of a tangible reward, then this should absolutely be the next entry in your 3DS library.