Review: Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth

Welcome to this wild maze of life!

By Anthony Vigna. Posted 11/21/2014 09:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
Editor's Choice
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Great mashup between Etrian Odyssey and Persona gameplay; Fantastic writing and voice acting; Gorgeous aesthetics; Incredible soundtrack.
Poison Mushroom for...
The story is not too interesting on its own.

What happens when you mash the characters and gameplay elements from the Persona series with the map drawing and dungeon crawling elements from the Etrian Odyssey series? You get one of the best RPGs to ever grace the 3DS: Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth

I love this game because it’s the perfect example of how to do a crossover correctly. When a crossover focuses its gameplay on a single series, it can lead to serious disappointment from fans of the other series in question. An example of this phenomenon can be found in the mixed reactions to Hyrule Warriors, which made Zelda fans feel alienated because it played entirely like a Dynasty Warriors game. However, this is not the case in Persona Q, as it mixes gameplay elements from both series perfectly to create a game that fans from both series will be able to enjoy.

The Etrian Odyssey series is represented well through Persona Q‘s exploration. As you take on each unique labyrinth from a first-person perspective, you’ll need to record everything you see by drawing a map to help you navigate the area. Since every labyrinth is enormous and is comprised of multiple floors, it’s essential to draw the map and mark every detail you come across. You can make it so the map automatically draws itself in the game’s options, but drawing large maps yourself can be a lot of fun. The interface on the touch screen is very intuitive to use, as it provides a bunch of markers and colors that let you to customize the appearance of the map. Not only is it great to reap the fruits of your labor with a complete map, the game also rewards you for traversing every nook and cranny of a single floor with a rare item! These items give the player a great reason to explore every level of a labyrinth fully before continuing with the main story.

The hub world is represented by a series of selectable options on a menu that will help you prepare for the next battle. When you’re not fighting monsters, you’ll be selling materials you found during battle for money, buying new items to aid your characters, healing your party, and entering the Velvet Room to fuse powerful Personas. Every character in the game has one main Persona that is attached to their character, but each one can also use any Persona gained in battle as a sub-Persona. The use of sub-Personas is new to the Persona series and it works incredibly well because it allows you to customize your entire party to your liking. By fusing Personas together in the Velvet Room, you can create powerful sub-Personas and choose the skills that you want your characters to equip. Despite the fact that each character has preset stats, the Velvet Room make it easy to customize each character to suit your play style.

The game’s battle system is a mix of elements from both Etrian Odyssey and the Persona series. When you engage in battle, three of your characters are arranged in one row and the remaining two form a row behind them. Those in the front row are more prone to getting hit, making the back row ideal for frail characters with ranged attacks. If you can find an enemy’s elemental weakness, the enemy has a chance at being stunned and the attacking character will become Boosted. Allies in a Boosted state can move first on their next turn and use a skill without any kind of HP or SP cost. If a boosted character is attacked, they loose their Boosted state and must attack again to regain it. But if you can make it through an entire turn with a good majority of your party in a Boosted state, you may have an opportunity at an All-Out Attack or a Follow-Up Attack. These attacks inflict a high amount damage at the end of the turn that can really turn the tide in battle, which encourages the player to seek out every enemy’s weakness.

If I had to make a complaint, it would be that the story in Persona Q is a bit shallow. Because the cast from Persona 3 and Persona 4 are both in the game, the story sucks these characters into an alternate reality to give an excuse to bring everyone together. To continue the trend of gaming stereotypes, you encounter two new characters named Zen and Rei that have amnesia and need help regaining their memories. Even though this is nothing original for an JRPG, the interactions between all the characters really save the story from being completely boring. In fact, Persona Q takes every opportunity to make the characters from both games interact with each other. When you’re exploring labyrinths, the cast will often take breaks just to talk. There’s an option in the hub world called “Stroll” that solely exists for developing each character further through interactions with others. A lot of the game’s side quests are given by your own party members as well, and serve as a means to get to know everyone on a deeper level. The localization is spot on and is incredibly entertaining to read, which makes up for the somewhat uninteresting story. A good portion of the game also has voice acting, which really helps bring each character to life.

Persona Q is a fantastic game that does so many things right. If you’re a Persona or Etrian Odyssey fan, then there’s no doubt that you’ll fall in love with this game. Even if you haven’t played a game in either series and have an interest in JRPGs, you should still purchase Persona Q. Between the game’s gorgeous art style, fantastic challenging gameplay, amazing soundtrack composed by Atsushi Kitajoh and Toshiki Konishi, and the entertaining character interactions, this is easily one of my favorite games of the year.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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