The Ninjabot

Persona Q Review: Etrian Odyssey In Disguise

Posted on March 23, 2015 at 6:30 pm by Victor Chaves

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Playing Persona Q is like meeting a friend that hasn’t changed; you’ve already played and beat Persona 3 and Persona 4, but you still want to see how the gang is doing—except this time they made a friend named Etrian Odyssey and you’re not sure what to expect. By no means is it a bad experience, but you see that although a lot has changed, everything has stayed the same.

The nuts and bold of Persona Q is that the cast of Persona 3 and Persona 4 have met in this alternate reality school that mirrors the one in Persona 4 in the middle of a culture festival. They team up with two other new characters to figure out how to escape this reality by rolling through dungeons and fighting the same shadows from the previous games using “Personas” that give them great strength and magic. There are a lot of differences between Persona Q and the two previous (and contemporary) entries, so let’s concentrate on those.

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It’s Etrian Odyssey

The dungeons are not randomly generated, and fights are random. This is where Persona Q grabs the most from the Etrian Odyssey series as the dungeons are now labyrinths, with the bottom screen functioning as a map. If you’re a fan of that series, then Persona Q may be right up your alley as too-tough-to-fight FOE enemies (the only ones that are not random) appear to chase you or manipulate you, and map-making is paramount in order to keep track of where you are in the labyrinth. The exploration of the labyrinths themselves are fine, as the FOE enemies and the interactive environments offer very fun puzzle aspects that Persona 3 and 4 never had.

There are issues though, especially if you are like me and not a fan of the Etrian Odyssey series. I do not enjoy the random battles as they always feel like they happen too often, especially when I’m trying to figure out a puzzle. The map-making process is a pain, as being a cartographer is not my particular idea of fun. There is an option to have the process automatic, but the option still requires you to place the doors, the chests, and mark down interesting places. I understand this game is a marriage of Persona 3 and 4, but I can’t say that I wanted a marriage between Persona and Etrian Odyssey.

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Each party character is able to have on top of their usual Personas, a sub-Persona much like how the protagonist in 3 and 4 were able to. What this essentially means is that with enough Persona breeding and research, you’ll be able to make up for any deficiencies members may have. Mitsuru can’t take fire attacks? Give her a fire Persona that is resistant. Naoto running out of mana? Assign a Persona that regenerates a ton. Although it is a lot of work to keep track of who should get what, and what sacrifices you should make in order to get a strong Persona, it’s a lot of fun to work on your characters and supplement their growth.

Reaching Out For The Truth

Fighting is still turn-based, but it does away with the previous games where someone repeats a turn when they attack a weak point. Instead, they are now able temporarily spend zero mana and health on a move. This works well to change up the formula, but still keeps the All-Out Attacks from the previous games. With the sub-Personas on top of the regular ones, I find a lot of ability in the combat, and makes for interesting strategies.

There is a problem with the combat, and it is that “reflect” and “absorb” as an enemy trait is gone. For the better part of the game you can kill the random enemies with a “Mahamao” and “Mamudo” spell and effectively nullify any need for strategy. The other titles had this defensive feature on a lot of enemies, so it made sense not use the spell all the time. Here, Persona Q stops becoming a thoughtful experience. Just get Naoto, and pump the character with high-mana regenerating Persona, and no random enemy will be a bother. The bosses are otherwise very fun and tough to fight because they aren’t affected by these two types of magic.

A Robot, Bear, and Dog Enter a Takoyaki Stand…

Besides the fighting, Persona games usually have a pretty deep amount of stuff to do outside by ways of meeting other characters and creating bonds that eventually help you in labyrinths. Unfortunately Persona Q is very skimpy in that regard as besides the core group, there isn’t anyone else to meet. The characters do hang around the culture festival and do funny scenes that show a strong rapport between the massive seventeen character cast (not counting the Velvet Room assistants), but they don’t affect the other aspects of the game at all. It feels like candy, where having these two games collide and react to each other is cool, but the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any real growth towards anyone left me very unfulfilled.

I absolutely love the music. Shoji Meguro, the main music man behind the Persona series doesn’t know how to stop make massively catchy tunes with an eclectic style. There are references to previous titles, but a lot of the music is original. For a good month, I couldn’t get the opening theme “Maze of Life” out of my head. I will say that I wish there was some variety, as the amount of times I was in battle felt like more than the other games, and therefore I heard the battle theme an insane amount of times starting from the same point. I know most RPG titles do this, but Persona Q had affected me more than other games usually do.

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Final Thoughts

Yes, it is a good game. Is it worth getting if you’re not a fan of Etrian Odyssey? No, since the game really takes from that side of the Atlus family more than is palatable. Even though I am this way, I still enjoyed Persona Q a lot due to the characters and combat being fun, but the added cartography and the exploit on one-hit-kill magic really weakens the experience. The lack of character development and the massive time spent in the labyrinth knocks this down a bit too, but I still can recognize a good game when I see one; I really wish this was more Persona than Etrian Odyssey.

Presentation: 8

Gameplay: 7

Replay: 7

LEGACY SCORE: 7.4

Geek Legacy’s review scores are on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest possible score.

Follow Victor on Twitter @fake_brasilian to see him Sonic roll around restlessly to play Bloodborne.

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