It’s time for the Dark Hour to begin. Enter into a twisted and dark world ruled by emotions and intent. Become a member of the Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad. Uncover the mysteries of what is going bump in the night. An absolute cornerstone for the Persona franchise, this game will shock, scare, anger, and amaze you. Finally, after all this time, we will get to play this JRPG on PC.
If you’ve never played a Persona Title before, or have been playing since Digital Devil Saga, get ready for a wild ride. What is, in my humble opinion, the greatest title in the franchise. Here’s everything we know so far about Persona 3 Portable.
Welcome to the Dark Hour
The world of Shin Megami Tensei is a dark and twisted one. A post-apocalyptic landscape overrun by devils, spirits, and monsters. In 1996 the series branched with a spin off, Shin Megami Tensei Revelations: Persona, diverting from the collect-monsters format and going for a more direct approach. Ten years and a sequel later, Persona 3 originally released on the PlayStation 2, to much acclaim and hype. On June 12, 2022 the franchise announced it would come to Xbox Game Pass, starting with Persona 5 Royal. Now, the classic entry spreads across all platforms, including the Nintendo Switch, Xbox systems, and Steam.
But what’s the difference between Persona 3 and Persona 3 Portable? Originally, the story was more ambiguous and then conclusive with the release of Persona 3 FES in 2008. This was the enhanced version of the original game containing over 30 hours of additional content and story. The jump from FES to Portable was in 2010 for the titular PlayStation Portable, and included several changes. Most notably was the ability to have a female protagonist with varying story paths.
Much how Revelations: Persona was a shift from Shin Megami Tensei, Persona 3 was a departure from its predecessor, going from 2D Isometric to a 3D engine. You follow the nameless Protagonist as they move to a new school. However, you quite violently enter the Dark Hour. The towering structure of Tartarus presides in the Dark hour, a twisted and cursed parallel world teeming with misshapen monsters called Shadows. What’s the secret behind Tartarus? What is the Dark Hour? You will find the answer… But only after class.
Time to go All In
Persona 3 Portable features two layers. One is the RPG layer where you enter into the realm of the Dark Hour, fighting your way up Tartarus and destroying the shadows that lark in the dark. The other half is a life simulator where you guide the Protagonist through the day to day. Go to class, prepare for tests, hang out with friends and make memories. Throughout the game, you will create Social Links. These links are their own unique story-lines, allowing you to forge a path with the individual and grow the social link. These Links are represented by Tarot Cards. Which plays into the other half of the game.
Every playable character and monster in the game are aligned with a Tarot Card. As the Protagonist, we have The Fool, allowing us to manifest many different types of creatures as our personas. The stronger a Social Link is, the more powerful those personas can be in Tartarus. Spending time outside of battle and actually making lasting relationships have a direct impact on how well you can survive during the Dark Hour.
Life Goes On
Persona 3 like many other entries runs on a clock. Going to locations, doing activities, all of this takes time. And your time is limited. Certain events will always happen at a certain time, and once that time is gone you don’t have it to spend building your Social Links or becoming a stronger person. A lot of first timers end up breezing through the game, but for those who go back and try to accomplish everything there is a lot to uncover.
Perhaps one of the cooler features of the Persona Franchise is the ability to fuse your personas. After acquiring various types of creatures, you can go to the Velvet Room and speak to the enigmatic Igor. Here you can power up or fuse monsters together, creating powered up versions of themselves, or different creatures altogether. Additionally some are locked behind your own strength, so if a monster denies you, it might be a good idea to try again later.
Persona 3 Portable wakes back up in January!
Several new quality of life features being added to Persona 3 Portable. Quick-save is being implemented, difficulty changes can be swapped during gameplay, as well as text being available in various other languages.
As of now, Persona 3 Portable is slated to release on January 18, 2023 for Steam. In addition, Persona 3 Portable will also be released on Game Pass, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4 on January 19.