Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
Persona Q: Shadow Of The Labyrinth combines the old-school dungeon-crawling gameplay of Etrian Odyssey with the rich characters from Persona 3 and 4. Full of Persona fan service, diehards will smile through every punishing battle. We had some hands-on time recently and already were enamored with it. Here’s what struck us most.
Etrian Odyssey Meets Persona Gameplay
Etrian Odyssey is well known for its challenging gameplay, and that’s not changing here. You’re still mapping your way through every nook and cranny of mysterious, shortcut-filled dungeons. Dungeons have plenty of pitfalls, like spikes, to avoid along the way. Also, F.O.E.s, ravaging minibosses, still roam the world, leaving you best off avoiding them until you’ve leveled up your characters. In our hands-on time, we avoided the nasty enemy using the art of distraction; we wiped paint off a rose which caused them to investigate, leaving an open path to the next stage.
Exploring is challenging and fulfilling, but you also have intense random battles that use the amazing Persona battle system. You still equip, fuse, and find Personas that provide your five member party their skills, but some new tweaks have enhanced strategy. For instance, exploiting weaknesses is still at the center and now it’s more important than ever for your survival, since hitting a weak point provides a boost. This means your next turn won’t cost you any SP, and that’s when you want to use your high-cost special attacks. Back from Persona is the infamous all-out-attack, if you’ve exploited all of the enemies’ weak points. Aigis also has an ability that lets her power up for two turns, but she loses the two following turns as well. This is useful for knocking off a good chunk of HP fast.
Cool Dungeon Themes
One of the most exciting parts of Persona Q is the themed dungeons. We saw two different ones that were a blast to explore. The first dungeon had an Alice in Wonderland theme complete with the trademark black and red checkerboard tiles alongside gardens and clocks. Alice in Wonderland also played into our dungeon tasks. We had to chase down a rabbit, drink from the infamous bottle that shrinks you, and as mentioned previously wash the color off of flowers. To top it off, our boss battle was against the Queen of Hearts, reimagined in the Persona art style.
The next dungeon took place at the Group Date Cafe from Persona 4. This dungeon is full of pink-hued colors to represent love. During the dungeon, characters are paired up romantically and asked various dating questions like if age matters and chooses a destined partner for your main character at the end. If this two dungeons are any indicator of the rest, we can’t wait to find out what else is store.
Watching The Cast From Persona 3 And 4 Interact
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if characters from Persona 3 met with Persona 4’s gang? This is one of the most exciting parts of Persona Q. You select your starting cast that starts separate from the other group, but they eventually both come together to fight shadows. My favorite part was seeing both casts hang out a festival and get to know each other. Little touches like Fuuka commenting on how Junpei and Yukari’s relationship is similar to Chie and Yosuke’s just make the experience so engaging. Not smirking during the dialogue was hard, especially when Junpei, in his true goofball fashion, tries to hit on the ladies. Let’s just say he can’t ignore Rise.
During the demo, I was told Persona Q would explore more of Ken’s backstory and take the character to interesting places. Hopefully Ken will be more likeable and intriguing this time around. The character interactions have always made Persona, and it’s looks like that’s not changing with Persona Q. Getting double the Persona personalities and putting them on an adventure together only makes thing that much more entertaining.
Fun Side Content
Like in Etrian Odyssey, side quests will get you extra XP. You have the basic fetch quests, but some are more involved. In one, I had to go up against Teddie in a trading showdown, where you must trade for the superior item. It required me talking to three different characters, remembering what they were looking for, and trading with them in the right order so I ended up with the most valuable item. Funny dialogue ensued throughout, including some interesting requests from characters, but the real payoff is how the quest ends; we love Teddie for a reason.
Social links aren’t in Persona Q, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have the opportunity to get to know the cast better. After visiting dungeons, you can go on “strolls.” These are optional, but they reminded me a lot of what I love about the Tales’ skits; you get to see your team bond in humorous ways.
While you know what to expect from the Persona casts, Persona Q holds its own mysteries. Two new characters, Rei and Zen, will be along for the ride with their own secrets. Part of the fun is figuring out how they tie into the monster outbreak. Rei loves to eat and is lighthearted, while Zen is serious and extremely protective of Rei. Zen and Rei may start off as outsiders, but it’s clear they have a big place in the plot.
The biggest question on your mind is, most likely, "How is it that the worlds of Persona 3 and Persona 4 were able to cross?" We won’t dare spoil that, as it’s intriguing in its own right. From what we’ve seen so far, Persona Q’s storyline is right in line with what you’d expect with plenty of ties to friendship and life hardships.
For more on Persona Q: Shadow Of The Labyrinth, check out our full hands-on impressions in the newest issue of Game Informer magazine.