Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth Review
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
Another adventure with our favourite Persona 3 and 4 characters? Yes please! Plucked from the middle of their respective games, the two separate casts are united in an alternate dimension modelled after Yasogami High during its culture festival. Searching through labyrinths for clues, the massive team of Persona users must find their way out along with two new characters, who suffer from amnesia, Zen and Rei.
My favourite part of the game was the story itself, and watching the characters interact through disputes, fight shadows and learn about each other while enjoying the culture festival. Teddie obsessing over the ladies, Aigis learning social norms, with the added mystery of Rei ever pulling food out of thin air. It is a crossover done well, with just the right amount of fan service. Whether you like SEES of Gekkoukan High better, or are a die hard fan of the Investigation Team in Inaba, you can enjoy this comedic and colourful instalment in the series.
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth borrows its battling and dungeon exploring system from Etrian Odyssey. Another level of crossover. Inside the labyrinths, you are in charge of manually drawing out your map. While the floor is put in automatically while you walk, you have to draw in walls, and other key places. While this is a great tool for marking in specific spots, like events, tough enemies or FOEs that need to be avoided, and doors that have yet to be opened, if you aren’t careful you can put the wrong icon or put a wall in the wrong spot. I must say I was guilty of that. It is fun exploration element nonetheless, colour coding different types of floors and keeping track of spots the characters tell you to. Listen to your team!
Combat and Mechanics
The actual combat in the labyrinths is enjoyable. The toughest decision is setting up your five-person squad. Experience in battle is not shared with teammates left behind, so choosing the other four people to join your Protagonist on the journey is tough. The team is set up with a front row and a back row, and each character has a preference to which row they should be in. In addition to using their original Personas, every character now has the ability to equip one other persona, chosen by you, which gives them extra abilities. This adds more diversity and makes characters more multipurpose.
The difficulty level can be kind of steep going from one labyrinth from another, so expect a bit of grinding. Watch out for the giant visible Shadows though. They are known as FOE’s, and they are extremely tough. You are advised in the beginning to avoid them, but once you are strong enough to take them on, it’s oh, so satisfying to bring them down.
There are new important mechanics introduced. Boost, which activates when a character hits an enemy with either a critcal hit, or with something they are week to. On their next turn, if they are not hit by an enemy, they are able to cast any skill they know without spending any SP or HP, and they go first in that turn, after the Leader Skill if it is used.
Leader Skills, are skills your support character can use to aid your party in battle. Whether for healing, or allowing a character to go first that turn, it all depends on who you have waiting to help the squad. You spend party skill to use Leader Skills. Party skill is earened by hitting enemies, and can be tracked in the right hand side gauge bar. When it fills up, one node lights up, and it begins to fill anew. Some Leader skills will cost only one node, but others can cost 2 or more
Outside the labyrinths is the Culture Festival, which acts as your main hub. You can do standard Persona things, such as have Personas created, and trade in materials for new weapons and armour. While there aren’t social links, there is are new option called Strolls and Requests, and this is where the magic happens. You can walk around the festival with your teammates, and observe them trying to comprehend how the other uses Personas, get food orders for them, find out what kind of guy the girls like, and get rewarded with great items you can’t get anywhere else. Half of Persona’s staple is its social interaction between you, your friends and within each other, and Persona Q does it well.
Visuals and Audio
The art direction for the game was done beautifully. Being on the 3DS, it made sense to model the cast as chibis. The colours are bright and defining, and the subtle faded shading in the hair was well executed, on the 3D models, and in the 2D cut scenes. The right features of each character are accented, and they just look so adorable.
The music was amazing as well. The main battle music is different depending on which team you pick in the beginning, which I think was a great choice. It sets up the atmosphere and makes you feel like your initial choice really mattered. You are spending a lot of your time in battle, so it’s gotta be good!
Long term fans will enjoy the fanservice, and new players don’t need to worry about too much plot for the main games being given away. Packed with side quests, Persona collecting, and two Protagonist views, expect a good long play of 60+ hours per playthrough.