By William Haderlie / June 21st, 2019
Because of the nature of the alternate world they have entered, which is effectively a Movie Theater showing different movies for each labyrinth, you do not have the opportunity to explore the Social Links that are the major feature of the Persona series. In Persona Q2 they have substituted that system for the Special Screenings. Special Screenings are small dungeon crawling events that can switch up the dungeons in minor ways, but only take place in a small portion of the regular dungeon. They allow the cast from across the three games, which has ballooned to a massive 25 members, to interact with each other and grow their bonds. As a reward you will receive special items for the store, special fusions of new Personas you cannot access otherwise, or more typically a new Unison Strike that is used by the Cast Members of that Special Screening. It is not required that you have all, or really any, of the characters in your party for most of the Special Screenings. However, they will receive bonuses to their earned XP and bonuses to their Critical Hit chance while in your party. There are a few exceptions where you must have that particular party member to even enter the Special Screening, but that only applies to the 4 Wild Card users.
You may well ask why there are 4 Wild Card users instead of 3, since this is only combining the characters from three Persona games. However, the three games that this combines the characters from are Persona 3 Portable, Persona 4: Golden, and Persona 5. As such, for anyone who has played P3P, they know that there is an entire 2nd campaign that features a female Protagonist. Thus far that remains the only Persona game with that feature. Her combat party remains the same, but her Social Links are entirely different. So it’s possible that you could still have a good idea of what is going on in Persona Q2 without playing that particular version, but you will be missing some nuance. And her feeling of being out of place among all the others is actually a recurrent storyline in this game. Likewise her specific Velvet Room attendant, Theodore, also features very prominently in this game. As you can imagine if you played Persona 4: Golden, another Velvet Room resident is leaving her poems (pathos) scattered around the Velvet Room as well, Marie.
From the moment you enter the Movie Theater it becomes quickly apparent that Hikari is the primary focus of the world in Persona Q2. She is joined by Nagi and Doe as well, but their purpose takes a lot longer to present itself. There is the twist you expect in Persona games, but it’s not nearly as much of a twist as in the three games that this one combines. I saw it coming from a mile away, but perhaps it will be less apparent if you haven’t played through the Persona games as much as I have. That being said, I strongly recommend that you have played through Persona 3-5 in order to get the most out of this game, and ideally those specific versions I mentioned in the last paragraph. There are short introduction screens to each party member that joins, but they cannot convey the nuances of all the relationships between the characters. However, to me that makes this game much better for it. Instead of taking the stance that they should make all the interactions simple so new players are not turned off, they just assume you know the events of each game and the characters will make reference to them when it is relevant. This is a game explicitly for Persona fans, even if the main story and dungeon crawling mechanics are good enough to stand on their own.
As you can imagine with a Persona title, especially one focused on Persona 5, there is style to spare in Persona Q2. The characters and FMV videos may all be in the chibi style, but they are still impressive for a 3DS game. There is also a whole ton of music both old and new in the game. There are entirely new tracks for the dungeons themselves, and then there are new, old, and remixed tracks for battle and interactions at the theater. While the game isn’t entirely voiced, there is more voice acting in it than I’ve seen in any other 3DS game and there is also the option to choose between English or Japanese VO. If this sounds like a lot for a 3DS game, you are exactly right. I would strongly suggest getting a physical copy of this game, the digital download used 90% of my New Nintendo 3DS XL hard drive. I had to delete every other game on there in order to download it. But that is a very minor complaint, and one easily remedied. Another potential complaint about the difficulty level of these games is also easily remedied by the 5 difficulty levels, which can be changed at any time (other than the very highest difficulty).
Even if this is the last major game for this handheld console, you couldn’t ask for a better way to send the system off. This is easily one of the best games to ever be released on the Nintendo 3DS, and perhaps over time it may be selected as the overall best. Not only do you get to enjoy the characters from Persona 3 Portable, Persona 4: Golden, and Persona 5 one more time, but there is a good overall narrative here, and their interactions with their counterparts from other games are a delight to behold. Persona Q: Shadows of the Labyrinth was a great game, but the sequel Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth improves upon it in every way. The sequel is slightly shorter than the original, but features much more story, the time saved is entirely in the amount of dungeon crawling. But there is still enough there to more than satisfy, it took me 84 hours to complete the game, complete all 45 special screenings, complete 100% of the Persona Registry, and defeat all Velvet Room trials. That is a lot of content, especially for a game that is only $39.99, and you can tell the developers put a whole lot of care into the translation of all these beloved characters. So I cannot recommend this game enough, it’s vying with Sekiro for my favorite game this year, and it would be a strong candidate any other year as well. And more than that, it’s a strong reason to keep that 3DS charged up and ready to go.
Review Copy provided by the Publisher
Pages: 1 2Atlusdungeon crawler rpgEtrian OdysseyNew Nintendo 3DS XLNintendoPersona 3 PortablePersona 4: The GoldenPersona 5Persona Q: Shadows of the LabyrinthPersona Q2: New Cinema LabyrinthSega