Atlus made quite an interesting move by putting together their most popular Persona series with their classic dungeon crawler series, Etrian Odyssey.
So the story takes place after Persona 4 Golden. An ominous tower appears, the Persona characters somehow find themselves trapped in a place similar to Yasogami High. They meet Rei and Zen who claims to be in a similar situation. Together, they start exploring trying to find a way out. You have the choice to play as the Persona 4 or 3 gang, each having their own version of the dialogue of the story.
For the most part the game flow is like Etrian Odyssey. Explore a dungeon in 90 degrees isometric style to hunt down the boss, collect goodies, return to update your gear. Repeat. You still draw your own map like EO by default and even when you choose to auto-map, it only maps the route and you have to mark symbols yourself. The great part is, you can draw repeated routes out so that PQ does the walking for you! There are even chests that encourage you to explore even level of dungeon thoroughly before you can open them or you pay up the coins you earned from Street Pass - and it's not cheap!
Powerful FOEs stalk the corridors again, just like in EO but rather than constantly chasing you down, they're often used as part of puzzles. Some of them are quite long-winded such as forcing you to stay in the same level of the dungeon until a way your invent is so full but you have to manage it all.
Despite being a dungeon crawler, it's not too laborious. The battle system comes from the Persona games where you exploit weaknesses but instead of an extra turn, you get to use the next skill free. Everyone can have a sub Persona that helps buff up their HP/SP during battle. It's a very smooth experience. It rewards you for using tactics such as if you finish off remaining enemies with an all out party attack, you gain extra XP than you usually do.
There are even re-usable "Power Spots" that let you repeatedly gather material to sell and buy new gear so finding enough money to buy new items or gear isn't much of a problem or take much time.
While EO didn't really have a story, there's plenty of entertaining dialgoue to lighten things up as you play. The 3D presentation is probably better than Shin MegaTen IV and, both the music and graphics are charmingly cute to look at. It may not be top-notch graphics but Atlus knows how to create atmosphere.
Downside I find is how for some quests you are forced to take an under-levelled party member along and the difficulty can spike quite a bit such as Shadows that simply debuff you while another attacks your new debuff weakness immediately afterwards.
Persona: Q probably won't be for all Persona fans unless you enjoy traditional isometric dungeon crawling akin to Etrian Odyssey and some fairly long winded puzzles. For me, it was great seeing the Persona 3 and 4 characters getting together, shedding some more light on the characters and the world setting of each of those games. It was a fun, enjoyable dungeon crawl.
Time Played: 70 hours
- Seeing the Persona 3 and 4 characters again (if you were a fan of those games).
- Light hearted, hilarious dialogue.
- Exploration, battles quite well streamlined keeps grinding and farming to a minimum.
- Warns about any time limited quests expiring.
- One or two very long winded puzzles.
- Forced to use under-levelled characters for some quests.