Publisher: Atlus / Deep Silver / Koch Media
Platform: Nintendo 3DS Family Systems
Version Reviewed: eShop download
Category: Dungeon Crawler, RPG
No. of Players: 1 player
Release Date: November 29, 2018 (JP) / June 4, 2019 (EU & NA)
Price: $39.99 USD
Persona is a long-loved series originally releasing way back in 1996 for the PlayStation, with the most recent in the series, Persona 5, releasing in 2016 on the PlayStation 4. There have been a few spin-off series released also throughout the year also, Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth is one of those spin-offs.
Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth is the follow up to the 2014 release, Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth and is set to be the final Persona release for the Nintendo 3DS.
If you’ve played Persona 5 then you will instantly recognise the main protagonist here, Joker. In fact, you will recognise the majority of the characters throughout the game if you’re a dedicated Persona fan, as Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth features characters from Persona 3, Persona 4 and Persona 5.
The day starts out pretty normal, finishing your class at Shujin Academy you meet your friends, otherwise known as the Phantom Thieves, at Café Leblanc. You quickly discover you must go to Mementos to go on a routine mission, simple stuff. Or at least, it should be.
Things quickly turn sour though when the gang are dragged through a portal and end up in a somewhat, dark and dingy street in an unknown city. It’s unclear at this stage whether you are still in the Metaverse or not. It doesn’t look good.
Shortly after arriving, the gang are attacked by some pretty bad nasties and as a result, they’re pulled into another portal. This time arriving in an ’empty’ movie theatre. At this point, the main plot is established, and the game really begins, you must find various keys to unlock the door that is keeping you locked in this strange facility.
It’s how you find these keys that is interesting though, each key is hidden away in the films screening in the cinema. Yes, inside the films. Each ‘film’ contains its own unique enemies to defeat and you will also encounter characters from various Persona games.
It’s worth noting that Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth assumes you are familiar with the Persona games and the characters/enemies that come with them. The story is simple enough to follow if you are new to the series, but you will miss out on some inside jokes and some story developments.
When inside the movies you will navigate through areas (or dungeons) through a first-person perspective on the top screen and on the bottom screen you are equipped with a blank notepad… pretty much. The idea here is that you’re supposed to map out where you are going so you don’t get lost, marking down any interesting things you may come across along the way. Every wall, door, chest, trap, whatever it is you come across, it’s best to mark it down.
This is probably the most interesting part of the gameplay purely because it’s not something you see very often in games. I can see this feature being like Marmite; loved by some and hated by some. Not to worry though, if this is something you really can’t seem to get on board with, the game does offer an auto-map function.
Navigating through these dungeons will not be an easy task, with traps and enemies getting in your way. You will also come across various secrets and puzzles as you progress through the areas too. The game really keeps you on your toes, it’s best to search everywhere as you never know what you might find.
Your movement in the dungeons triggers enemy movement. Nothing will happen if you are still, but you moving a tile forward may cause the enemy to move forwards. Almost as though time stops when you do.
Certain big, bad enemies known as ‘FOE’s will be much more powerful to defeat and it is recommended you don’t attack these, instead, you can analyse their movements. Majority of the time they will have a set route, figure this out and you’re able to easily sneak past without a fight.
In the bottom right of the screen will have a number between 1 and 3, this is known as your proximity metre. In short, the lower the number, the more likely you are to encounter an enemy. The more you move the more this number will change. When it gets to 1, this means an enemy encounter could trigger at any moment, so make sure you keep on eye on that.
The combat in Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth at first glance looks like traditional turn-based; it isn’t. Upon entering the battle your 5 party members will be set out into ‘lines’. 3 members at the front and 2 at the back. The front row attack first and the 2 at the back attack after those. There are 3 simple options to choose from; move, escape or fight. All pretty self-explanatory.
CONTENT & FEATURES:
It’s pretty much ‘what you see is what you get’ with Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth. There are no other modes, there’s purely just the story, but that is plenty enough. The story will last you many hours.
There are a lot of features in the game itself that are pretty cool though and it’s during combat that you will experience many of these features.
The main thing that caught my eye was that each enemy has weaknesses and special attributes. Mastering these will be your key to winning every battle you come up against. A certain character attacking a certain enemy will do more damage and help that character to be entitled a ‘boost’ status which means that all attacks by that character have no SP or HP cost. Very handy. You have to experiment with your characters and attacks to see what works and what doesn’t.
When exploring through the various dungeons you will find a lot of yummy, yummy loot and when the inevitable happens, your bag filling up, you can choose to return back to the theatre and sell the goodies you have found. Doing so will earn you money but can also encourage the shopkeeper to sell new, more exciting wares for you to purchase.
When back at that trusty theatre you are able to enter what’s known as the ‘Velvet Room’, another shop which sells something more exciting… it sells personas. Well, you make them, to be precise. Each character can equip a sub-persona to grant them more combat skills, aside from their unchangeable ‘main’ persona.
So, how do you make a persona? Well, first you need some of the person’s hair, then you need some of their f- I’m kidding, it’s actually rather simple. You choose two existing personas and they sort of, blend together to make an even better persona… It makes sense in my head. Doing this though is extremely important to progress throughout the game.
The Persona games are well known for having brilliant soundtracks and Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth does not disappoint. Featuring catchy and emotional songs that you want to listen to long after playing the game.
Being a Japanese game, it’s no surprise that the voice acting is completely in Japanese and that’s fine. In fact, I liked this. I love the language so why not embrace it..? While on the subject, the voice acting is done extremely well.
VISUALS AND PERFORMANCE:
Whilst the game does look good it’s best to remember that this is still a 3DS title; the console isn’t known for its killer graphics. That being said, it is probably one of the best, if not the best, 3DS games I have seen. The cutscenes, the characters, all of it is actually a pleasure to look at. That shocked me.
I didn’t encounter any glitches or bugs whilst playing through the game. I did, however, experience my SD getting corrupted which caused me to lose my saved data from the game… I’m unsure whether it’s as a direct result from playing Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth and I guess I’ll never know…
Having never played a Persona game before it’s clear to see with Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth it is built for returning players of the series and not a very good place for newbies to join in. As I said earlier, the story is easy enough to follow, but the characters aren’t and that’s where I struggled to connect with them or the story I was following.
Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth is a fantastic game filled with hours of story that returning Persona players will fall in love with. Sadly, it doesn’t deliver the same experience with new players and this made me sad.
THE VERDICT: 8/10
*A download key was provided by the Publisher for the purposes of this review
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