Review Persona 3 Reload | Improving what was already very good

Atlus

I must admit that I didn’t expect much from Persona 3 Reload. Not because I thought the new version of Atlus’ RPG would be bad — in fact, it was one of the titles I most wanted in 2024 — but because it seemed more like a new update to the game that everyone knows than something truly new. Being the fourth version of the game in 15 years, it was difficult to expect something that was really exciting. Luckily, I couldn’t be more wrong.

In fact, Reload is a great modernization of the classic PlayStation 2 game and its expansions, especially in the visual aspect. The influence of Persona 5 is quite obvious, whether in bringing a more evident anime feature instead of the deformed figures from before or in the aesthetics adopted in the game as a whole. Atlus invested heavily in publicizing these artistic improvements and, for that reason, it seemed that the return of Persona 3 it would be much more focused on this visual redesign than anything deeper.

But just delve a little into this supernatural adventure to understand how, in fact, the update that Persona 3 Reload offers is much deeper. Even though it is the same game that fans already know, it brings several new gameplay features, renews some mechanics and takes advantage of ideas that were very successful in Persona 5 to improve what was already very good.

Although it’s not exactly a remake like we’re used to seeing, it is certainly the definitive edition of one of the best RPGs of recent decades.

Moving only as necessary

The arrival of Persona 3 Reload takes place shortly after the relaunch of Persona 3 Portable for modern consoles and this proximity is essential both to visualize all the improvements that the new version brings and also to understand the concept behind the title.

Essentially, he’s still the same Persona 3 ever. Don’t expect major changes in the story or an improvement in the pace of the narrative, which remains quite slow, especially at the beginning — it takes almost 3 hours until you actually control your character. It continues to be that mix of dungeon crawler with a very peculiar Japanese satanist student simulator and with many waifus along the way.

That’s why you can’t call Reload of a remake. It doesn’t change anything very drastically, so it would be a stretch to call it a new game. However, at the same time, it modernizes and improves so many elements that it is even unfair to compare it with its previous versions. More than the visual gain, the new Persona 3 It is much more refined in everything it proposes, be it exploring Tartarus or managing your routine activities and taking care of your personal relationships.

That’s why the name Reload It makes perfect sense. It is much more than just any remaster, but it also knows that it doesn’t need to remake a game that has aged very little since its original release in 2008. Even though the literal translation doesn’t do justice to the weight that the title carries, we can understand the name Reload with this idea of ​​evolution that is perfect for what the new P3 has to offer.

In fact, there is a more than fundamental point in all of this: Persona 3 Reload It is entirely in Portuguese. Atlus and SEGA finally brought the franchise to our language, allowing more people to know and enjoy the title. It’s something that makes a big difference, since the amount of dialogue was something that always alienated non-English speakers — and even those who speak a foreign language.

Even though there are some mistakes here and there, such as calling a bat a bat (both are “bat” in English), it is a huge achievement that has been requested by the community for a long time and that helps a lot with accessibility. There is no longer an excuse not to play one Personinha.

A playable anime

Although I said that Persona 3 Reload It’s much more than the visual improvements it offers, this is the new feature that stands out the most and that interacts with the other new features. Because he looks beautiful in his new outfit.

More than being an obvious approach to Persona 5the new features transform the game into a playable anime and the aesthetics borrowed from the most recent chapter of the saga help to give more personality to Persona 3. Everything is very vibrant and modern, showing how much the title is concerned with modernizing itself, but without giving up its essence as a turn-based RPG with a lot to manage.

This becomes very evident when we compare with Persona 3 Portable, which is still very fresh in players’ memories (and consoles). The simple fact of controlling the characters through the scenario instead of a marker makes things much more dynamic and interesting, in the same way that the redesign of the models makes the entire game much more attractive, in addition to bringing a seriousness that matches much better with the tone of the plot.

Add to this new attack and combat ending animations, as well as all the redubbing and soundtrack recreation work, and the result is a game that comes very close to what we love so much about anime.

In practice, these are occasional changes, but they make all the difference and make Reload a much more pleasant and consistent title in what it proposes. Even though it’s the same game at its core, everything around that core has been updated and changed for the better.

A more refined gameplay

But the real trump card of Persona 3 Reload These are the changes it brings to the mechanics. Once again, these are not major reformulations and reinventions, but small changes that refine the classic gameplay, but which significantly impact what previous versions already brought.

And, once again, the influence of Persona 5 it is quite evident. Atlus brought some elements from the 2016 game that provide incredible gains in combat dynamics and even in players’ quality of life. The possibility of changing characters during the extra turn of a combo, as happened with the Baton Pass in P5greatly improves the pace of confrontations and makes the use of Total Attacks even more essential for victory, for example.

Another feature that the Phantom Thieves lent to the SEES heroes is special attacks. Theurgy works much like Showtime does. Persona 5with the difference that it stops being a combination of skills and becomes a unique type of move for each character.

Imagine that each member of your team has a special bar that is charged as you perform certain actions. By completing it, you can execute a powerful strike that can bypass defenses, improve your teammates’ attributes or affect your opponent’s weaknesses.

It is the most significant addition, as it is what changes the general dynamics of combat combat the most. Persona 3 Reload. As each character has their own rules for using Theurgy, this ends up affecting their strategy in combat, encouraging the player not to always go on the offensive, but exploring these conditions to be able to use more and more of these special moves that can turn the tide of a fight in a short time.

There are also other smaller changes that directly impact the quality of life of the gameplay. The simple fact that your characters don’t get tired for days after exploring Tartarus is already quite an achievement, as it gives more freedom and no longer punishes the player who decides to advance through the macabre tower. Likewise, the ability to search for Personas at the time of fusion is another very welcome addition and eliminates the need to test all possible combinations with each visit to the Velvet Room.

Another new feature is the possibility of going back in time. Do you know when you regret a certain dialogue choice or even the activity you chose to spend the day? Then Persona 3 Reload It has an option that allows you to go back a few days and redo your routine. It’s something simple and that many people shouldn’t even use, but it really helps those who saved the game all the time to avoid these regrets.

Furthermore, the game has a new online functionality that will also help you better manage your routine as a Japanese student. It is possible to see how other players are spending that day, indicating which Social Links are being most popular on that date or even the average level and floor of Tartarus that people are on. For those who were anxious about the amount of things to manage, this resource is a great guide to indicate what you should do.

Persona 3 Reload worth it?

Purposefully or not, the launch timing of Persona 3 Reload is perfect for understanding not only the title chosen by Atlus, but the very concept that the Japanese studio wanted to bring to the game. The game arrives for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC between The Last of Us II Remastered e Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth and it is conceptually different from both.

The RPG is much more than a remaster of previous versions, bringing much more content and improvements than this visual revamp — which is very welcome, by the way. At the same time, it is not concerned with being a complete transformation of the game, as in the title from rival Square Enix. He remains the same Persona 3 that fans already know, with its usual mistakes and successes, but with some very significant improvements.

For this reason, it is not a remaster nor a remake. It’s something halfway between these two extremes and fits perfectly well with what the game needed. It modernizes elements that were dated, but remains faithful to its general essence. As said, it’s a big update in the absence of a better translation for Reload. In fact, a much more name…