Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth on the 3DS is gorgeous and we loved the cut scenes and cinematic sequences in particular. The blend of traditional JRPG sprites with Anime inspired cut scenes added so much personality to the game. The colours on the screen pop out and the 3D mode of our 3DS wasn’t even needed to make everything look like it had depth and personality.
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth was developed by the team at Atlus Games for release on the Nintendo 3DS. As another entry in the fabled RPG series we couldn’t wait to give the title a shot. Persona Q has always seamlessly blended several different variations of genres into one appetizing morsel and the Nintendo 3DS is the perfect console to bring the title home. We picked up Shadow of the Labyrinth and got right down to 'work' in order to help you get a feel for the game. Keep on reading to see why this might be one of the best RPG releases of 2014.
If you call yourself an RPG fan, even in the most casual sense, then you probably have spent some time playing, or reading about, the games Persona Q and Etrian Odyssey. These two RPGs are two very different styled games. Persona Q has always been about deep philosophical narratives while Etrian Odyssey has focused more on the fluff and gameplay of the traditional JRPG. Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth is a cross over of these two titles that seeks to sublimate the personal feelings of each for an entirely new experience. At surface value this should not have worked. Sacrificing Persona Q’s deep philosophical wrappings should have stripped Shadow of the Labyrinth of all its heart - but it didn’t. Instead we found ourselves enjoying one of the truly fun RPG experiences released this past year. The cross over worked and it worked well.
So at its core Persona Q is a blended dungeon crawler that focuses on a fluffy and fun narrative while pushing you to grind your team to the upper echelon of battling ability. Right off the bat there are a few things to really enjoy about the title.
First off the game is a complete love letter to long time Persona fans. In fact, this title has the cast of Persona 3 and Persona 4 put right alongside one another. Watching the two rosters fight, share dialogue, and push on through some emotionally intense scenes was just a whole bunch of fun. You get to pick which main character you want to take on too, and selecting them is an actually tough decision because their different skill sets lend to different play styles.
While we got the shiny and fun casts of the Persona series the core of the game, dungeon crawling, is classic Etrian Odyssey through and through. The dungeon exploration that you will have to go on has you taking on puzzle after puzzle as well as numerous enemies. Keep a pen and piece of paper with you as you play and write down hidden locations in order to come back to them later or just use it to help you navigate the various tough puzzles you will run into. As you play you will notice that the dungeons get progressively tougher, culminating in moments of absolute frustration. You will have to make some decisions early on about how you feel regarding dungeon grinding. In some segments of the title you can only progress if you are willing to A) grind through the same enemy repeatedly to level or B)spend hours circumnavigating tough stretches of dungeon.
We shouldn’t belabor too heavily upon the exploration aspect of the dungeon crawling because the combat is truly too enjoyable to get tired of. At face value the combat in Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth is almost an Etrian Odyssey clone - and that is to our contentment. You fight with your five member squad formulated into two rows. Using these rows you can organize how you want your fighters to head into battle. Keep Naoto and Yukiko in back and let them deal damage with ranged elemental attacks, keeping them safe from too much physical damage. Shoji and Kanji make great tanks at the front row of your line up thanks to their ability to take hits and deal out even more.
A new wrinkle on combat has enhanced the very core of the game. The traditional Persona’s are back and ready to deal damage against shadows but now you have the ability to equip an additional Persona to your cast. This additional Persona gives you new abilities, enhanced attributes, and the ability to really put the hurting on some enemies. More new combat features are in place to allow you a whole new depth of gameplay. The deeper the gameplay, it turns out, the more willing we are to play it over and over.
The difficulty in Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth is going to be something that RPG fans talk about. Many new titles, especially in the RPG field, are willing to hold hands for their players in order to make the experience much easier. That simply isn’t the case with Shadow of the Labyrinth. Instead, Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth has you fighting long, dragged out, brutal battles that could end in you getting wiped out completely. Powerful enemies are the norm and you have to be ready to fight them or avoid them to the best of your ability. Still, death always felt earned in the game and so we can’t complain too much about that. Just know that you will die a few times and don’t get too frustrated.
The look of Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth is gorgeous and we loved the cut scenes and cinematic sequences in particular. The blend of traditional JRPG sprites with Anime inspired cut scenes added so much personality to the game. The colors on the screen pop out and the 3D mode of our 3DS wasn’t even needed to make everything look like it had depth and personality. While JRPGs are not traditionally the best looking games, particularly on handheld consoles, we felt that this title held up pretty well.
Really when it is all said and done we found Persona Q to be worth a purchase on the 3DS for any fans of RPGs. You are getting almost 60 hours of gameplay wrapped up in an easy and accessible package.