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'Persona 3 Reload' Review: The Life and Times of a High School Shadows Killer

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Sega / Atlus

'Persona 3 Reload' Review

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Sega / Atlus

First thing's first - Persona 3 Reload looks incredible. P-Studio has done a phenomenal job when it comes to sprucing up its visuals to bring it more in line with the visual stylings of Persona 5. Everything looks extra crispy this time around - the various locales, main characters, NPCs, and tons more have been given a major visual overhaul that pops off the screen. The User Interface has gotten upgrades of its own, of course - the pause menu's moving animation of the main character looks incredible, plus the battle menu has been given the signature design of the one seen in Persona 5. Now when it comes to this remake's music, I've been reading a few comments here and there about fans not being too keen on the redone soundtrack. Honestly, I love it! The original tunes from the vanilla version of Persona 3 are already god-tier, so I came into this remake expecting that same level of audio goodness. Thankfully, the tunes here sound just as good as they've ever been - "Mass Destruction," "When the Moon Reaches for the Stars," and "Iwatodai Dorm" maintain their status in Persona 3 Reload as supreme bops! Kudos to the new voice cast members, too! They sound great, so no need to worry about your favorite character sounding a bit off in this remake.

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Sega / Atlus

Besides going to school and hanging out with your buds, everyone knows the meat of this game is attached to the evening dungeon crawling connected to the mysterious tower of "Tarturus." I have to commend P-Studio for adding more visual variety to certain blocks of floors as you ascend that tower and placing the camera behind your party members while giving you full control over the camera itself. What should be a repetitive and monotonous endeavor manages to remain amusing thanks to all the game-changing features that pop up as you head deeper into that creepy dungeon. The newest features in Persona 3 Reload that I appreciate the most pop up during combat. Each option you can select can now be activated via a button press, which is a godsend since I'm not a fan of having to scroll to each one to choose my next ability. Four new battle options come into play here - "Survey," "Assist," "Baton Pass," and "Theurgy." Persona 3's already strong combat mechanics, the chance to give each party member direct commands thanks to Persona 3 Portable, and those aforementioned new features from Persona 3 Reload make every combat encounter worthwhile.

The Survey mechanic helps you instantly discover the strengths/weaknesses of your foes, the Assist option gives you a quicker way to pull off the moves the opposition is weak against, and the Baton Pass option works the same way as Persona 5's "Shift" ability. The new Theurgy abilities stand out as the best new combat mechanic since it gives each party member a whole new collection of powerful special abilities that are afforded epic cutscenes. I love how each character has to perform a certain action to fill their Theurgy meter, such as the main character having to use his "Persona" abilities and Yukari Takeba relying on healing abilities. That new combat feature throws an extra element of strategy into the increasingly difficult boss battles that truly test one's mettle.

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