It’s been seven years since we last saw the Persona series, and when we did, it took the gaming community by surprise. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 changed what the Persona series used to be and created one of the freshest Japanese Role-Playing Games (JRPGs) to ever hit the PlayStation 2.
A few months after the release of Persona 3, Atlus brought us Persona 3 FES, an expansion which includes the main story (The Journey) with a hard mode and new additions, and it also includes the follow-up story (The Answer). Is Persona 3 worth another semester if you have the original, and what about newcomers?
The plot for The Journey is unchanged and if you would like details on what the story is about along with how the main game plays, please read our Persona 3 review. If you have a save file for the original Persona 3, you are able to transfer your progress, personas, attributes and social links. The Journey features new scenes which are accessible at the dorm or by talking to your party members. These new scenes are hilarious and add more personality to the characters. New personas and social links are added into the main game, and a few of the social links have been moved around to different times to fix some of the pacing issues. Instead of waiting for the plot to advance or doing meaningless exploration in Tartarus, you can now do a few social links during the night.
A big addition to The Journey is the weapon synthesis system. In the antique shop, you are able to fuse Nihil weapons with personas to create new, powerful weapons that aren’t available otherwise. Fusing different personas with weapons will create weapons with different special bonuses. For example, fusing one persona with a weapon can give the weapon an attack power bonus, whereas fusing a different persona with the same weapon can give the it an evasion bonus. Another addition is the costume change where certain armors modify the appearance of the characters during battles and dungeons. You can finally have the SEES members battling in their swimsuits.
The biggest addition to Persona 3 is the 30 hour follow-up story to the main story titled “The Answer.” In The Answer, you take the role of Aigis, and the story takes place a few days after the events of The Journey. At midnight, the newscast reveals that the previous day has looped (Groundhog’s Day style), and the SEES members find themselves trapped in their dorm. Metis, who claims to be Aigis’ sister, barges into the dorm and threatens to kill all SEES members, except for Aigis, in order to stop the time repetition. Aigis awakens to Orpheus, the same persona the main character from The Journey awakened to, and puts a stop to Metis. After a while, Metis reveals the Abyss of Time under their dorm which is causing the day to repeat. The SEES members must now investigate the Abyss of Time.
The Answer is a great conclusion and answers any confusion you had about the ending of the main story, hence “The Answer.” The story is exciting and makes you keep coming back for more. Translation and dialogue remains very strong, but there are a few lines that fall flat. Unlike The Journey, you have to work your way through dungeons for the plot to advance. One disappointing thing about The Answer is the lack of character interaction which was beauty of Persona 3. There are no social links in The Answer, and you’ll have very little to no input on the dialogue.
Battling remains the same where only the main character is controllable and is capable of changing personas. Dungeons still suffer from being random, repetitive and tedious, and the distance between save points is lengthy. There is no difficulty option for The Answer, and it’s a little tougher than the main game. If you had a difficult time with battles in The Journey, you better do some arduous grinding and hope for the best. This harder difficulty makes you play wisely and makes battles more intense. Persona compendium is absent from The Answer which is disappointing. You can no longer register your persona and throw them away without having the fear of losing them forever. Once you get rid of a persona, you lose that persona until you can find him again.
Shoji Meguro returns as the composer for Persona 3 FES. Seventeen new tracks are present in the FES edition, with some remixes of previous Persona tracks. The new tracks are great and don’t suffer from being too abrasive or abstract. The same voice actors return for FES and still deliver solid voice acting. FES has no graphical upgrades, but the art style is still impressive.
Persona 3 FES offers remarkable depth into the main game and a splendid conclusion, making the entirety a more thrilling experience. For $30, you get the complete package of one of the best RPGs for the PS2. If you were one of those people who missed the short-lived print of Persona 3, then Persona 3 FES is a great second opportunity. For those who have the original, be prepared for another year of high school.