The start of 2023 saw the release of Persona 3 Portable (P3P) into Steam and in other digital platforms. This was also my first opportunity to play a Persona 3 title. I got into the Persona series starting with Persona 5. So I guess I went into this weird backwards playthrough of the Persona series. Thanks to playing Persona 4, I have a slight sense of how the dungeon aspect is with its randomness especially during ‘shuffle time’. But enough about my Persona playing history, onto the review!
A Way of Life
Just like its fellow Persona games, Persona 3 Portable lands you the role of a main character that has to go through a day-to-day life of a high school student at Gekkoukan High School in Port Island by day. You would then fight baddies during this mysterious time called the ‘dark hour‘.
The ‘dark hour’ can be described as the 25th hour of the day when the clock hits 12 AM. Persona users will enter and notice other people will be enclosed in some sort of casket. Aside from the Dark Hour, Port Island is currently hit by some sickness called the ‘apathy syndrome’. The objective of main character and his friends from the S.E.E.S. is that must try to take out this dark hour and also get rid of the apathy syndrome across Port Island.
The game, Persona 3 Portable, is a definite mix of a visual novel + dungeon crawler type videogame. As with the picture above, you won’t see your character’s avatar moving around the map in Port Island. In fact you’ll only see him/her and the rest of the S.E.E.S. crew running around the Tartarus. In your day-to-day interactions, you have to use the cursor to click and interact with objects and people. Which in a way is a departure from those who played the original Persona 3 game or the sequels that is P4 and P5. In my opinion it does not wholly detract from the enjoyment of Persona 3 Portable. It adds a little charm to the game, in its own simple way.
More Than One Heart
Now Persona 3 Portable’s hook for the fans is the option to choose between a Male or a Female Protagonist. For the Male Protagonist, it’s basically Persona 3 vanilla story. For first time Persona 3 players, it’s the default option. For those who dare to see a different perspective and new characters in the Persona 3 universe, the Female option would be for you.
As you’ll notice above, it’s not just the blue and pink that’s the key differences in the characters. Some key scenes and dialogues are different to highlight how the Male and Female Protagonists differ in personality. In terms of weapons, the male has the sword while the female uses a Naginata.
What I love about the selection of the gender is also how it affects the soundtrack of your playthrough. When you choose the male protagonist, the OST would be similar to the original Persona 3 soundtrack. You’ll be hearing a different set of sounds when you choose the female route. My favorite tracks for the Female route were “A Way of Life”, “Wiping All Out”, and “Time”. “Mass Destruction” will always be my go-to Persona 3 track, but a fresh soundtrack is always a welcomed treat to me.
As mentioned earlier, it was a nice surprise to see new characters and social links when you play the female main character. If you want to have the entire S.E.E.S. team as part of your social links, I’d advise picking the FeMC route.
I literally have waited for a good decade to play P3P. Was it worth the wait? For me, yes. As of this writing, I am planning on getting either P4G or P3P limited run physical editions thanks to this game. I’ve played P4G on steam. But just like P3P, it’s something I wish I can play on console as well.
Some may ask if this is a bit more time consuming compared to the first Persona games I’ve completed? Technically, yes. I had to grind double time like it was a old school JRPG. I do find it rather funny how I started the series at the latest iteration (Persona 5) and now I’m at Persona 3 (Portable). I guess I’ll round it off by finding a way to play Persona 2 Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment.
– The game has a nice combo of this visual novel to dungeon crawler type feel. I was rather perplexed at first but the combo for this just worked for this title. Maybe because I’m a sucker for visual novels.
– FEMC Option – One of my good points as mentioned earlier was the FEMC option. It’s lovely to see a different perspective of one of the series’ popular iterations with taking the ‘female’ route in P3P. It also adds well as you get to meet a couple of new characters in her playthrough.
– CONTROL! – The main reason I held of a good decade to play this game and wait for a PC/Steam port was to finally play persona 3 and assume control of my WHOLE PARTY. So there would be no random Marin Karins in my playthrough.
– Sountripping – A Persona game would always have this in high marks. The P3P only tracks are also a banger just like the original OST of Persona 3.
– Shuffle time may be a required taste. As someone who is used to be CERTAIN of what drops he’ll get post match, shuffle time sometimes comes off as an annoying aspect of this game (also for Persona 4 IMO). I’m happy Persona 5 ditched this feature and hopefully 6 too.
- You won’t see the FULL In-Game movies that you would have expected from the original/vanilla version of Persona 3. Remember this is a straight port from the PSP version.
Please plot out how to romance and get those social link perks slowly…without them knowing you already got a GF before them.
There may still be some audio problems, mostly the sfx, on the steam version. Like I do not advise you to play this with headphones especially during combat. Maybe the console version of the remaster has this sfx audio issue fixed.
OVERALL: 4 of 5 Stars
Persona 3 Portable on the Steam was such an experience. Took me longer than expected to finish (due to work) but it was worth it. I won’t be spoiling a lot but it’s not just the ‘ending theme’ you need to look out for here. If ever you have watched the Persona 3 Movie series, I’d still advise you guys to either play this one on steam or the original Persona 3 if your PS2 still functions. I’d prefer this, however, since I get to control all of my party members for a more consolidated attack on (gasp) the enemy.
Don’t forget, Persona 3 Portable is out now on Steam, the Xbox One/Series X/S, PS4, and the Nintendo Switch.
Well you must be tired from all my rambling. Now, go get some rest.
Sakura Index thanks SEGA Asia for the STEAM review code for the use of writing this review.