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Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth

Persona of course is an offshoot of the Megami Tensei franchise, which has its roots firmly in old-school dungeon crawling with strategic turn based combat.  Etrian Odyssey, another Atlus franchise, is much the same, intended as an explicit callback to games like Might & Magic, Wizardry and Ultima and even including map-making (via the DS touch screen) as an integral part of its gameplay.  So it wasn't much of a stretch to attempt something like Persona Q - a game which takes the engine of Etrian and adds in Persona's characters, story beats and a few key mechanics to create a hybrid game.  There are two story campaigns to experience, starring the casts of Persona 3 and 4 (as well as two new characters) venturing through the labyrinth, though other aspects of Persona's gameplay are altered substantially.  One is the addition of a mechanic called "Boost" - by striking an enemy's weakness, that character gets higher turn priority and has the cost of their skills reduced to 0 until they take damage, and having more party members boosted at once grants a greater chance of performing a powerful "All-Out Attack" at the end of a turn or performing a Co-Op attack.  Each character's main persona (and thus, spells and elemental properties) are fixed this time, but they can equip "Sub-Personas" to grant themselves a wider array of spells and augmentative abilities.  The Etrian element covers the rest - collecting item drops to sell and unlock new gear in shops, mapping out dungeons, and battling occasional strong monsters called FOEs that are much stronger than mundane encounters, but also offer substantially greater rewards.  The art style is also an expert blend of both franchises, with Etrian's cute chibi-fied character designs and Persona's bright colors, poppy soundtracks and surreal environments and monster designs.  An expert blend of two franchises that are both steeped in old-school dungeon crawling.

Developer: P-Studio
Publisher: Atlus
Released: 2014
Platforms: Nintendo 3DS