This year is a big one for game developer Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series. The long awaited fifth entry will see its Japanese release later this year with a North American release following sometime in 2015. Along with this highly anticipated sequel, the forth entry will get its second fighting spin-off as well as a… rhythm-dancing game? Sure. Whatever. The point is that it is a game series that is very much coming into its own and is fast becoming one of the most popular in the JRPG genre.
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth is just part of what makes this year so exciting for a series that has been going strong for nearly two decades. It has just been released in Japan for the 3DS and, while little is known about the plot just yet (Atlus have already politely asked people not to post spoilers on social media), there are signs that this is a departure from the norm in the series. New “chibi-fied” character designs of the cast of both Personas 3 and 4 are very different from anything we’ve seen in the series so far, a bold choice to drastically change the appearance of the company’s most marketable characters. The gameplay borrows heavily from another of Atlus’ properties, Etrian Odyssey, with more focus on dungeon crawling than in previous games.
Very little is known about the game in the west, but, as a huge fan of the series this is up there with my most anticipated games of the year. Here is what I’m hoping from Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth.
Keep it dark
We’ve already seen that the character design for this game is a lot more cutesy than we’re used to in the series, but let’s have a quick recap of the two games Persona Q is bringing together. Persona 4 is a game that sees a group of teenagers investigate a series of grisly murders in their small town, all while being forced to confront their insecurities regarding their appearance, relationships with their friends, sexuality and gender. In Persona 3, you lead a similar group of teenagers investigating the appearance of monsters in their town, which they fight with magical creatures that they summon by shooting themselves in the freaking head.
Despite the bright colours and some genuinely funny moments throughout, these games have always had a dark core. This is something that I’m hoping Atlus keeps up with Persona Q, as the contrast between this new art style and the adult tone has been one of the hallmarks of the series I have enjoyed the most.
Expand on the shared world
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the cast of P3 and P4 fighting side by side. Though it is acknowledged that all the games in the series share a coherent world, Persona 4: Arena, released in the UK last year, was the first time we had seen two games collide in such a big way. We got to see the beginnings of an explanation into how the different concepts fit together. How the tower of Tartarus of Persona 3 might relate to the TV World of Persona 4. How the two groups use their powers in such different ways. With the sequel to Persona 4 Arena coming out in Japan later this year, and with Atlus already announcing the inclusion of even more characters from both games, it is likely that we’ll get to see even more of this shared world. With Persona Q being the first RPG to directly involved the casts of multiple games in the series, we can expect even more of this concept to be explored.
More awesome music
It is difficult to discuss the Persona series without mentioning the music. Each entry in the series has been composed by Shoji Meguro and each entry has had at least one song which have burrowed their way into my mind and never left. P3 and P4 both featured a unique mix of JPop, rock, and orchestral arrangements that make it stand out against the numerous JRPGs emulating Final Fantasy’s iconic scores.
Of course, the fact that I’ve had the song from the Persona Q trailer below stuck in my head for the past two weeks, I would say that it is pretty likely that we won’t be disappointed in this last part.
So that’s what I’m hoping to see from Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, though I expect that even if it doesn’t deliver on all of these I’ll still be first in line to pick it up when it finally sees a European release.
Are you a fan of the Persona series? Does the new character design frighten or intrigue you? Is this a game you’re looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below!
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An American trying to infiltrate and understand English society, Trent is a writer of novels and player of games. He has a serious addiction to JRPGs, the weirder the better, and anything that keeps him distracted from work.