I could have left playing Persona 3 Portable in such a short space of time honestly. These games aren’t exactly known for being done quickly. I know, for one, having already played Persona 4 Golden and Persona 5 Royal. However, nothing kicks in my ADHD hyperfocus quite like a deadline, particularly if it’s something I enjoy. So how did I do, did I manage to actually complete Persona 3 Portable in three days? A game that on average takes around 65 hours to complete if you’re just there to enjoy the main story?
First, the backstory – you might be wondering why I thought I would attempt this (probably not), around all of the usual parenting and life things I do (because I do do things, sometimes) and a perfectly respectful answer would be for the challenge. But no, that was not the case. It is much more longwinded than that. Last month I took advantage of one of the Discord Nitro, I think? offers for a free three-month game pass through Xbox. Once applying and logging into an Xbox account I didn’t know I had I browsed through the games and saw Persona 3 Portable was available.
As I’ve said I’ve played 4 and 5 and have been wanting to play this particular version of the game for some time purely because it has the option to play as a female protagonist. I much prefer playing games with a female lead, I’m not against male leads, but for RPG’s, I like playing the character of the gender I most feel comfortable associating myself with. It frustrates me that the other Persona games don’t have that option, even more so that it was added in for P3P but not for the subsequent games. Anyway, I digress, the reason I thought I would attempt to finish Persona 3 Portable in three days is because I didn’t realise that when a game is taken away from game pass, you can’t play it anymore and have to buy it if you want to play or continue.
This, is dumb. I’ve had access to Playstation+ for years and as long as you continue subscribing, any games you download are yours to play even if they’re removed from the PS+ ‘store’. Apparently, Microsoft say no to this. So I immediately felt a rush to complete it. For one, I want to make good use of this free trial to actually help me decide if I want to continue subscribing afterwards but this revelation that games are removed and then inaccessible (although, information on this is varied, for some games have remained accessible, for others you have to go offline the day before it’s removed and complete within 30 days without going back online during that time or you lose access) has me having my doubts.
Persona 3 Reload – the remake of the original Persona 3 game (Not the portable version, no female protagonist – big sigh) is going to be available through game pass on release day and as I now have a very decent spec gaming PC I might as well make use of it rather than paying the £50 on the PSN store. I’m hopeful it will be available for some time, although I’m keen to play it on release and have it preinstalled/downloaded for the day it becomes available, I would much rather take my time to play and enjoy the remake. And because I’ve kind of sped through Persona 3 Portable I’m not sure how I’m going to feel playing the remake so close to this speed run.
Anyway, the TLDR version of this is no, I didn’t finish it and with the time left of me today, I don’t think I’m going to finish it. In some ways, that’s a good thing, a lot of things are unresolved, I missed out on maxing out certain social links so in a way that’s enough of a motivator to finish playing P3Reload and maybe I’ll buy it again one day in the future. The trouble with Persona games is that they do require some amount of level grinding and I am getting to the point where I have been skipping random encounters and now finding things way too challenging. I got pretty far into the game though, I’m closing in on the end of October so I’ve got the jist of the main story and if I haven’t found out all the big reveals and things yet then I feel like I’m pretty close to it. I think the highest floor I got to on Tartarus was 146 out of I think 263 floors. That’s still quite the climb!
Persona 3 Portable is, like the other Persona games I’ve played, a weird game. It’s dark and creepy, with some pretty heavy content in contrast to the incredibly upbeat tracks that play during the game. I played as the female protagonist which I believe has a few different social links to the male protagonist so that at least gives me some level of variety when Reload is released. It features, as always, a whole host of Persona’s to draw from to make you stronger as you level up. I think that’s really what you want to grind levels for not exactly your own character stats but because higher levels allow you to fusion and collect really, really strong Persona’s.
I have really enjoyed what I’ve played so far. There are some creepy and questionable characters that did make me inwardly cringe a little bit, as almost every JRPG game I’ve played has done. There were some heartwarming conversations and relationships too. As usual I seemed to max rank a lot of non-party member social links rather than actual party members. I really need to stop doing that…However, I did max rank the Moon social link which I think is pretty critical to do so from the content I’ve seen up to this point although the fate of that character is yet to be determined and I’m going to do my best to abstain from reading spoilers.
I really liked that character too and I was fully committed from the moment you first meet them that I was going to max rank that link no matter what. Brooding, grumpy guy in a long coat that kinda has a heart of gold and apparently quite skilled at cooking delicious meals? Where a lot of your social link time is spent talking, or eating food? Yes. Really there was no question that I was going to spend time figuring out what Shinjiro’s story was. I liked most of the characters. A lot of the female relationships were really nice to see develop over the course of the game I played. In fact I think really it was only Junpei I didn’t like, but as he’s the token creepy perv that was a given. I’m highly suspicious of him anyway.
I still don’t really know the full story behind Strega, the rival group to the SEES team who are also utilising the Dark Hour. I have encounted Death and managed to escape because I was not ready for that challenge. In P3P I have encounted Death more times than any other Persona games but I believe there’s a very good reason for that given the name of the tower you climb is called Tartarus and one of the very early cutscenes where you summon your Persona for the first time it looks like the Death persona Thanatos kind of takes the place and attacks the shadow you’re fighting really rather violently…haven’t had an answer for that so I sort of feel like I’m either making it up or missing something.
Despite playing on beginner, because I rushed through, I did find some of the combat a challenge. Persona uses turn based combat, which is my preferred way of fighting because it gives me time to think but it really doesn’t lend itself to speeding through things. I found getting new Persona’s through shuffle time not nearly as generous as Persona 4 and doesn’t quite compare to how easy they are to get in Persona 5 Royal. Lack of items, quest deadlines and trying to remember where everyone was on what day to spend time with them was very overwhelming although having experience with Persona games already I was kind of expecting that and did follow a guide to help me get as far as I did. You also have social stats like charm, academics and courage to level up through going to school, doing exams, or going to certain venues throughout the gameplay. I maxed out all but Academics, although I was pretty close to doing it.
Either way, I enjoyed what I played and I’ll play Persona 3 Reload at a much slower pace, making much better use of the compendium and hopefully finding whatever changes are coming in the remake enjoyable.