There is something poetic about it being right Person Q2 the latest title to come out for Nintendo 3DS. The Atlus first-person role-playing game represents, in a certain sense, the history of the Nintendo handheld in several respects, for better or for worse: it is the return of a great franchise, albeit in the form of a spin-off that However, it employs the console's lower screen in an exemplary way, a feature inaugurated by Nintendo DS years ago and that only a few titles have been able to squeeze with intelligence. Persona Q2 is also the latest exponent of a category, that of Etrian Odyssey, which has found its niche of maximum expression on this console. And at the same time, Persona Q2 also represents missed opportunities: that unattainable horizon, because it is the spin-off of a series that is born and grows on a competing platform, and that much controversial technology, because the Etrian Odyssey and the previous Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth used the stereoscopic effect wonderfully, although it wasn't implemented in Persona Q2. A kind of digital contradiction, in short, but also an RPG that is a little gem, as you will read in our review.
New Cinema Labyrinth
It is important to note that Persona Q2 is a game in its own right: although it is a sequel to Persona Q, it is not necessary to have played that first spin-off to understand the story, and likewise it does not fit into any precise narrative space. Walking on the thin edge of fanservice, Persona Q2 brings together the cast of three different titles, set in different eras - in one game. Person 3, Person 4 and Person 5 - for a total of twenty-seven playable characters, to which is added the protagonist of Person 3P. The doubt that the script would not be able to enhance such a large roster had come to us, we admit it, and instead Atlus surprised us with a delightful and at times disturbing story that not only respects the bizarre atmospheres of the reference titles, but also succeeds to give enough space to each character through dialogues full of irony, written in English and dubbed in Japanese.
The writers succeeded in the difficult task with a simple trick, and that is by diluting the introduction of the cast more slowly: while in Persona Q we chose which team to start with and in the course of a dungeon we found ourselves controlling all the characters, Persona Q2 prefers a more reasoned approach that goes better with the narrative. The game begins, in fact, with a new adventure of the Phantom Thieves in the Mementos: Persona 5 protagonists suddenly find themselves catapulted into a strange world where an old rival has become something of a superhero and the police are hunting them. Taking refuge in a disturbing cinema, our heroes make the acquaintance of Hikari and Nagi, two spectators around whom the whole mystery of New Cinema Labyrinth. The dialogues lead the narrative with a certain frequency, especially between one dungeon and another, and although it is introduced a little slowly to give space to the interactions between the colorful cast of the Persona, the plot respects all the standards of the original series.
Obviously it must be considered that Persona Q2 is a GDR in first person that is aimed primarily at fans and that is played for the pleasure of seeing all these characters interact in a single adventure. In this sense, Persona Q2 does an excellent job thanks also and above all to the secondary missions, focused on the relationships between the characters, which put the characteristics of our favorites under pressure in an often hilarious and sometimes even touching way. The Atlus guys have tried to stage their misadventures, whenever possible, through short cartoon cinematics or that make use of the game's polygonal engine: needless to remind you that we are talking about a Nintendo 3DS and you shouldn't expect sparks, but style " chibi "employed by Hanako Oribe to represent the characters it seemed even more successful than in the prequel, as it fits well with the atmosphere of the game and also creates an interesting contrast when you breathe a darker air. The merit is also of the soundtrack composed by Atsushi Kitajo which has nothing to envy to the titles of the mother series.
The 3D effect
Not received: too bad, in Persona Q it was splendid and it is not the same thing to explore the dungeons in first person without the stereoscopic effect.
Fighting and mapping in Q2
The choice to gradually introduce i ventotto protagonists also influences the gameplay: although it greatly limits our freedom in the first hours of the game, especially if we compare Persona Q2 with any Etrian Odyssey where it is even possible to choose the specific roles of the characters, this solution facilitates the learning of the different mechanics and allows to experiment with ability and the uniqueness of the various members of the party before deciding more wisely how we want to compose it. It will be important, as in the prequel, to configure the formation so that in the front row fight the characters who can only attack in melee and who can protect the rear, where it will be better to place the experts of ranged attacks and healing spells. It's possible To change training at any time, however, and sometimes swapping the positions of two characters could allow us to catch someone who was risking their feathers on the front line for breath.
The combat system has remained almost the same as the first Persona Q, although Atlus has updated it with the introduction of some mechanics such as the Baton Pass already seen in Persona 5 and a series of spectacular combined attacks that are unlocked by completing side missions. Basically it is still a turn-based combat system focused on the peculiar mechanics of the Boost already seen in the various Personas: each enemy - and party member, eye - is weak to one or more elements, but if one of our characters takes advantage of the weakness in question, in the next turn he will act faster than normal and will not consume SP to use the abilities of his Personas. Each character, in fact, can use his default Persona and another Persona, captured in the dungeons or cast in the usual Velvet Room: it will be essential to try various combinations to complement the skills of our heroes. Occasionally, when all enemies are stunned, it is possible to resort to All-Out Attack that deal a lot of damage, but most of the time you'll have to resort to abilities that inflict anomalous conditions and other more sophisticated strategies. We got the impression that Atlus has raised the bar of difficulty and that some bosses and minibosses - the infamous FOE already seen in Persona Q and the various Etrian Odyssey - are a little too tough.
Fortunately it is still possible to change the difficulty level among the four available, even if by setting the highest level it will no longer be possible to decrease it: if the lowest level allows you to face the adventure with great serenity, thanks to a whole series of advantages that greatly simplify life, and to end it in about thirty hours, the second level already requires some healthy grinding sessions and a careful choice of the protagonists to take to the battlefield. The complexity of the clashes makes up for the most linearity dungeons, compared to the past: don't get us wrong, they continue to be imaginative and articulate, but in Persona Q2 they are easier to navigate, there are far fewer traps to avoid and in general it seemed to us that the level design was a bit less inspired. Despite this, it is always a pleasure draw maps in the lower screen of the Nintendo 3DS, marking the points of interest and taking an integral part of the adventure in this respect as well. It is one of those unique features that we will miss and that raises several questions about the possible future of Etrian Odyssey on Nintendo Switch. Don't use autofill if you decide to play Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth. Take the stylus and draw the map, it will be an even more satisfying experience.
If you have already played Persona Q, know that Persona Q2 significantly improves the formula of its predecessor with an even larger cast, more challenging fights and a delightful story that pushes the accelerator especially on the characterization of the characters. Nintendo 3DS says goodbye with a small pearl that will appeal especially to fans of Persona but that has the ability to conquer even those who have never played the mother series.
- The cast: twenty-eight gorgeous characters
- The combat system
- Drawing maps is always fun
- The dungeon design is a little less inspired
- Some upsurge in difficulty
- 3D effect completely absent