Persona 3 Reload – Game Review

Persona 3 Reload

(available for PlayStation 4 & 5, Xbox Series X & S, and PC. PlayStation 5 version used for this review.)

Persona 3 Reload is an updated remake of Persona 3, the PlayStation 2 game. It has been made with Persona 5’s engine. It’s very much a ‘look what we can do with the current technology’ remake. The game has been updated to have more explorable environments, better cutscenes, and a slightly better combat system. 

However, in many ways, this is a very faithful remake. Some extra features that appear in Persona 4 & 5 don’t appear in this game, for example in Persona 5 you have five stats to level up, but in Persona 3 Reload, you’re back to three. Many of these are very much the result of developers being unable to add much more without completely rehauling the game. That being said, this is now on multiple platforms with access to the portable version of Persona 3 but also to Persona 4 Golden and Persona 5 Royal, which are the best ways to play those games. 

So how does it work in that case? Well, in the case of Xbox owners, it won’t be a monetary decision, as both versions of Persona 3 and 4 are included with your GamePass subscription. Xbox users also gain the extra benefit of receiving the extra DLC pass including the extra story segments that come out in September as part of their subscription.

But if you’re playing the PlayStation version only or if the other games are about to leave GamePass, how does this version stand up? Well in short… kind of middling. That’s going to sound like I don’t like this game, so don’t take this the wrong way, I really like Persona 3 Reload, and I think in every regard it’s the best way to play Persona 3. But with that being said, I don’t think that this game is better than Persona 5 Royal and even Persona 4 Golden can challenge it.

The game centres around a protagonist who is a transfer student, moving to a new town and must help his fellow dorm mates who are part of a group called S.E.E.S. who defend the town from evil shadows by summoning their personas at an event called The Midnight Hour. They must hone this by travelling through their school which becomes a tower called Tartarus during said Midnight Hour, with certain strong spirits showing up to cause havoc every full moon- i.e., you’re going to be doing a boss fight once a month.

You get to name the protagonist if you want, but I discovered the canon name of Mikoto Yuki. The protagonist must be in the party at all times once again, but he gets access to multiple personas, which you unlock more of as the game goes on. If you bought the special version like I did, you’ll be able to download all personas that are tied to the party members in Persona 5. You can summon them in-game from the Velvet Room, which is where you do your Persona Fusion to create new personas, and your first won’t cost any in-game money, but if you do it again, they will start to cost money. Believe me, these all come in handy at several moments, particularly if you want to guarantee the persona of a certain arcana alignment when you get someone into your party. 


  • Story

Okay, while I don’t think Persona 3’s story is as good as Persona 4 or 5, it still has a very good story for the most part, and I would say that this is the best way that it’s been told. It shows why the gang is so invested in each other, and it has a few good tear-jerker moments and does a good job of tackling some dark themes. I do think that the characterisation has been done better in other games, though I personally think as a whole none of them are bad characters. I’ve certainly heard some people online don’t like Yukari, but I don’t get it, she seems like a fine enough character with not much fault.

The story does suffer from a few issues, mainly a few plot twists that are so obvious that anyone could see them coming. But I would say that they have improved on some of the side stories that you get from some of the social links. And I particularly enjoyed the side stories that were tied to the members of the athletics club. 

I wouldn’t suggest 100%’ing all the side stories, I would particularly suggest avoiding the story of the person you met in the in-game MMO, which was really boring. I would normally say don’t waste your money on the salesmen you meet in the mall at nighttime, but the persona you get for beating his story won me the final boss, so I can hardly complain. 

  • Gameplay

For the most part, it’s the gameplay you’re used to from Persona, with some updates. If you’ve played Persona 5 before, you’ll be able to jump into this very easily. You want to target different Persona’s weaknesses, and you’ll want to chain attacks together. If you’ve never played Persona 3 but you’ve played Persona 5 recently, guns have been replaced with pierce damage, so each character will either have pierce damage or a melee weapon. You also don’t have to do the whole negotiation to recruit other Personas this time. 

If you didn’t like those, that’s good news because they’re not here, but that’s something to prepare for. Every time, you’ll get rewarded with something called Chance Time, where you’ll get an extra reward for finishing a battle, like extra experience, extra money, a new persona, a skill card, etc. 

You also won’t be exploring Palaces with intricate puzzles and layouts like in Persona 5, with the idea of randomly generated places. Tartarus will change up virtually every time, but unlike Memento, when you go up a floor, you have to stay on that floor- you can’t change. 

Something else you should be aware of- saves are rather limited. You can only save your game outside of Tartarus or in its lobby, which is the only place where you can change your party members.

The socialising gameplay is pretty much the same, it’s kind of like a dating sim. I’m aware there are a lot of people who don’t like that style of gameplay, and I’ll be honest, the social links felt a bit weaker than in other games, but I’ll get into that in another segment. 

  • Graphics and Art style

It’s a major update. It is made with the Persona 5 engine, but the team has done a fantastic job. On PS5, the game runs at 4K 60FPS and even includes Ray Tracing, and as a result, the game looks great. From a visual and presentation standpoint, I have no complaints. 


  • Implementation of Quality-of-Life Features

So, there are some good quality-of-life features, like the Baton Pass from Persona 5 is here. But there are a couple of instances where I think, ‘Why didn’t that make it into the game?’. For example, Persona 5 eventually gives you the option to swap party members on the fly, which was discussed in a Professionally Unprofessional Podcast episode I did with Reece and Elliot- and as Elliot pointed out, that was locked behind doing well in Hifumi’s social link. But the fact that this feature isn’t even there is annoying because it means that often you can’t get the right cast member in the team to take advantage of a weakness. 

I certainly found myself using up my SP recovery items a lot, this was especially the case early on, and it doesn’t help that like in the other games, SP Recovery items aren’t very common. I have no idea why the game uses so many Soul Drops, they don’t do anything.

I’m glad that the social links are better this time in a story sense, but again, I feel like unlike Persona 5, they don’t serve as much of a purpose. In Persona 5, they would give you extra gameplay benefits- as mentioned before, Hifumi’s arc would give you access to swap out cast members mid-battle. This time you don’t get much of anything for maxing them out. You don’t need the other party members, since they get story modes which give you the extra Personas. But with this one, you only get access to the Ultimate Persona in that category. For example, if you finish the social link for the character with a magician arcana, you get access to the best magician persona, and the same happens for the judgement-based character, etc, etc. 

I just kind of wish there was more reason for maxing out these character arcs, especially considering I don’t think the storylines are as enjoyable as the ones in Persona 5. 


  • Lack of Late Game Content

This ties into another issue, but this game was really lacking in late-game content. For one thing, I find it really annoying that some of the social links are tied into the last two months of in-game time, because that is not enough time to get invested in those stories, and you have to hope you put in all of your effort into getting them sorted. It doesn’t help that some of the social links are tied to maxing out some of the stats, which means you have to plan your time for when you’re going to be working in the Coffee House to improve your courage stats in order to hang around with some of the later stage characters. 

It’s also the fact that you’re not going to be doing much in the late game, which I certainly found in the last of the in-game months, since I found that I had already maxed many of the social links and most of the characters didn’t want to know me. 

I found it interesting that you barely go to Tartarus in the last portion of the game, which ties into another issue I have…

  • Pacing

In my opinion, the pacing is not good. You won’t get as much social link time as you would like, and it feels a lot more repetitive at times than other Persona games. This is because they’re trying to mimic the original games, and this is something that they improved in Persona 4 and 5. There are some aspects to it that I found really weren’t as good and they could have been easily improved on. For a start, you’re going to beat Tartarus really quickly. You can space it out if you want to, but I found that it only took me two goes. You can get some side missions to do in Tartarus at a later point in the game, but for the most part, the combat part of the game is very short, which is a shame because it was really enjoyable.

Story wise the pacing is a bit all over the place, too. I don’t think it helps that the villains are much weaker than in other games, it really felt like there was less of a cause for action here. I also found myself repeating a lot of activities, especially towards the end of the game. As a result, I found Persona 3 Reload a much more draining experience towards the end, and I kind of just wanted to get it over with. 


Persona 3 Reload is the definitive way to play Persona 3 and is a really good game- but I don’t think it’s the best in the series. It’s worth your time, it’s a decent way to get started in the Persona series, but I would maybe recommend you try Persona 5 first since it has more features and I think it does a lot of things better. 

That being said, I think it would be a good entry point for newcomers since it’s not as complex in some areas. I think the social links and quality of life improvements could be better, but other than that the combat was great, and I really enjoyed it. It’s a good time if you put the investment into it. I will say that I think the DLC coming out makes no sense since I’ll only be playing the extra story content in September which adds the extra content from Persona FES.

SCORE: 8.5/10

Director of Axia ASD Ltd.
Self-proclaimed Nerd Consultant
and Head of Axia’s Film Society.

And now for Elliot’s review

This is officially my 50th review everybody… yay.

While not nearly as popular as Persona 4 or 5, it could be argued that Persona 3 is one of the most important games in the series. The first two games were without a doubt just another entree in the Shin Megami Tensei series, meanwhile Persona 3 was the game that gave the franchise its own identity and a unique style to other JRPG’s at the time. Even when the series really started to get more notoriety, Persona 3 still wasn’t spoken about very often, becoming more of a cult classic than a widely beloved game. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, Atlus revealed – via an accidental leak – Persona 3 Reload, a full-blown remake of the original game, giving new fans of the series a more modern way of experiencing the story and finally giving old fans something they’ve been wanting for a very long time. Persona 3 Reload was developed by P-Studio and published by Atlus and SEGA and was released on 2nd February 2024 for PlayStation 4 & 5, Xbox One & Series X/S and Windows.


You play as a transfer student of Gekkoukan High School, starting off the story with the protagonist moving into his new dorm and meeting his new classmates. A few days go by, and you wake up during an event called the Dark Hour, an hour of the night that isn’t experienced by most people, and a strange being called a Shadow’ attacks the dorm. During your confrontation with the Shadow you unlock your Persona, a power only accessed during the Dark Hour and only granted to select individuals. After the battle, you learn more about the Dark Hour, the Shadows and about Tartarus, a massive dungeon that the school transforms into during the nightly event. You are then recruited into SEES – the Specialised Extracurricular Execution Squad – and are quickly appointed their leader due to how unique your Persona power is and are then tasked with traversing the labyrinth that is Tartarus in the hopes of finding a way to erase the Dark Hour for once and for all.

The story is beat for beat the same as it was in the original game, and it still holds up really well. Plot points don’t show up very frequently, only really occurring on certain days or after a full moon, which isn’t a problem as it means there aren’t that many interruptions to your day-to-day life in the game, but they still show up frequently enough so that it doesn’t feel like background noise. 


The game has clearly taken a lot of inspiration from Persona 5 when it comes to art direction, having a similar shell shaded style that makes the game look simply astounding, to say it’s far superior to the previous game is pretty unnecessary, it has been three console generations since Persona 3 after all. Character art has been redone and, once again, it is a massive improvement, the character art in the last game had very faded colours making your allies look more grey than normal, now the characters are very vibrant, with improved facial proportions and just seeming fuller of life than before. This goes for the environments as well, the original game’s setting looked a bit dreary with very drab colours, meanwhile the remake not only has brighter details but a larger variety of colours, giving more life to the places you explore. 

The camera angles have changed as well. Persona 3 was a bit more distant than Reload, with the camera constantly floating above the characters when out of battle and staying a decent length away from you. This game gets a bit closer to the protagonist, staying near ground level more often than not and using a larger variety of camera angles for each cutscene, making you closer to the action.

One thing that surprised me is the voice cast, as far as I’m aware, basically everyone has been recast, it may not be obvious with a couple of characters as there are only subtle differences like Junpei, though with others you can definitely tell there’s a difference, mostly with characters like Sanada or Aigis. Not that I’m complaining, the new cast are still excellent, all of them perfectly bring out the personality of their characters as well as convey their emotions with great results. In my opinion they are on par with the original game’s cast. 

Finally, is the music, this game has a number of songs that have been remastered and a number of new tracks as well. Some of the remastered tracks aren’t quite as good, but only slightly; for example, the vocalist’s voice isn’t quite as strong as it was previously. Though the blemishes aren’t enough to ruin a great soundtrack, the songs are still very stylish and perfectly match the tone of the game, giving it the vibe that the series is best known for. I will admit that there are a couple of songs that don’t really work for me, but a majority of them really do sound great. 


Persona 3 Reload is a turn based JRPG, focused on exploiting an opponent’s weakness to knock them down and dominate the board. A good way of getting an advantage in battle early is before combat even starts. If you sneak up to an enemy and hit them from behind while exploring Tartarus your party becomes the first to attack, meaning that you can deal a lot of damage and wipe out a group of enemies before they get to make a move. Of course, this goes both ways, as enemies will dart after you if you’re spotted and will go first if you are hit by them. Aside from that there’s not really any consequence for getting hit by an enemy, which I don’t really mind, seeing how enemies can knock down and potentially completely screw over your side very easily, I think this is punishment enough. 

As mentioned, figuring out an enemy’s weakness and exploiting it is key to winning in combat, and not just because of the extra damage. By hitting an enemy with their weakness or with a critical hit, you will knock the enemy down, allowing that party member to have another opportunity to attack or to perform another action. Of course, this also goes for Shadows, as your own allies will have weaknesses that can be exploited as well. Knock down the entire enemy squad and you can perform an All-Out Attack, where everyone does a massive attack that will eradicate weaker enemies and deal heavy damage against the stronger ones. Of course, the way to do this is by using your teammates’ Personas. Your leader has the unique ability of wielding multiple Personas, meanwhile other party members only have access to one, and most of those Personas only have access to one magic type, so you’ll find yourself swapping them out fairly often. That being said, you unfortunately can’t swap out characters whenever you want, you can only travel through Tartarus with those in your current party, meanwhile everyone else stays at the labyrinth’s entrance, so you’re only able to swap there. Personally, I don’t mind this too much, it gets me to think more about who to take with me and who would work best in the current portion, though I can understand why it can be a major annoyance for other people. 

At the end of battles there is a very likely chance of you being rewarded with Shuffle time. In Shuffle Time you’ll be able to select one of four cards and receive a bonus reward depending on the card you choose, such as extra experience points, money, a skill card (a card that lets you teach one of your Personas the skill depicted on the card), or a unique benefit if you pick an Arcana Card. 

There have been a couple of additions to the combat that were not present in the original game. For starters, you now have a mechanic called Shift, which is essentially the same as Persona 5’s Baton Pass. If you knock down an enemy but there are still others standing, you can swap control to another character that you haven’t switched to yet and have them do a move, you can keep doing this until you don’t knock down an enemy with a character or perform an All Out Attack. This is a mechanic you will be abusing a lot, as there will be a number of enemies that won’t have a weakness that your current character can exploit. Easily one of the more useful abilities of the game. 

Another one is called Theurgy. This allows each character to perform a special ability unique to them. The main one of these is an attack of a certain element that ignores a Shadow’s resistances, though there are other abilities as well, such as being able to heal your party or doubling the damage of your next physical or magical attack. Using Theurgy requires you to fill up the Theurgy Gauge, and the method of doing so depends entirely on the character, for example Yukari’s builds up faster by healing your party while Junpei’s does by dealing critical hits. I really like this mechanic; it makes each of the characters feel more unique and gives you more options to completely dominate the battlefield. 

Exploring Tartarus

Compared to the dungeons you explore in Persona 4 & 5; Tartarus is a very unique beast. For starters, the dungeons in those games are separate from one another and have some significance to a particular character (protagonist or antagonist depending on the place), meanwhile Tartarus is the one place you’re really exploring, climbing higher and higher until you’ve reached a point where the way forward is blocked off and you have to wait until the next month. It reminds me of Mementos from Persona 5, and I quite like it. It’s an interesting way to show the progression of your characters growing, outside of gaining levels and abilities. 

Most of the floors of Tartarus are randomly generated, so the map layout will be completely different each time you wander through. Though each floor will contain a number of guarantees, there will be a large number of enemies, you’ll often find treasure chests and there will always be a set of stairs to move you up to the next floor. On certain floors, you will find a Teleport Point, letting you return to the entrance to swap out party members, access the Velvet Room and fuse Personas, and basically just take a breather for a minute. If you go straight back into Tartarus after returning to the entrance, you’ll be given the option to start at the room you teleported from, seeing as you can only teleport to certain floors from the entrance, this is nothing less than a blessing. At times the floors will have a unique factor to them that will occur at complete random, such as making the entire floor pitch-black, or having all the treasure stolen by a special Shadow that you then have to chase down, these don’t happen very often so they’re quite surprising when they happen, and you’d be surprised by how much they change the current floor.

One big advantage you get from exploring Tartarus comes from your navigator, Fuuka Yamagishi. While she’s a non-combatant, she’s still a great help to the party. The main mechanic you’ll likely be using her for is her ability to show you an enemy’s weaknesses after one round in combat, though most of her powers will revolve around exploration, such as the ability to reveal the full map of the floor you’re exploring, make you undetectable to Shadows on your current floor, or to teleport to the entrance from wherever you want – though a number of these are only obtained at higher levels. Though, just like the rest of your party, these abilities cost MP, meaning that you can’t spam these continuously. She’s super useful especially when you’re getting desperate and need a quick escape, I also like that there’s a limit on how much you can use her abilities, really making you consider when best to use them. 

Tartarus is split into blocks, meaning that you’ll go through a series of floors until you reach a floor with a miniboss. These minibosses will often be a more powerful version of an opponent you’ve encountered previously or will encounter, always with different move sets and weaknesses. If you think this game is too easy while wandering Tartarus then these guys will give you a major reality check, as they will often be much more challenging than what you’re used to. Once beaten, the floor you face them on will basically act as a safe room. Here you’ll find a couple of treasure chests, often containing better weapons and armour than what you’re currently wearing, and you’ll gain access to the Teleport Point, and this will act as a waypoint that you can teleport to after leaving Tartarus for the day. After a few of these you’ll reach the Border floor, restricting access to the higher levels of the dungeon until you’ve progressed past the next full moon, so sadly you can’t just blast through the entirety of Tartarus in a single sitting. 

If there’s any problem that I have with Tartarus, it’s that you can reach the Border Floor pretty quickly. Granted, it’s not like you can reach it the same day you gain access to the new floors (unless you are seriously overleveled), but you can still reach it after only two or three runs through Tartarus. By comparison, the palaces in Persona 5 will take you a good while to run through. Yes, you can go into Tartarus basically whenever you want – as long as exams aren’t coming up – but there’s rarely any incentive to outside of grinding or when the odd outsider stumbles into there, something that would have improved if there were side quests that required you to go into Tartarus more often, again like Persona 5 with Mementos. 

Social Life

This is a Persona game, meaning that a large chunk of your time isn’t going to be spent battling through Tartarus, in fact arguably less than half of your play time will be that.  Mainline Persona games normally take place over the course of a year and a lot of that will be spent doing very typical activities for a high school student. 

If you’re anything like me a majority of your time will be spent on the Social Links. Social Links are the connections you make with side characters and NPCs found throughout the city, each with their own stories and troubles that you can help them deal with. Each Social Link is only available on a certain day, so you can’t just talk to one friend each day and have to plan accordingly. Each time you talk with someone, you will be given a list of responses, the better the response, the more it will increase the chances of your relationship improving the next time you hang out with them. These Social Links are essential in my opinion, not only do you get insight to the world and characters, but they also even help in Tartarus. When fusing Personas in the Velvet Room, if you’ve been building up a Social Link of the same arcana as that Persona, it will gain a bunch of EXP, increasing its levels by a bunch instantly and obtain new skills. Levelling up your Social Links will also grant you Twilight Fragments next time you enter Tartarus, which you’ll need a certain amount of to unlock some of the more special treasure chests. 

A very big part of the game is your Social Stats. Social Stats are essentially the qualities that your character has and will require different activities to increase, studying to increase Academics or drinking coffee at the cafe to increase charm for example. The main purpose of these is to gain access to certain Social Links as they can only be unlocked with a certain trait being at a certain level. I’m a bit mixed on this to be entirely honest, I like the Social Stats, increasing them gave me a great incentive to do a multitude of different activities, but I wish they could have been used for more outside of just Social Links, such as restrictions for certain Persona fusions or minigames or something like that. It just feels like a missed opportunity more than anything. 

There are a couple more new additions in day-to-day life as well. One of the main ones you’ll find yourself using frequently is the Rooftop Garden, where you and one of your friends can grow vegetables that can be used for healing in Tartarus. Thankfully, these wont’ take too long to grow, often a little over a week, and you can get some really useful healing items from this. 

Another one that I really love is being able to spend time with your teammates at SEES events called Link Episodes. On occasion they will ask if you want to spend time with one of them, things you do together will include watching a DVD, doing some cooking or tending the garden together to name a few. The reward you get from these Link Episodes will depend on the activity but completing them all will give your friend a new combat ability. Seeing as you don’t have a Social Link for some of your other SEES members (Seriously why?! Let me befriend Sanada damn you!) it really makes your team feel like they’re actually getting along together outside of combat and the rewards you get for doing so are pretty substantial as well.

What do I do now?

There aren’t really that many flaws with Persona 3 Reload, the combat’s solid, Tartarus is fun to explore, and the Social Links are very interesting. But there is one flaw that definitely lowered my opinion of this game. When you’re first starting, it’s a lot of fun, I felt just like I did when I first started Persona 5, like there was a lot of do and I was excited to do it… but as time went on, I found the game getting more and more tedious, and eventually I could feel the claws of burn out scraping down my skin. For a good while I was wondering why, I would remember how much fun I had in the later portions of Persona 5 and how I would never get bored of that game, but then I realised what it was, it’s not just that this game has less content, it’s also that you go through it very quickly. I’ve already mentioned how you can get to the border floor in Tartarus after only a couple of in-game days, but it’s not just that. You can max out almost any Social Link after only a couple of weeks and increase your Social Stats to their highest point in record time. Eventually you’ll find yourself with so little to do, you really have to stretch to find things to do, leaving the game feeling monotonous and just tedious at times. It’s not too bad during the daytime, but you really feel the tedium in the evenings. There are only a couple of Social Links during that time, so the main thing you can do is increase your Social Stats… which I fully maxed out by October, meaning that the only thing I could really do is explore Tartarus, and again, you really don’t have any incentive to do so outside of grinding. I kept playing because I loved the characters and the story, but eventually that was the main thing that kept me going with this game. 


Persona 3 is a game that I had been really wanting to play for a good while now, and I’m certain that I’m not the only one. I went into this game with very high expectations, and I will admit they weren’t entirely met. I felt like a lot of the game went by too quickly considering the length which did hamper my experience in the later portions, but that doesn’t mean I disliked this game. I still had a really good time with it, the combat was still great, the characters and story were excellent, and I overall am happy that I finally got to experience the more obscure game in the series, even if it was in this form. It’s definitely not on the same level as Persona 5, but you know what? It’s still pretty great. 


Elliot Chapman
Anime Amigo and Nerd Consultant

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One comment on “Persona 3 Reload – Game Review
  1. Linda Buchan says:

    Congratulations on your 50th review Elliot

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