Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
|Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth|
North American cover art
|Series||Megami Tensei (Main)
|Genre(s)||Role-playing, dungeon crawl|
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth (ペルソナQ シャドウ オブ ザ ラビリンス Perusona Kyū: Shadō Obu Za Rabirinsu?) is a role-playing video game developed and published by Atlus for the Nintendo 3DS. It is a spinoff of the Persona series, which itself is a subset of the Megami Tensei series, combining characters and elements from both Persona 3 and Persona 4, with gameplay elements from the Etrian Odyssey series. It was released on June 5, 2014 in Japan, November 25, 2014 in North America, November 28, 2014 in Europe, and December 4, 2014 in Australia.
Persona Q is a crossover video game, containing characters from both Persona 3 and Persona 4. However, different from the source games, Persona Q's gameplay focuses further on being a dungeon crawler, comparable to the Etrian Odyssey series of games also produced by Atlus on Nintendo handhelds. Players choose to play from the perspective of either the Persona 3 protagonist or the Persona 4 protagonist, with each side featuring slight differences in the main story. As with prior Persona games, the player's choices alter the flow of the game.
The game comprises two main areas, Yasogami High and the labyrinths. Players can explore Yasogami High to converse with characters, heal their party, or purchase new weapons and equipment, or visit the Velvet Room where they can fuse new Personas. Labyrinths are the main portion of the game, in which the player's party, consisting of up to five party members, explores various dungeons fighting dangerous enemies to grow stronger and find treasures. As the player explores each labyrinth, a map is filled out on the bottom screen, which the player can manually edit to fill in more details, such as the location of walls and chests. When a floor is fully explored, a special treasure chest appears on that floor. The game features two types of enemies: Shadows, which appear randomly, and Field On Enemy-types (F.O.E.), more challenging enemies that move about on the field as the player moves, which can be avoided with the right planning. The game also offers several options to change the layout of the dungeons and quickly return to previous areas.
When an enemy is encountered, players battle against them using their Personas. Battles follow the same system as Etrian Odyssey with elements taken from the Persona games, as opposed to using the One More system of the main Persona games. Unlike the main games, in which characters besides the protagonists only had access to a single Persona, each character can equip one of multiple sub-Personas in addition to their main one, allowing them to use more skills. During the combat, players can take advantage of an enemy's weakness, which knocks them down and allows that character to use a skill without using up SP or HP on their next turn, as well as occasionally creating the opportunity for an all-out attack if all enemies are knocked down.
The game's story is split into two campaigns, which follow either the team of characters from Persona 3 or Persona 4; each campaign begins partway through the events of the characters' original games. Dialogue and events vary depending on the player's choice of protagonist. At Yasogami High School in Inaba, during the culture festival, a strange bell rings, trapping the Investigation Team inside a bizarre alternate version of the school. Meanwhile, the members of the Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad (SEES) find themselves transported to the Velvet Room elevator, which suddenly winds up at the alternate Yasogami as well. Discovering a labyrinth hidden below the school, the two groups meet amnesiac students Zen and Rei and decide to explore the area, fighting "shadows" along the way, in order to restore their memories and hopefully find a way to escape.
The combined group eventually explores all four labyrinths, successfully unlocking a route home and restoring Zen's memories. He reveals that his true identity is the human avatar of Chronos, the Greek deity of death, and Rei is really a girl named Niko who died of illness twelve years prior. When Chronos came to escort her to the afterlife, he was intrigued by her descent into nihilism as a result of having lived an apparently meaningless life. Chronos created the alternate Yasogami High, split himself into Zen and a powerful being known as the Clockwork God, and sealed both of their memories in order to try to bring Rei happiness. The Clockwork God is the one responsible for trapping SEES and the Investigation Team in the alternate Yasogami, hoping for them to traverse the labyrinths and recover Zen's memories so they can merge and become Chronos once again. The Clockwork God abducts Rei and transports her to the top of a clock tower outside the school. SEES and the Investigation Team decide to help Zen rescue Rei, and they ascend the tower and defeat the Clockwork God. Zen and Rei vanish into the afterlife, while SEES and the Investigation Team promise to meet again someday and return home, although their memories of the incident are erased.
Persona Q began development in 2012 after the release of Persona 4 Arena, which was a collaboration project the development staff enjoyed working on. A game in the Persona series was announced, without a specific title, for the Nintendo 3DS as early as June 2010 at E3 2010. The game is the first entry of the Persona series for a Nintendo video game console. While the fate of a Persona game on the 3DS was silent for several years, in November 2013, a teaser website by Atlus stated that future Persona games would be revealed on November 24, 2013. On that date, Persona Q was announced, alongside other future titles such as Persona 5. The game was released in Japan on June 5, 2014. The game's storyline is stated by Atlus USA representatives to be canonical to the main series.
The game contains key staff from previous Persona games, including producer Katsura Hashino, director Daisuke Kanada, character designer Shigenori Soejima, and sound director Shoji Meguro. Hashino stated that 2014 being the 25th anniversary of the Persona series was the inspiration for branching into new territory, namely similar elements of the Etrian Odyssey series. However, Hashino stated that, "While we are implementing Etrian Odyssey’s system into it, just as the name implies, Persona Q will be a completely new title, but first and foremost, it’ll be for the fans of the Persona series." Soejima implemented a more chibi art style to the characters than prior Persona games. The soundtrack was written by Atsushi Kitajoh and Toshiki Konishi, with the game's sound director, Shoji Meguro, providing the main theme titled "Maze of Life". It was stated to be a notable moment for the Persona series as it was the first game for a Nintendo platform, with previous games mostly being released on PlayStation consoles.
Key members of the Etrian Odyssey team also made a special contribution to the game. Character designer Yuji Himukai created artwork for a formidable enemy that the cast fights in the game, and a composition from Yuzo Koshiro accompanies Himukai's enemy. Monster designer Shin Nagasawa has also contributed enemy designs for Persona Q, including the nurses shown in the first trailer.
Upon its November 2013 reveal, the game was already far into development, with Hashino stating it was already in its "testing" and "polishing" phases. In February 2014, Atlus announced that the game would see an English release in the second half of 2014. Atlus noted that in stores there might be a shortage of units due to their other recent releases, which have sold out at launch or shortly after. Like previous games such as Catherine, Atlus posted a statement requesting that players refrain from posting video spoilers of the game's later story events on sharing sites upon its release in Japan.
The game released in Japan on June 5, 2014. People who pre-ordered the game received a special soundtrack sampler CD. The CD features select original music from the game, in addition to special re-arrangements by the Atlus sound team that can only be heard on this CD. The full soundtrack was released on July 16. There is also a Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth Famitsu DX Pack with the game itself, a B2-size tapestry illustrated by the Persona Q anime staff, an A3-size clear poster illustrated by Atlus, a set of five different visual clear file folders, an original mug cup, and a Graphig paper figure of Rei. A manga adaptation illustrated by Akaume will begin serialization in ASCII Media Works' Dengeki Maoh magazine in its October 2014 issue. In 2015, two manga adaptations were released. Side: P4 written by Mizunomoto centeres on Persona 4 protagonist. It launched in Kodansha's Monthly Shōnen Sirius magazine in January. Side: P3 written by Sō Tobita centeres on Persona 3 protagonist. It was launched in Kodansha's Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine in February. Side: P3 will end in November. In Europe, the game was published by NIS America.
The game topped Japanese game charts following its release, selling 186,856 units. By August 2014, the game had sold 255,597 units, becoming the fortieth best-selling game in that period. Upon its release in North America, the game sold 40,000 units, which was noted as a high sales figure given its release late in the month alongside other notable games. NIS America had high hopes for the game, feeling it would boost sales for their new online store. Famitsu gave the game a score of 35/40. In an import preview, Kotaku's Richard Eisenbeis praised the game's old school elements and fanservice, whilst also remarking on the game's high level of difficulty.
Samantha Nelson from The A.V. Club listed it among her favorite games of 2014. Aaron Riccio from Slant Magazine gave the game a 10/10. They later awarded the game as their Game of the Year.
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