Responsibility Falls to Those Who Have The Gift

Even though I’ve been a fan of the Shin Megami Tensei series for some time, I never got into the Persona series until last year. Persona 5 Royal was my introduction to the series and I became a fan right away. So it should come as no surprise that a remaster of Persona 3 Portable would get my attention. 

Going into Persona 3 Portable, I knew not to expect something on par with Persona 5. That was hard to do as so much of what defined the latter was being fleshed out in this entry. Thus it becomes an interesting look back at how the series grew to become one of the defining JRPG’s of the last few years. It’s almost like watching an artist’s early work before their defining masterpiece. 

No Longer Look Away

To avoid any confusion or mix-ups; this is a remaster of Persona 3 Portable. This was an altered version of the game that was released for the PlayStation Portable back in 2010. This version is radically different compared to the original PlayStation 2 version in regards to many gameplay mechanics and some story elements. 

It should also be noted that I’ve never played the PS2 version. Hence this review will not be comparing Persona 3 with Persona 3 Portable. Instead, my critique will be based on the games own merit and how it holds up.

Those Who Carry Out Justice

Set in the city of Iwatodai, the story follows the Protagonist who has just transferred to Gekkoukan High School. Upon their arrival, it’s learned they are among the few who could traverse the Dark Hour (an alternative reality between midnight that is populated with Shadows). This gets them recruited into the Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad (SEES) a private task force that has been investigating the Dark Hour. Players must work with the SEES as they attempt to uncover the secrets of the Dark Hour and stop the sinister forces behind it.

From the start; players are given the choice to play as either a male or female version of the protagonist. Unlike other games that offer such a choice, the character selected will have a different experience than the other. Thus; adding to the overall replay value and making players return after their first playthrough.

From a narrative perspective, Persona 3 Portable strikes the ideal balance between telling a compelling story and being a fun game. Unlike the mainline Shin Megami Tensei games, it tries to keep itself grounded in reality while also maintaining the supernatural elements. This is made possible through characters who are relatable in some way or are likable. Of course, your actions and interactions with the world will allow the Protagonist to grow as a person.

As with most Shin Megami Tensei games, you don’t need to have played previous titles (but you should have). This is the third game in the Persona series but you don’t need to have played the previous games to understand what is going on. But, if you played Persona 5 then you will appreciate how much the series has evolved. 

Seen Through The Heart

Those who have played the first two Persona games have said the series took a radical departure following the third entry. Thus; it feels like going back in time to witness how the series became what it’s today. It’s obvious looking back now that many of the hallmarks of the series started here. They were polished by the time it was ported to the PlayStation Portable and perfected in Persona 5

The games world is divided into two realms, the real world and the Dark Hour. Half the journey will be in the real world as players build up their character and network with others. During the Dark Hour, players will explore a twisted version of the world. One that is populated by the Shadows and other unspeakable horrors. 

Combat is the standard style as experienced in every other Shin Megami Tensei game. Players will form a pack with a Persona whose power could be used in combat. Combat is the standard turn-based style seen in most JRPGs. Players could also upgrade their Persona by fusing two together to create a more powerful one.

Mistaking Selfishness For Freedom

Persona 3 Portable isn’t a perfect game as it has a fair share of issues. However; they can all be summed up by the fact that it’s a bare bones version of the original. Every staple of a Persona game is present but just in a basic state. Absent are so many elements that gave it an identity or made it stand out. Remastering the original for the PC and modern consoles would have made more sense. This was a game originally made for the PlayStation Portable, thus this remaster would have been better suited for the mobile device. 

Despite its shortcomings, it’s still a solid remaster of a PlayStation Portable title. The issues are not too bad and fans will enjoy the overall experience. It still delivers a classic Persona style adventure despite the limitations it’s working with. 

The Flow Of Time Is Fixed

Persona 3 Portable presents a look into how the foundation was set for what would become one of the most influential JRPG’s of the last few years. While held back by the limitations of the PlayStation Portable, it still allows for a solid experience that fans will enjoy. 

Disclaimer: FortySeven Communications provided the game used for this review.

This review is the critique and thoughts of one writer. If you want to see how other critics felt then check it out on OpenCritic.

8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides an insight into the gamer community of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Persona 3 Portable (PC)





  • Solid narrative with characters that are relatable and likable.
  • Balance between the gameplay and character development.
  • Familiar combat and gameplay mechanics that will be easy to learn.


  • It overall feels like a barebone version of every Persona game.

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