Title: Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth
Publisher: Deep Silver
Genre: Adventure, RPG
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 04/06/2019
Price: £34.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
Here we are, at the end of the 3DS life having one final race before she’s put out to pasture. Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth is likely to be the last high-profile release for the 3DS, and it’s a pretty decent swan song for one of my favourite portable consoles. Persona Q2 is the sequel to Persona Q, a mash-up of the style and characters from the Persona franchise with the dungeon mapping gameplay of the Etrian Odyssey series.
This time around the game stars the Phantom Thieves, the cast of 2017’s Persona 5. However, there are also familiar faces from Persona 3 and 4 throughout the story. Set during the story of Persona 5 in the section of the game where Akechi has joined your team, the Phantom Thieves are pulled into a mysterious and magical cinema. Once there they have to navigate through four movie-themed dungeons, fighting monsters with the turn-based combat of the Persona series but creating maps of each dungeon as they go like you would in the Etrian Odyssey series.
I’ve always felt the Etrian Odyssey games were a little bland in terms of their fantasy worlds and have found them very hard to get into. Persona Q2 (and it’s predecessor Persona Q) heap on the style, personality and characters of Persona to the map-making formula which makes the game infinitely more interesting to me. It also helps that the game has a cool chibi art style and a load of fantastic music. I frequently played this game with good headphones on just because the music was so great.
For those not familiar with Etrian Odyssey, the game is split between safe areas and dungeons. For this game, the safe area is the cinema itself, with each film being a distinct dungeon. You explore the safe area in menus, but the dungeon is explored in first person, moving square by square on a massive grid. With every step, you can use the 3DS’ lower screen to draw on walls, doors, chests and other objects. You will even need to shade in the floor to get 100% map completion on each floor, which comes with a special reward.
As you move and map, you’ll also encounter random battles. You can tell when a random battle will occur as there is a danger meter in the corner of the screen which updates with each move you make, showing you how likely you are to face a new random enemy. When you get to the battles they use the Persona system, so hitting an enemy with their weakness will knock them down and make them more vulnerable and, if all enemies are knocked down, you can perform an all-out attack. This means your whole team runs in and pummels the enemy in a big comedic cloud of smoke, and is always fun to see.
There is a small change to the Persona combat in that now it isn’t just the protagonist who can switch Personas. Every member of the team now has an extra second Persona to their main that they can swap out at will to receive different boost and skills.
While I did enjoy the game, I started to find the gameplay a little stale during the second of four dungeons and didn’t end up completing it. The lack of the intricacy of the Etrian Odyssey skill progression or the fun of building social links you would expect from a Persona game are unfortunately huge misses. This game feels like a more straightforward Etrian Odyssey game designed for the more casual player, but then what casual player wants to play a game for the 50-100 hours needed to complete the game?
Also, I understand why there is no English voiceover in the game as there is so much content there, it would probably cost too much to redo. But as somebody who played Persona 5 with the English dub, I was a bit disappointed not to hear the voices I was familiar with, though I was happy not to have to spend 50 hours with a group of people who cannot pronounce the name “Ann”.
But aside from those minor quibbles, this is a fine game for the 3DS to bow out with. If you are an Etrian Odyssey veteran, I might suggest you go back and replay an older one, due to the simplicity of Q2’s systems compared to the Etrian Odyssey series. However, if you’re a Persona fan and want to spend some more time with your old friends from Persona 3, 4 and especially 5, then this is a pretty good way to do that. During the second dungeon, I had serious urges to replay all three modern Persona titles, which can only say good things about Q2’s style.
Rapid Reviews Rating
If you’d like to buy yourself a copy you can do so here: https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-3DS/Persona-Q2-New-Cinema-Labyrinth-1568093.html#Gallery
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.