Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth is a sequel to 2014’s Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth. Both games are dungeon crawlers in the same style as the Etrian Odyssey games and to some extent Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey. The tone in this game is far more light-hearted and comical when compared to the heavy choices and oppressive themes of the mainline Shin Megami Tensei games.
On the way to a typical Mementos raid, the Phantom Thieves from Persona 5 are inexplicably thrown off course and wind up separated and confused in an unfamiliar city. Eventually, they find themselves in a mysterious movie theater in which they’re the stars of a superhero flick in which the star is none other than the great Kamoshida-man! He’s not THE Kamoshida from the Phantom Thieves’ world, but something altogether different.
This is the main setup of the game. Each film is a new dungeon to explore with unique film type themes. The SuperHero action movie(Kamoshidaman), Jurassic Park-like blockbuster(Junesic-Land), Minority Report ultra sci-fi morality movie (A.I.G.I.S.). These first three films serve as a reason to get the gangs from Persona 3 and Persona 4 in on all the fun.
As they get introduced, you find out that they were taken from their own times (timelines?) while exploring their game-specific dungeons. The investigation team (P4) was entering the TV world from Junes and the SEES team (P3) was heading into Tartarus and both were knocked off track and ended up in a strange world. Overall the story is interesting but not incredibly engaging and the characters are portrayed like a 1-dimensional sort of Saturday Morning Cartoon version of themselves. Overall, the story is serviceable and it helps move the game along.
The art style and presentation of the game looks great on the 3DS’ screen. The character art is done in a sort of cutesy super-deformed style but it looks really sharp. Sadly 3D was not included in this title which is odd because details like the character speech bubbles and item menus appear to have layers that would pop out in 3D. Not sure why it was omitted but considering that this might be the final major release for the 3DS, it’s something I’ll really miss.
Enemies are lower-res versions pulled from the current Persona games. They’re not too exciting and if you’ve played Persona 5, you’re pretty much seen them all except special or boss creatures.
The music fits the game perfectly and as expected in any Persona game, it’s very catchy. There seems to be a different song for every menu or shop as well as a dungeon. There’s even conversation specific songs. There wasn’t any seriously noticeable compression in the music, so it’s all really amazing considering this is a cart-based system.
There is also TONS of spoken dialog. For the most part, it’s all well done, with only a couple of characters getting on my nerves. For those of you who enjoy the English dubbed voices of Persona 3, 4, and 5, you’re out of luck. Only Japanese voices are included and there doesn’t appear to be any fans to add an English track. Having played all these games with English dialog might have made less attached to the characters than I might have been otherwise.
The game itself is a bit tedious. Resources and the limits placed on them feel like an artificial reason to feel the urgency to return to base camp after exploring a floor. Once you find a doorway, you always need to consider if you’ll be going through it or using an item to head back. Say you’ve collected a lot of resources and enemy drops and your bag is full. You need to head back and sell stuff off. Say you’re unfamiliar with the monsters in the floor? You most likely dragged a few battles on longer than you would have liked and used up all your healing supplies. Time to head back. If you haven’t found a shortcut connecting you close to your current position, there’s a good chance you’ll have to retread that floor.
The battle system is close to Persona 5’s with some slight differences. You can still earn an all-out attack if you knock all the enemies down. You can knock enemies down when you discover what attack type they’re weak to. Once your character exploits a weakness their next turn is cost-free, meaning they can cast a spell using 0sp. It’s important to find and exploit these weaknesses as well as configure your party and personas for each dungeon floor in order to minimize the amount you need to backtrack for resources.
The game also has a map-making system. You have 2 choices, manual and automap. I decided to avoid auto-mapping and give it a go with my stylus. It’s interesting but it also slows the pace of the game. There are treasures throughout dungeons and some can only be opened after the floor has been mapped 100%. It’s handy to mark these treasure chests when you find them as well as any doors, shortcuts or points of interest. There are some dungeon puzzles that you’ll encounter but nothing was too difficult to figure out, and I doubt anyone will be needing and FAQ to help them figure it out. Usually, it’s just switch flipping in order to gain access to areas. Nothing too exciting.
Let’s not forget the Personas themselves. They’re here, you can catch them, fuse them in different ways, make more get stronger, equip them, etc. There’s not much else to say.
Persona Q2 is an okay game. It’s well presented and far from terrible but it also felt like a grind to get through. There was a feeling of accomplishment when a dungeon was cleared or a boss was defeated, but those moments were rare. For the most part, the banter of the cast is what keeps it going, but even that had moments where I lost interest and had to step away. If you like dungeon crawlers, I think there are better games but you could also do much worse than play this. I’m giving this a 3.5 out of 5