Find the True Meaning of Life in ‘Persona 3 Portable’

Uncover the mysterious nature of the ominous Tartarus


After only being available on the PSP and PS Vita, “Persona 3 Portable” has made a return on Steam, Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch. With the return of popular characters, an interesting storyline, and visual novel gameplay.
Rating: B+
Photo Credit: IGDB

Emmanuel Miranda, Staff Writer

As a part of the 25th anniversary of the “Persona” series, Atlus revived the Japanese role-playing game “Persona 3 Portable” almost 14 years after its initial release. Ever since the rise in popularity of other “Persona” games like “Persona 4 Golden” and “Persona 5 Royal”, fans have been begging for remasters. 

“Persona 3 Portable” revolves around a group of high school students that are trying to understand and cope with death. Gamers can choose to play as the male protagonist Makoto Yuki, or the female protagonist Kotone Shiomi. Just like its successors, the protagonist is labeled as a “wild card.” and the only one in their group to wield multiple personas. Unlike the other “Persona” games, some of the protagonist’s friends already have their persona, meaning they don’t have to go through an ordeal to obtain one.

Within the game, the player joins a group called “SEES” in order to investigate the “Dark Hour,” which is a time period between one day and the next that not many people inside the game are aware of. During this time period, a mysterious tower called Tartarus appears at Gekkoukan High School which only those who wield personas can see. While in Tartarus, players come across “shadows,” the main enemies in the game. In order to explore and progress the floors of Tartarus, the player must defeat the shadow bosses that appear in certain places outside of Tartarus during Full Moon Operations. These only happen once a month, so it’s important to explore Tartarus to get stronger in order to defeat these bosses.

“Persona 3 Portable” takes a different approach to the traditional RPG experience compared to “Persona 4 Golden” or “Persona 5 Royal.” For instance, the game follows a visual novel style of gameplay outside of Tartarus, making the game more focused on the story rather than open-world gameplay. In fact, Tartarus is the only place where actual 3D models are used in the game. Even if open-world gameplay isn’t available, players can still complete different side quests when they don’t want to focus on the main story.

The basic controls and combat system are easy to use since each character can either act on their own or be directly controlled by the player. For instance, there are guard options and other choices to allow the player to make their own choices to strategize and defeat the enemy. Some enemies have strengths and weaknesses, so it is important to find and exploit their weaknesses to win the battle.

One major feature of the game is the social links that symbolize the protagonist’s relationship with other characters. Some social links require different social stat levels to rank up. The different social stats consist of academics, charm, and courage, which can be ranked up by doing different tasks within the game. Even if ranking up social links may not seem important, ranking them up can give players abilities to use in battle while in Tartarus.

Although the game is an interesting visual experience, there are some things that are missing from the original release. One of these features is the use of cutscenes which usually appear between certain events in the game. I personally enjoy watching the cutscenes, so finding out that they were removed was disappointing. But, the game does make up for it with the remastered graphics that make the game look clearer than its original release on the PSP and PS Vita.

Even though it can be fun to play, there are times where it gets boring or repetitive. Say you progress to a different level of Tartarus and find yourself dying to the same enemy, you might go back to a previous floor to grind experience from shadows to level up. Doing this for a long time can get boring especially when you don’t seem as interested in doing the same thing multiple times. 

Overall, “Persona 3 Portable” is a great game for people who look for and enjoy RPGs and visual novel type games. With all the different things to do in the game, gamers will have a challenging and interesting experience. In the end, it’s the player’s job to uncover the mysterious nature of Tartarus.