Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth is in a unique position, that is being spin off game of a spin off series. With that said one wouldn’t expect much from it as most spin offs in the modern game industry are just used to crowd source funds for new games. However, Shadow of the Labyrinth isn’t like most spin offs.
This game is also unlike the other Persona games in the series and instead plays like an entry in the Etrian Odyssey series, which was also developed by the company that developed Persona Q. Etrian Odyssey games base their main mechanics around drawing a map of different mazes as you play and the concept is used in this game as well. Where the Etrian Odyssey series’ locations are fantastical and incredible in a way that befits a fantasy game, Persona Q drops you into a school of all places. The school functions as a hub for the spiritual successor to the main Persona series’ social links among other things such as the workshop where you can buy items, the nurse’s office where you can heal, and the ever present velvet room where persona fusions occur.
What makes the game interesting though is that for plot reasons, the cast from both Persona 3 and Persona 4 are brought together. Because both games already had unique casts with believable and funny interactions, it’s expected that their combined interactions would be just as good, and they didn’t disappoint. The setting is colorful and zany, which perfectly exemplifies the personalities of the individual characters by putting them in positions that were previously impossible.
The gameplay is moderately tight, although the menus take a bit of time to learn how to navigate. The combat system works in the same way as both the Shin Megami Tensei games, the Persona games and the Etrian Odyssey games where you can have a total of five characters in a squad; three in the front and two in the back and with the multitude of characters, a new and different setup is always available. One thing that this game does better than the Etrian Odyssey games is that its map system is much more streamlined and easier to use as walls come up as transparent blue lines in order to act as a guide. This allows the player to focus on the puzzles instead of the navigation which one could argue is more important.
The best new feature of this is the sub persona system. Because of plot reasons again, every unit is able to have two personas instead of the standard one. This allows the player to have even more possibilities for strategizing and adapting for the different situations that the games labyrinths put you in. Not much more is to be said about this, except that because there are so many possibilities for fusions, the possibility for different strategies is vast.
Again, all games have their faults and this one is no exception. The request system, while it works well almost all of the time is very annoying when it doesn’t. Some quests have faulty descriptions and lead the player in a direction other than the one they were supposed to be going in, but this may have just been design oversight. The last real problem that I found with the game was that if a player planned their team well enough, they really only need to fight with one unit. Certain status ailments are imbalanced, causing the game to be easier than it should be and all status ailment skills are easy to obtain on every character through the sub persona mechanic.
With that said, I couldn’t find much else wrong with this game personally, and enjoyed my time playing it. Any fan of the Persona series will enjoy it even though it’s on a console that had no entries on it presently and I would give it 90/100.