Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Drew Hurley 19.06.2019

Review for Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth on Nintendo 3DS

It's funny how just one entry in a franchise can snatch the attention of the mainstream, and thrust a series from relative obscurity or cult fandom, into a phenomenon. It may not be the best in the series, and the "hipster" fans will often argue it isn't, but these instalments are undoubtedly the blockbusters that deliver the series to the wider audience. Persona 3 was popular, but it was Persona 4 where the series exploded. Proof of that came from Persona 4's many spin-offs, such as the first Persona Q. Now a sequel for Q is here, and with it comes the much-loved cast of Persona 5. The Phantom Thieves are here to take on whole new Labyrinths within a mysterious cinema, each dedicated to a different movie.

The first Persona Q game saw the casts of Persona 3 and Persona 4 suddenly smashed together, with two separate stories to play through - one for each cast. The common factor between these two stories is one where the teams have to work together to overcome four labyrinths to make their way to fight against a manifestation of time and death itself in Kronos; a being that created this world outside of time to help a dying little girl (spoilers ahead for those yet to play the first). They succeed, as all good heroes do. Returning to their own time periods, promising to remain friends, yet as they leave this strange world, their memories leave them.

This new instalment takes the two casts from the first game and adds the cast of the hottest, and latest instalment in the franchise. The Phantom Thieves of Persona 5. The story opens on this team, fairly late in the Persona 5 story too, so those yet to complete that phenomenal game... what's wrong with you?! Go, do it now! ...So, the Phantom Thieves are on another excursion to Mementos when Mona's transport form is seemingly overtaken by a mysterious force, and the team is spirited away to a strange new city that looks reminiscent of New York. To escape some strange enemies they jump through a portal and find themselves locked in an old fashioned movie theatre.

Screenshot for Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth on Nintendo 3DS

Not all of the Phantom Thieves are in attendance at the theatre. Two of them have gone missing along the way, and the team realises the only way to find their friends and to hopefully escape their new prison. Also within this theatre, are three mysterious NPCs. First is Nagi, the self-proclaimed curator of the theatre, accompanied by the young Hikari, a little girl dolled up like a director, with an old-fashioned director's megaphone and a cap adorned with a film reel. Finally, there's a shadowy being named Doe, something that looks like a goth version of Baymax.

The girls seem friendly enough, and Doe is not particularly interested in talking, but he puts movies on at least. Those films are the heart of the experience, with each labyrinth dedicated to a different movie. To introduce them to the story, the first film begins playing on the big screen as the Phantom Thieves arrived, and it's starring a familiar face. The film is entitled "Kamoshida-man," and it is set in a New York-looking city. At the heart of this city, there's a man saving the day, a classic Superman-style setting, and in the hero role is Kamoshida. For those who haven't played Persona 5 (again, what is wrong with you? Go sort yourself out), or for those who have forgotten (shame on you, go replay it), Kamoshida is the first boss in Persona 5. A corrupt gym teacher abusing his students, and a strange choice for a Superman character. The cast heads into the film in hopes of finding their friends and once they step into frame, the game truly begins.

The Persona series is actually a spin-off in itself from Atlas' long-running Shin Megami Tensei series. A series which began as a first-person dungeon crawler, and the Q series has fully adopted this style from its progenitor. Though, it's certainly more reminiscent of Atlas' other big dungeon crawling series, Etrian Odyssey. Once the opening introduction is out of the way, it's on to the dungeon crawling. The top screen is used as a first-person view of the proceedings, while the bottom is used, in the same way as the Etrian Odyssey games, as a blank map that is both manually and automatically filled. Each step through the dungeon automatically shades a square of the floor on the map, but further than this requires some mapping from the player. The stylus can be used to draw out maps, scratching out the walls then dragging icons for key features of the current floor such as doors, treasure chests, traps, and switches.

Screenshot for Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth on Nintendo 3DS

Exploring the floors of each dungeon is rife with dangers. First, and foremost, are the random encounters with the many, many enemies scattered throughout. A nice little feature for this has a tracker in the corner of the screen counting down until an enemy spawn is likely. Many favourite faces of cannon fodder from series history are in attendance to cut through. Standing far above the rank and file enemies are FOEs. Huge mini-bosses that patrol around the floors of the dungeons in set paths, these can be avoided or for the over-levelled, taken on for some extra experience.

Taking on enemies is classic turn-based combat. A team of five characters begin the adventure, along with their navigator overseeing things, these can be set up into three in the front row and three in the back, but only ever five maximum in the team. Many more members are unlocked as the game develops, each with the Persona they originally had along with the ability to equip a second sub-Persona. There's no live switching of Persona however, a significant negative, as this was often a key part of the strategy of previous entries. With such a big focus on enemy elemental weaknesses, party building without the protagonist able to switch on the fly gets very tricky. Meaning collecting and equipping the best Persona is essential. Defeating enemies occasionally sees a shiny piece of film strip dropped, and within it, the soul of a Persona. The Velvet Room attendants are back to allow for Persona Fusion of these pieces.

Each level follows the same basic style, with each movie labyrinth introducing a new gimmick, but with little complexity to them. Labyrinth is a very generous term for what is here, and it doesn't hold a candle to Etrian Odyssey's level design. Completionists will want to dig into every single nook and cranny and attain the 100% completion of each, but there is little reason to. Every floor holds a golden chest that can be opened with play coins and the cost decreases with every percentage of the map cleared, but that's about it. There's no real reason to go exploring and no difficulty in the exploration.

Screenshot for Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth on Nintendo 3DS

While exploring is far too easy, the combat doesn't have that problem. Just like all of the main entries in the Persona series, the Persona Q games are no walk in the park, especially in the harder difficulty modes. Each of the dungeons require numerous revisits, utilising every drop of health, mana, and item, up until it's obvious it would be impossible to progress any further. Then, retiring back to the safety of the Concession stand to restock items, heal up, and purchase new equipment. Gambling and trying to push too far is often met with a swift defeat. Enemies suddenly start landing crits, party members start falling, and there aren't enough items to get them resurrected.

The Persona series has always plenty to do outside of the main story and that convention continues here with "Special Screenings;" side stories that increase bond with the many cast members that are introduced over the course of the game. Though, these cast members introduce a new issue. Some join up very late and the only way to get experience is to actually be in the party. It's an age-old RPG problem that is rarely seen these days and one that's easy to resolve, it's strange to see it here. In a move which disincentivises using the newly recruited characters.

The 3DS is at the very end of its life. It's quite likely this will be one of the final big games released there, and while it would undoubtedly have looked better on Switch, the devs really have made the most of what they have to work with. The cutesy chibified style looks great both in the sprites and in the FMV sequences. Though the environments and the enemies are all mediocre in comparison. Then there's a soundtrack. Persona games have long been filled with memorable themes and while this is mostly made up of tracks re-imagined from Persona 5, they are all fantastic.

Screenshot for Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

New Cinema Labyrinth is wonderful for series fans. For Persona fans waiting on Persona 5 the Royale, this is a great way to fill the gap and is worth the price of admission just to watch the characters from these different games interact together. With so many inside jokes that fans will truly appreciate. Admittedly, the level design could be much better, with the labyrinths themselves a pale comparison to the Etrian Odyssey mazes it mimics. Thankfully, the addictive mapping, Persona-inspired combat, wealth of side-quests and the solid story combine to more than make up for its flaws.

Also known as

Persona Q2

Developer

Atlus

Publisher

Atlus

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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