Persona 3 Reload Review - Burn Your Dread
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Persona 3 Reload Review - Burn Your Dread

Persona 3 is often called the darkest entry in its series, and within two minutes of starting it becomes clear why. Persona 3 Reload, remake of the 2006 classic, opens just like its previous versions: with a distressed young girl slumping to the floor as she attempts to work up enough nerve to place a gun against her temple. It's a shocking scene, made even more distressing when our protagonist is greeted by that same girl as he walks into his new school dorm. Her disposition does not betray what she was presumably doing just moments before, as she greets him in a charming, albeit slightly alarmed, manner. Yet, like Persona 3 as a whole, there's more to the situation than both we as players, and the protagonist, can see.

Beyond a grim exterior is a beautiful balancing act--one that carefully weighs tension and relief, love and loss, mystery and resolution, and that aforementioned macabre nature against an unrelenting light. It's only fitting, then, that nearly 20 years later, developer Atlus has chosen to revisit Persona 3 in an effort to rebalance its gameplay as masterfully as its themes. Persona 3 Reload triumphs in doing this, delivering an unforgettable and emotionally resonant story alongside improved visuals and brilliantly re-strategized combat. While not quite as transformative as its name might imply, Reload successfully modernizes the Persona series' greatest and most relatable story.

Junpei, Yukari, Koromaru, and the protagonist unleash an All-Out Attack.
Junpei, Yukari, Koromaru, and the protagonist unleash an All-Out Attack.

In true Persona fashion, our story begins with an unnamed protagonist transferring to a new high school: Gekkoukan High. While both the school and the seaside city of Tatsumi Port Island feel relatively unassuming at first, it doesn't take long for him to discover the Dark Hour--an eerie and nearly undetectable period of time that exists just after midnight in which murderous shadows are unleashed upon the world. Soon after, he learns that his fellow dorm mates are actually members of the Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad (SEES), a secretive school organization hellbent on fighting those shadows using the power of persona.

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