The Persona Q games are odd beasts. Each one combines two sorts of gameplay. We have the difficulty, dungeon-crawling, F.O.E.s and mapping from Etrian Odyssey, combined with the characters, element exploitation, Personas, and personality from the Persona series. While the original game was about proving the concept could work, Persona Q2 is about making thing work even better and more inviting for people who might otherwise balk at a demanding game.
All of the basic Persona Q elements return for Persona Q2. We have difficulty levels ranging from Safety, which is easy enough to require minimal grinding and allow you to enjoy the interactions, and Hard, which is really pretty hard. The Boost element returns, which means hitting an enemy’s elemental weakness knocks them down (giving you a chance of an All-Out Attack if all enemies are down) and a Boosted character will have no skill cost and be able to deal increased damage with some skills. Everyone also can equip a secondary Sub-Persona that increases their HP, SP, and range of skills.
But, if you can believe it, a lot of things make Persona Q2 even more convenient. Baton Touch, which is the Baton Pass mechanic from Persona 5, is present here. Let’s say Joker is Boosted and someone else could be more of more use with that effect. You pass it along, just as you would in a Persona 5 battle. Another fun kind of attack that can come up is the Unison Attack. After completing the first dungeon, you will eventually get the opportunity for certain characters to support one another with a certain sort of special attack that, like an All-Out Attack, will do additional damage and just plain look cool. Setting this up involves asking for help from Elizabeth, who brings back the Persona 2: Innocent Velvet Climax Theater for an opportunity to have people bond and develop attacks together. For example, Goro and Naoto could team up for an attack together to assault a foe. Anne and Chie get along for an attack. (Also, the Yukiko and Yusuke Unison attack is quite beautiful.) These elements combined allow the fights to be far more strategic. They are especially great in an F.O.E. fight, since you really need to maximize your moves to take advantage of any opportunity.
The dungeon exploring and mapping also felt a bit more convenient in Persona Q2. For example, you have a free window where you can have a free box with six spots when you zoom in, letting you have easy access to a few of the icons you use most. Shortcuts are plentiful, making it easy to go between areas and avoid F.O.E.s. It seemed like a lot of these were placed around gathering points, making it easy to run in to grind for levels and collect extra materials. Combining that with an ability to start on a specific floor after getting it, and it really makes the game a lot less painful if someone is coming her for Persona and perhaps learning to love Etrian Odyssey along the way. Also, as you might expect, there is an option in the menus to turn auto-mapping elements on. (It can be quite convenient, if you don’t want to go around drawing every floor and wall.) It’s like it is even easier to keep going back, without having to worry about how much danger you will be in every time. Instead, you can focus on getting better.
Now, a question people might have is how import-friendly is Persona Q2? I would say it is something you should wait on for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the Nintendo 3DS is region-locked, so you would have to make a substantial investment to play the Japanese version of the game. Being able to read what is going on is critical too. A lot of its charm comes from the conversations between characters. Someone who is familiar with basic Etrian Odyssey and Persona mechanics would have no trouble finding their way through with minimal language skills, especially since some English does appear in the menus.
Persona Q2 does an even better job than the original, when it comes to helping people adapt to the different sort of gameplay. People who love Etrian Odyssey can crank up the difficulty and enjoy the F.O.E. encounters and intricate mapping. People who are there for Persona can appreciate the various ways to team up with allies and strategies that can come from exploiting weaknesses and wiping out enemy hordes in satisfying ways.
Persona Q2 is available for the Nintendo 3DS in Japan.