The Persona Q series of games are melting pots. They are excuses to have lovable characters from more recent installments in the Persona line tossed together and interacting with one another. It’s an opportunity, and one that Persona Q2 series. But more than just giving people fun situations and an adventure that provides a reasonable enough excuse for everyone to show up, this latest installment is rather heartfelt. With Persona Q2, we have a game that will take people through an emotional gauntlet in a very good way.
One of the most striking things about Persona Q2‘s characters is the hope and optimism these parties bring. After all, this is a game where all of the characters begin divided. They are in this otherworldly theater that each group came to via their various means of entering the shadow realm. (For example, the Persona 4 crew came in via a TV at Junes.) People are trapped inside. There is a mysterious girl named Hikari who is shy, isolated, and relying on Nagi, the theater’s manager, to interact with people and cope. For almost the entirety of the first movie, Hikari speaks through Nagi, even when the cast of Persona 5 is kind to her. Hikari is very clearly struggle with a sense of self worth and doesn’t realize her own value, but as more Persona characters join the player’s group and you complete more dungeons, we see her open up. She starts sharing information about movies willingly. She talks to people without relying on Nagi as a go-between. She even starts to welcome the party back from successful excursions and starts showing emotion when people return.
Since this is a fanservice game, a lot of the interactions between characters are about emphasizing some of the sillier elements between people. There is banter between characters you would expect to get along, like Ryuji and Kanji. We see people who admire one another due to shared professions, like Naoto and Goro. Ann thinks Koromaru is the absolute best (can we blame her), and Morgana hates that. Theo manages the lobby’s shop, aka the concession’s stand, and spends the entire game wearing a costume that turns him into a giant tub of popcorn. Elizabeth forced him into it, because she felt that outfit was necessary and, well, you don’t argue with Elizabeth. Once you start unlocking the different Unison attacks, that comes through there too. Of the ones I have seen, watching Junpei, Ryuji, and Yosuke get all fired up about attacking the enemy and get so caught up that they trip one another and basically fall on top of the foe is great. If people have any sort of familiarity with the casts of Persona 3, 4, and 5, they will be happy to see how characters get along here.
Even the small glimpses at character actions when handling things in the theater’s lobby are perfect at evoking emotions. We all know Kanji has a fondness for cute things. He also found Koromaru absolutely adorable. Naturally, he thinks Morgana is incredibly cute. So much so that during one of these interim moments, Kanji will be blushing and so overwhelmed by how how cute that Morgana is that he will pick him up, hug him, and rub his cheek against the side of Morgana’s head. The hug only stops when Morgana gets flustered and forces Kanji to put him, but even then Kanji is looking at how cute the cat is and seems to be contemplating another cuddle. It is perfectly in character and the sort of thing that might make someone smile between scenes.
But then, not all things are so happy and cheery in the world of Persona Q2. This next part is a bit of a spoiler for the Persona 3 party. The heroine from Persona 3 Portable is one of the first party members you will recruit in the game. This is great, because it gives a lesser known character so much more attention. And as you go through the different "movies," you can tell she is looking for her allies from S.E.E.S. in the labyrinths. Except, when you find them, they aren’t her S.E.E.S. Instead, they are the party from Persona 3, led by her male counterpart. Aigis kind of senses who the heroine is, due to the innate connection she has with the Persona 3 protagonists in general, and the male protagonist knows there is something. But it is heartbreaking to see this young woman who has been one of the most enthusiastic, positive, and friendly faces throughout Persona Q2 be reunited with the people she has been looking for all along and have them not know her.
There is a lot to Persona Q2. The little moments between the big story segments, where we start acquiring and seeing Unison attacks, watching people in the theater lobby, talking with characters, and seeing Hikari open up, lead to all these dramatic, funny, heartwarming, and even heart wrenching moments. It is a lot to take in, and so many details are covered. Every moment shows a love for these three games.
Persona Q2 is available for the Nintendo 3DS in Japan.