Atlus Announces Persona 3
03.08.06 - 7:28 PM

Following a candid remark by Kazuyuki Yamai hinting at a brand new Persona game, Atlus today revealed what is now officially known as Persona 3. The PlayStation 2 title is produced and directed by Atlus veteran Katsura Hashino (who has worked on the Shin Megami Tensei series since Shin Megami Tensei ...if and served as director of Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne), while Shigenori Soejima (whose track record includes Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers, Persona 2, and Stella Deus) serves as character designer and art director.

The game's protagonist is a high school student attending a private school on an island located close to the harbor city of Iwatodai. At first glance he lives a normal life as he attends school in the morning and then heads for the city to hang out with his friends in the afternoon. However, in the world of Persona 3 a day does not have 24 hours. In fact, every day at midnight the so-called Shadow Time begins. The lord of this time is the game's villain: A monster by the name of Shadow. While normal human beings don't realize its existence, the protagonist and his friends are apt at moving around in this Shadow Time. After being attacked by Shadow, the 17-year old acquires this ability and because of his extraordinary capability becomes the leader of a unit set up to defeat Shadow. Other playable characters include the protagonist's fellow Junpei Iori (who can summon the Persona Hermes) and the optimstic and cheerful heroine Yukari (whose Persona is known as Io).

During the day players will attend school and after the club activities in the afternoon they are able to move around freely in town, visiting various locations, such as the school, the station or the local Shinto Shrine.
At night, when the Shadow Time begins, the world around the protagonists changes and the battle for the future begins. A mysterious tower known as Tartaros Director also exists in this world. Hashino explains that the Shadow Time is basically an extension of the spiritual world highlighted in previous Persona games. Character designer Soejima mentions that it was his aim to create a world that was neither science-fiction nor fantasy-themed from the very beginning. Instead he wanted to create a stylish modern-day world. In total the game will cover a one-year period which translates into a playing time of more than 50 hours, according to Atlus. The game will try to emulate a student's life in a realistic way, by throwing exams, school festivals and illnesses such as a cold at the player.

An important aspect of the game are so-called Communities. If the player manages to befriend community NPCs, he can level up his community levels. A high community level will translate into being able to raise more powerful Personas.

Persona 3 will let players fuse multiple Personas. Therefore the player needs to bring two or more Persona cards to the Velvet Room. Those Persona cards can be obtained by defeating Shadow in battle. Once the player obtains a new Persona card, the creature residing within the card can be summoned. After a victorious fight, players might have to choose among five different Persona cards. Up to four party members can take part in a battle.

Persona 3 is currently 75% complete and on track for a July 13th release in Japan.

Chris Winkler