Would you believe that there's a "hidden" hour between one day and the next? Experience it in Persona 3 Portable (Image via Atlus)

Persona 3 Portable PS5 review - The best game in the franchise is back and more accessible than ever

For years, Persona 3 Portable, one of the best JRPGs of its era, was a challenging game to play. The gameplay was tough, but it was only ever on the PSP and PS Vita handheld consoles. A remake of the PlayStation 2 classic, it changed the Persona series forever, bringing in new features that would become mainstays to this day.

The social links and romance features introduced in Persona 3 would ultimately be one of the most popular additions to the series. The Portable version even adds something for people who only played the PS2 version by offering a completely different perspective to the storyline. You can now play as the female protagonist on her emotional journey.


Persona 3 Portable is one of the best RPGs of its generation and is easily the best Persona game to date.

Persona 3 Portable is more accessible than ever on modern consoles

The story of Persona 3 Portable is complicated so I won’t be going into any significant details. There are so many mysteries to unravel and moments that need to be seen with no spoilers. The story's primary focus is that there is a moment “between” this day and the next.

During "Dark Hour," darkness consumes the city, and most people get entombed in coffins. Shadows swarm the land; one day, the story's protagonist fights the Shadows. Ultimately, they join a mysterious group, S.E.E.S., who are also working against the power of these Shadows in Persona 3 Portable.


It awakens their Persona, and the battle for survival begins in Persona 3 Portable. It’s an incredible story that blends high school life with intense, action-filled dungeon crawling. That’s one of the best parts of the game, though. Manage your life and continue your education while also fighting against the forces of evil.

However, developers have made quality-of-life changes since the game's original release. Besides having an alternate experience with the female protagonist, the best modification has to be the adjustable difficulty. This is not a simple game. You can change that in quite a few ways, though.

If you go to the “Difficulty” tab while playing the game, you can adjust the settings between Beginner, Easy, Normal, Hard, and Maniac. However, you can do more and create a custom difficulty level. You have the following settings to adjust as you see fit.

  • Battle difficulty: Beginner, Easy, Normal, Hard, Maniac
  • EXP rewards: More, Normal, Less
  • Retries per floor: Use, Don’t Use
  • Continue after game over: Use, don’t use

This way, you can make the game more challenging if you’d like. This is a handy game feature, and the flexibility makes it more accessible. Starting the game on a higher difficulty level and lowering it throughout the gameplay is a good experience.

How is the overall gameplay experience?

Watch: S.E.E.S. works together to defeat their foes.


Persona 3 Portable’s gameplay is just as smooth as I can remember. For unfamiliar players, it’s not a constant grind through school and immediately into the darkness of Tartarus - the tower where most of the combat takes place.

You can grind through the playable Tartarus sections or spread it out. There are deadlines to keep in mind, though. One of the great things is how much you can min-max your day-to-day life. There are many guides about what you can do each day, but ultimately, it’s up to you.

You can choose to nap in class or stay awake, try to answer questions correctly, and also take on several part-time jobs for money and stat bonuses. You also need to juggle your after-school activities because that’s where you grow most of your social links. A new feature in Persona 3 Portable is that many of the Major Arcana of the Tarot have an associated character.

Watch: The party smashes through weak enemies in Tartarus.

Increasing your bond with these people helps you learn more about them and their struggles, and it also rewards you with greater power when creating a Persona of those arcana types. Of course, there’s also combat. Each character has a Persona tied to them, including the protagonist. However, players can equip any Persona that they have recruited or summoned.


Combat is a pretty standard turn-based JRPG fare, where you choose to attack with your weapon, use the skills your Persona has, use items, or defend/flee. Your team typically has a strategist too, who can scout enemy weaknesses. Most Persona in the game have strengths, weaknesses, and even attack types that they can reflect.

The combat feels just as smooth as it did in the original game when I played it on PSP many years ago. You can still abuse elemental weaknesses and then smash a group attack to defeat most packs of enemies.

The visuals are pretty but not a massive improvement

Watch: The contract is sealed.

I like the graphical updates in Persona 3 Portable, but it retains the primarily blocky state of the characters while exploring the world. The character portraits are incredibly sharp, and the background of the regular work looks good.

It looks fine, and I don’t dislike it, but I was expecting something more smoothened out. Persona 3 Portable was already a visually striking game, and I wasn’t let down. However, the best part is the soundtrack. All Persona soundtracks are good, but P3P has various genres that make up the OST. It’s a beautiful collection of sounds coming together to form a brilliant soundtrack.


The game's dub is good, and you can choose between Japanese and English. However, the English dub occasionally peaks in volume. It doesn’t sound as clear as I was expecting. But it’s easy to hear and understand. The game was initially designed for the PlayStation Portable, which could explain the minor audio issue.


Even with a few points of contention, Persona 3 holds up excellently. It’s a game I loved when I first played. While I might, on a personal level, prefer the Whodunnit of Persona 4 Golden, Persona 3 Portable is a masterpiece regarding JRPGs. It’s often held up as the greatest Persona game of all time, even with Persona 5 Royal on the table.

Persona 3 Portable's story is a must-experience. It's dark and a bit twisted but also features moments of joy and comedy (Image via Atlus/SEGA)

That shows, and it’s not a game that feels too slow or clunky. It’s a long game, but one that's paced well. If you play Persona 3, you’re in it for the long haul. However, breaking up the game into sessions is easy since you play each day as it comes along.

If you want a dark story with memorable characters, fantastic gameplay, and a soundtrack full of winners, you could do far worse than Persona 3 Portable. Now that it’s available on more platforms than ever, now is the best time to revisit this classic.


Persona 3 Portable

Other than minor audio issues, Persona 3 Portable is very much worth picking up (Image via Sportskeeda)

Reviewed on: PlayStation 5 (code provided by Atlus/SEGA)

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation Portable

Developer: Atlus

Publisher: Atlus/SEGA

Release Date: January 19, 2023 (Original release date November 1, 2009)

Edited by
Srijan Sen
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