Persona Q is a spin-off cross over between Etrian Odyssey and the Persona Series, taking the gameplay of EO, and the cast, atmosphere, and mechanics of Persona. There is the Hub, which is the school of the cast of Persona 4, Yasogami High, while a mysterious Labyrinth is the "dungeon" to explored so the characters of Persona 3 & 4 can [hopefully] find a way out.
Gameplay is standard, being able to use basic attacks, skills, defend, and escape from battles, with the "overworld" being drawing a map and exploring said Labyrinth.
The music is great and always fits the mood, although one of the battle themes gets straight to the point so it's version is always enjoyable. The other is a little sluggish to start.
Characters. They are almost exactly as they are written, except since they are in a different setting, their attitudes and interactions change to accommodate it. Since I am attached to them, of course I'm excited to see them return. Really, if you have the ability please play P3 FES and P4 first.
The game is very bright which is great, being able to contrast a ruinous club to a humorous but dangerous cafe.
Although I do have to say there's a lot of yellow at times. The setting is amazing and tells a story all on it's own and I find the events in the labyrinth (and out) especially a fun break.
The FOEs (overworld powerful enemies) are a departure from EO, in that they are generally easier to avoid and escape from, but offer a breath of relief in their contrast from usual appearances. The same can be said of the puzzles although a few are either really easy or have an obscure solution.
Floors can get quite lengthy with the same gimmick wearing you out over time, although the 100% floor exploration requirement to open treasure boxes with good items makes it worth it.
Enemies. This is where the game takes a turn to heavily unbalanced for the worst. Certain setups are made just to impede progress in the worst way possible often providing trouble for even over leveled parties. Now the worst kind of enemy encounter is a Mandatory encounter. No, I am not talking a boss, rival, or, meaningful fight in any way possible. I am talking about the creators setting a forced encounter (although you are warned, it makes little to no difference whether you survive or not.) which likewise is unfair to the player in every way. Usually the enemy gets a preemptive strike. (Gets to attack you first, you can't move.) You wouldn't assume this to be a problem right? Just power through it. But the bad part is the enemies are usually even stronger than your floor. The rule of thumb is your level should be 3x the floor level. Some setups are difficult, some are designed to just outright end your game. There is an enemy type, the basalt, which can petrify one party member. Still not too bad. But let's say........There's five of them. Here's what they can do: Petrify your front line (3 or 2 members), petrify one member, then proceed to knock them unconscious, decide to petrify your entire party (game over), or slowly whittle you down with petrify + knock outs over time. We can avoid this by
equipping an anti-petrify item right? Nope, not available to later in the game. Stack party members who can cure it? Nope by the time you get here, you've just gotten the option to take on requests. (Gives EXP to all members, although one side of the cast JUST comes in before this dungeon. Albeit they come in at the same level, you must likely won't (and you shouldn't) have two healers, plus they have low HP, AND can just be petrified before they can act even if you guess who to heal before they are petrified.) There's not general status or avoid item either. What if we just use the leader's skill to act first? Nope, it's a enemy advanced every single time, since it is preset.
I know that last bit was long, but if you have come this far please continue. Let's get into skills. Skills are pivitol in EO. You need them to survive. And 99% of the time, you will be using them. Now, the thing I love is there are skill cards you can use to teach anyone, any skill card you come across. It's usually a request reward or a 100% completion treasure box item. It's especially useful to teach someone a skill they should already have (stripped of from P3 or P4 home games, since they are already good with them). Now here's where it comes into play. Physical skills triumph entirely over magic. I love it. Several reasons why: They can still be elemental, and hit weaknesses (you basically get a status called "boost" and a free skill usage for no cost again), cost health (some of the cast are really freaking beefy.), no damage loss if they character has that weapon skill, and can save SP (magic) for when they need to use that skill. Now here is why they magical skills are subpar. They are really cost expensive. It takes the amount of HIGH cost skills (SP) from Persona, and the early game low TP pools (EO) and combine them. That's not good. You can get by extremely well in EO just using "Attack" and an occasional skill in the early game. You can get a sense of getting stronger just by TP increasing. But it's not present here. When you level up, skills are automatically and a mandatory upgrade whether you want it or not. Not so bad right, more power, you're stronger everything works out, right? Nope, that already high SP cost is now even higher and you're out of SP in 2 usages. But you need skills to win. One character, outright says "she doesn't learn skills to make her shine" That's the worst disadvantage I can think of to give to a character, let alone making her skills have a niche use (inaccurate one shot kills with a high cost) but her good skills have a insane amount of SP cost as well with her lowest version of it costing, 54 SP. How much does the max (Level 3) version cost then? :[
It's kind of like the developers were like "How about we just port over the costs and have them get boost spams. (no cost)" But wait, what if I just give her a good, low amount skill card, hit a weakness, then have her spam the boosted "High Level" skill and hope she gets a critical hit (also boosts) and spam it for even more damage (it has a good damage output if you couldn't already tell). Well, if you take damage in any form from an enemy, then you lose your boosted status. If you lose it right before she gets her hit, her skill will now cost SP again. What if she doesn't have enough now that her boost is gone? She can't use it and loses her turn in it's entirety. That's makes her worth not using, even if she is one of your favorite characters... Not to mention the fact her "Attack" damage isn't worth it, and buffing solely her isn't optimal either.
Nothing like this has ever happened in Etrian Odyssey, so this is a huge over sight in my opinion.
In regards to difficulty, the hardest, Risky, is just not worth playing, for the effort, or the sense of accomplishment because of it's randomness and luck unlike Etrian Odyssey's Expert mode. In this mode, if the main character falls, no matter who is still standing, it is an instant game over. This is in direct conflict with how Etrian Odyssey plays where everyone in your party thrives and rely on one another so this is one element that should not have been carried over from Persona. Hard is just a bit more damage scaling and is probably the way you want to go.
Overall, I give this a 7/10 because it combines two of my favorite series and allows me to be a tryhard coming from of them (heh) but for me, this rating is extremely low for any of the games I've ever played. It's not a bad game in any shape or form, but is not comparable to it's home series (either). It is still a great game, although if you have played P3 AND P4 then I would suggest trying it, if you don't have the time but have played either or, try to watch it on YouTube, it's story and everything else is a solid 9/10. I don't know if anyone will see this but thank you for reading this in it's entirety if you did. Please tell me what you thought of it.