Video Game: Persona Q: Shadow Of The Labyrinth

Life is but one scene from a play.
We are all nothing more than novice actors
knowing nothing of the script.
The curtains close before the play
is ever performed to its end...
There is no spotlight shining down.
Take off the mask that weighs you down.
All that remains is a dream...
A fleeting dream of the night...

Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth is a Nintendo 3DS Spin-Off of, interestingly, two franchises: Atlus' Persona and Etrian Odyssey games. The story is written by members of the Team Persona development group, and features a Cross Over between the casts of Persona 3 and Persona 4. But other aspects, such as gameplay and visual design, are taken directly from Etrian Odyssey. In fact, most of the production staff is from the Etrian Odyssey team, including director Kazuya Niinou and character artist Yuji Himukai.

The story revolves around a mysterious tower that is said to bring death to whoever hears its bell. When the tower appears at both Gekkoukan High School in the past and Yasogami High School in the future, the casts of Persona 3 and Persona 4 team up across time to investigate the tower's labyrinth. Along the way, they meet two brand new characters, Zen and Rei, who are connected to the tower.

The game was released in Japan on June 5th, 2014, in America on November 25, 2014, and in Europe on November 27, 2014.

Previews: Trailer 1 (Subtitled), Trailer 2 (Subtitled)

This game provides examples of:

  • Accidental Truth: While the Investigation Team trolls Rei about Alice in Wonderland, Yukiko claims it ends with Alice punching the Queen of Hearts, and treasure falling out while a dog barks. They later fight the Queen of Hearts, who drops loot, and they're introduced to SEES (including their dog Koromaru) in the process.
  • Adaptational Badass: The two heroes are restricted to their starting Personas in this game, so as a result those Personas are a lot stronger here than in their original appearances. In their original games, their stats and abilities are weak to the point of being useless by the second dungeon. Here, they're capable of keeping up with the rest of the cast.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • The two Heroes have lost their Wild Card ability, restricting them to their very much middle-of-the-road starting Personas. Since the Wild Card is now in a form that everyone can use, everyone else has gotten stronger while the Heroes have gotten nerfed.
    • Every Persona not belonging to a party member is restricted to being a sub-persona here, meaning they have no stats of their own and only confer bonuses to HP and SP. Downplayed in that they still learn skills which can be used by anyone who equips them. A few Personas stand out though, Kaguya goes from being the ultimate Persona of the Aeon Arcana to a mid-level Moon Arcana Persona, for example.
  • Alice Allusion: The entire first dungeon, "You in Wonderland", is this.
  • Animal Motifs: There's lots of spider and web imagery in the game, representing the labyrinth itself and how the characters are trapped in the strange world.
  • Another Side, Another Story: Elements of the story will change depending on if you choose to start with the Persona 3 or the Persona 4 cast.
  • As You Know: The team who's story you aren't on need to do this a lot for the benefit of those who haven't played their home games. It's justified in that the other team obviously doesn't know about a lot of the things they experienced. In particular, the P4 cast have to explain Shadow Selves to SEES before the Best Friend boss fight.
  • Awesome but Impractical:
    • Defeating F.O.Es rewards you with Personas much higher leveled than you'd normally have at that point in the game. But they only come with their base skills, and their high level works against them since it makes it very hard to level them up (and so get new skills on them) with the experience given by enemies at that point. Fused Personas will generally be more useful due to their greater variety of potential skills. The one practical use for these Personas is using them as sacrifices to power up fused ones since their high level means they give a lot experience, which falls squarely under Boring but Practical.
    • Aigis' Orgia mode. She spends a turn activating it, and after two turns of use it requires three turns of cooldown. In other words, using it grants the player two turns of double damage in exchange for four turns of being unable to do anything. Since the first turn is spent doing nothing, it's not a good choice against weaker enemies, and since it's a net loss of turns it's also impractical in protracted battles. There are certain skill combinations that can turn it into a Game Breaker though.
  • Badass Adorable: Everyone is turned into a Super-Deformed model, which is saying something for a series with plenty Darker and Edgier moments. Of course, Etrian veterans know that, despite that series' generally "cute" character designs, those games don't really pull their punches either.
  • Bag of Spilling: Despite taking place in the middle of P3 and P4, everyone only has their starting equipment. The main characters don't even have any personas other than their starting one.
  • Battle Theme Music: "Light the Fire Up In The Night", which has a different instrumental part depending on whether you pick the main character from Persona 3 or Persona 4.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Margaret's answer to just about anything. The protagonists and their friends like to go with a rather liberal interpretation of the trope: Destiny offers us choices, we pick from them.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Zen refuses to leave Rei's side, to the point that he loses his stoic attitude when she's in danger. But Teddie seems to think it as a paternal protectiveness, while the others have the romantic vibe from it.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Kanji is this towards Ken on the P4 side.
  • Big Damn Heroes: How the teams meet; and naturally, neither side can resist putting a little flair into their entrance. (The Investigation team even strikes a JoJo pose during their dramatic reveal.)
    Yosuke: Yo! Hope we didn't miss all the fun.
  • Big Eater: Rei eats tons of snacks, like half a dozen scoops of ice cream in one scene. She can even make corn-dogs magically appear out of nowhere.
  • Bland-Name Product: Several characters during the fake wedding scene mention that the painting must've been "Photochopped."
  • Bleak Level: Two examples:
    • The Evil Spirit Club, which unlike the bright and lighthearted previous two dungeons looks like something out of a Survival Horror game.
    • The boss floor of the Inaba Pride Exibit, complete with its own very Dark Reprise of the dungeon's main theme and a completley bleak atmosphere compared to the rest of it. (See Mood Whiplash)
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation / Dub Induced Jerkassery: While the translation is very well done otherwise, the translators for some reason decided to have Teddie call Koromaru "Mutt" for an insulting nickname as a result of being jealous of him. This is very out of character for Teddie and didn't happen in the Japanese version; In the original Japanese he called Koromaru "Puppy" because he failed to come up with a better insult. (And also because it happened to make a nice pun with Koromaru's name.)
    • There's also the quest: "Obtain the Evil Eye", which tasks you with killing a specific shadow a specific way, but gives you the wrong dungeon (it says it's in the Group Date Cafe, when it's really in the Evil Spirit Club). If the player fails to notice this mistake, and has somehow not fought the shadow yet, they may end up wandering around the wrong dungeon for hours.
  • Bonus Boss: In the first playtrough, there are multiple battles against Elizabeth and one battle against Margaret (which unlocks every one's Ultimate Personas). In New Game+, there is a battle against Elizabeth, Margaret and Theodore at the same time and one where you fight against Elizabeth who is possessed by Zeus.
  • Boring but Practical:
    • Stationary FOEs can be used as a means to increase the Party Gauge. Simply sneak up on one from the sides/behind to get a Player Advantage, then have everyone attack the FOE to increase the gauge, but get the lowest-speed character to escape. Player Advantages allow the party to escape without fail on the first turn. Once you do escape, the Party Gauge will be increased from the attacks you inflicted, as well as gaining a bonus since the battle is over.
    • What's the best thing to do with the high level Persona cards given for defeating an FOE? No, not equipping them and utilizing their stat boosts and high level spells... it's sacrificing them them as an EXP boost for other, lower level Persona cards.
  • Brick Joke: Early on, you can come up with a silly name for your combined team of Persona users, in the vein of the Power Rangers and Super Sentai. In the endgame, when your team's morale is fraying with the strain of ascending the Clock Tower, you can invoke the team name to put a smile on everyone's faces and restore their energy.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: A non-freemium version, specifically. While you can step on every tile in the dungeon floor to gain access to the floor's map chest, you can also pay Play Coins to open it earlier. Subverted because there's a cap on Play Coins, and you really only gain 10 a day carrying your 3DS around.
  • Bridal Carry: The faked portrait at the end depicts the Protagonist and their destined partner as this. You can also pull this on most of the girls but most of them will be very embarrassed at this.
  • But Not Too Gay: In the Group Date Cafe, you can pair your protagonist with any other named character, regardless of gender. But unlike the male/female pairings, male/male pairings won't have their hands inexplicably stuck together, they also lack the conversation between the portrait and the final doors (arguably the most romantic part of the sequence).
  • Butt Monkey:
    • Theodore gets absolutely no respect from his sisters, who are borderline-abusive. Though one quest gives him a break.
    • Junpei constantly gets hit by Yukari and some of the members of SEES looks down on him.
    • Ken to a minor extent, as he gets teased often for being young and having a short stature.
    • Teddie hardly gets respect as well, though he's arguably the only one that deserves it.
  • Call Back: Like in Persona 1 and the Persona 2 duology, everyone on the coalition can enter the Velvet Room and, save for Zen and Rei, carry multiple Personas, not just the protagonists. Fuuka and Rise can also carry sub-Personas, which will still gain experience.
    • The game also somewhat resembles the Snow Queen Quest from Persona 1, with the protagonists being trapped inside a school connected to various dungeons. Rei is also an arguable Expy of Maki from the same game, being a terminally ill whose nihilism kicks off the main plot, and who joins the party in as an idealized (if amnesiac) version of her self.
    • While it's also a gameplay mechanic of Etrian Odyssey itself, you can also play with up to five party members, which is true for P1 and both P2 games as well, as opposed to the four member parties of P3 and P4.
  • Camping a Crapper: An FOE appears right as Yosuke decides on a bathroom break, forcing both teams to hide inside the stalls. Thankfully, Zen sneaks out and distracts it before it can kill anyone.
  • Canon Name: Subverted. Regardless of which protagonist you pick (P3 or P4), you have to name both in your file. There are no default names for either the first or second protagonist. Notably, the names what they have been called in the past (Minato Arisato, Makoto Yuuki, Yu Narukami, and Souji Seta) cannot be generated if you let the game select a random name for them (although Sakuya [朔也], the P3 protagonist's first name in The Weird Masquerade, is among the randomly generated names).
    • Interestingly enough, in the official character-specific Japanese trailers, the P3 protagonist and the P4 protagonist are named "Minato Arisato" and "Yu Narukami" respectively, contrary to how Atlus usually names them "P3 Hero" or "P4 Hero" in official trailers. Though in later trailers, this is changed to the usual P3/P4 Hero.
    • Even more interestingly, due to the character limitations provided in the English localization, it's actually impossible to name either protagonist the above Minato/Yu (although Makoto/Souji is still possible).
  • Can't Drop the Hero: Whoever you pick as your protagonist cannot be swapped out of the party at all for the rest of their route. If you do a lot of level grinding and swap out the rest of your party a lot, this results in the protagonist being at least ten levels higher than them. While this is par for the course for all of the Persona games, it really sticks out in Q because all of the heroes have the same abilities (a main and secondary Persona) as opposed to the main character having many Personas and the rest having only one. This can become problematic if you don't use whoever the hero you didn't choose a lot; several of Elizabeth's requests require that only the P3 and P4 heroes fight together, and in order to get 100% completion, a New Game+ requires a playthrough for both routes.
  • Cartography Sidequest: Each floor save for the last one of each labyrinth has a chest that opens only when you cover every tile on that floor. You must actually step on every tile - just drawing it on the map doesn't count.
  • Cast from Hit Points: The physical skills, per series standards, though this time it's a fixed amount of HP rather than a percentage.
  • Clock Punk: The mysterious tower is filled with fantastical clockwork and gears.
  • Color-Coded Characters:
    • S.E.E.S. have light blue for the Persona 3 protagonist, pink for Yukari, dark blue for Junpei, red for Akihiko, magenta for Mitsuru, green for Fuuka, yellow for Aigis, brown for Koromaru, orange for Ken, and purple for Shinjiro.
    • The Investigation Team have gray for the Persona 4 protagonist, orange for Yosuke, green for Chie, red for Yukiko, purple for Kanji, pink for Rise, yellow for Teddie, and light blue for Naoto.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The game uses a lot of purple in its interface and art, to differentiate it from P3’s blue and P4’s yellow.
  • Creepy Doll: The doll F.O.E.s in the Evil Spirit Club. One in particular (known as the Old Doll, the one mentioned above in Camping a Crapper) is a pain to take down , in addition to being genuinely scary and appearing in a full-dialogue cutscene.
  • Cross Over: The full casts of Persona 3 and Persona 4 end up becoming involved in the mystery of the Labyrinth.
  • Crutch Character: When Zen and Rei join, they have the highest HP and SP in the party. This is because they're balanced with the Persona-users with Sub-Personas equipped, and Sub Personas aren't unlocked just yet. In addition, they carry a well balanced skill set, including various elemental attacks, a party wide heal and can regen SP while walking, making them a staple early in the game due to their versatility. However, as the game advances, their SP regeneration will have trouble keeping up, the lack of a Sub-Persona slot means one less Sub-Persona will gain EXP, and they cannot equip skill cards.
  • Cuteness Proximity: To no one's surprise, Kanji becomes enamored with Koromaru the moment they meet.
  • Cutting the Knot: There are plenty of navigational puzzles involving FOES that force the player to take a longer and/or planned route. Of course if you're strong enough, you could brute force your way through the FOES.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory: For those used to the Etrian Odyssey games, anyways. In EO, the X button zooms the map in and out, while the Y button opens the character menu. In PQ, it's the other way around.
  • Dead All Along: Rei or rather Niko.
  • Deadly Doctor: The plastic surgeon Shadows that are encountered in the final area of the third dungeon.
    "It's operation time~!"
  • Demonic Possession: During the last Elizabeth battle, she ends up getting possessed by Zeus.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Naoto, and only Naoto refers to FOE as "enemy FOE", as though there are some who would rather be your buddy.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: The Group Date Cafe's dialogue options are all filled with questions that determine who your "Destined Partner" are based on the choices. Thus, picking different choices each time you do it will result in different characters being your "Destined Partner". This includes males, and even Koromaru. For example, the first question asks if sexes matter, at which point you can say Yes or No. Saying Yes shuts down all male options while No allows guys to be picked. The developers even had the idea to allow you to do it again in case you didn't get the characters you wanted.
    • Some of the opening dialogue contains the Hero's Persona's name. The voiced dialogue changes to accommodate your ultimate Persona on a New Game+ even near the beginning.
    • Defeating FOEs during quests where characters suggest you stay away from them will have someone comment on it.
  • Dialogue During Gameplay: The characters are very chatty during battle and will often exchange comments or barbs with their allies on their performances.
  • Disc One Nuke: Shinkuuha. A strong Ranged attack that hits twice and deals STR-based Almighty damage for only 82 HP. It's available once your main character can fuse Matador at level 22, and it can be passed to nearly any physical-oriented Persona. And by the time skill card extraction becomes possible, money is easy to get, so you stick it on every physical attacker in the cast.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: A few cases:
    • The two protagonists. In their respective games, they both were Jack of All Stats charaters who used the power of the Wild Card, which let them use any Persona. In this game they're both locked into their starting Personas, meaning the P3 Hero specializes in Fire skills while the P4 hero uses Lightning. The P4 Hero, meanwhile, keeps most of his Jack of All Stats status, with all of them averaging around the same number, while the P3 Hero's stats are higher than average compared to the rest, with a heavy preference in magic and speed. This can be attributed to the fact that the P3 Hero has two weaknesses (one of them being the instant-kill dark element), whereas although the P4 Hero is weak to wind, he resists lightning attacks and outright blocks dark attacks.
    • Fuuka and Rise served practically the exact same role in their respective games, so now that they're in the same game they needed to be differentiated a bit. In this game, Fuuka specializes in healing support skills, while Rise's support skills are based around efficiency - her initial skill allows a party member to move first (useful for slower party members), and one of her more advanced skills completely cuts SP cost for that round.
    • An example dealing with personality rather than gameplay: both Shinjiro and Kanji were intimidating-looking guys with secret feminine hobbies in their respective games. But since Kanji's insecurity about his hobbies is a major part of his character, Shinjiro has become much more open about his to avoid coming off as too similar.
  • The Dividual: Zen and Rei function as a single unit in gameplay, even taking up only one character slot.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: Subverted. While gameplay is largely similar to Etrian Odyssey, Persona's influence goes beyond the visuals and story. You have fixed characters and Sub-Personas rather than a class system, a fusion system closer to a Shin Megami Tensei game than anything related to Etrian Odyssey, and elemental weaknesses play a HUGE role in combat in a way more similar to Persona. Visually, the differences are also more significant than putting in different assets: while they're not visible during enemy attacks or when you're selecting their actions, player characters in Persona Q appear whenever they make an attack of any kind, while in Etrian Odyssey the character sprite you chose for them during character creation is the only thing you see in the game.
  • Doomed by Canon: Since none of the events of this game are ever referred to in either P3 or P4, it's clear from the start that something will happen that will cause everyone to forget it occurred.
    • Both the P3 Hero and Shinjiro are fated to die in P3, long before the events of P4 occur. This creates a lot of Harsher in Hindsight moments.
  • Door to Before: "Shortcuts" in dungeons allow you to freely travel through certain walls, but only open up when you've been to both sides. Most of them serve this purpose, making floors easier to navigate on repeat visits. There are also one-way ones introduced later.
  • Do Not Spoil This Ending: Atlus has asked it's players not to upload gameplay footage online, and especially nothing from the Fourth Stratum onward (likely to involve a Wham Episode; see Four Is Death).
  • Dream Team: You can make a team of five composed of playable characters from both P3 and P4. 'Nuff said.
  • Eldritch Location: The Labyrinth of the Tower is a location outside reality where past and future can meet, filled with manifestations of the collective unconscious.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Played for Laughs with Mitsuru's executions, as usual. In one story sequence, she threatens to freeze Akihiko and Shinjiro while the two are arguing after being super-shrunken.
  • Flanderization: Unsurprisingly, since the game has Loads and Loads of Characters. Trying to fit in every aspect of characterization would be unwieldy, so the narrative focuses on the more colorful aspects of certain characters:
    • Akihiko's developed an obsession with protein (in P3, he mentioned protein precisely once) and has become increasingly focused on competition to Blood Knight levels.
    • Teddie has his Lovable Sex Maniac levels turned up higher than he was in P4.
    • Chie's obsession with meat, always a part of her character comes to the forefront with her, being the subject of a few quests, several strolls and dialogues.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • In-Universe, Margaret, being from the time of P4, is well aware of how P3 ends.
    • Mitsuru notes that since the Investigation Team are from their future with no knowledge of the Dark Hour, it must mean that they will succeed at eradicating it. What they're not aware of, is the price that must be paid for their victory.
    • In the P3 route toward the end of the game, Ken reconsiders getting revenge on Shinjiro. Unfortunately with the game being forgotten, October 4th still happens.
  • Foreshadowing: The opening song "Maze of Life" hints at the labyrinths being a metaphor for Rei's life and death.
    • If you look carefully enough, it's pretty much all over the place; in conversations between characters, the labyrinths themselves, the songs, etc., to the point that some events wouldn't be as much of a surprise or spoiler provided you're Genre Savvy enough.
  • Four Is Death: Four dungeons are foreshadowed in the opening sequence, and there are four locks on a pair of mysterious doors which appeared in the Velvet Room. The fourth dungeon reveals that a certain somebody is dead.
    • On a more minor note, the Evil Spirit Club is an exhibit made by 2nd Year class 4... despite there only being 3 2nd year classes at Yasogami High. Those who know Japanese culture will know this doesn't bode well.
  • Fragile Speedster: Ken, Koromaru, and Yosuke, in very different ways. Ken also fits in the Critical Hit Class category due to his high Luck stat (second after Teddie); he's fast and efficient in both the front and the back, and uses both Zio and Hama skills, but both his magic and physical stats are below average. Yosuke balances magic and physical attacks well, but has sub-par defense and the lowest luck score among the entire group. Koromaru, finally, is the fastest character of all and learns Mudo skills, but has subpar magic and luck.
  • Gaiden Game
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Often in labyrinths, there will be "no Shadows in the area" to provide an excuse so as to why the characters are talking to each other. You can still encounter Shadows in the room, though - you might even encounter some soon after you take a step after the cutscene.
  • Girls Are Really Scared of Horror Movies: Yukari, Chie and even Mitsuru are all terrified of the third labrynth, and Naoto also admits to being scared despite not outwardly showing it. Subverted with Yukiko, who finds the whole thing fun and, in some cases, hilarious. Downplayed in that most of the guys are scared too. (Aigis says Shinjiro and Kanji are the only two who don't have accelertated heart rates there)
  • Glass Cannon:
    • Mitsuru and Naoto are magical variants. Mitsuru learns Mind Charge by leveling up, while Naoto has both of the instant-kill elements, and also learns the Megido line of spells.
    • Chie is a physical version. She has very high physical stats, is one of your fastest characters, and can boost both her and the rest of the party's critical hit rate. Her defense and SP, however, are very low.
  • Grim Reaper: Zen used to be one of the Deities of Death, Chronos.
    • The highly powerful monster The Reaper appears again as well, as an FOE in the last dungeon.
  • Guns Akimbo: Automatic Crossbows, actually. How does Zen reload them anyways?
  • Hair-Raising Hare: The boss Best Friend (also known as Shadow Rei) is a large, demonic, white rabbit.
  • Hand Wave: When everyone gets their upgraded Persona. Shinjiro and Koromoru pass up on it because they don't want to change. Coincidentally, they're also the only ones who don't upgrade their Personas in their home game, for one reason or another.
  • Harder Than Hard: The game has one in the form of Risky difficulty. The main differences are that you cannot change difficulty setting if you select it and you get a Game Over if your leader dies. Which means the final boss has to be defeated in a very limited number of turns, since he hits the party with a countdown of instant death spell at the beginning of the fight. While revival items and skills do extend the counter, they won't last forever...
  • Hero Antagonist: Theodore in the Meat Jelly Mystery. There was no real theft, and the jelly was actually squashed by accident. However, Theodore took Chie's threat that she would kill Yosuke if anything happened to it literally and changed the crime scene to make it look as if it was stolen by someone other than Yosuke.
  • Heroic Mime: In typical Shin Megami Tensei fashion, your chosen protagonist counts. Averted with the protagonist opposite the one you chose, who has his own lines.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Zen is large and imposing, while Rei is petite and disarming.
  • Identity Amnesia: Zen and Rei do not remember who they are. Turns out Zen did it to Rei, while Zen's amnesia is self-inflicted.
  • Infinity–1 Sword: Armour recipes requiring Adamas Steel are expensive and give impressive stat boosts to the wearer, but better armour can be bought in the postgame after receiving the Fearsome Shard.
  • Infinity+1 Sword:
    • The Omnipotent Orb is an accessory that nulls all attacks completely, excluding almighty ones. It becomes a Bragging Rights Reward, albeit only if you didn't defeat a Zeus-possessed Elizabeth beforehand, or if you're generally playing the game on Risky. It's useful for power-leveling your party too. However, if you have it equipped during the Bonus Boss fight against all three Velvet Room siblings, they'll bypass its powers.
    • Two versions of Zeus can be fused after completing Elizabeth's final request in a postgame save file. Neither of them can be shared via Streetpass.
    • Compared to the main games, getting everyone's ultimate weapons, while a nuisance, is far easier; all of them require fusions from materials from both the Clock Tower and a material dropped from a Persona that was fused via sacrificial fusion (For example, using Loki as part of a sacrificial fusion to level up another Persona drops the "Trickster Shard" material). The "nuisance" part comes from needing the proper Personas to sacrifice - all of them are high-level Personas that will likely be of value to the player, and some of the material names are not very obvious in association with the Persona they are driven from (Kingu is needed to make Kanji's ultimate weapon, and the name of the material he drops is a broken tablet). It also doubles as a Money Sink, as all the weapons tend to average around 350-400,000 yen, on top of any expenses of getting any needed Personas from the Compendium. It's still far simpler though, and the Persona materials are not needed for anyone's ultimate armor.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: Remember the typhoon that put you out of action for a few days in Persona3, and led to the school cultural festival being cancelled? Turns out this game takes place during that time.
  • Interface Screw:
    • Two FOEs in the Group Date cafe can mess with your controls if they catch you in their sights - one reverses your controls, and the other forces you to step closer to the FOE.
    • At the end of one sidequest in the Evil Spirit Club, you're suddenly unable to move. The lights then go out, and your map suddenly shows that you're surrounded by six FOEs. They then disappear without explanation, the lights come on, and you're able to move again.
  • Interface Spoiler: If you view Zen & Rei's status screen, you'll notice that they're weak to Hama (Light) and resistant to Mudo (Dark). It makes sense when you find out that they're actually ghosts.
    • It's perfectly possible to get a Street-Pass entry of a save-file from during the period of the game when Rei has been removed from the party, spoiling that Zen eventually becomes a stand-alone party-member.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Parodied in one skit. In the third stratum of P4 route, P3 hero remarks the dungeon is especially obstructive, he might have to use his right eye. Yosuke latches at the idea said right eye is some kind of Magic Eye, only to be told that the dungeon is so dark and his Peek-a-Bangs only makes things harder.
  • Irony: Teddie has the highest luck stat of all party members. This is despite the fact that, despite his efforts, he's not likely to get lucky.
  • Jack of All Stats: The P4 Hero and Akihiko, both having stats that average somewhere in the middle. They also have a diverse movepool from the get-go (both have the Zio line of spells, the P4 Hero has a physical lightning attack and the Dekunda spell, and Akihiko has Tarunda and a counter attack spell that strikes an opponent if another party members gets hurt). their only major flaws are their lackluster SP pools.
  • Jump Scare: The FOEs in the Evil Spirit Club do this, not appearing until you get very close to them or cross over a certain point. The first time this happens, you get a skit in which some of your party members freak out over the FOEs' sudden appearance.
  • Large and In Charge: The Queen of Hearts commands such a large army of card soldiers that the supporting protagonist's team step in to distract the soldiers while the main protagonist's team fight the Queen herself.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Let's just say Mitsuru doesn't take kindly to Teddie hitting on her…
    • In another sequence, when a super-shrunken Teddie gets a peek up Yukiko's skirt, Yukiko finally has enough of Teddie's perversion and squashes him flat underfoot.
  • Last Lousy Point: The 100% Map Completion chests require you to step on every map tile at least once... including those patrolled by F.O.Es, or those with traps. Fortunately the chest will actually show you which areas you're missing, but sometimes figuring out how to get to those tiles without provoking the F.O.Es is a puzzle in itself.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The game makes no attempt to hide Naoto's sex, which is a pretty big reveal in Persona 4.
  • Lazy Backup: Since you can only take a team of five party members into the labyrinths at a time, it makes sense that if they're knocked out it's Game Over, right? Except for how cutscene events in the labyrinth establish that the entire team (of at least eight characters) went in together....
  • Lethal Chef: At one point in the P3 route, Yukiko and Shinjiro make cookies to cheer Rei up in the middle of the third stratum. Shinjiro's cookies are amazing, but Yukiko's cookies strike fear into everyone who looks at them. Naturally, Rei enjoys them. Rei gets Zen to try them too, but he takes one bite and goes catatonic. And then soon after, Rei passes out, too. Yosuke comments that Mystery Food X is now a delayed hallucinogenic, and Mitsuru says Yukiko's cooking technique could be used for combat purposes. If you know the plot twists of Persona Q, this means that Yukiko's cookies knocked out a ghost and the avatar of a Greek deity. If the rest of the cast ate the cookies, it's quite possible that they would have died.
    • If you picked the P4 route, the cast will be chased by an FOE in the fourth stratum instead. The group splits into a group for distracting the FOE, and one for attacking it - for which Naoto suggests to combine Fuuka's, Yukiko's, Rise's and Chie's cooking to use it as ammo for Zen's crossbow. It knocks out the FOE in one hit.
    Naoto: I call this, "Mystery Food X: The Final Edition"...
  • Lethal Joke Character: Teddie's stats and movesets are abysmal in comparison to everybody else, but smart players can take advantage of his high luck and use sub-Personas equipped with multi-hit skills to get criticals and take advantage of the boost system. This strategy actually makes his extremely low Speed stat helpful, as him attacking last in rounds that he scores critical hits in means the enemy will have no opportunity to break him out of the Boosted State, making 0 Mana/HP cost for his next move guaranteed.
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • The P3 Hero and Zen and Rei. Zen and Rei's stats are overall high, and can learn physical and support skills of varying kinds to compensate that they cannot equip Sub-Personas, and the P3 Hero's stats hover above the rest, with magic and speed being his best two, likely to compensate that he's weak to two elements.
    • The Fast Guy in the fourth dungeon, who can move multiple spaces at a time and will wipe the floor with you in most cirucmstances if he catches up.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Inverted. At the beginning of the game, your magic users are very powerful, as they can exploit elemental weaknesses to cast spells freely and wipe the floor with the shadows. However, at higher levels physical skills like ones with elemental effects, multi-hit attacks, and links become available, and magic becomes costly. Along with HP being far easier to recover than SP, this means that late-game, your physical attackers will be able to maintain a high damage output longer than your magic-users can.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition:
    • The game has the "The Wild Cards Premium Edition", it comes with a special 3DS XL case, art book, soundtrack CD, and physical representations of the tarot cards used in-game.
    • Separate from the game is a special edition themed 3DS... which for some bizarre reason doesn't come with the game.
  • Love Potion: A quest for the second dungeon has you finding this, requiring Teddie to be in the party. Teddie drinks most of it upon finding it and falls in love with Akihiko.
  • Magic Is Rare; Health Is Cheap: Prevalent. The number of ways to restore HP is far greater than the ways to restore SP, and the steep cost scaling for skills means that magic skills will be used less often.
  • Master of None: Teddie, whose only saving grace is his high luck stat (the highest among the party).
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Zen and Rei can have a large variety of connected meanings in Japanese, none of which turn out to be the actual meanings of the names. It turns out that "Zen" is actually spelt "Zhn" and the full form of Rei's name is "Philé" - The greek words for "living" and "beloved".
    • Rei's real name, Niko can be read as "the second". As in "the second child" as Niko had an older relative.
    • An ironic example happens with Yuki, a friend of Niko. The first time she is brought up, her name is written as "there is hope"... on a card which she wrote to Niko after she died.
  • Mighty Glacier: Junpei and Shinjiro. Shinjiro and Junpei are slow, but have very high physical attack and defense. Also, compared to his P3 counterpart, Shinjiro actually has passable magic.
  • Mission Control: Fuuka and Rise, as usual. Downloadable Content gives options with the four Velvet Room assistants and Nanako.
  • Money for Nothing: By the third labryinth, you'll be making hundreds of thousands of yen in one run, making the prices of healing and summoning compendium personas trivial.
  • Money Sink: A meta example of sorts: while most other games with features that use the system-generated Play Coins only take up to 10 of them at most, you can blow close to 300 of them, the maximum amount of possible that takes at least a month of consecutive daily walking, on a single locked chest if you're feeling exceptionally lazy and don't want to map out the rest of the floor.
  • Mood Whiplash: After a colorful dungeon full of uplifting, lighthearted shenanigans, you are made to deal with Rei's Shadow and the revelation that she's the ghost of a sick girl who spent almost her life in Inaba Municipal Hospital and died of a botched surgery.
    • On a non-spoilerific note, The Evil Spirit Club in comparison to the previous two dungeons, which also counts a minor Genre Shift from fairly lighthearted RPG to mild Survival Horror, complete with the occasional Jump Scare courtesy of F.O.E.s .
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The names of Akihiko's and Shinjiro's ultimate armor that they can get during the final stretch of the game are named the Sirius Suit and the Moon Haori, respectively. Sirius is a constellation and is described as "giving people hope, like a single star shining in the sky," and the Moon Haori is described as "bringing fear to those who see it." Akihiko and Shinjiro are the respective Star and Moon social links for the female protagonist route in the PSP version of Persona 3.
    • In the Investigation Team trailer, the protagonists make a call-back joke to the demon contracts in the main Shin Megami Tensei series.
    • The shooting gallery that includes figures of Vincent Brooks in his underwear among a lineup of sheep.
    • The question sections of the second dungeon, as well as the announcer referring to you as "stray lambs" or "stray sheep" and giving you morality/relationship-centered questions just screams Catherine.
    • A large number of the Group Date Café questions have one of these as a possible answer. For example, one of the questions in the second dungeon (What is the best way to convey your feelings?) features "Slug it out on a riverbank" as an answer, which is exactly how Yosuke tries to convey his feelings to the protagonist in Persona 4
    • The Bonus Boss Zeus is a huge nod to the Etrian Odyssey side of the game. He was designed by EQ artist, Yuji Himukai and was given a unique boss theme by EQ composer, Yuzo Koshiro. Finally, after being defeated, he invites the cast to go to a world under Yggdrasil of combat and odyssey; all of which describing the ''EQ' series in general.
  • The Nicknamer: Teddie, as usual. Here, he calls the P3 protagonist "Hancho" and Shinjiro "Gakky."
    • Rei nicknames everyone sans the protagonists and Zen in a very similar manner to how Teddie nicknames the girls.
  • The Noseless: The Super-Deformed art style makes most of the characters appear to not have noses.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: The usually unflappable Mitsuru screams her head off when she faces the Deadly Doctor Shadows referencing Mitsuru being experimented on by scientists under her Grandfather in the backstory of Persona 3.
    Mitsuru: STAY AWAAAAYY!!
  • Original Generation: Despite most of the cast being from Persona 3 and Persona 4, Zen and Rei are brand new characters who debuted in Q.
  • Out of Focus: The Persona team you don't pick gets reduced to tag-along status as the plot will revolve around the team that you did. They are barely even hinted at until you reach the first boss.
  • Panty Shot: Happens in You in Wonderland when SEES and the Investigation team run into the shrinking potion. It's averted in the P3 route, as Yukari immediately realizes what Junpei was intending to do with said potion, and takes the bottle from him and uses it on herself. Played straight in the P4 route, when Teddie (who drank the potion thinking it was a softdrink) looks up Yukiko's skirt, though we never see what he sees. When she realizes what the former was up to, she gets angry and almost steps on him, forcing the bear to flee in terror through the small door.
  • Power Up Letdown: Upgraded skills replace their weaker versions. Makes enough sense since they're more powerful... however, their cost is more than triple that of the vanilla skills. Thus while they'll do more damage, with the Boost system granting second-turn no-cost attacks, having the first turn attack be so expensive is less than ideal.
  • Prolonged Prologue: You have to go through the entire first dungeon before the game even becomes a crossover. Justified since having both parties plus Zen and Rei playable from the get-go would probably be pretty intimidating.
  • Reality-Breaking Paradox: One would assume characters from the year 2009 and the year 2011 meeting in a timeless margin-reality would cause this. It does. That's why their memories are erased and wiped clean of the game's events as soon as they step through the exit doors in the ending. The fear of causing one of these is also the reason Margaret forces herself to not tell Elizabeth about the P3 Hero's imminent death, even though she is close to spilling the beans a few times.
  • Recycled In Space: Main gameplay is practically Etrian Odyssey in a Persona flavor.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The protagonists have a bit of this going on. They're both the calm, collected leader-types; but the P4 hero has more assertive body language and is quite obviously "The Boss" of his crew, while the P3 hero leans more towards being The Quiet One and acts as the "pillar" of his team rather than leader. In the route where they can speak, P4 hero is more likely to make a quip, while P3 hero takes awhile to warm up. It goes to their teams too; Investigation Team's members take potshots at each other, more open about their secrets, and visibly laidback with it - while many of SEE's members are reserved, there's an air of professionalism between them, and even times where they're borderline hostile.
  • Ret Gone: In-universe, this is the fate of someone who dies in the margin. They'll be erased from existence altogether, as if they never existed. Such a fate awaits Rei near the end of the game, but the main characters risk themselves to prevent that from happening.
  • Running Gag:
    • Yukiko's beloved Groucho glasses make a comeback, with Yukari saying that they complement Junpei perfectly.
    • Margaret, a bearer of the Empress Arcana, being scary when pissed off? Been there.
    • A bit subtle, but P4 hero always land on his feet after falling from great height unlike the others. Watch everyone's reaction after falling from a trapdoor in the "Soulmate" minigame; he's the only one beside the Velvet Room attendants who's not dazed from the fall.
  • Scare Chord: Happens when you move next to the Lovely Doll FOEs and they pop up right in front of you.
  • Sibling Team: All three of the Velvet Siblings (Elizabeth, Theodore, and Margaret) appear in this game to help the heroes. Elizabeth and Margaret also act as a team to test the strength of the party in one request.
  • Sinister Silhouettes: The two casts first encounter their counterparts as shadowy looking figures… only for their respective protagonists to walk out of the shadows and introduce themselves.
  • SNK Boss: The bonus boss fight against all three Velvet Siblings. What makes it so flipping hard is that it's much like fighting an opposing team of player characters that have no limit to their SP; they will buff each other, remove each other's debuffs and revive each other to full whenever it's needed. If they're all alive for five consecutive turns, they'll even hit you with the All-Out Attack, which coming from the Velvet Siblings is not a laughing matter. Not only do you need to defeat them fast, you need to defeat them all within one or two turns of each other. And as usual, they don't take kindly to the Omnipotent Orb.
  • Socialization Bonus: StreetPassing with other Persona Q players will allow you to get a sub-persona from them.
  • Spiritual Sequel: Heavily borrows elements from the Etrian Odyssey series:
    • Players have to draw their own dungeon maps.
    • Identical dungeon navigation.
    • Uses the Etrian Odyssey 4 engine.
    • Five-character battle party.
  • Squishy Wizard: Yukari and Yukiko, both serving as The Medic and specializing in hard-hitting Garu and Agi skills, respectively.
  • Stealth Pun: That "Q" letter in the title is shorthand for meikyuu (迷宮), meaning labyrinth, in reference to how Sekaiju no Meikyuu, the Japanese title of the Etrian Odyssey series, is abbreviated as SQ. It also sounds similar to "cute" to reflect the characters' appearances.
    • The fourth dungeon "Inaba Pride Festival" require you to light torches to proceed. Considering the time of the day festivals tend to take place, you could say that you must "light the fire up in the night" to clear the last dungeon.
  • Stone Wall: Kanji and Aigis. While his physical stat is the highest overall, he's extremely slow and has very poor luck, although his Dragon Cry skill can help with the former. Aigis has among the highest Endurance of the party as well as being the only one to resist a physical element, and specialises in skills that have her taking attacks for other party members, but she's also slow and weak to Electric attacks.
  • Suddenly Voiced: The Persona 3 protagonist, who had no real spoken lines in his game, and didn't make any voiced appearances in any spin-off games either. Both characters are this at the end of their respective routes.
  • Super-Deformed: The entire cast appears as smaller, cuter versions of their regular appearances from Persona 3 and Persona 4.
  • Support Party Member: Rise and Fuuka, who also serve as dungeon navigators. Fuuka's support moveset revolves entirely around healing, while Rise's revolves around more efficient battles, including cutting SP costs.
  • Suspicious Videogame Generosity: If you encounter a save point in a labyrinth, you can expect a boss fight to be coming soon.
  • Time Travel: The tower allows the cast of Persona 3 from 2009 and the cast of Persona 4 from 2 years later to meet and team up. Which is why the P3 hero and Shinjiro are still alive.
  • Trademark Favorite Food:
    • Rei will eat anything that has flavor, but she likes corn dogs and takoyaki most of all.
    • Marie seems to be making a habit of chewing bubble gum.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Only mentioned, but the bundle of hair found in the third dungeon is what remained of Niko's long, blonde hair after her head was shaved for a treatment. This also serves as a subtle way to scale the amount of time Niko had spent in treatment, since by the time she died her hair had grown back to almost reach down to the floor, meaning there must have been quite a few years between the shaving treatment and her death.
  • True Companions: Even though this takes place before their heavy dosage of Character Development, SEES is this, compared to the Investigation Team. Having the P3 Hero as vice leader proves well that he trusts them, even though many of them aren't really friends. This, and their professionalism, is addressed by the Investigation Team in the P3 route, noting how calm and collected they are.
  • Unwinnable: There's exactly one part of the Group Date Cafe where it's possible to be trapped against a dead end by an F.O.E with no way out other than fighting it or using a Goho-M. If you don't have one of those on you when you're first exploring that dungeon, you'll probably have to reload a save. Then again, the game very clearly warns you if you try to enter a labrynth without any Goho-M in your inventory, so it's probably your fault if this ends up happening.
    • There's also the Evil Spirit Club and the second fight against Elizabeth. An F.O.E. blocks the door you came into, so if you don't have a Goho-M, you'll have to chance it against the F.O.E. and/or restart and fight Elizabeth again. Or so the devs want you to think.
    • It's also possible to do the same in general with F.O.E.s if you let any of them corner you leaving you with no way to get past them without a fight. Though the one above is the most blatant as it intentionally tries to trap you like that and the characters even comment on the situation.
    • In The Clock Tower it's possible to get caught moving from one web to another, which causes the FOE to continually fight you, even if you run. Since you can't even use a Goho-M, your choices are literally fight or die.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The casts of Persona 3 and 4 to Chronos. It drew all of them into the margin world in order to force them to go through the labyrinths and regain Zen's memories.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: The Investigation Team are very open with making pot shots to each other, even in dire situations, but they consider each other to be friends. Despite the vitrol, Yukari, a member of the all-too-professional and secretive P3 team, is jealous of how much stronger the P4 team's sense of camaraderie is, and on the P3 side, she gathers enough courage to address it, starting by calling out the third years for being secretive and maintaining an air of superiority over the rest of SEES. They take it surprisingly well, and the end of that route has SEES holding a dinner party.
  • What the Hell, Player?: On a space in the fourth dungeon, party members will talk at the leader if he neglected to level them up, just like in a Tales game.

Alternative Title(s):

Persona Q, Persona Q Shadow Of The Labyrinth