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Video Game / Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth

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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 Crossover 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 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)

A sequel named Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth was announced for November 2018, featuring the Phantom Thieves of Hearts teaming up with SEES (now including the female protagonist from Persona 3 Portable) and the Investigation Team.


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.
  • Afterlife Angst: Rei (aka Philei or Niko) suffers from this near the end of the story. It's not so much that she's scared of death, but she wonders what the purpose of her life was when it seemed to amount to nothing. She goes on to say that she had nothing (not her health, her hair, her friends, or her freedom), and even her mother abandoned her to die alone in the hospital. At that point, she wonders why she even existed at all. This is why she's a Big Eater, as it's a distraction from the reality that she's dead and doesn't need to eat.
  • 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, something that concerns Mitsuru on the P3 route until she hears more details. Since the Wild Card is now in a form that everyone can use, everyone else has gotten stronger while the Heroes have gotten nerfed.
    • Played with for Sub-Personas. All Sub-Personas have no stats of their own and only give an HP and SP boost to whoever equips them. The trade-off of Sub-Personas, though, is picking up six extra moves from them, which can also include passive abilities that block weaknesses. Later in the game, you can also extract skill cards from them and give up to four more moves to everyone's main Personas. Some Personas from prior games are genuinely nerfed, however: Kaguya, the ultimate Persona of the Aeon Arcana in Persona 4, is a mid-tier Moon Arcana Persona here, and Orpheus Telos gets bumped down to mid-tier as well, though in Orpheus Telos's case this is mitigated due to his healing capability in his unique move.
    • In the P4 manga, Best Friend is taken down after a fairly short battle, likely so that the chapter can focus on the Wham Episode that is Zen and Rei remembering who they are, and Rei being taken away.
  • Alice Allusion: The entire first dungeon, "You in Wonderland". It includes references to rabbits, clocks, card soldiers, painting things red, and shrinking down.
  • All Your Powers Combined: Mystery Food X: The Final Edition is a horrific mashup (literally) of Yukiko, Chie, Rise and Fuuka's respective horrible cooked food offerings. Not only does it generate a horrible stench and aura that makes Rei's eyes burn, but also can be used as a chemical weapon capable of killing an FOE in one hit.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Elizabeth's attempts to summon Zeus as a Persona go horribly awry, and she ends up overwhelmed by his power and possessed. Again, this is happening to ELIZABETH: feel free to snap trying to comprehend how powerful Zeus would have to be to accomplish something like that.
  • 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.
    • Firstly, in either side, Yosuke and Fuuka notice a spider crawling close to them, but they dismiss them and leave. Said spiders foreshadow their eventual journey to the other Yasogami High.
    • Secondly, in the third dungeon, another spider crawls around the group's feet and disappears. This probably is hinting at the fact the third dungeon holds the closest, painful memories Rei had about her last moments.
    • And lastly, everything goes to hell after Rei is kidnapped, with spider FOEs and the penultimate final boss appearing in the final labyrinth and even the small robot spider hanging from a web on the school's menu.
  • 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.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • If you don't have any Goho-Ms or if any of your party members (save for Zen and Rei) aren't equipped with a sub-Persona, when you try to explore a dungeon your Mission Control will ask you if you're sure you want to continue.
    • If you have a material necessary for a quest in your inventory when you enter the Workshop, Theodore will tell you to be careful to not sell it to him by accident.
    • Elizabeth will warn you if any timed requests are close to expiring you when you enter the Nurse's Office. Additionally, timed requests aren't based on in-game time, but rather by your progress in the game.
    • If you die, the game still allows you to save your map data by overwriting it, just in case you lose a battle after exploring a lot and don't want to forget where to go.
    • Your navigators will tell you when you're close to running out of inventory space, so you know when you should start heading back.
  • Ascended Extra: From a gameplay standpoint, Shinjiro, who was only a short-term party member in his core game before dying, but is playable for the entirety of this game.
  • As You Know: The team whose 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.
  • Badass Adorable: While the teams were already this, but 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.
  • Bad Liar: Whenever Mitsuru tries to deny she was scared or fell for a silly lie, everyone can see through it immediately, though sometimes they're nice enough to pretend to believe her until she's walked away.
  • Bag of Spilling: Despite taking place in the middle of P3 and P4, everyone only has starter-level equipment and are all at Level 1. The two heroes also only have their starter Personas.
  • Battle Theme Music:
    • "Light the Fire Up in the Night", which has a different instrumental part and vocalist depending on whether you pick the main character from Persona 3 or Persona 4.
    • The first three bosses use "Laser Beam", a track similar to P3's "Master of Tartarus", featuring a rap breakdown by Lotus Juice.
    • The fourth dungeon boss has a different theme called "Friends".
    • Mid-bosses, such as F.O.E.s, Elizabeth, and Margaret, use the oppressive and intense "F.O.E." theme.
    • A postgame battle against Elizabeth possessed by Zeus uses a unique theme called "Disturbances - The One Called from Beyond".
  • 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 strike poses reminiscent of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure's during their dramatic reveal.)
    Yosuke: Yo! Hope we didn't miss all the fun.
    • In the P4 manga, the rest of the party saves Zen, Rei and the P4 protagonist from the Kind Doctor this way.
  • Big Eater: Rei eats tons of snacks. She eats half a dozen scoops of ice cream in one scene, and she can even make corn-dogs magically appear out of nowhere.
  • Bland-Name Product: Mad Bull and Dr. Salt are both mentioned in this game (with Rei even providing a take on the Red Bull tagline - "Mad Bull gives you wins!" - in the P4 route), and during the wedding sequence in the second labyrinth, a few characters will refer to the fake photo as a "Photochop."
  • 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 Exhibit, complete with its own very Dark Reprise of the dungeon's main theme and a completely bleak atmosphere compared to the rest of it. (See Mood Whiplash)
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: 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 Café, 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 playthrough, there are multiple battles against Elizabeth and one battle against Margaret (which unlocks everyone'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.
  • Bookends: Nanako is present during the prologue and epilogue of Side P4. On both occasions, she almost address Kanji with Mister.
  • 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.
    • Orpheus Telos, a DLC mid-tier Persona of the Fool Arcana. He retains an extreme amount of value for his exclusive (and incapable of being passed down via fusion) move: Healing Harp, which is a souped-up version of Fuuka's regular healing spell: it heals HP to maximum, and gets rid of all binds (which reduces the odds of gitting hit with the same bind again) and status ailments for three turns. While the SP cost is immense, Boosting your character can mitigate that.
  • Boss in Mook's Clothing: FOEs are an enemy type that shows up on most levels. They aren't run into normally but rather a fight starts when you walk into one or vice versa on the map. Almost all of them have some kind of gimmick and while most ignore you and may not even move, some will chase you down. Two of them that are particularly notable are the Festival Dudes and the Reaper. The first has much more powerful attacks than even normal FOEs as well as the ability to fully heal itself whenever it pleases. To beat it, you basically need to come at them it with a special party you wouldn't normally think to usenote , which it accepts as a challenge and bars it from using Crazed Slash early on or Diarahan at all. The Reaper gets special navigator dialogue urging you to run immediately and for good reason: It's at least as strong as the final boss and can wipe you out in moments if you aren't prepared or get unlucky. Much of the final level is spent fleeing from, avoiding or blocking it so you can proceed.
  • Bragging Rights Reward:
    • The Omnipotent Orb returns as a reward for defeating The Reaper, in a quest that's only unlocked after beating the game. It makes the holder immune to everything except Almighty... of course, all the Bonus Bosses frequently use Almighty attacks, and equipping it during the final Velvet Siblings fight will, like in all previous games, result in them insta-killing you. Meaning the Orb is only really useful against regular enemies, which should pose no threat at this point.
    • The Reaper also drops a material that lets you craft armour that halves all stats but doubles Exp gained. Of course, by the time you're strong enough to beat it, it's unlikely you'll need to grind anymore.
    • The reward for beating all three Velvet siblings at once is the Ademas Bookmark item, which has a similar name to the item that lets you build the penultimate armor. However, the moment it's handed over it's admitted that there's nothing of any real value to give you anymore and that it does nothing.
  • 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, but this can help you easily reveal out-of-the-way tiles.
  • 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. As for Aigis, since she doubts you can support her weight, she carries you.
  • Buffy Speak: In her Group Date Café scenes, when Chie realizes the photo's probably manipulated she asks if it's "that photo changer... thingy".
  • But Not Too Gay: In the Group Date Café, 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).
  • But Thou Must!: No, you cannot prevent the Diarahan Zeus uses in his Bonus Boss fight even when dealing massive damage to his last digit to skip his more powerful form unless you Magic Bind him, he tries to use Diarahan but can't, and removes the invincibility flag himself to get pummeled down with Scratch Damage.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Theodore gets absolutely no respect from his sisters, who are borderline-abusive. One quest gives him a break, but only on the P3 route, and Marie still picks on him then.
    • Junpei gets both hit and talked down on by Yukari for his teasing and perverted comments. Both teams don't seem to take him seriously either, save Yu.
    • Kanji often finds himself the butt of a joke; people often make fun of him, Koromaru ignoring him, being used as an F.O.E. bait etc.
    • Teddie hardly gets respect as well, though his persistence for attention (particularly from the girls) doesn't help his case.
  • Call-Back:
    • Like in Persona 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 girl whose nihilism kicks off the main plot, and who joins the party in as an idealized (if amnesiac) version of her self.
    • When Chie introduces herself to S.E.E.S., Yosuke playfully says that her favorite food is pudding. In Persona 4: The Animation, Chie lied that her favorite food is pudding during the beauty pageant to which Yosuke called out her lie and the real answer is meat.
    • 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.
    • If you have Yukari in your party and encounter a Lexy/Calocy enemy she might comment on how cute it is and express a desire to have one to decorate her bag with. In the opening cutscene for Persona 3 there's a shot of a couple people with Lexy keychains on their bags. Curiously, Lexy-type enemies wouldn't appear until Persona 4.
  • Call-Forward:
    • Ken's interaction with Kanji as well as his awkward reaction whenever he is with Shinjiro foreshadows his intention to kill Shinjiro.
    • Margaret is about to tell Elizabeth the reason she leaves the Velvet Room but chose not to.
    • Akihiko will sometimes comment about the cape Phantom Mage Shadows wear, which he eventually wears in Persona 4: Arena.
    • Chie and Akihiko having a student-teacher relationship due to their shared interests in meat and fighting.
    • The Labyrinths are essentially a massive Palace. The students around the school are mostly non-responsive background props based on how they're thought to be. The nature of the place changes bit by bit based on new information presented to the owner. The whole place begins to collapse after all of the Treasures have been taken. And finally the whole place is based around Rei's extreme desire to have lived a life that meant something.
  • 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). The English manual uses shortened versions of their most popular names - "Minato Risato" for the P3 Hero and "Yu Rukami" for the P4 Hero - as due to character limits, it's impossible to fit those names in full. Funnily, "Rukami" isn't even a real name.
    • 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.
    • 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). That said, it's mostly because of a programming quirk caused by Japanese names being spelled by syllable (i.e., it's possible to call them Minato Arisato and Yu Narukami if it's typed in hiragana).
  • 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, a major power boost requires both heroes at level 55, and in order to get 100% completion, a New Game+ requires a playthrough for both routes.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: When you pair your protagonist with a girl from their own game in the Group Date Café, you're guaranteed to watch said girl struggle with the sudden quasi-romantic situation. All Played for Laughs, of course.
    • Rise, Aigis, Elizabeth, and Margaret will be more open with their feelings than the rest, but all have personal reasons for being unable to outright say it.
    • Yukiko and Fuuka won't be able to pretend they're not enjoying the situation, but neither is emotionally ready to admit to their feelings.
    • Chie, Yukari, and Naoto will be dying of embarrassment the whole time. It doesn't help that all are particularly prone to putting their foot in their mouth while trying to deny their feelings or justify their reactions.
    • Mitsuru won't understand why she's getting so flustered, but will note that she feels at ease with the P3 Hero. Interestingly, her Social Link won't be open for another two months.
    • Marie will barely understand what's going on in the first place. All she knows is that she wants to dance with the P4 Hero like she saw on TV once, but she can't even admit to that.
  • 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 have to physically step on every tile, besides ones inhabited by stationary FO Es (which you won't be strong enough to defeat the first time you come across).
  • Cast from Hit Points: The physical skills, per series standards, though this time it's a fixed amount of HP rather than a percentage.
  • Character Development: Zen and Rei both through their fair share.
    • Zen starts as a Literal-Minded person to a person who cares deeply about the emotions of others. Turns out this is a huge improvement unlike how he used to be a merciless god of time who didn't care much about his dead visitors.
    • Rei starts as a Cheerful Child with a voracious mind, from a very much resentful dead Ill Girl who thrashes about her event-less life, to finally accepting the fact she lived her life as she could and happily finds solace in the afterlife with Zen by her side.
    • Additionally, each route tends to lean towards some specific characters more than the others (though this development is of course Doomed by Canon). On the P3 Route, it's Yukari who tries to get Mitsuru, Akihiko, and Shinjiro to be more open to their younger members and stop being so secretive, something that requires her to find the courage to express herself to them. On the P4 Route, it's Kanji who frequently tries to get Ken to open up to him...and succeeds, which indirectly causes Ken to reconsider his revenge plot even more than in the P3 Route. This route also has Teddie constantly butting heads with Koromaru, as many of the Stroll options revolve around them.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Remember the watering can you found in the first labyrinth for watering a flower? Well, during the happi sidequest in the fourth labyrinth, it comes up again as something to wash off the happi with.
  • Climax Boss: The Best Friend, fought at the end of the fourth dungeon, is accompanied with great revelations before and after the fight, setting the endgame into motion.
  • 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.
  • Continuity Nod: The game makes many references to smaller events in P3 and P4.
    • Twice, Yosuke brings up the ending of his social link, where he fights it out with Yu.
    • When discussing Elizabeth's positive qualities, Margaret mentions that she waters flowers, cleans public bathrooms, and feeds stray cats. All of these are requests you get from her in P3.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: Averted, leading to a very clear demonstration as to why most games don't let you do this.
    • There are three FOEs in the Evil Spirit Club, two of which will chase you down while the third is a glorified roadblock. While the roadblock is immune to instant kills, the other two are only immune to darkness while being slightly vulnerable to light. Thus, if you don't feel like avoiding them it's pretty easy to just start the fight, throw a Hama spell or two and then run away before it has a chance to retaliate, even on Risky difficulty if you brought Vanish Balls.
    • More than that, there are very few bosses or FOEs that are immune to to status effects like panic or poison. The latter is very powerful up until the late game as a way to greatly increase your damage while the former is a near complete disable. Both types of spells are also much cheaper to cast than offensive magic and have numerous supporting skills like Death's Scythe or Circle Recovery. Binds can also trivialize encounters by disabling their attacks or making it very difficult for bosses to hit you while at the same time forcing them to go last and making all your attacks hit, turning skills like Myriad Arrows into gamebreakers. Even the final boss, the three toughest FOEs, Zeus and the Velvet siblings are vulnerable to panic.
  • Crack Pairing:
    • Happens In-Universe at the end of the Group Date Café. You can be paired with anyone, including Koromaru.
    • Another In-Universe example occurs during the 3rd dungeon on the P4 route, where Yukiko reveals she's a Shipper on Deck for... Kanji and Rise, of all people. Chie points out how little sense that makes.
  • 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.
  • Crossover: The full casts of Persona 3 and Persona 4 end up becoming involved in the mystery of the Labyrinth. (Excepting the Female Protagonist of Persona 3 Portable, as the Shared Universe established by Persona 4: Arena canonizes the P3 hero as male. She appears in the game's sequel.)
  • Cuteness Proximity: To no one's surprise, Kanji becomes enamored with Koromaru the moment they meet.
    • Kanji again, after Teddie drinks the "Drink Me" Shrinking Potion in You in Wonderland.
      Kanji: H-He fits in my hand... *picks up Teddie* Aaaaagh! Oh, I'm gonna die of sugar shock!
      Teddie: Noooooo! Please don't toy with meeee!
    • Then Zen causes Kanji to accidentally drink the potion himself, and the girls are too enamored with both of them to discuss who else should drink it to get the key they need.
  • 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.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: In a quest in the Evil Spirit Club, Aigis buries an item and has Teddie and Koromaru compete to find it. Teddie ends up winning, and the prize turns out to be a ham. Rather than keep it for himself, Teddie gives it to Koromaru. Koromaru happily eats it, and then says something to Teddie, which Aigis translates:
    Aigis: He says that you are a wonderful person, Teddie. He has a newfound respect for you.
    Teddie: R-Really!? How much!?
    Aigis: If we say that he started out with zero respect for you, now it is at a three.
    Teddie: H-How much of an improvement is that?
  • 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: The Ill Girl 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~!"
  • Deconstruction: The fourth boss, Shadow Rei/Best Friend, deconstructs the idea of Shadows in general. Shadows are physical manifestations of a person's repressed emotions and desires, and the Investigation Team all gained their Personas by acknowledging and accepting theirs, but Best Friend isn't just teenage desires and confusion — it's death. Accepting your flaws is one thing, but accepting that your life has ended (and in Rei's specific case, also amounted to nothing) is quite another. Like Mitsuo in Persona 4, Rei rejects her shadow even after it's defeated and it just fades away, and Rei after getting her memories back is every bit an emotional wreck as when she first met Chronos.
  • Demonic Possession: In the postgame. 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.
    • Also counts as Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs for veteran Etrian Odyssey players, where the FOE acronym had a different meaning, and in the original Japanese release was simply "Field-On Enemy".
      • It's also a case of Wrong Genre Savvy, as passive FOEs that will never chase you exist in the Etrian Odyssey series. There's even one type that runs away from you.
  • Developers' Foresight: The Group Date Café'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.
    • After the first two questions, the choices boil down to locking in 1 of 5 characters. If you deliberately avoid an answer to lock in one of those 5, the 9th and 10th questions will be different to present new options where each one (except a "Someone else" answer in Question 9) to lock in a character.
    • 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.
    • After everyone gets to have their upgraded Personas, both Shinjiro and Koromaru turn the offer down due to their personal reasons, but you can still upgrade to their fourth moves anyway, referencing the fact that both of them are the only members of S.E.E.S. to not attain a second Persona from their home game. As consolation, both Castor and Cerberus gain new artwork to indicated their ascended status.
    • HP and SP values are separate from your character and their Sub Personas, meaning that it's quite possible to use magic and healing in battles to avoid premature death sentences in case you already wasted too much native HP and SP.
    • On the P4 side, Kanji had accidentally taken a piece of clothing from a FOE that had grabbed him. If you even know this before he reveals it, you can plainly see the FOE lost the clothing while holding him captive, though Kanji's body barely blocks where it used to be.
    • After Rei is taken captive for the final dungeon of the game, if you ever decide to go into a previous labyrinth, Zen will still comment on every singular enemy with new dialogue.
    • On the topic with dialogue, after passing certain events, more party combinations will yield different conversations in battle.
  • Dialog 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.
  • Dissimile: When you fully map out a floor and Elizabeth is your narrator, she may say, "It seems you know this floor like the back of your head!" (rather than "hand")
  • 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. Giving the P3 Hero stat bonuses was probably done to make up for having the most elemental weaknesses of the entire party, being weak to both lightning and darkness.
    • 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.
  • 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 dungeon 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.
  • Eldritch Location: The alternate Yasogami High is a location outside reality where past and future can meet, filled with manifestations of the collective unconscious.
  • Escape Battle Technique: The Smoke Ball. There is also the Sukatora Foot navigation spell, which can be used to escape battle and bring you back to the entrance of whatever floor you're on.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": With the protagonists' names being yours to decide, there are a few ways the rest of the cast address them without saying their name.
    • The P4 protagonist is referred to as Senpai by Kanji, Rise and Naoto, Partner by Yosuke, Sensei by Teddie, and Leader by the P3 cast.
    • Likewise, the P3 protagonist is referred to as Leader by all other party members.
    • The protagonist you didn't pick to play as will go by Vice Leader in battle. Marie calls them Vicey.
  • 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:
    • Continuing the trend from other side materials, Akihiko's liking of protein and training is exaggerated to almost being his only character trait.
    • Teddie has his Lovable Sex Maniac levels turned up higher than they were in P4. Not helped that he's taken from the point where he's at his most immature in P4 either.
    • 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.
  • Flat "What": Junpei does this on the Persona 3 route if the two MCs trade Persona fusion quotes, asking if they're doing a secret handshake greeting.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: Amusingly, no; if anything it's inverted. Fuuka, Chie, Yukiko and Rise are terrible cooks whose cooking is effectively poison; Yukari only has basic cooking skills. Naoto, the least feminine of all the girls, does it better, but only because she follows directions competently. Only Shinjiro and Kanji, the teams' resident dudes with a little girliness in them, are portrayed as decent cooks.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • Margaret is aware of how Persona 3 ends, and struggles briefly with the question of whether to tell Elizabeth about it to avoid losing her.
    • 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, and becomes cautiously optimistic about the future as a result. 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.
      • A particular example comes during a Stroll while exploring the Evil Spirit Club. Junpei tells one of his usual horror stories with Rei present, but when he's done and the group chides him for scaring them, Rei seems particularly curious about how the girl in the story died. Junpei, thinking he needs to calm her down, makes up a half-baked excuse to turn the ending into a happy one where no one died, and Rei immediately accepts it.
    • Zen learns Guiding Sword and Guiding Staff, two support skills that affect a whole row of characters. Curiously, when the moves are used instead of showing Zen executing the moves it shows Rei doing her standard support move animation with Zen standing nearby. As it turns out, Rei has no magical skills, all of her powers are actually Zen's powers and only work when he's close by.
  • 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 in Persona 4.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You:
    • In 3D mode, the game uses a standard pop-in effect, as if you're looking into a box, unlike games like Super Mario 3D Land which let you choose between pop-in and pop-out. This is used to vicious effect when battling Best Friend, as some of its attack animations have it walk up to the screen, reach over the health bars of the party and go into pop-out 3D to bite or swing at YOU, the player.
    • Downplayed in 2D mode, where only the Interface Screw is noticeable, naturally.
  • Fragile Speedster: Ken and Koromaru. Ken is fast and uses both Zio and Hama skills, but both his HP and endurance stats are below average. Koromaru, is the fastest character in the game and learns Mudo and Agi skills, but has subpar endurance.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes:
    • Nobody actually seems to like Elizabeth apart from Margaret and maybe the protagonist. As a result they seem to do their best to avoid her.
    • Teddie is also constantly shut down or insulted throughout the game, though given that he's at the most annoying part of his entire character arc it does make sense.
    • Marie, who's Tsundere and writes terrible poetry. In the 4th dungeon, the teams wonder how the navigators are doing. Rise says that it's "really annoying" that they have to deal with Marie and Margaret all the time — Yosuke responds that it sounds like hell. The only people who don't mind her poems are Theodore and Rei.
  • Gaiden Game: The plot of the game has nothing to do with the main plots of either Persona 3 or Persona 4.
  • 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.
    • One event is a guaranteed encounter with a Golden Hand. Although it is early in the game, you can still beat it if you have to right skills.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: All of the labyrinth guardians in the game, especially the first three, most certainly felt this way when you first encounter them. Subverted, as they are all there for a reason that is not explained until the endgame.
  • Girls Are Really Scared of Horror Movies: Yukari, Chie, Rei and even Mitsuru are all terrified of the third labyrinth, 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 accelerated heart rates there)
  • Glass Cannon:
    • Naoto and Ken are magical variants. Both Naoto and Ken are incredibly frail, with some of the lowest HP and Endurance in the game by far. That said, Naoto and Ken both have access to instant-kill skills, which are a very effective in this game (Naoto also learns the Megido line of spells). Furthermore, their high Speed and Luck make them ideal Status effect users.
    • Turned Up to Eleven with the Body-Soul Reverse accessory. It inverts the HP and the SP of the user, giving them massive SP pools but turning them into near One-Hit Point Wonders. Pretty useful for characters on the back row with costly spells, like the aforementioned Naoto.
  • Grim Reaper: Zen used to be one of the Deities of Death, Chronos, deciding to stay with Rei until she could find the meaning to her life, Chronos created the labyrinths, sealed half of his power in the clock tower, and then removed his own memories creating Zen and the Clockwork God
    • The highly powerful monster The Reaper appears again as well, as an FOE in the last dungeon.
  • Guide Dang It!: Like with the third and fourth Persona games, there are several Personas that can only be made through specific fusion combinations that the game doesn't tell you about, and which aren't even shown in the compendium until you fuse them- for example, to get Michael, you have to fuse Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel.
  • 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- Shinjiro dies and Koromaru never experiences any personal epiphanies.
  • 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.
  • Hypocrite: Downplayed, but Yukari complains about the third-years of SEES not being open with the younger members, while she herself is reluctant to share her feelings on this regard with others. Rise calls her out on this, and tells her that she must make her feelings known if she wants things to change.
  • 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.
    • Each character has their own unique ultimate weapon and a unique high level armor, though inferior to the actual ultimate armor. All these weapons and armor require you to defeat some of the strongest FOEs in the game as well as use sacrificial fusion to retrieve unique materials from the likes of Kingu or Michae, then give those materials to Theodore. After that, the ultimate weapons can be bought as much as you wish, though they're quite expensive.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Mitsuru comes across as very perfect and having it all together most of the time, but she actually has really bad social skills. She hasn't the faintest idea that she's constantly upsetting Yukari and, more comically, simply assumes that the school the game seems to take place in must be some kind of exaggerated rundown garbage heap before other characters awkwardly clarify that it's an almost perfect copy of the real Yasogami high- as they point out, a rural school like Inaba is nowhere near as modern as Gekkoukan.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: Remember the typhoon that put you out of action for a few days in Persona 3, 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 Café 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 Rei is actually a ghost and Zen is actually a god of death.
    • 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.
    • If you're diligent in filling maps 100% and getting the related completion chests, you can unlock a weapon for Zen before the Fouth Dungeon's boss, the Clock Hand the description of which name drops the final boss "The Clockwork God", as well as hinting to Zen's true nature as being one half of the God Chronos.
    • Rei learns far fewer skills than Zen does, and learns her final skill at level 36 as opposed to Zen learning his final skill at level 63. That's a good clue that she ends up leaving the party.
    • Averted in regards to the Enepedia. It will not show the enemies from the Clock Tower until you actually reach that dungeon.
  • 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.
    • In the P3 route, the same line is available as one of the reactions to Elizabeth's challenge. In this case, it is the P4 hero that is impressed.
  • If It's You, It's OK: Kanji, despite being something of a Armoured Closet Gay in 4 puts up no protest if he's paired with the P4 Hero in the Wedding Event. In fact, he gets excited if the P4 Hero acts supportive to the idea.
    • Yosuke has a similar reaction, cementing the idea that he is bi in the fandom's eyes.
  • Irony: Teddie has extremely high luck in comparison to most characters (the 2nd highest, after Ken). This is despite the fact that, despite his efforts, he's not likely to get lucky.
  • It's All Upstairs from Here: The fifth and last labyrinth: the Clock Tower. Even Akihiko points out it surpasses the other labyrinths in the number of floors it has over them.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: The P4 Hero and Zen and Rei. The P4 Hero's stats are evenly balanced, with just enough Agility to outspeed most enemies, just enough Luck to abuse status effects and just enough Strength/Magic to be used as a solid physical/magical attacker. Zen and Rei's stats are all high, and can learn physical and support skills of varying kinds. Their inability to equip Sub-Personas prevents them from being Lightning Bruisers.
  • Jerkass Realization: Halfway through the clock tower, Yukari admits that her hostility with Mitsuru was largely based on her own daddy issues and that even if Mitsuru and Akihiko had opened up to her, she probably would have rejected their overtures anyway.
  • Jump Scare: The FOEs in the Evil Spirit Club do this if you're looking in the direction they spawn, 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 stomps the ground hard enough to cause a shockwave and knock him over.
  • 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, unless you use Play Coins.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The game makes no attempt to hide Naoto's sex, which is a pretty big reveal in Persona 4. On the other hand, the P3 cast doesn't find out until early on in the second dungeon.
  • 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 low Agility to abuse the Sleep Lock strategy. Since he will almost always move last, he can end turns by potentially putting all enemies to sleep, giving his teammates the ample opportunity to attack unsuspecting enemies or even set up their own strategies. In fact, should his teammates manage to wake up all enemies on the following turn, Teddie can potentially put his enemies to sleep again and repeat the process ad infinitum (enemies that wake up after being put to sleep lose a turn, hence the name, "Sleep Lock"). He also functions as a decent substitute for Fuuka, as his high MP pool makes him a solid end-of-turn healer. Alternatively, one may equip him with the En-Lu-Reverse, which exchanges Endurance and Luck stats, turning him into a Mighty Glacier, though at the cost of losing his accessory-slot.
  • Lighter and Softer: In contrast to Persona 3. Then again, this is before Shinjiro's death and Itsuki's betrayal.
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • The P3 Hero and Akihiko. Akihiko excels in nearly every single stat. He's physically strong, with high Agility and decent SP (unlike most physical attackers, who are slow and lack SP) and his magic is competent (in addition to learning the useful Tarunda skills). His only drawback is that he doesn't naturally learn physical skills. 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.
  • Lost in Translation: The title is meant to be a play on Sekaiju no Meikyuu ('Q' is pronounced the same way as kyuu), but the average Western fan won't get this, as Sekaiju no Meikyuu is localized as Etrian Odyssey outside of Japan.
  • 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 second 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. Kanji is also one of the slowest party members, but hits like a truck and has high natural defenses. He does have Dragon Cry to get around that problem, though, by letting him act first every round for three turns.
  • 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, with energetic music, you proceed to its final floor, where everything is devoid of its former energy and the music is a somber piano piece. It is also there where 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 .
    • Despite everyone having their share of laughs, tragedy awaits both casts after they return to their original timeline, considering that the they are only a few days away from said tragedy to occur. (Shinjiro's death for P3 and Nanako's kidnapping for P4)
  • Moveset Clone: Of a fashion. Both the Persona 4 Protagonist and Junpei can wield two-handed swords, while Yosuke and Koromaru share knives. Thus, each of them can use any weapon within that category save for their own individual Infinity One Plus Sword.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • While the gameplay is similar to that of Etrian Odyssey, it is also the first game since the first Persona that uses first person perspective during exploration as well as the use of multiple Personas for people besides the main character since the second game.
    • 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.
    • When Rise introduces herself in the P3 route, Junpei notes that the name sounds familiar (Rise's Idol career was just starting to take off during the events of Persona 3).
    • 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.
    • One of Yukiko's ghosts stories in the third labyrinth is a description of Hisano Kuroda, the P4 Hero's Social Link to the Death Arcana. On the P4 route, he can chime in that he knows who Yukiko is talking about. On the P3 route, the P3 Hero can mention his encounters with Pharos, his own Social Link to the Death Arcana.
    • 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 official fanbook of the game reveals that he is actually a Yggdroid - one of twelve superior ones, even.
  • The Nicknamer: Teddie, as usual. Here, he calls the P3 protagonist "Hancho" ("Boss" in the localized version) and Shinjiro "Gakky." He also calls Mitsuru "Mit-chan", Fuuka "Fuu-chan", Yukari "Yuka-chan", and Akihiko "Akky".
    • Rei nicknames everyone sans the protagonists and Zen in a very similar manner to how Teddie nicknames the girls.
    • Junpei calls Naoto "Nao-cakes", while Chie called Akihiko "Master".
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Yukiko has multiple field days at the Evil Spirit Club, much to the chagrin of the other girls.
  • Noodle Implements: The artifacts Elizabeth lists off as being the key to creating the ultimate person.
    "The Burning Ears that will hear all... Duck Lips to seduce any man... And the Evil Eye I have just obtained."
  • Noodle Incident: In the "You in Wonderland" labyrinth, when Teddie offers to take over map-drawing duty to show off his 'amazing art skills,' Yosuke shoots him down, recalling an unknown incident when Teddie designed a Junes flyer advertising a sale. The customers called it cursed and never came, and Yosuke's father called it 'legendary,' which Yosuke says was referring to how much their sales plummeted.
  • No Ending: The manga for the Persona 3 side abruptly ends after the Group Date Café, less than halfway through the game.
  • No Name Given/Only Known by Their Nickname: The two protagonists are only referred to as either "Leader" or "Vice Leader" in the manga adaptation. In the game, whoever the player character selects is considered as "Leader" while the opposite protagonist is the "Vice Leader". The younger Persona 4 heroes (Kanji, Naoto and Rise) use "Senpai" to refer to the P4 Hero. Teddie uses "Sensei" for the P4 Hero and "Boss" for the P3 Hero.
  • The Noseless: The Super-Deformed art style makes most of the characters appear to not have noses.
  • Not So Above It All:
    • Naoto and Mitsuru manage to hide their fears during the Evil Spirit Club much better than Chie, Yukari, and Rei, but when an FOE is advancing on them and the only course of retreat is into the men's restroom, they panic just as much as the other three.
    • Shinjiro likes to think he's more mature and sensible than Mitsuru and Akihiko, but he easily gets baited by Akihiko's childish taunts and ends up competing in silly ways.
  • 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. This becomes problematic during later portions of the game when events that can only happen on certain routes creep their way into battle dialogue and Stroll conversations. For example, in the fourth dungeon during the P3 route, Yukari will call out SEES' third years for acting bossy and secretive, and in turn, she and Mitsuru begin to get along better. Later Stroll conversations reflect this, and their battle dialogue updates to feature friendly dialogue between them. The dungeon conversation does not happen at all in the P4 route, but their dialogue eventually creeps in, leaving the player to question why the heck Mitsuru is all of sudden looking out for Yukari, whereas she didn't before. The P4 equivalent in this case would be Kanji and Ken bonding with one another.
  • Poor Communication Kills: It was a big issue throughout Persona 3 that Mitsuru was distant towards the younger students and seemed to be hiding things from them, for which Yukari resented her, fairly or not. They eventually got over it after the death of Mitsuru's father and the related developments, but Q takes place before that. Throughout the game, Yukari can be seen stressed out at how much better the P4 group gets along but is too afraid to open up about it, an issue she admits herself. When she eventually does, though, it's cleared up in a single short conversation, meaning the biggest source of character drama in SEES could have been avoided if people would just talk to each other a little more.
  • Power Perversion Potential:
    • During the P4 route, when he drinks the shrinking potion in You in Wonderland, Teddie uses it to his advantage by looking up Yukiko's skirt... and nearly gets stomped on for it.
    • In the P3 route, Junpei initially wants to drink the potion so he can also look up the girls' skirts, but Yukari catches on and refuses to let him do so.
  • 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.
    • Several Sub-Personas have an Absorb (Element) passive which is great for covering weaknesses. However, if a Boosted character absorbs an incoming attack, they still lose their Boost. This doesn't happen if an attack gets blocked or misses completely, so it's more efficient to use negation accessories or inflict an Agility Bind than use a skill slot for the Absorb passives.
  • Practice Target Overkill: After Naoto demonstrates her marksmanship in the shooting gallery, Aigis uses her Finger Firearms to completely destroy the wooden targets.
  • 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 and Elizabeth's subsequent departure from the Velvet Room, even though she is close to spilling the beans a few times.
    • One of the Strolls plays with this: some of the S.E.E.S. members question how 2011 will look like and ask if there will be things like flying cars. Naoto is a bit hush on the details, since flying car prototypes created by the Kirijo Corporation do exist, and spilling the beans might alter the course of history.
  • 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 S.E.E.S.'s members are reserved, there's an air of professionalism between them, and even times where they're borderline hostile.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Somewhat averted. Apparently Theodore is in the Velvet Room the entire time (albeit in a separate room) during Persona 3 even though Theodore only appears in the non-canon female protagonist route.
  • Required Party Member: Some requests require you to have a certain member in your party in order to complete it. For example, one request to investigate part of the Evil Spirit Club requires you to put Yukiko in your party. The battle against Margaret that allows the party to awaken to their Ultimate Personas requires that only both main protagonists show up to face her.
  • 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.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: As much as a human Aigis can be, she is still made of several tonnes of metal, meaning there is no way either protagonists are capable of lifting her bridal style like the other girls in the Group Date Cafe. Instead she is the one who carries them.
  • 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.
  • Sad Clown: Junpei covers up his insecurities by making light of everything and always treating everything as a joke. In particular, he admits he was also bothered by the upperclassmen's distance but just avoided the problem with humor.
  • Scare Chord: Happens when you move next to the Lovely Doll FOEs and they pop up right in front of you.
  • Separated at Birth: Junpei speculates that Kanji and Theodore look a little too much the same. This thrills Theodore so much that he goes on a long tangent on how he wants to get even with his tyrannical dividing the punishment he gets with Kanji.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: At the end of the story, none of the P3 or P4 cast remember a thing, their character development is basically undone and the P3 Hero and Shinjiro will be dead within a year.
  • Ship Tease: The Group Date Café is made for this. Pair up the P3 or P4 Heroes with a girl from their native games and just watch the romantic awkwardness unfold.
  • 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. Of course all three get together to kick your ass, but only at the end after a New Game+ in which you've finished both routes.
  • 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. Most Western fans won't get this.
    • The fourth dungeon "Inaba Pride Festival" require you to light torches to proceed. Considering the time of the day festivals tend to take place (the floors are called "nights"), you could say that you must "light the fire up in the night" to clear the last dungeon.
  • Stone Wall: Aigis is built to be the party tank with natural high endurance and reasonable strength, but very low speed. She also learns skills like Swordbreaker to reduce the power of physical attacks to her row and Life Wall to redirect damage the party takes to herself. She also uses ranged weaponry, meaning she gets further defensive boosts from being in the back row.
  • Story Branch Favoritism: The game allows you to chose the P3, or P4 protagonist as the main character, but the game heavily favors the P4 cast. Various plot-points are direct references to P4, the setting is a variation of the games school setting, and the P4 side has several unique events that are not given a equal event for the P3 cast.
  • Suddenly Speaking:
    • 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. He wouldn't get more speaking appearances until Q2 and Dancing in Moonlight.
    • Both characters are this at the end of their respective routes.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: The P3 and 4 Heroes work on frighteningly similar wavelengths.
    • In the P3 manga, the two cause an awkward moment during introductions when they casually bring up that they can't switch Personas; something they both neglected to tell the others.
      P4 Hero: I got careless.
      P3 Hero: Sorry.
      Yukari: Your leader is a lot like ours.
      Chie: Yeah, I guess so.
    • Similarly, Chie is the only person capable of understanding Akihiko's odd usage of words.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
    • As mentioned above, the two protagonists have more in common aside from bearing the Power of the Wild Card.
    • Yosuke and Junpei's similar role as the team's comic relief has Chie compared them with each other. They even have a frenemy relationship with Chie and Yukari respectively, as pointed out by Fuuka.
    • Kanji and Shinjiro: While appear to be tough guys, they have a rather soft spot for animals and interests in housework. Yukari and Junpei even note how similar those two are.
    • Akihiko and Chie, the Dumb Muscle of their respective teams who are obsessed in meat and martial arts.
  • Super-Deformed: The entire cast appears as smaller, cuter versions of their regular appearances from Persona 3 and Persona 4.
  • Super Gullible: Mitsuru actually falls for some of the really stupid lies and jokes people tell and then tries to deny it afterward. She's bad at covering it up, too.
  • 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.
  • A Taste of Their Own Medicine: Mitsuru gets how it feels to be on the receiving end of a cold shoulder for the first time when Fuuka, Rise, Yukiko, and Chie coldly ignore her when she asked them about using their cooking in fighting Shadows.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: While fighting the Card Soldiers at the end of the first dungeon, the team from the opposite route intrudes to provide assistance to the tune of their game's random battle theme (i.e. Mass Destruction will play in the P4 route, Reach Out To The Truth will play in the P3 route).
  • Those Two Guys: Junpei and Yosuke, the Magician Arcana from their respective games, are often seen together making light of a situation.
  • 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 Café 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 labyrinth 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. In actuality, the top left corner of the room has a vent that will take you back to the hallway.
    • 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.
    • Subverted in all these instances if the player remembers to keep Sukatora Foot, a low level Burst Skill that lets the player escape to the floor entrance from battle, on their Combat Navigator or their Sub-Persona.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The party to the Clockwork God. It drew all of them into the margin world in order to force them to go through the labyrinths and regain Zen's memories. That said, it didn't count on them sticking around once they'd finished that task.
  • Useless Useful Spell: In a similar vein to Etrian Odyssey and the main SMT games, this is largely averted regarding status effects and binds, as they can become absolute lifesavers against more dangerous enemies. However, some examples still stand out:
    • When the party gains their Ultimate Personas, they receive a bonus skill on top of different resistances. Some synergize particularly well with their skill set, like Yukari and Yukiko receiving passives that boost their elemental spells, while others... don't. Most notably, Mitsuru's Punishment skill, which runs off her less impressive Strength stat and breaks binds for increased power when you'd otherwise want a bind to last.
    • Summon Ghost or Summon Demon are powerful almighty skills usable only while a Circle is active, but are ultimately too costly, require too much setup, and take up too many skill slots to use effectively.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
  • 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 vitriol, 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.
    • For Yukari herself even before that, she actually does kind of respect Junpei, but she's also so hostile that the first time she admits it he's stunned speechless for awhile, causing her to get embarrassed and regret opening up to him.
    • This is the first game in the series to show really extensive amounts of Shinjiro's personality and how he normally interacts with others, letting us see that he constantly bickers with Akihiko and gets into stupid competitions with him even as he likes to think himself above it all.
  • Weakened by the Light: The FOEs in the horror-themed third stratum are averse to light and will not tread on any lit spaces. Manipulating switches in the room becomes key to several of the dungeon's puzzles.
  • Wham Line:
    • At the end of the fourth dungeon, Zen delivers this:
      Zen: Rei, I...I remember everything now. I am Chronos, he who has dominion over time...I came here to take you away.
    • Which is shortly followed by this:
      Zen: Rei cannot...stay here. In fact...she can't...stay anywhere. The truth is...Rei is dead.
  • 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.
  • Willfully Weak: The Request text, after the completion of the respective request, points out that Margaret was not fighting at full strength.

Even in Persona, F.O.E.!

Alternative Title(s): Persona Q