The creators of Persona 5 are venturing into sword and sorcery, and it could be what gets me finally playing an Atlus RPG

At The Game Awards, a trailer for Atlus’ upcoming RPG Metaphor: ReFantazio made its second debut (third, if you count its former moniker Project ReFantasy—though the art style has changed a whole lot). I’d love to talk about how excited I am for it, but first I need to get a confession out of the way: I have never played a Persona game. Here’s another: I have no idea why I haven’t played a Persona game.

In theory, Persona should be right up my alley. It’s a heinously popular, story-focused series with an elevator pitch designed to develop characters, letting you literally see what’s going on inside their head. The series has gorgeous artwork, a banging soundtrack, and some of the best UI design in recent memory. We awarded a very rare score of 94 in our Persona 5 review, for goodness’ sakes: I should objectively have a great time.

It’s not like RPGs aren’t my thing. My every waking hour has been consumed by Baldur’s Gate 3 since it came out, and I perpetually refuse to shut up about tabletop games. Long stories don’t phase me, either. I’ve finished Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn all the way through to Endwalker without skipping a single cutscene. Do you have any idea how long that takes? I even mostly understand Urianger, a man who speaks in Shakespearean prose for no reason. ‘Tis a feat most perplexing, pray understand mine plight.

But somehow, inexplicably, Persona and I have always travelled parallel to each other. Trains passing in the night. I feel like it’s too late for me to change that, somehow: yes, I know that’s absurd, and that most Persona games follow wholly different casts a la Final Fantasy.

I’ve even been a latecomer before. Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2 were before my time, and FF14 was my first Final Fantasy title, bar some time spent with FF12. That was, however, before I was a smart enough sprog to properly use the Gambit system, so I never made it very far.

Maybe it’s Persona’s slice-of-life elements. I like sword-and-sorcery fantasy a good deal more than its modern counterpart. Nattering with your mates near a campfire under the stars, travelling the open road—these things will always appeal to me more than attending school and working retail.

While I adore the idea of delving into someone’s mind and fighting off their demons as a concept, in practice I also think that’s kept me away. I like worldbuilding, and it’s hard to get into the texture of a setting that’s literally a figment of someone’s imagination—no matter how real Persona makes it.

(Image credit: Atlus)

With Metaphor: ReFantazio, Atlus’ penchant for off-the-wall enemy design excites me precisely because I know all its creatures are real. They exist in the world. Somebody put that weird, lumpy onion boy in a leg and gave it tiny booties, and I wanna find out who.

The trailer also highlights its artists, and with very good reason. Concept Artist Koda Kazuma has worked on Nier: Automata, while Mechanical Designer Ikuto Yamashita has designed mechs for a little anime called Neon Genesis Evangelion. That’s some major pedigree.

I think, most of all, I’m just excited to be introduced to Atlus’ games with an entirely new game. There’s a difference between ‘finally seeing what all the fuss is about’ and discovering something new with everybody else, and I find the latter far more exciting. Besides, who knows, maybe Metaphor: ReFantazio’ll finally get me to play some Persona, too. It’ll be coming to PC in the Fall of 2024.

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