Persona Q

Difficulty Differences Explained | Persona Q

Levels of difficulty in a Persona Q game, or indeed any other Etrian-like title, can be troublesome to gauge. By their very nature these titles have to have a certain level of difficulty, after all without some resistance in play a dungeon crawler would turn into a leisurely stroll through colourful corridors, and that doesn’t quite have the same allure to it. That said, when you compare a Persona game to it’s forebears – Etrian Odyssey, Shin Megami Tensei – they do generally have a lower level of difficulty. This tends to make sense, after all the now phenomenally popular spin off series does choose to focus on people and their relationships a little more than torturing the player into submission, but when the two meet in what is ostensibly a crossover title, what difficulty results? Persona Q comes with 5 choices for the levels of such, but what exactly do these mean, and what experience should you expect when you pick one?


Safety Difficulty

Rei, Persona Q

We should probably preface this difficulty level by first saying that whilst it’s considered the easiest level in Persona Q, it’s probably just as hard as some other RPG games. You can still get your backside handed to you if you’re unprepared, and you still have to pay attention to enemy weaknesses, however they have included a feature that completely revives your team exactly where it was standing should they die. This does rather spoil the point of Persona & Etrian Odyssey games, because having some form of tension is what makes them tick, but if you’re really struggling then this might be an option for you. It’s hard to compare this to any game in either series too, since they don’t tend to remove any form of punishment, but at a push we’d say that it’s comparable to the easiest level of a story mode Etrian Odyssey Untold title, or the easiest level of any modern Persona title.

Safety Highlights

  • Party will auto-revive should you lose a battle completely.
  • Enemies take more damage and deal less – approximately 20% in both cases.
  • FOE can be taken down a little earlier. You will still need to set up the team correctly and be very careful, however it’s possible to take them down during your run in the current dungeon. 
  • It’s very easy to escape any battle using the command.
  • Infinite Goho-M uses, thanks to a permanent item that is available from the start (also available in higher difficulties, however it is not unlocked until later in the game).

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Easy Difficulty

Fuuka, Persona Q

Easy difficulty is likely where most players are going to fit in, certainly those familiar with the Persona series or indeed other popular RPG games. It removes the free revive tools, doesn’t give you any free items to help you out, but at the same time it features a reduction in damage taken and an increase in damage done. Those last two points tend to balance the feel of the game out, making it fit into a similar sort of zone that players are most familiar with. Think Persona 3, 4 or 5 on normal mode and you’ll be about right. It is worth remembering that the style of this game is completely different however, so if you jump in and think you’ll be able to plow through a dungeon in one go, you’ll be sadly disappointed. Remember people, this game has its roots in the Etrian series, and they’re pretty unforgiving by design.

Easy Highlights

  • Features the same level of damage reduction & increase as Safety; 20% less taken & 20% more done.
  • Escapes continue to be easier here, though less of a guarantee than Safety.
  • It is possible to take down FOE whilst in the same dungeon here, but you’ll certainly struggle to do so. The utmost in planning, fusion and equipment will be required to manage this.
  • The only real difference between this and Safety is that you do not get the free revive when a battle is lost, and you’ll have to wait for your permanent Goho-M. 
  • This will likely create the same level of exploration tension as a regular Persona game on it’s normal mode. Just don’t expect to complete a dungeon all in one go, that’s not how Etrian style games are made to be played.

Normal Difficulty

Chie, Persona Q

As you might imagine, everything is pretty straightforward in Normal mode. No damage modifiers are in play, no free revive or quick game over shenanigans and nothing is given to you for free. Considering this on the Persona & Etrian Odyssey scale, we’d say this mode to be closest to the Etrian Series, but towards the lower end seen in the fourth entry. It’s certainly more difficult than any of the base level modern Persona games, and you should expect to have to exit the dungeons quite a few times, more so than just for the story line reasons. Do not, whatever you do, expect to come here and treat it like a normal RPG title – this is almost certainly harder than any you’re used to. These games are designed to be taken slowly and there are no time limits, so be patient and enjoy the frankly excellent battle system.

Normal Highlights

  • No damage modifiers, penalties or free items to help you on your way.
  • Escapes are just as hard as in other games, if not a little more so.
  • FOE will be very hard to take down if you’re still in the same dungeon as them, yes even those on the first floor. It’s just about doable, however you’ll have to wait until you’re at the end and come very, very prepared.
  • Buffs and debuffs increase in importance as the difficulty level rises, so bear this in mind, and the same goes for Binds and Ailments. These games are designed around the player taking advantage of them, so be sure to do so.

Hard Difficulty

Teddie, Persona Q

On balance, Hard is probably our favourite difficulty level for Persona Q. On our hypothetical scale it weighs in at around the same point as most games in the Etrian Odyssey series on normal. This particular difficulty also introduces the opposite of Easy, in that your damage done is reduced and your damage taken is increased, which has the effect of increasing the importance of every single skill and ability in battle. Every move must be considered, dungeons must be traversed slowly and resources must be retained as much as possible. In fact, this is probably the first point at which team composition must really be considered, because bringing a group full of weaklings really will cause you to fail. We’re not about to claim that it’s harder than some of the original DS Etrian games, but it comes very close to it and manages to wrap a thin layer of Persona over the top, making us very happy indeed.

Hard Highlights

  • Skews closest to the early Etrian games in terms of difficulty. 
  • Expect a considerable amount of trips home to heal up and restock consumables.
  • Your damage done is reduced by 20%, and damage taken increased by 20%.
  • Every bit as difficult as Risky, but without the single life protagonist issue.
  • Every move must be patiently considered.
  • Do not expect to take down FOE until you’ve at least cleared their current dungeon, and even then you’ll want to do some serious fusion and equipment preparations.

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Risky Difficulty

Aigis, Persona Q

If you’ve ever wanted to mix a dose of Shin Megami Tensei feeling with your Etrian Odyssey, then this mode is for you. Technically battles are no harder than those found in Hard mode itself, but it’s punctuated by the fact that having your main character – P3 or P4 protagonist – die in battle means a game over screen. No we don’t mean your whole team, just the protagonist has to die and it’s done. This translates to the ultimate feeling of tension in every single battle throughout the games’ myriad dungeons, because it’s entirely possible for them to set their sights on your MC and just ruin your day. Ironically, given that it’s often derided for being a ‘lite’ version of such things, this is likely the hardest Etrian style challenge we’ve faced, almost entirely due to the game over ruling. If you’re the kind of person that likes to watch horror movies in the dark, or indeed enjoys puckering so hard that you forge diamonds with certain body parts, then this difficulty is for you.

Risky Highlights

  • Having the main character die in battle will give you a complete game over. Even if the remainder of your team survives this will still occur. 
  • The same 20% reduction in damage dealt and 20% increase in damage taken. Thankfully this wasn’t increased, given our first point.
  • The only major difference between this and Hard is the MC game over portion and that battles are harder than ever to escape from. Good luck getting away from FOE battles should you accidentally stroll into one, though even this is still possible with a certain skill (Sutakora Foot).
  • For the sane among you, maybe wait until NG+ before you give it a try.
  • If you’ve ever wanted to experience what it’s like to protect a high ranking government official in a hostile environment, this is the mode for you.

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