Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth Development Interview on Theme, Gameplay

Dengeki Online has conducted a special post-release interview with Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth producer Daisuke Kanada, and director Yuta Aihara.

Daisuke Kanada (left) and Yuta Aihara (right)

Start of Development

  • When Kanada was working on Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth (PQ1) as its director, he was aiming for it to be a title that would become a new pillar of the series, which would not end only at “1.” Afterwards, Persona 5 was released and, in part thanks to its favorable reception, it was decided that the Phantom Thieves should participate in a Persona Q.
  • Active development for Persona Q2 began after Persona 5‘s development ended. Kanada was working on another title at the time, so he could not reclaim his role of director. That’s when he received the proposal from Aihara to assume the role. Since Kanada was determining the outline, he decided to work as the producer.

Horror Ban

  • In Kanada’s initial outline, one of the rules was a “horror ban.” In Persona Q, there were ghastly beings, which caused problems for some when playing. At the time, Kanada visited genuine ghost houses, and those results were demonstrated to the fullest, but he fears that he had done too much.
  • In the dungeon in question, the atmosphere was oppressive and that was combined with a high degree of difficulty when it came to the puzzles. This time, there is no horror.

Puzzles and FOEs

  • Another rule from Kanada’s outline was to reduce elements like puzzles which calculate the number of steps an FOE has taken. There are various FOEs that appear this time, but removing those kinds of puzzles decreases the difficulty.

Gameplay Changes

  • In PQ1, there was a probability you could initiate an All-Out Attack by attacking an enemy’s weak point and gaining the “Boost” state. There was some feedback that this was a little difficult to play, so now an All-Out Attack can be guaranteed by knocking down all enemies with their weak points.
  • In PQ2, there was a lot of feedback that some of the skills were too strong. Aihara wanted to address this, and examined the role of each skill to readjust them.

Special Screenings

  • There was a lot of positive reception to the previous game’s “walking around the school” interactions, so Aihara wanted to take the concept and add more gameplay to it, Determining the stories, he decided to have them played out within the dungeons. Getting a ticket for a “Special Screening” and going inside a dungeon gives it a slightly different structure, with a limited area, increase in FOEs, and so on.
  • The aim for “Special Screenings” was to highlight individual characters. It’s difficult to delve deeply into everyone in the main story because of the amount of characters involved, but it was possible to complement this with “Special Screenings.”
  • At least one cooperation skill resulting from the Special Screenings is assigned to every character, for expected and surprising combinations. These skills were implemented a lot later in development, during the last minute for adding new elements.

Main Theme

  • Because there were so many characters involved in the party this time, Kanada thought about going back in time. A visual that would relate to things like Akashic records. They gathered information like what would constitute the main hub/hideout in the game, and how it would relate to its mechanics.
  • Brainstorming was made with the design team, and one of the suggestions that came out of it was in front of a movie theater lobby and screen.
  • The main theme of the story is about dealing with the “pressure of your surroundings.” It deals with many kinds of pressure, like “pressure from authority,” “peer pressure,” or “pressure from who you are.”
  • “If you’re being swept away by pressure and you’re about to lose sight of yourself, before shutting off your own feelings, there will be people who will reach out to you and have you cherish yourself.” That’s the theme Aihara determined this time.

Movie Motifs

  • The motif for each movie was decided when pressure from one’s surroundings was decided as the theme. An example would be the sense of power from a hero.
  • One of the choices considered for a movie was horror. Kanada states that the idea would be about humans, succumbing to the pressure of their surroundings, would become zombies.

PQ2’s Focus on Persona 5

  • Kanada states that, with the previous game being the first in the series, they made a story that would work regardless of the path that was chosen. Players could enjoy it from two perspectives. However, with that approach, the story still needs to be versatile regardless of the protagonist.
  • In order to broaden the range of versatility from the previous game, it did not seem like a good idea to have three different perspectives this time. It seemed like everything would be diluted, and no one would be happy.
  • So with PQ2 being a title after the release of P5, it was decided that the story would center around Joker as the hero, and that the members of P3 and P4 would also be involved. By doing this, Kanada believed that it would result in a high-quality story depicting encounters with other characters and their growing bond.

Original Characters

  • With strained laughter, Kanada states that, prior to the release, discussions were mainly about previous series characters such as the P3P female protagonist, and that there was the feeling that the new characters Hikari, Nagi, and Do were not noticeable.
  • Aihara states that some of this was the unintentional result of who they are. When Aihara told the designer that “Hikari is a colorless character who does not claim herself,” he was told that, “When I draw it, it has the look of an NPC.” The scenario and design were refined over time, finalizing the character.
  • Kanada believes that, as you progress through the game, you’ll want to find out more about the new characters.

Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth was released for the Nintendo 3DS in Japan on November 29, 2018.

Dengeki Online