Metaphor: ReFantazio Looks Ready To Overthrow Both Of Atlus’ Giants

A brand-new adventure with the same look we know and love.

Story Highlights

  • Unveiled in the Xbox Showcase, Metaphor: ReFantazio is the latest turn-based fantasy RPG from Atlus, the developers of Persona and Shin Megami Tensei.
  • No doubt Persona 5 is a magnificent game and more of it is welcome, but after too many spinoffs, a new adventure is a breath of fresh air.
  • In its overall gameplay, design, story overview, and environments, the game seems to be incorporating both of Atlus’ giants.
  • With a brand new concept and setting, Metaphor: ReFantazio can serve as an excellent experiment to determine how well this amalgamation works out in practice.

Metaphor: ReFantazio is the upcoming turn-based JRPG from Atlus, the creative minds behind the revolutionary Persona and Shin Megami Tensei series. The Xbox showcase was not short on exciting announcements, and Atlus was no exception, showcasing the Persona 3 Remake – Persona 3 Reload, and Persona 5 Tactica. Soon afterward, however, the surprising new IP took the spotlight.

YouTube video

Atlus has been a big name in the JRPG genre, especially turn-based games. Both Shin Megami Tensei and Persona have been a cornerstone of turn-based JRPGs, with Persona possessing widespread popularity, owing to Persona 5 in particular. Because of the sheer quality of these games, we eagerly await what sort of adventure this brand-new IP brings.

Atlus Went All In On Persona 5

Now a legendary franchise on its own, Persona began as a spinoff of Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei Series. Despite splitting off from it, Persona was unable to escape the shadow of Shin Megami Tensei for quite some time. The first two games were even called Shin Megami Tensei: Persona. From Persona 3, however, the series quickly established its own identity, and also let go of the SMT name.

Persona 3 was indeed a legendary game, taking over even its successors in a few aspects, and providing an interesting premise that soon became the series’ staple. A strong focus on the interaction between characters and developing relationships through social links that eventually take a direct effect on combat prowess, and an intricate balance of two different lifestyles. Needless to say, Atlus executed the concept with perfection.

Persona 4 was no exception, another epic adventure. However, regrettably, at this point, the franchise was not as well known as it currently is. It’s all thanks to Persona 5 that the series saw mainstream recognition and success. By no means were the previous games not good enough, as after Persona 5’s success paved the way for their revival, the reception of re-releases like Persona 4: Golden was enormous.

In addition to the series’ characteristic social interactions and a presentation of contrasting dual lifestyles, Persona 5 brought a fascinating plot dynamic. The depiction of society’s indifference to others’ miseries in pursuit of personal interest was masterfully done. The gameplay mechanics and details in the overall concept were refined to perfection. Let’s hope Metaphor: ReFantazio is a reflection of this mastery.

Persona 5 was nothing but quality, and it’s no surprise it reached the level of success and recognition it has. To keep the momentum going, Atlus released a myriad of different spinoffs and extensions of the game. Persona 5 Royal introduced a beloved new character and expanded the massive game with a ton of new exciting content. It was indeed the definitive experience, improving the magnificent game and achieving significant success.

Breaking long-term series conventions of being turn-based, Persona 5 received an action spinoff called Persona 5 Strikers. Serving as a sequel of sorts to the base game, the game was also a reflection of it in its story. Instead of “stealing the hearts” of the corrupted, the Phantom Thieves were tasked with “returning the hearts” of those wrongfully stolen from, with fast-paced action combat.

Persona 5 Strikers brought real-time action gameplay in the flashy Persona style
Persona 5 Strikers brought real-time action gameplay in the flashy Persona style

As per the tradition of the franchise, a rhythm game spinoff was also released, called Persona 5: Dancing in the Moonlight. Featuring the Phantom Thieves, it played similarly to other rhythm games of the franchise. The iconic Phantom Thieves made their appearance as collabs in multiple gacha games, and finally, Persona 5 has its own upcoming gacha game now, Persona 5: The Phantom X.

Considering a gacha premise can try many different collaborations and story connections, it can serve as a possible testing ground for future projects. And now, we have a brand new Persona 5 spinoff in the form of a tactical RPG called Persona 5 Tactica. The game features original characters alongside the Phantom Thieves in a unique chibi art-style strategy game.

Metaphor: ReFantazio Blends Its Predecessors In A Fresh Venture

Persona 5’s success not only gave us plenty more of it in spinoffs, but it was also the catalyst for the return of the previous entries of the franchise, and I believe that was its biggest achievement: enabling new audiences to experience these iconic adventures. Even a Persona 3 remake is now in development and is to be released soon, whose trailer was regrettably leaked before the showcase. It remains to be seen how it holds up to the original.

The return of Persona is nothing but bliss, and more of Persona 5 is always a treat for fans of the game, but recently it has just been Persona from Atlus. With all these spinoffs, people now wished to experience something new. It’s been a long time since Atlus worked on a new project, there is still no news about Persona 6 or what sort of setting it explores, and fans just can’t wait to find out.

Amidst these feelings, The announcement of Persona 5 Tactica greeted us, which was yet another Persona 5 spinoff. As much as I love Persona 5, I believe it was high time Atlus moved on and focused on a different project. However, there was no need to be let down, as soon after, the new project was unveiled. Metaphor: ReFantazio was a pleasant surprise as, after multiple Persona 5, the game seems like a breath of fresh air with high potential.

We’ve only seen a short glimpse of what to expect from the new game, but it seems an interesting premise nonetheless. A similar social interaction setting is depicted around what seems to be the main character, as seen in Persona titles. This means the game takes strong cues from Persona and will have significant social interaction and group focus.

That’s not all, the Persona inspiration is also seen in the gameplay mechanics and UI design. In the short battle sequence previewed, the combat and the overall design were a lot closer to it. The actual description of the various abilities available is yet to be seen. We’re no strangers to Persona’s incredible turn-based combat and thus can expect great things from the new adventure.

Metaphor: ReFantazio's gameplay and UI design is reminiscent of Persona, albeit with a unique twist
Metaphor: ReFantazio’s gameplay and UI design is reminiscent of Persona, albeit with a unique twist

Speaking of inspiration, a game with a strong Persona feel is incomplete without a mascot character. Morgana is of integral importance in Persona 5, and one of the most iconic characters. The appeal of a mascot character is very high, and even Persona 5: The Phantom X introduced a new mascot character Luffy to confront Morgana. We don’t know yet about such a character in Metaphor: ReFantazio, but it would indeed be an excellent addition.

What’s most interesting is that not only Persona but also hints of Shin Megami Tensei can be found in this game. From the cutscenes, we can infer a dark tone and more mature story themes, as is found in SMT games. The overall presentation of the game, the feeling of a world-engulfing threat and gloomy atmosphere was also very reminiscent of an SMT game. 

Atlus seems to be creating a unique blend of its two giants, finding the perfect balance between the two. Persona-like gameplay, enjoying the regular life with social development and character relations on one side, while putting everything on stake to unravel a dark conspiracy seems like an epic combination. I sincerely hope the developers execute this blend with perfection in the fascinating new venture.

Metaphor: ReFantazio Can Provide A Direction For Future

As mentioned earlier, Persona first branched off as a sort of spinoff for Shin Megami Tensei, before becoming an independent new series. The release of the first Persona game was the event that divided the two series, and now it seems Atlus is trying to find a point of convergence for the two ideas in Metaphor: ReFantazio. This makes the game an excellent experiment to test how the combination works.

After the enormous success of the Persona series, a continuation is all but confirmed. Persona 6 has been one of the most sought-after titles for quite some time now. Since there’s been no news about it so far, fans have built up quite many speculations about what it could bring. And I believe all of these projects can serve as a good testing ground for what direction Atlus should take in the future.

At this point, the Phantom Thieves have achieved legendary status in the series’ history, with their strong impact in Persona 5 and appearance in many different collabs and spinoffs. Considering their presence in many of Atlus’s works, and then a new group of characters appearing in Persona 5: The Phantom X under the same group name, there was a strong possibility of Atlus sticking with the concept for the future too, albeit with a different cast.

Metaphor: ReFantazio, however, brings a new possibility now. With a completely different cast, setting, and story concept, the game can give insight into how the idea works in practice and the audience’s reaction to it. The game also seems to bring a bit from both of Atlus’s major franchises, and this unique blend is a fascinating concept to explore. 

With Persona-like gameplay, Metaphor: ReFantazio's story and environments give off a strong SMT feel
With Persona-like gameplay, Metaphor: ReFantazio’s story and environments give off a strong SMT feel

Another important thing is that since the games are sporting similar concepts and gameplay, the game can serve as a solid competition to Persona. Competing with Persona, however, is no small task. Metaphor: ReFantazio will have a tall barrier to overcome, but the concept it is introducing holds considerable potential. All the more wonderful if a healthy competition ends up polishing Persona 6 further.

After too many Persona 5 spinoffs, the fans’ demand for something new was answered with the reveal of Metaphor: ReFantazio. Sadly, we haven’t received any new info about Persona 6, and now it seems even further away. However, a new concept, taking hints from beloved games and delivering a fresh experience is an absolute delight. All the more wonderful if this idea is executed with perfection and we end up receiving another magnificent game.

Metaphor: ReFantazio arrives for Xbox Series X|S and PC in 2024.

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Shameer Sarfaraz is a Senior News Writer on eXputer who loves to keep up with the gaming and entertainment industries devoutly. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science and several years of experience reporting on games. Besides his passion for breaking news stories, Shahmeer loves spending his leisure time farming away in Stardew Valley. VGC, IGN, GameSpot, Game Rant, TheGamer, GamingBolt, The Verge, NME, Metro, Dot Esports, GameByte, Kotaku Australia, PC Gamer, and more have cited his articles.

Experience: 4+ Years || Education: Bachelor in Computer Science.

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