A Persona 2 Remake Doesn't Need Social Elements
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Persona 3 Reload is officially the fastest-selling title in Atlus’ history, wracking up one million copies in just seven days. It’s a strong sign of the growing popularity of Persona, but also likely an indicator that more remakes could be on the way. While Persona 4 could benefit from an upgrade, no other entry demands a remake more than Persona 2, which is still one of the best stories Atlus has ever told. That being said, the first two games differ dramatically from the rest of the series, as the calendar and social systems weren’t introduced until Persona 3. While some might argue those elements could be introduced to Persona 2, a remake would be much better off retaining the original vision and refining it.
Persona 2 is actually a duology, with the experience split into two different games, Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment. The first game, Innocent Sin, follows a high-schooler named Tatsuya Suou, who discovers the power of Persona. Eternal Punishment is a direct follow-up that follows a reporter named Maya Amano, a key character from the first game.’
Integrating social elements in Persona 2 may be difficult as the narrow timeframe events happen in is vital to the narrative of the game. The events of Innocent Sin take place roughly across a week, and while you could certainly space things out more, the sense of immediacy is vitally important to Persona 2’s story.
Tatsuya and his allies are battling a villain named Joker, who’s making deadly rumors across Sumaru City come true. There’s a whole complex mechanic that feeds into this, but Tatsuya sees the city itself change before his very eyes. This means the party needs to fix things fast, before their whole world unravels.
Of course, Persona 2 is a lengthy RPG, so there’s plenty of character development and room for the occasional side quest, but it feels like the game’s whole structure and pacing feel antithetical to the series’ later social simulation. Persona 3 through 5 are very much about time management and planning, and each game gives you the proper resources to help manage those systems.
Persona 2, on the other hand, is far more focused on tight pacing that makes the story hit harder, then flipping the script by giving you a new perspective on events in Eternal Punishment. It’s overarching narrative themes also heavily deals with dealing with the consequences of decisions, something that’d suffer with more drawn out pacing. Of course, it needs to be said that a modern version of Persona 2 would need do address, or even change, certain parts of the story. Chief among these are the Last Battalion enemies, clearly based on Nazis, and even a cameo by the “Fuhrer.”
All of this isn’t to say that Persona 2 couldn’t be enhanced in a variety of ways, it just needs a different approach. The combat of the original game feels dreadfully slow by modern standards, and could wildly benefit from the innovations of later games, like Baton Passing, All-out-Attacks, more complex equipment systems, etc. Even though Social Links might not be a good fit, there’s still room to flesh out the game’s cast with expanded stories or content. Something like Persona 3 Reload’s Link Episodes would be the perfect fit, letting you dive deeper into each character’s stories without attaching more of the complex systems.
The Persona franchise has grown in leaps and bounds over the last decade, but Persona 2 is still a fascinating game in its own right with a tight incredibly dark story, fantastic party members, and eerie aesthetic. A remake could work wonders on bringing the story to life, as long as it doesn’t come at the cost of the classic game’s vision.