Metaphor: ReFantazio Won’t Have Romance Options — And That's a Good Thing

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Metaphor: ReFantazio

Atlus may be best known for its popular Shin Megami Tensei and Persona franchises, but later this year, the Japanese game developer is set to release a bold new take on fantasy RPGs in the form of Metaphor: ReFantazio. Everything we’ve seen of the game so far makes it clear the lessons learned from Persona are being applied to Metaphor, and there are even features lifted directly from that series, like the calendar and time system. But there’s one key piece of Persona that won’t be making the jump: romance options.

While that might seem surprising, it’s a step in the right direction. Persona’s romances often feel out of place, or even detract from the series’ stellar storytelling. So Metaphor not having romance options is the perfect choice. Still not convinced? Let’s dive in.

Persona protagonists are intentionally silent for the player to self-insert, but Metaphor’s hero will have more of a voice.


During a “Metaphor: Stalker Club Final” live stream in Japanese (translated by Persona Central), a Q&A question confirmed the game will have a Persona-esque Social Link system, but those relationships won’t include romance options. To be clear, this doesn’t mean there isn’t any “romance” in the game whatsoever, as the story could feature some kind of canon romance for the protagonist. There simply won’t be options. Hopefully, this should allow Metaphor: ReFantazio to explore more dynamic platonic relationships, which Persona can struggle with between its male protagonists and female party members.

Persona 3, 4, and 5 all have fantastic characters. That’s one of the main things that’s drawn in so many players. But there’s a problem that persists between female party members and Social Links in how their development is often tied to their attraction to the player.

Metaphor will feature a Social Link-esque system that will allow you to recruit followers and bond with them.


Persona ascribes to the “harem” romance trope often found in anime where the player character can choose from any of the female Social Links to romance, or even romance them all at once if they want (though doing this has light consequences). In every female Social Link there comes a point where the player has to accept their feelings or turn them down. While the Social Link can continue on platonically, the very act of rejection inevitably colors the relationship. It simply feels odd that these characters can’t exist without being attracted to the player character.

Persona 3 Portable is even further proof of this because of its female protagonist route and some of the ways it fantastically fleshes out characters. In that route, we get to see platonic relationships with female characters, but the game doesn’t automatically make every male character romanceable. The character Junpei Iori has a canon love interest and can’t be romanced. Through his Social Link, we get an even further exploration of the character coming to terms with his sexism and his conflict with having a woman as the party leader. He meaningfully accepts his prejudice, learns to move past it, and forges a meaningful relationship with the player.

Junpei Iori’s character in Persona 3 Reload is a good example of what the Persona games are generally missing.


It’s a shame that Persona 4 and Persona 5 weren’t able to explore these kinds of relationships, but it does give me hope for Metaphor: ReFantazio. By not including romance options, the storytelling can more dynamically play with character arcs and complex relationships not based on romance or attraction. It could also open up a key new area that Persona games haven’t been able to explore: the protagonist bonding with female party members over other relationships. There’s so much room to explore friendship and bonding with party members over their romance woes.

Of course, Metaphor: ReFantazio isn’t a Persona game despite bringing so many of the series’ elements over. A big reason for no romance options could be the voiced protagonist, who isn’t the self-insert style of hero we’d expect from the Persona series. But even with that, a lack of romance options gives Metaphor the chance to explore much more meaningful relationships, and if done correctly, maybe it can even serve as a lesson for Persona 6 to fix past mistakes.

Metaphor: ReFantazio launches on October 11 for PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

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