A playable demo of Metaphor: ReFantazio (to be released 11 October 2024 on PS4, PS5, XBX/S, PC) was available for attendees at Atlus Fes.

Atlus Fes is an event to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the Atlus brand that was held in Akihabara, Tokyo on the weekend of 8-9 June 2024. The event featured several exhibits and activities, including playable demos of upcoming releases Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance and Metaphor: ReFantazio. Read more about the event here.


The demo allowed players to choose from three scenarios: Scenario Mode/Archetype Awakening, which showed off the game’s story; Dungeon Mode/Occupied Cathedral, which let players run around a dungeon; and Boss Challenge Mode/Sea Beast Assault, in which players fight a powerful boss.

Frontline Gaming Japan was able to give Dungeon Mode and Boss Challenge Mode a try at the event.

Starting with Dungeon Mode, we found that players familiar with previous Atlus games (especially the Shin Megami Tensei series) would certainly be able to get used to Metaphor’s battle system in no time. In turn based mode, battles use the good old Press Turn system in which players get extra turns from hitting enemies with weaknesses. Some spell names, such as the ones for buffs, even remain the same as they do in other games from Atlus, meaning that fans might immediately be able to intuit what they do without reading their descriptions.

That being said, the turn battle system is not a 1:1 to previous games, as it does have unique new gimmicks that change up the formula significantly: Party members are assigned to rows (front or back) and skills might target a specific line instead of one or all characters; while an Archetype might function like a Persona in battle, some are also very similar to job classes in traditional RPGs, with Hulkenberg’s Knight clearly functioning as a tank complete with a skill that draws aggro; and the Synthesis system which lets party members perform powerful combination skills, but consumes Press Turn icons for all participants, making managing the icons all the more important.

Note, however, that we refer to a turn battle system: This is because outside of this, the player can also engage enemies in action-based combat on the field without entering an encounter, something completely different from Persona 5 Strikers’ “real-time with pause” style action combat.

Outside of turn-based battles, the player is able to take swings at enemies roaming the fields, dealing damage and contributing to a stun meter, and can also choose to switch from real-time action combat to turn-based at any point. Enemies keep the damage they took from the action combat, and if the player is able to stun an enemy before engaging the turn-based system the enemies of course start the battle stunned as well, with the added advantage of a party member unleashing a bonus attack as well.

Conversely, if an enemy manages to get a hit in at all, the player is immediately thrown into a turn-based battle starting disadvantaged, meaning that the player has to be able to dodge enemy attacks if they want to engage in action combat. That being said, however, the player does have a dodge button, and from what we saw in the demo, enemies are not very aggressive. Additionally, tutorial messages indicated that even if an enemy that is significantly weaker than the player manages to land a hit, turn-based combat will not be engaged, with the protagonist just taking some HP damage instead.Though we tried the two battle-centric sections of the demo, the Boss Challenge Mode actually starts out with the player being able to explore the “Gauntlet Runner” landship and do activities like raise stats, obtain items, or improve Virtues. In our case, we chose to read a notebook of poetry by Junah, which resulted in raising Courage, one of the five Virtues of Courage, Wisdom, Tolerance, Eloquence, and Imagination: A system that seems like it should be very familiar to fans of the Persona series.

Activities cause time to pass, and in the Boss Challenge Mode this resulted in the story progressing with the ship being attacked by a boss, the Sea Horror Homo Sabara.

The flow of battle against bosses is also a very familiar experience for fans of Atlus games: The player prods at the boss to figure out its weakness, and then the flow shifts to trying to abuse that weakness as much as possible while mitigating what damage it does.

In our case, we had inspected the party menu before the fight and found that there was a character, Junah, not in the party, and we swapped the fighter Strohl out for her, and in the fight we found that her Dancer Archetype had access to a Synthesis that would make all enemies weak to fire once. We quickly formed a tactic that revolved around buffing the protagonist (named “Travelling Boy” in the demo) with Heat Riser, adding the fire weakness to the boss, and taking advantage of it with Travelling Boy’s Fireblade Rider, a Synthesis skill which deals extreme physical Fire damage to one enemy.

Unfortunately, we ran out of time on the demo just after we got the boss to 20% HP. That is not to say that we think we would certainly have won the fight, of course, as right before time ran up it used Soul Scream, which gave it four extra press turn icons, and used the first of its five icons to use Random Strike to hit all of our party members down to below half health. The demo ended immediately after that attack, and we even suspected that it was scripted, but we checked with the staff and were told that it was pure coincidence that the demo ended there. It seems very likely that we would have gotten wiped out if we had gotten the chance to see the Homo Sabara use its remaining four icons.

Overall, we found that Metaphor: ReFantizio balances the staples of Atlus RPGs with refreshing new features, meaning that while it will certainly be great for new players, existing fans will likely have a great time with the new twists on familiar concepts. From what we saw and touched, the game feels absolutely fantastic, and we cannot wait for its release.

Don’t forget to check out our event report covering the rest of the event here:

Atlus Fes Event Report



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