"It's definitely harder than Persona": Shin Megami Tensei lead explains that his new JRPG Metaphor: ReFantazio needed more challenge or else "it won't feel right"

Metaphor: ReFantazio screenshot showing an anime-style young blond man with light blue eyes, a window's light glowing behind him
(Image credit: Atlus)

With only a few months left before Atlus releases its highly anticipated new JRPG Metaphor: ReFantazio, the mastermind director behind Shin Megami Tensei and its successful spin-off series Persona discusses what sets the upcoming game apart from its predecessors.

Metaphor: ReFantazio arrives this fall, marking its monumental spot as the Persona and Shin Megami Tensei team's first original title since Atlus' Studio Zero was formed in 2016. It isn't a spin-off nor is it officially related to either JRPG series, and despite similarities, it features a plethora of new mechanics - including challenges that even hardened Persona stans may find difficult. Speaking to GamesRadar+ during the Summer Game Fest, director Katsura Hashino reveals more on Metaphor: ReFantazio's crucial challenges and how its difficulty compares to the developer's other iconic JRPGs.

"I think the setting of the game, the type of game you're making, and the difficulty are not separate things," Hashino explains. "They're completely intertwined. There are games you play that are way too easy and it's not fun, and there are games that you also play that are so hard that they're just brutal and not fun either. When you're making the game concept, the difficulty you want to have in that game is part of that concept." Looking back at the Shin Megami Tensei games, Hashino says that the series was "quite hard" - with good reason.

"Unless it's challenging, unless it's really meaty, it wouldn't be rewarding enough," the dev says, recounting how Shin Megami Tensei 3 was "the hardest game" he ever created. As for Metaphor, Hashino says that "in terms of where it places on the difficulty scale, it's definitely harder than Persona." The reason behind this greater difficulty lies within "the concept of the game" having "elements that make it more difficult in general," the director describes, going on to detail said elements.

"You have different Archetypes, different party combinations, different areas you can go to, the freedom to explore a world and take on different dungeons and different enemies, and choose what you want to fight," Hashino explains. "This means that unless we make it so that there will be challenge at parts, it won't feel right, it won't feel like it's worth playing. There's definitely a part of that in Persona and both those aspects, the elements of the game itself and the freedom that you have."

For any lore lovers or more casual players overly concerned about the difficulty proving to be too much, Hashino says "don't worry" - there are "multiple difficulty modes" to choose from in Metaphor: ReFantazio. Atlus' new game may be shaping up to be one of the best JRPGs, and it hasn't even launched yet. With combat blending real-time and turn-based mechanics, over 40 jobs to choose from, a stunning UI, and much more, Metaphor: ReFantazio actually feels more stylish than Persona 5 already.

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Anna Koselke
Staff Writer

After spending years with her head in various fantastical realms' clouds, Anna studied English Literature and then Medieval History at the University of Edinburgh, going on to specialize in narrative design and video game journalism as a writer. She has written for various publications since her postgraduate studies, including Dexerto, Fanbyte, GameSpot, IGN, PCGamesN, and more. When she's not frantically trying to form words into coherent sentences, she's probably daydreaming about becoming a fairy druid and befriending every animal or she's spending a thousand (more) hours traversing the Underdark in Baldur's Gate 3. If you spot her away from her PC, you'll always find Anna with a fantasy book, a handheld video game console of some sort, and a Tamagotchi or two on hand.