This ain't your daddy's Persona.
Well, wait, it is, technically. But it's not like...okay let me start again.
The original Persona game first came out in the later half of 1996 for the original Playstation, in Japan. When it was localized for western audiences, it was called Revelations: Persona, and was changed significantly to accommodate western audiences, including changes names, character appearances, and removing and entire quest line (though that was due more to time constraints in translation). It was a bit of a sleeper hit, but birthed the rest of the Persona series, which has become one of the most well-received jRPG series on the market. Now remade for the PSP, Persona everything from the original Japanese version, as well as adding more content and improving in many ways.
Persona is an interesting mix of multiple gameplay mechanics. It's part of the Shin Megami Tensei series of games, which means that each enemy has their strengths and weaknesses, and if you don't exploit those then things are going to be a lot harder for you. This mechanic isn't as bad as it is in the later Persona titles, in that unless you're doing attacks that enemies absorb or reflect, you can probably still win a battle by going into auto-battle mode. This repeats the same actions over and over again until you win or the battle ends. A new addition to the game is the ability to select a difficulty (akin to the choice presented to you in Persona 4), so if you think the game will be a little too tough, it's possible to have it go easy on you.
Like each Persona title, the game revolves around a group of high school students who have had a being called a 'Persona' awake in each of them, allowing them to fight the demons that have begun to appear. around their city. While the newer Persona titles put an emphasis on the normal world existing alongside that of the demons', the original Persona's story was a little darker, involving a world that had been overrun completely by the otherwordly beasts. Since this is the first game in a series trying to break away from its old-school roots, there's still a lot of holdover elements from the older Shin Megami Tensei games, which fans of the older series will recognize right away.
The story is pretty light in this game, focused in quick dialogues in between the dungeon crawling. Let me repeast: there is a lot of crawling through dungeons. Like its predecessors, Persona's dungeons are viewed from the first person, similar to the Wizardy titles that Shin Megami Tensei was originally inspired by. In random battles you'll have the opportunity to talk to demons you find. Depending on their disposition, the state of the moon, and how you talk to them (each character has different ways to treat the demons), a variety of effects might occur, ranging from scaring the demon away to afflicting it with a status effect to having it give you items, money, experience, or a spell card (more on those in a bit). This dialogue system, which is still used in Persona 2 but dumped later on, tends to feel like a bit of a chore, and one that is too hard to deduce correctly. It just becomes a matter of randomly selecting a dialogue option and hoping that the demon responds well, and this is much less preferable to the later iterations of Persona.
The spell cards you receive are how you create new personae. Unlike later titles in the series, everyone (not just the main character) has three personae to switch between. Each of these are created by fusing spell cards in the ubiquitous Velvet Room. There are a variety of factors and rules to card fusion, but the game will provide a list of possible personae for you to fuse, which makes this remarkably easier. You can also add items to add new abilities, change the Persona, or affect stats. In addition to all this, things can go wrong, resulting in a completely different class of Persona entirely, different stats, or other effects. It's a pretty complex system that's a fairly stark contrast to how simple it is to take two personae and stick them together to make a third, in the rest of the series.
You may have deduced that this game is a lot more complex than the rest, which is quite true. The battle system has a lot more to it, including grid-like formations that determine what enemies you can attack, the ability equip a gun, a melee weapon, and a Persona all at once, and a whole new variety of attack types like gravity. Battles can be a little slow-paced, even with animations turned off, but the auto-battle option can expedite things greatly. Still, the game tends to make you feel a little detached from the action.
If you've never played Persona before, then you pretty much know all you need to at this point. People who have played it before will be happy to know about new songs, new cutscenes, and an entirely-restored sidequest (that is nearly as long as the game itself and completely optional). The entire game brings back retro feelings of RPGs, and while this will definitely please some, it's easy to see that it can be just as strong of a turn-off for anyone not accustomed to the genre, or the series. Persona fans will probably get a kick out of seeing how the series started, but again, this is your daddy's Persona. It has flaws, it has problems, but once you get past though issues, it's still a fun and involving RPG underneath.