If you're one of the few people who played the original, there's no need to pick up this game for its smattering of quality-of-life improvements and extra content. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE: Encore is very much the same game with just a few added bells and whistles. But Japanese role-playing game fans who never experienced the Wii U cult classic would do well to seek out this game. It plays like a condensed Persona game (it takes 50 hours to finish, compared to the 100-hour long Persona 5), complete with loads of text dialogue, several high quality anime movies, and plenty of teen melodrama. All of this is mixed with just a hint of classic Fire Emblem, thanks to popular FE characters such as Caeda and Chrom and familiar sound cues. The combat's both challenging and rewarding, requiring planning to chain together attacks based on enemy weaknesses, and the characters are likeable -- even obsessive fangirl Tsubasa, who tends to lose her mind when in close proximity to her favorite pop stars.
Keep in mind, though, that this game isn't quite as slick or polished as the two franchises it draws its inspiration from. The dungeons are fun and imaginatively designed, but can be confusing to navigate. It's easy to forget where you are or what you were doing to clear puzzles when you're interrupted by frequent battles. And players should go in knowing that they'll be doing lots of reading. With no option for English audio, anyone who doesn't speak Japanese will be forced to read the game's thousands of lines of translated text dialogue. Some players who like to experience Japanese role-playing games as they were originally designed will likely see this as a plus, but more casual players may eventually grow frustrated by not being unable to understand short, untranslated comments made by characters in the heat of combat. It's great that Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE: Encore makes this little diamond in the rough available to a new group of players, but, like the original, it remains a faintly flawed gem.