I need to pick up this game (and a ps4)!
By Brandon Howard 03.04.2017 5
Persona 5 might be a bit fashionably late at this point, but that hasn't stopped it from being the talk of the town. The Persona subseries was, for many, their first introduction into the long running Shin Megami Tensei series, with Persona 3 and Persona 4 in particular capturing many a fan's heart. Persona has long been built on its strong characters and excellent game flow, and the latest entry is no different, taking the strong mechanics of its predecessors and adding an undeniable level of flair.
Persona 5 jumps into the action more readily than perhaps any of its predecessors, offering a taste of the game's dungeons before setting up almost any narrative. Even past the first tutorial stage, it wastes no time in dropping a young man who will eventually be referred to as "Joker" into the sprawling suburbs of Tokyo. Even when the story is in its very early stages, Persona 5 starts familiarising both Joker and the player with its sights, sounds, and characters.
Persona has always been a series that's been built on its strong character relationships, so the strong pull of the main story is a definite change in pace. The plot is gripping from beginning to end, with plenty of surprise twists and turns every step of the way. It's definitely taken more of a front seat roll compared to some of the other titles in the series. That's not to say that those endearing character interactions aren't still there, but they take a slight backseat to the main story this time around.
Joker and his friends, a ragtag group of renegade high schoolers who eventually become known as the "Phantom Thieves of Hearts," aren't quite the typical Persona group of budding detectives trying to solve a mystery. Rather, for much of the story, they are the mystery, an almost elemental force that's trying to change the world for the better. The Persona series has never shied from hard-hitting themes and the very real villains of humanity, and that's no different in this entry.
As the main story is more of a focus this time around, so too are the main dungeons that accompany it. Rather than the randomly generated Tartarus and TV World from Persona 3 and Persona 4, Persona 5's dungeons, which take place in various "Palaces" that represent human hearts, pay an almost meticulous attention to detail. There's a lot more variance to the dungeons as well, with puzzle set pieces and numerous different challenges that break up the standard combat with Shadows and demons.
There's certainly a lot more to love about the combat this time around. While the series' combat has always been serviceable, it often felt like more of a bridge between the day to day interactions with your friends. Shin Megami Tensei's battle system has always been about pressing advantages at every opportunity, targeting enemy weak points to gain extra actions; and the gorgeous battle scenes and excellent animations make battles absolutely delightful to watch. Combat feels more expressive than ever before in the series, with each action being a character defining moment in and of itself.
Speaking of character moments, Persona 5 has overhauled the Social Link system from the previous two entries into the new "Confidant" system, which has a much more direct impact on the party's abilities when fighting within Palaces and other dungeons. Confidants offer new shops, new abilities, and new ways to access different parts of Tokyo. It's important for Joker to spend his time carefully, with the limited amount of time given for both missions and the confidants themselves.
Days are split up into school portions, followed by free time at night and on weekends. Joker's free to use this time to explore Tokyo, develop his skills through study or work, or spend time with his friends, building their bonds and gaining new skills. It's important to manage this time efficiently, as Persona 5 has a set schedule. There's only so many days in the year, and Joker will need to make the most of every day to succeed.
Persona has always had a great flow between the main character's actions in their reality, and the alternate one they fight in. There are real benefits to maxing out each of the confidant's routes, and that's a nice change up from earlier titles in the series. While a couple of characters offered benefits for completing their social links, the confidant system offers much more tangible rewards, even throughout the entire process. It gives the progression of the relationship a strong link to the advancement of the game and its story, and it makes for a really rewarding experience.
There's never a moment where Persona 5 fails to be engaging. Whether it's through its slick and polished dungeon crawls, or the fluid and engaging battles, or through the relationships Joker builds with his allies, the experience is immersive from start to finish. Persona 5 isn't just an improvement on the series formula; it's built upon the successes of its forbearers to create an experience sure to enthral new and old fans alike.
Persona 5 is unrepentantly stylish, and absolutely seamless in keeping its players immersed in its world. Every moment is exciting, from traversing the masterfully crafted dungeons, to living it up with Joker's friends and acquaintances. There are some moments that don't mesh perfectly with the tone of the story, but even they help to paint a portrait of a group of teenagers dissatisfied with the world at large. Persona 5 is a joy from start to finish, and it never drops its fashionable facade - not even for a second.
I need to pick up this game (and a ps4)!
Persona has a few issues that are notable throughout the whole series - difficult to fully complete without a dedicated guide, randomly punishing for missing minor events, the social stats are grindy and a pain to manage, etc.
Overall, there's some moments where the dialogue just isn't that interesting. There's tons of short but unskippable scenes where you just have to listen to snippets of people's conversations.
It's a fantastic game and probably my favorite Persona title, but for it to be a 10, I'd think it would have to be perfect, and frankly, it isn't.
Mmm. Also, the fact that dungeons essentially force you to eat up three whole days this time around is extremely frustrating. It's a massive pain.
Sounds great! Looking forward to getting into it. Loved P4.