Persona 5: A true masterpiece that takes your heart and makes you fall in love with
The latest installment of Atlus’ great series is the best entry point for newcomers and quite likely, the best JRPG ever made. Here’s your short summary on what to expect from this game and why it’s finally time to give it a try.
The cool and dark side of Japanese High Schools
The series remains faithful to its prequels and patterns as you’re about to literally experience one helluva year in Tokyo as a Japanese high school student. Just like in its predecessors, the game doesn’t waste much time and takes you right into the Metaverse, a mysterious dimension that is partly shaped by the real city of Tokyo and partly by the psyche of the inhabitants.
The Metaverse is also the legendary realm where the powers of your persona awaken, a supernatural alter ego represented by a demonic looking Pokemon for adults only. Your party grows as you meet other characters with equal forces inside their hearts.
Everyday life in a megacity
You take over the life of a student, trying to acclimatize and survive in a city brimming with activity. Persona has always been an excellent blend of different genres and perfectly mixes this everyday simulator with the thrill of dungeon crawling. There are numerous locations filled with shops, restaurants, Japanese arcade and many strange persons on the subway. Dozens of possibilities open up to indulge one’s passion.
Money can be earned by accepting all kinds of part-time jobs, or you can go to the cinema, customize the equipment you’ve found, go out with friends and, of course, learn for school. The activities are exciting, filled with emotional side stories and help you build up the character… and your character will really need to strengthen his 5 basic values like courage, wisdom or skill. You’ll receive valuable rewards eventually once you’ve become more versatile.
Your team is able to warp into the Metaverse directly. The bunch is called Phantom thieves for a reason as you’ll visit manifestations, aka palaces of the subconscious of bad people whose hearts your Band of Thieves wants to steal. Locked on a target the party experiences a phenomenal and wild ride.
The randomly generated dungeons of Persona 4 have been replaced by handmade and much more varied locations, designed for handy stealth and patrolling action. The art of Persona is beautiful and an integral part of the mission design itself. There are even grotesque galleries waiting for you, filled with portals into small 2D worlds masked as paintings to jump right into.
If you’re more into hardcore grinding, you can go for side quests called Mementos. The collective psyche of the inhabitants of Tokyo presents itself as a randomly generated subway network you can use to whirl along in a very special kind of Catmobil… yes, as it turns out, your cat companion will become your number one choice of weird transportation.
Round One — FIGHT!
JRPGs of old are turn based and many people have been presented two sides of an argument. One side says these games are timeless classics that hold up today and are golden because of the approachable mechanics, whereas other say that nostalgia is blinding people and that the games actually don’t age well because of their bad pacing.
Make no mistake, Persona is nothing like NieR: Automata introducing you to stylized action-based combat where characters fight enemies in real-time. Instead, Atlus polished the already very good battle system and made some changes that really set it apart from the pack.
Instead of controlling your party through a list of options, each action (attack, defense, item, persona etc.) has its own button. In battle, you can unleash your personas to attack the weak spots of any opponent. In addition to the elemental attacks and spells of Personas, you can attack opponents using weapons with limited ammunition.
Persona 5 now lets you approach your opponents as well, asking them for money, items and even recruit them as new personas for your hero’s pool which is much more rewarding than pulling persona cards in the predecessor.
The Social-Link System
Socializing plays a vital part in Persona as you need a certain amount of courage in order to talk to other important students and believe us, a little help of your friends is needed to successfully face your destiny.
Along the journey, you will become friends with many characters associated with certain persona types. If you spend time with your friends you’ll unlock new skills, get discounts on equipment or boost your experience creating new personas through fusion.
You are free to decide which way to follow and how to invest your time. You can do that by learning new fighting skills hanging out with one guy or trying out medication with another. Each activity makes you stronger, and depending on your preference, the adventure becomes a very different one for each of us.
There’s also the typical Velvet Room”, in which you can manage the Personas or create new ones right away. This time it’s a prison you can enter in the city or in dungeons. There, you can merge personas in order to create new or stronger ones and even sacrificing existing personas in order to level-up others.
Anyway, you can manage your social life in a very meaningful way, becoming well-prepared especially for the minor and big bosses of the Palaces — unless, of course, you simply want to enjoy the story and opt for the easiest of the five levels of difficulty.
The devil is in the details
An argument can be made that Persona 5 features the most beautiful menus of all time. Besides the level of detail in every aspect of its mechanics, Persona 5 is just stunning once you take the time to marvel at the amazing anime style talking to its characters, experiencing its dungeon and monster design or its graffiti style menus.
You’ll hardly find a game that is so visually appealing, creative and detailed even though it was developed with the hardware limitations of the PlayStation 3 in mind. Almost any aspect in Persona 5 feels so primed that it could be direct footage from an anime television series. And yes, the soundtrack of pop, rock and jazz, adds to the overall experience.
A true masterpiece
After playing Persona for hours on end, it’s clear we are talking about a masterful JRPG. It’s sprawling, it’s polished down to the smallest detail and certainly, one of the must have titles for PS3 and PS4 owners.
So, even you don’t like the genre or are not a big anime fan either — it’s finally time to become curious and give Persona 5 the chance it so deserves. No, really, you need to try it this time!
Persona 5 is nothing to be left in a niche of absurd JRPGs. This one is exceptional. The story, the characters, its combat system and dungeon design fits perfectly and wipes the floor with games like Final Fantasy 15 and, to be honest, most Western RPGs as well. It’s that good and the one JRPG you can’t miss… it’s the one you might fall in love with.