The Review: Persona 5

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Playing through Persona 5 is like starting a new hyped-up show on Netflix.

At first, you’re not too sure what you’re getting yourself into. But the more involved you get, the more you find yourself completely addicted and unable to leave your bedroom. (I need help.)

As you can probably tell from this overly dramatic opening, I am absolutely hooked on Persona 5. From its comic book presentation, to its challenging combat system, Persona 5 is a title that hones the core elements of Japanese visual novels, role-playing games, and anime dramas, to provide a title that is slick, stylish and absolutely fantastic.

Persona 5 characters.

Released exclusively for the PlayStation 4, Persona 5 is a Japanese role-playing game and the sequel to the spin-off Shin Megami Tensei series. In Persona 5, you play as a Japanese high school student sent to stay in Tokyo for the next 12 months. After being wrongfully convicted for physical assault, you’re sent on probation and are forced to live with a complete stranger until you’re considered fully rehabilitated.

Shortly after your arrival, you meet up with another student, Ryuji Sakamoto. After getting lost on your first day at school, you and Ryuji accidentally end up in a parallel dimension known as the metaverse. In this universe, distorted human desires manifest themselves into demons/monsters known as Shadows.

Without delving into the story too much, one thing leads to another, and you and your friend discover a hidden power to fight against these creatures. From there on out, you and Ryuji decide to form the Phantom Thieves, a group of high school vigilantes dedicated to reforming corrupt individuals with twisted desires.

As far as the story goes, I’ll leave it that. As someone who understands that there a lot of people still heavily invested in the story, I aim to keep this review completely spoiler-free. I do this out of the respect to not only the people playing this game, but those most likely to murder me if I dare hint at any discussion (please don’t kill me!).

I will say this though – if you were concerned at any tonal shift in comparison to Persona 4, don’t worry. This game has an amazing setup in both its writing, story, setting and characters. Sure I might’ve missed Inaba and a few of the main characters within the first couple of hours. But after a while, I began to really dig the city location and appreciate the new recruits in this game.

But like Persona 4, if there’s one thing Atlus remembered to carry over from 4, is providing an incredibly long title. Persona 5 is by far one of the longest games I’ve played all year. The best part is, even at the 75-hour mark, I’m still heavily engaged with what is happening in the story. Everything about this game feels liked it was planned and mapped accordingly. At no point, did I feel like sections were dragging out for too long, or that certain points felt like filler content. Each segment and side story, both minor and major, felt as if it was contributing to the story.

The high school experience I unfortunately never had.

As well as the story, combat plays a huge role in Persona 5….

In combat, players can manage a party of up to four high school students. In this mode, players will explore dungeon-like areas (otherwise known as Palaces) and come across a variety of enemies to fend off against. Much like the main character, each person in the party can utilise their Persona abilities to fight against the Shadows.

Like Pokémon, there are a variety of different Shadows that players will encounter (sadly though, no Pikachus). Based off mythological demons and gods, certain Shadows will be weak against certain abilities, so swapping over party members is a useful habit that players should get used to.

While the combat may seem straightforward, it does eventually rack up in difficulty the more you progress through the game. Added to that, resources such as managing your magic (SP) is a crucial aspect in exploring the levels. As soon as that runs out, players have no choice but to head back home.

Yes, that’s a gun. Yes, you can shoot monsters with it.

But as well as your start-off Persona, players can also procure new and more powerful Personas throughout the game. As players knock down enemies, they have the option to spare the Shadow’s life and ask if they would like to serve. What happens next depends on how you talk to these creatures and giving them the responses that make them happy. Otherwise, players can end up being attacked or given an item instead.

Though if you really suck at negotiating with monsters, you can always try and create new Personas through the Velvet Room – a dream-like alternate dimension in which you can fuse monsters you currently own to create stronger ones.

The way this works is relatively simple. First, you select two Personas you wouldn’t mind fusing. Next, you decide whether or not you’re happy with the outcome and then fuse them. How this is carried out is in an execution process, to which your Personas will be laid on a guillotine and sacrificed to give birth to your desired monster (think of it as murdering two Pokemon just so you can own Charizard… lovely!).

One of the good things about this fusion process is that it not only just creates Personas, but it can also carry over any special abilities that your previous ones had as well. As well as this, any Personas you owned previously will be registered in a special booklet, which will allow for you to summon them again later in the future.

Sometimes the best way to earn new creatures is not the happiest.

But while killing monsters is great and all – there’s more to Persona 5 than just that…

In addition to the combat and main story, players can also spend their time chatting with side characters and levelling up their stats. As well as chatting up your own teammates, players can also befriend a variety of different townsfolk throughout various segments of the game.

While it’s completely optional, I highly recommend trying to hang out with as many people as you can. Much like the main story, you can tell that a lot of time has gone into crafting these segments and writing down these stories. Each one feels unique, and the personalities that each character has really does make it feel like I’m watching an anime series.

Lastly, I can’t end this review without discussing how stylised this game is. From the main menu, to the loading screens, to the transitions between levels and the cutscenes, every action of this game has been polished in some way or another with some of the most beautiful animation sequences. With its nice black, white and red colour palette, to its sharp comic book patterns within the background, visually this game is pure eye candy. Adding to that some of the most energetic, jazzy soundtracks, and you have game that can easily stand the tests of time.

Persona 5 School

In summary….

Through its intricate combat mechanics, interesting characters, engaging story and unique aesthetics, Persona 5 is a game that’ll have you hooked from start to finish. Excelling in both the elements of style and substance, this is by far one of the best games of 2017. Whether or not you’re new the series, Persona 5 is a great entry to the series, and a perfect addition to the PlayStation 4 library.

My Rating: 10/10

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