Persona has kept me entertained for a few years now, and the latest edition to the series is no different.
Like the two most recent predecessors of the game, Persona 5 (P5) puts players in the shoes of a Japanese High School student, balancing his social life and battling shadows.
Adapting an anime style in it’s storytelling and art style, P5 stuffs hours upon hours of character development, storytelling and plot into the game, with the underlying themes of friendship, growth, and change. Unlike it’s predecessors however, P5 focuses on rebellion, politics, and enacting social change.
P5 relates to young adults on a deeper level as it is about the struggle the younger generation go through, as they feel bogged down by the older generation, feeling robbed of their own future, and the need to force a change in the system. P5 also make some rather effective observations of society, mainly the drivers behind change and the reluctance to embrace it, even if it was for the better.
Taking the role of Joker, you and your group of friends explore the “Metaverse” battling powerful shadows with the assistance of Personas.
While the storytelling tropes of the game follows the series to a certain degree, one major change is the perspectives Joker and his friends have towards their powers, instead of shying away from their powers like many of the characters in previous edition of Persona, the new team welcomes their abilities with open arms, ‘stealing’ hearts in the Metaverse, which has the effect of causing people in the real world to change and atone for their misdeeds. The aim of their actions is to enforce change in the world, not for the usual ideal of making the world a better place, but tangible change, for better or worse.
Social Links return to P5 under a new system called Confidants, with allies and a wide range of Non-Playable Characters (NPCs) to interact with, advancing these Social Links will take up a lot of time, and follow a similar formula to the ones found in Persona 3 and 4. These Confidants affect your gameplay in a more direct fashion as compared to the previous editions, as advances with Confidants will unlock bonuses that help you with your battles in the dungeon. The stories tied to Confidants can feel slightly shallow at times, but the main story more than makes up for the lack of depth here.
Speaking of dungeons, the improvements in this aspect are by far the largest and most obvious. Where the previous main entries to the Persona series, i.e. Persona Q does not count, had randomized dungeons, Persona 5 has a defined set of dungeons, called “Palaces”, to explore. By including elements from stealth, and puzzle games, Atlus has breathed new life into the dungeon crawling portions of the game. While randomized dungeons exist, they are completely optional.
Returning to the dungeons that are part of the main story are no longer an option, and as a result grinding has to be done in Mementos, a maze that just gets deeper and more dangerous as the game proceeds. The Mementos is also a place for players to farm for loot and complete side missions.
The movement in the game, however, can feel rather unwieldy at first and takes some getting used to.
The battles in P5 not only look flashy, but are really fun to watch. Following the traditional rock-paper-scissors styled weakness chart, the game allows you to knock enemies down when you use the correct type of attack. Leveraging on this can speed up battles up as a downed enemy will trigger an all-out attack from members of your team, dealing a boatload of damage. You can also negotiate with shadows, demanding money, items, or adding them to your ever growing arsenal of Personas.
Collector’s Edition Bonuses
I’ll admit that getting the Take your Heart edition was more of an impulse than anything else, and I’m pretty happy with what I got. Looking inside, you get a 4″ Morgana plush, an Original Soundtrack CD, a 64-page artbook, the steelbook edition of the game, and a Schoolbag.
The collector’s box is beautifully designed, with portraits of the playable characters and their Personas.
The Morgana plush was a little smaller than I would have expected but it seems solidly made.
The Soundtrack contains 19 tracks from the game, and Shoji Meguro has once again delivered a masterpiece, I cannot understate how much I’ve enjoyed his works through the years.
The 64-page hard cover artbook is a stripped down version of the official setting artbook, but it still contains art for the characters in the game, settings, and some concept art.
The beautifully designed steelbook shows off the game’s main characters and is one of the steelbook designs I actually enjoy.
Finally we have the school bag, which has become my daily driver since I got the game. The design is neat and clean featuring the logo of Shujin Academy, and its under the radar design is something I really like.
It’s been close to ten years since we saw a new addition to the main Persona franchise and I am more than satisfied with what Atlus has brought us. Despite having to wait through delays, Persona 5 has lived up to the hype. Also having dual audio is a major plus, as the voice acting for both the English and Japanese voice overs are amazing.
Pros: Deep engaging story, Beautiful dungeons, Easy to understand battle mechanics, Wonderful User Interface, Dual audio
Cons: Movement needs some getting used to, Shallow side stories
Platform: PS3, PS4 (Tested)
Price: 71 SGD (Regular Edition), 88 SGD (Steelbook edition), 150 SGD (Collector’s Edition)