Review – Persona 5 (PS4)

GameStop, Inc.

The long awaited next installment of the fan favorite RPG series is here. Persona 5 is finally released for both the Playstation 3 and Playstation 4 systems. Get ready to train your team, battle shadows, grow your friendships and get some waifus for laifu.

God, I can’t believe I just wrote that.

Persona 5 takes no time getting into the action. When the story starts, you are already a member of the Phantom Thieves and you already most if not all of your party members. The opening prologue is played solo, however. This is a departure from Persona 3 and Persona 4 where the action really doesn’t get going for hours. This action filled prologue is short lived, however, as the protagonist is captured by the police and the rest of the story is told in flashbacks. From here on, the game structure is similar to previous Persona games where the game’s story is told in a cinematic, almost visual novel style and the game doesn’t really pick up again action wise until your first Palace. You happen upon the multiverse by accident along with fellow student Ryuji Sakamoto. While exploring the mysterious labyrinth that resides where your school should be, you run into a talking cat named Morgana. Morgana tells you the labyrinth is actually called a palace formed by the twisted desires of one’s heart. Through a series of circumstances, the three of you decide to venture further into the palace in order to change the owner’s twisted desire.

The game itself plays almost identical to the last two games. There are a few gameplay changes, however. For example, Persona 5 now has two weapon options, your standard melee weapon and a ranged gun option. Certain shadows will have gun weakness, in addition to their elemental weakness. Once you knock down all enemies, while you can still initiate a strong combo attack called an “all out attack”, here you also have the  option to talk to the shadow. First off, the shadows here aren’t the same as in previous games, they are actually personas that have lost their way. If you talk to them you can ask for their power  and, if successful, can persuade them to join you. Alternatively, you could simply ask for items or money. However, if a teammate gets knocked down, they can be taken hostage by shadows.

The game is split into two different segments. The story portion plays out, generally at school, in an animated visual novel style, akin to most JRPGs. This is where you get most of the story. The gameplay segment is split into two portions: life and dungeon exploring. The life portion is basically a life simulator. You go around building relationships with friends or raising your social stats. These social links do offer the benefit of granting you additional abilities in battle and give you bonus experience points when fusing personas of the same type. The dungeon segment is split into two types: Palaces and Mementos. Palaces are the main levels of the game. These are story based and can not be skipped. Mementos, on the other hand can be. Mementos is basically this game’s version of Persona 3’s Tartarus. Mementos is a multi-floor dungeon where you can complete smaller request for changes of heart and train and level your team and obtain new personas. Like Tartarus, Mementos’ layout changes every time you enter. Aside from the first mission and for some social links, Mementos could be skipped, but isn’t recommended.

Graphically and musically, the game is what you expect from a Persona title. The game was looks like it uses the Catherine engine, so it does have a bit more realism than 3 and 4 did. Well, as real as an anime styled game could look. As with the previous two games, the soundtrack has a wildly different soundtrack that matches the story. Being a story about thieves, the soundtrack sounds like something you’d hear in a heist movie.

While Persona 3 and Persona 4 felt like completely different games overall, Persona 5 feels like more of the same as Persona 4. In Persona 4, the dungeons were based on shadow versions of people (who end up becoming your teammates, minus like three) and in Persona 5, the dungeons are based on shadow versions of people (this time being antagonists). Even Shujin Academy seems to have an almost, if not, identical layout (just slightly expanded) as Yasogami, where as Yasogami felt like a completely different school than Persona 3’s Gekkoukan High. Maybe it is because Persona 4 happens to be one of my favorite games. This isn’t to say Persona 5 is a bad game, just wish there was more to diferentiate it from it’s predecessor. Atlus does know how to create fantastic characters and stories, which is where these games really shine. So if you like JRPGs and or the Persona series, you probably already know what to expect. For those unfamiliar, this game at it’s heart is truly about the story and the character interactions. It will take some time for the train to pick up speed, but when it does it should be one hell of a ride. Will Persona 5 be one of those rides? Yes, yes it is.

And because you can not use the share feature on the PS4, here are some trailers.

Persona 5
  • 8.7/10
    Story - 8.7/10
  • 9/10
    Gameplay - 9/10
  • 9/10
    Mechanics - 9/10

The Verdict

While Persona 3 had the better story and Persona 4 had better characters, Persona 5 tries to do both but doesn’t quite succeed. You are still, however, left with a game that is worthy of your 80+ hours, provided you are into JRPGs.

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