Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There! Persona 5, one of the most anticipated JRPGs of all time, released this past week in Japan. Both residents and importers have been giving it rave reviews, including the near perfect 39/40 score from Famitsu.
Persona 5 is certainly an experience, and it’s one of our most anticipated games of 2017. Gathering together the Phantom Thieves, a unique group of outcasts who steal and reform the hearts of evil adults, players can easily spend hundreds of hours fighting, dating, raising stats, and exploring Japan’s famous districts. There are several aspects that make the game as a contender for the best in the series.
This list consists of ten of the best things about the game based on trailers and my experiences with importing the game. Out of respect for ATLUS’s request, no spoilers or information about the story will be revealed in this article.
1. Aesthetic , Visuals, and Detail
Persona 5 has style, just look at the amazing menu screens. Drawing inspiration from picturesque literature and classic thief stories, the aesthetic of Persona 5 is eye-catching with striking red and black colors. Never have I appreciated the art and style of save and load screens so much in my life. There are many gorgeous animations even for the smallest of things, such as going up the stairs in the dungeon or looking up your stats/requests.
The visuals, 3D models, and user interface (UI) are awesome. Instead of using standard text boxes, Persona 5 goes above and beyond, especially with animated cut ins when characters express certain emotions and making choices in the story.
The attention to detail in both the setting and gameplay is just amazing. It really feels as if you are walking around a city, especially in the subway station. Dungeons also are extremely detailed and are steps above the past games (even though past titles were amazing).
2. A Fantastic Cast of Memorable and Unique Characters
All of the Persona and SMT games are known for creating amazing casts of characters that make you feel like you know them personally. Some of the characters may even feel like parting ways close friends once the end credits roll in Persona 3 and 4. Persona 5 is no exception. Each character in the story is unique and goes beyond the JRPG archetypes often seen in games. Anne Takamaki, for example, is a very strong female character who has to deal with extreme hardships and has a fantastic, funny. and cute personality. Every single cast member is special and if you take the time to get to know them through co-ops, will feel like an amazing friend you just met. Backstories and reasons for joining the thieves are fantastic as expected. Even the characters outside of the party have quite a bit of characterization, which is often rare in RPGs.
The protagonist is also absolutely fantastic. His quiet side meshes with his strong phantom self, blending two very different lives. Although players choose how he responds, his character is great and a refreshing take on the idea of a “protagonist” as he is not the typical “normal” guy and has many unique qualities.
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3. Addictive and Stylish Combat
One of the best things about Persona 5 is definitely the combat system. Not only is the gameplay smooth, slick and incredibly addicting, it introduces a few new elements to mix things up from the past Persona titles.
Players engage in turn-based combat and have the option of using Persona skills, a “sword” weapon, a gun, and more. The basic idea has not changed from past titles. Ideally, players will exploit the weaknesses of the enemy, causing them to fall down. Once all enemies are down, it’s time to engage in a powerful group attack.
Baton Touch is super fun, which allows players to switch the order of teammates in battle. This is especially useful if there are enemies with different weaknesses.
One of the best new features is the stealth and sneak system, where players must sneak around corners and objects, approaching enemies from behind to get a “CHANCE” and advantage in combat. It runs so smoothly.
Nothing is as satisfying as getting an All Out Attack finisher and character card. It’s also worth noting that the after battle results screen is so cool to watch, showing animations of the characters and UI in a dynamic way.
I haven’t escaped a battle 30+ hours in and combat is super balanced. Combat is arguably one of the best things about the entire game.
4. Demon Negotiation and “Persona”-lity
Returning from the classic SMT games and Persona 1/2, demon negotiation replaces the chance of obtaining personas from tarot cards and is arguably one of the best features in the game.
When exploiting enemy weaknesses, players can elect to ask their enemy for their power, money, or items. It’s done in such a fun way and is not nearly as tedious as SMT IV or Persona 1+2.
In Persona 3 and 4, many of the enemies lacked the awesome personalities that were seen in other games. With demon negotiation, you get to talk to the enemies, showing their true nature and also having a little fun picking conversational elements.
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The character’s personas also have more screentime and talk a bit more, especially Arsene. This is awesome, especially since it’s always interesting to see what a character’s persona is like “persona”-lity wise.
5. A+ Jazzy Soundtrack
Whether you are hanging out with your friends in downtown Shibuya or are taking down a major boss, the soundtrack of the game is simply incredible. Replacing the rock/pop tracks of the past games, Persona 5 takes another angle, acid jazz. This genre of music fits in perfectly with the thief theme. Plus, the vocals by artist Lyn are absolutely beautiful. Last Surprise, the battle theme, can be listened to for hours on end without it ever getting old. It’s no “surprise” that Persona wowed fans with a catchy soundtrack. Here’s to hoping we get a full soundtrack release soon.
6. Deep Story that Mixes Humor with Serious Elements
Persona, as a series, is known for delivering top notch narratives. Although many (including myself) dubbed Persona 4 as one of their top games of all time, some criticized the story for being too cheerful in contrast to the overt seriousness of Persona 3. However, for Persona 4, the cheerful story went well. Persona 5 is much darker than the previous entry, which is a nice change of pace. Right away, players are faced with incidents happening at Shujin High School that are very serious. The villains/bosses in the story are all criminals of some sort whose hearts need to be reformed and rehabilitated.
The entire concept of the Phantom Thieves of Hearts is absolutely amazing. The thieves long to stop the evil people in the world who harm and manipulate others. All of the thieves have personally dealt with their targets, making for a deep emotional rollercoaster that is well worth the wait.
Over 80+ hours, you will laugh, cry, and be on the edge of your seat. The story is so detailed and beautifully written even 30 hours in. It’s definitely an adventure.
7. School/Everyday Life and Events
One of the unique features of Persona 5 is to attend school as a normal high school student. Although this isn’t anything new from the past games, Persona 5 somehow makes it even more fun than ever before. Everything feels more interactive, especially part time jobs. May times, you will have to make choices and push buttons rather than seeing time flow by.
School is also fun but much different than before. The cast of Persona 5 aren’t exactly well liked and do not spend that much time engaged in school activities or talking with students (minus a few). However, school events are really fun as well the events that occur outside of “school life”.
Want to watch a movie in a theater with your cat? Want to work at a bar at night? Want to go to the baths? The possibilities are seemingly endless and extremely fun. Each activity helps contribute to your overall stats, such as Charm and Knowledge. The best part? It never gets old.
8. The Phantom Thieves of Hearts and Mementos Dungeon
Mementos was a surprise. Announced during the July livestream, we were introduced to an entire other gameplay element outside of the main story. Mementos is a fun, optional dungeon that’s randomly generated. The best part? It contributes to the popularity and meaning of the phantom thieves. Players take requests from an online website/app in which people call for the thieves help to reform hearts. Not only is this concept awesome, it brings even more depth to the story and offers little side stories. It’s a great place to grind as well. Nothing beats driving around in the Morgana mobile, fighting enemies left and right.
9. Co-Ops, Social Elements, and Dating
One of the things that Persona is known for is it’s blend of RPG dungeon crawling and social elements. As stated in the second best thing about Persona 5 , the characters are all great and well written. This makes the social elements both relatable and enjoyable.
Co-Ops, which have replaced social links, are simply amazing and have more to them than ever before. Not only are the narratives longer, there are also opportunities to hang out with friends that act like a social element within the co-op itself. You can even invite your friends to specific locations in order to increase your relationship with them, receiving a full scene with choices. One of the awesome things about co-ops is that every rank gives you a perk in battle, which is well worth it. There’s also SNS which allows you to text your friends, even in class.
There are also the loveable group calendar events that we all enjoy so much in Persona games, from the summer festival to Valentine’s Day. You can choose someone to date, friendzone them, or date them all at once. Be careful though, cheaters do pay a price!
10. It’s a Game That Can Replayed Forever
The charm about Persona is that it is one of those rare game series that can be replayed again and again without it getting old. Sure, maybe you want to skip a few sentences here and there, but the battles, social elements, and balancing life is so addicting and fun that it can be played with hours passing by.
Each playthrough is magical in its own way. Maybe one time you decide to make Haru Okumura your girlfriend. Maybe the next playthrough you don’t date anyone and focus on battles. The game has insane replay value and will be a masterpiece for years to come.
Every day I’ve had this game, I poured hours of my life into it. Eagerly waiting for the next chance to play, I’ve found great joy in importing and supporting the Persona franchise. The English release will be extremely amazing, and I cannot wait until more information is revealed.
Do you need to know Japanese to import it? No. However, you may not fully understand and experience what’s going on. Downloading the Google Translate app allows you to take a picture of the screen. There are also some amazing fan guides to help you with choices. However, for a full experience, definitely check out the worldwide release as well. If you do decide to import, we recommend Amazon Japan.
Persona 5 will steal your heart next year on Valentine’s Day. Pick up a copy for PS3 or PS4 here.
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