On February 14th, 2017, the highly anticipated JRPG, Persona 5, will release for PS4 and PS3 in the US and Europe. Due to my excitement, however, I couldn’t wait another half a year, so I took the dive and played the Japanese version that came out on September 15, 2016. Despite knowing that the level of Japanese in the game was a bit beyond my level (mostly in the kanji department), I was devoted to not only play the game, but also fully understand the story. It would be a waste and outright disrespectful to treat a Persona game otherwise. Rest assured, I’m not writing this review with only a partial understanding of the game. Many nights were spent aiming the Google Translate camera at my TV to understand every last bit of it.
In Persona 5, you play as the leader of the Phantom Thieves, a group of teenagers banded together to bring justice to the world made by rotten adults.
Sounds kind of cheesy?
Maybe on the very surface. Persona games are always about a bunch of high schoolers fighting baddies. But if you look deeper, and are willing to accept the true morals and stories in the game, it can truly turn into a life changing experience. It can provide insight on the human psyche and make you re-evaluate yourself outside of the game. This story is darker than 4, but not as emo as 3. A very good balance in my opinion. The immersiveness that originally made me love Persona 3 and 4 so much was taken to a whole new level. This was my story. My friends. My cause.
The only negative is that there are a few things hinted at in the game that were not explained in the ending, giving a slight feeling that you haven’t found the true ending yet. (Persona games tend to have Easter egg-like endings hidden in the games) However, I have a feeling that that might be Atlus’ way of gearing up for a follow up game in the future to tie those loose ends.
The characters in Persona 5 feel so much more realistic than their counterparts in previous games. While there were still likeable characters in 3 and 4, they behaved like and felt like fictional characters. Most of the people in 5 were people you could probably legitimately find in real life. Their stories felt real. Their reasons felt real. And that made them all the more relatable and likeable to me. Even the “first male character in the group” trope who I usually can’t stand, I grew to like and understand this time. When I finished my first play through, I legitimately missed my friends in the game so much that I immediately start my second run.
The UI in this game is absolutely delightful. Controls that I never felt were a problem in 3 and 4 were improved upon and makes this the smoothest Persona game to play. For example, instead of rotating through your actions in battle, each action is assigned to their own button, and it makes battles flow much better. Even menus and result screens look super cool. My only complaint is that Mementos, a ginormous dungeon you have to progress through bit by bit, is honestly a bit of a chore due to the sheer size of it. For this I would’ve brought back one of the mechanics from P3 where you could split up your party in the dungeon to explore it faster.
Very chill and still has that Persona flavor that Meguro Shoji churns out. Most of the tracks are decent in that they’re nice to listen to in-game but they’re not songs I would listen to outside of it. Most palace (dungeon) tracks weren’t anything to call home about, but there are a few standout songs scattered through the game that I find to be absolutely wonderful.
It’s not your super advanced cell shaded animations or anything but there’s a solid and true style to P5. It has a comic-like feel and the game utilizes this in an incredibly stylish way. Looking back at previous Persona games, you can really notice the huge jump in visuals from 4 to 5. The game takes place in Tokyo and is incredibly realistic in the details of the locations. Even though I’ve been to many of the real life spots before, seeing these places after playing the game made me so much more giddy about being in Tokyo.
I highly recommend this game, and playing it with as open a heart as possible if you decide to pick it up next year. Sure, it can just be a fun JRPG dating sim, but it can also be so much more. In the end, what you get out of the experience depends on how much you put into it. I truly believe that Persona 5 is the best game out of the Persona series to date.
Persona 5 “Take Your Heart” Premium Edition
Persona 5 Steelbook Edition
Persona 5 Standard Edition