Persona 5 — Review

I’m going, to be honest with you guys I have never touched a Persona game before the newest one released. I have heard about them for years and been told time and time again how I would love Persona 4. Well, when Persona 5 came out I debated getting the collector’s edition just because it looked really unique and I have a soft spot for any JRPG. I skipped it though and have regretted it ever since. This is a first-time Persona players review of Persona 5. So, if you’re like me and have put this series off for whatever reason this is specially written for you.

Opening thoughts

When I first started the game I was kind of put off at first honestly. The opening animation kind of made me question how serious the game was going to be. I was also a bit put back just by the fact that the main character wasn’t talking. I was kind of concerned the game was going to be nothing but cliche Japanese high school themes that we too often see in anime. As with any game, I gave it a few hours and I am so glad I did. The game is certainly strange but has its own style that keeps its themes feeling fresh and fun the whole way through.

Another opening thought I had was my worry for the characters. I wasn’t too partial to your first party member Skull at first. Your cat friend Morgana also starts off a little questionable. Luckily, the game goes into detail with each character and fleshes them out. I even like the bad guys for their development in the story. Character depth is always something I worry about when it comes to an RPG and Persona did not disappoint me on this front!

Story

Let’s jump into the base story to give you guys a good feel for the game. First off you are playing a protagonist who you will name who is on probation. This is because he stopped a woman from being taken advantage of and got sued for it. You have been sent to live with a strange man who loves making coffee in the backstreets of Tokyo. Here you will begin attending one of the only high schools willing to take in a student with a criminal record. This, of course, means that nobody really completely trusts the protagonist at first as criminal records in Japan are taken pretty seriously especially coming from the youth.

The story begins when you find a weird app on your phone that keeps coming back even know you try deleting it. As weird as this is you try to lead a normal life and on your first day of school you run into a kid with blonde hair who helps you find your way there. This, of course, turns bad pretty fast as you find yourself at what looks to be a castle instead of your school. The boys are confused and of course, try looking around only to come back to the castle and decide to enter it to see what’s going on. Inside they soon find themselves captured by guards.

After being caught you wake up to find yourself in a prison with the other student. You quickly then meet the king of the castle who has come to have you and your new friend executed. Just as all hope seems lost you hear a mysterious voice and a power awakens inside you. This is the power of Persona that allows you to fight back against the castle’s guard and save your friend from being killed. As you run along the dungeon you notice that there are several other students imprisoned inside making the characters completely uncomfortable. You then make your way to a dead end where you meet a cat named Morgana who you free on the promise of being assisted in your escape.

Morgana helps you find the exit and you and Ryuji escape back to the real world. You soon learn that you’ve missed the first few periods of school and time has passed by. At first, you both are confused to whether what you saw was real or not and even look around for the palace, of course, doesn’t work. Even more confusing the king of the castle was a teacher at the school who Ryuji seems to have the past with and he has no clue about the castle himself. This is where you quickly begin to unravel the mystery of what exactly happened to you and why this teacher tried to have you executed in this weird world.

The story progresses and you soon figure out that you can use the weird app on your phone to get back to the palace. Here you meet back up with Morgana and start to learn a little bit about the world you have been teleported into. As it turns out you are in the metaverse a place where someones hidden desires can manifest into a palace. In this place, the ruler of the castles is generally a human with evil desires that does a pretty good job of covering that up in the real world. In the metaverse, though you have the power of forcing them to have a change of heart and admit the truth in the real world. This is exactly where the story of the game really begins and all your challenges come from.

Characters

One of my favorite part of any RPG is the characters. Persona doesn’t disappoint in this aspect and even the side characters are well fleshed out. The main cast all has an unfolding story that attaches you to them and various part of their personalities are explored keeping them from falling into the 2-dimensional curse that some games struggle with. The main cast also does a wonderful job of playing off of each other and seems like a real group of friends instead of some teenagers that have just been forced together to save the world.

The side characters also get fleshed out as well. You can invest time in learning about their backstories and everybody has their own life. This means that you have a lot of side quest type stories you can learn about to give the game replay value if you didn’t get through all of them the first time. I really feel that all the characters have their own charm to them and the team behind the writing did an outstanding job with making you want to get more involved with this world.

Gameplay

The gameplay for Persona is weird even for a Jrpg. At first, I was kind of confused and even found myself kind of joking about the things I was having to do instead of you know saving the school/Tokyo. The fighting system is also a weird combination of things that took me a bit to really grasp at first. Anyone who plays a lot of JRPGs will understand just how unique this game’s gameplay is compared to most of the genre. This truly made the game pop out for me and quickly make its way up my charts to be one of my favorite games of this generation.

First off, we are going to take a look at the battle system itself. The battle system is a turn based system in which a lot of starting factors can affect the battle. For example, when you’re in a palace you have to sneak around to keep the alert meter down. The higher the alert meter the worse it will be for you moving around and if it hits 100% then you have to leave for the day. This system goes up if you get caught which also affect the battle making the enemy be able to in circle your group and do starting damage. On the flip side, you can surprise the enemy to start off the battle in your group’s favor.

When you actually get into a battle whether it will be good or bad some of the mechanics will probably be familiar to you. The battle system has a Sp and Hp system that determine how well you are doing and what attacks you can take. There are basic attacks that use nothing, a gun attack that you have a limited number of bullets for, and a magic attack that uses your Persona. There are several different magic attacks your Persona can do and their effects are listed below them to help you make the right decision. The battle flow itself is turn based, but some things can change around the order like killing multiple enemies in a row. The battle could even stop if your enemy gets scared allowing you to request items or money out of them.

The next huge part of gameplay is collecting different Personas. This is done through hold ups in the battle where instead of requesting monetary items you tell the enemy to join your team. If they agree then you gain them as a usable power. Each area and palace have different personas so be sure to get the ones you want when you can. Next, you can fuse Personas to make even more powerful ones. As you level up so does your ability to make stronger Personas to aid you in battle. Be sure to constant combined and upgrade your Personas so you won’t get stuck with an inadequate team at the end.

Next, we are going to talk about your daily life. This is your free time during the game where you choose what you are going to do for the day. In Persona you’re not forced to go through the palace instead you choose to and this is how most of the game goes excluding the story events. You will, however, have a countdown to a doomsday date that you should have the palace completed by. If you don’t complete the palace then the game will be over for you and your friends and you will have to load back an older save to progress the game.

The things you can do outside of battling, however, are pretty interesting. For example, you can get a part time job to earn some extra money on the side. This will cause you to have scheduled work times that will take up some of your day. Next, you can choose to increase your skills. Skills allow you to choose different dialogue options or unlock certain story paths. Knowledge is a skill you will get a lot of chances to upgrade through answering questions in class. There is also a guts stat that lets you do bolder things. A charming stat that allows you to be more appealing to others. The kindness stat that helps you sympathize with other and the profinite stat that makes you better proficient.

To increase these stats do thing such as watching movies or studying. There are several locations around Tokyo you can go to help increase these stats. Of course, everything you do takes up some of your days. You also can spend time increasing your bonds with other which will help you grow stronger in the long run. To do this simply agree to spend part of your day hanging out with your favorite characters to learn more about them.

Overview

Persona 5 is a wonderful game with an on-point creation of Tokyo and great music. The games art is stylish and set itself apart from other Jrpgs. The story is compelling and keeps itself on track so no information falls through the cracks or becomes too confusing for the player to follow. All and all I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys story driven games even if they don’t generally like anime or Japanese culture. I also feel like the characters are fully fleshed out even though they are teenagers in the game and are generally easy to connect with. This is easily one of the best games I have played in past years and I’m incredibly sad that I never looked into this series beforehand!

Jessica has been working with the gaming industry for about two years now. She enjoys playing quirky Japanese games and learning about the newest trivia in the industry. When not working with games you may find her chilling with her naked cat Prince Noko... he's pretty cool we guess.
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