Today, on February 11th, I beat Persona 5. I got it in June of last year, so… it’s been a long-time coming, but that only seems fitting given the game in question. So many years in production… the game was planned for 2014, but it spend 3 extra years in development hell, including having Atlus get its ass saved by Sega!
Truth be told, I do notice signs of a shaky production cycle within the game itself. The opening does (for a while) show one character after the other doing stuff, often even fancy acrobatic moves, but then 3 female characters are just introduced by being shown sitting together, barely moving. Almost like Atlus ran out of money, and just quickly squeezed them in.
Furthermore, one or two characters feel a tad bland, or „under-cooked“ so to speak. Some plot elements feel weaker than others, or at least their timing seems off.
With all of that said, despite these few points, I can still say that this is an amazing game, and the wait has truly been worth it! I won’t go into the story that much, I’ll just explain the jist of it:
There’s a whole different world out there, a reflection of our own, called „The Metaverse“, where people and places get distorted by the emotions of certain individuals. Our protagonist does end up in that world, and while being caught in a very bad situation, he awakes his Persona, and his new identity, as a Phantom Thief, both go along well considering that the protagonist’s persona is Arsene Lupin!
Very quickly the protagonist makes a few close friends, including Ryuji, Ann, and a talking cat called Morgana. Together they form a group of phantom thieves, and decide to fight corrupt adults by „stealing their hearts“.
This sounds weird and confusing… cause I wrote it, but… let me explain it differently. Each chapter of the game features some person doing despicable things, then the phantom thieves find out that this person has a mind so distorted, that it indeed changes a part of Tokyo into a Palace (as in… a dungeon), and so they need to infiltrate it, find the palace’s treasure (original source of the person’s distorted emotions), then they send out a calling card to the person (classic phantom thief thing), go steal the treasure…….. or rather attempt it, cause it can never go that easily, since we need a boss battle! Once that’s done and the treasure is theirs, and the person surrenders completely, and publicly admits to all their crimes.
Sounds kind of farfetched… but it really makes for some great action! There’s even fun mechanics specifically introduced to give you that feeling of being a real thief! You sneak around, attack enemies from hiding, pick locks on certain treasure chests.
Naturally like in the other 2 Persona games, you get to spend your free time building up social links, but they’re called „confidants“ in this game. Each person, in their own way, provides some help to you and your team. The playable characters naturally have the typical helpful combat abilities, but hey, how about spending time with your uncle to learn how to make curry or coffee (healing items)? Maybe you’d like to play some shooter games with this kid in the arcade (gun skills)? Or maybe you’d like to get to know your homeroom teacher a bit closer (too many benefits to mention)? I will say that it creeps me out how many romance options there are for characters that are clearly adult women… but… at least it’s just options, not obligation.
Weird thing, I managed to complete all confidants on my very first playthrough! … it was close, I got the last one on the last free day, but… still! I was not sticking to a real guide! Too bad that there is no reward for completing ALL of them. Come on, you made it so much easier here.. ugh
So ehhh, this is sort of a pointless review/article. I beat the game, I loved it, and felt like talking about it. Persona 4 was my favorite game of all time, and now I’m in a difficult spot, cause I can’t decide if Persona 5 beat it! Both share many similarities. They both have grand themes: Persona 4 was about Truth, and Persona 5 is about Rebellion.
I prefer Persona 4 over 3, because the gameplay got so much better, and I vastly prefer that game’s cast. Persona 5 is again a big improvement on gameplay, but I feel like I prefer the cast of Persona 4, just a bit more. Still… Persona 5’s final boss battle moved me to tears, and that has to count for a lot too… So ehh… I can’t decide which is better… but I guess that doesn’t matter. Both are great games, so ehh play both of them!
Now the million dollar question is: How on Earth would they follow up this game now?! What would Persona 6 have to be about to seem comparable?! …… we’ll have to find out in due time!