Atlus has done it again, and they are absolutely unafraid to show it. Persona 5 was released three days ago at the time of publication of this article and it has continued to steal my heart over and over again with its ability to be a fantastic yet complex game to master. Every game has had a theme before it, and this release is no different. Persona 5 keeps the tradition going with the central theme driving the story; To break the laws forced upon us by society. This theme is further driven forward by the inclusion of gameplay mechanics that highlight said theme, and cleverly written dialogues and character development. This is a review from a long time player of Persona 3 and 4, and I am excited to delve even further back into this series with 5.
Spoilers ahead. You have been warned, Inmate.
First off, let me begin with this: I’m a sucker for exciting openings to any type of story telling medium, and Persona 5 hits extremely hard with this, I have never been sucked into a game’s story quicker than this game has performed. It opens with your ragtag team of friends, named The Phantom Thieves of Hearts (Later player named, but for canon purposes they were given a name) stealing a treasure from someone inside of a Casino and with all good Thief stories, it immediately begins with a chase scene. The game immediately thrusts you into platforming over chandeliers and structures stories above a crowd that’s completely aware of your presence, and in turn security is completely aware as well. So in this one short scene you’re introduced to two lasting character traits. You are a thief, and you love being one and being recognized as one. Enter and Exit short platforming section and you find yourself cornered by a couple of guards who do not like the fact that you’re stealing something rather important. They make motions towards themselves, but not to pull out a gun, but to rather rip off their faces. Now please, allow me to explain, in this game the concept of Jung’s Persona is defined literally as a mask in this installment, with both the players ripping off their masks to activate their personas, and similarly enemies ripping off their masks to reveal their true forms. So once more the game introduces you to a concept that becomes a central focus point for the story, everyone hides themselves behind a mask.
Anyways, once the enemies have been defeated there is a short section of traversing hallways and avoiding being seen. Once this has been cleared there is a short scene where the protagonist is seemingly trapped between guards and a multiple story drop, but he finds a different solution; climb on the hand rail and jump out of the giant stained glass window. So not only has the action reached its peak but it continues even further with beautifully animated cut scenes that express the story and art style even further. Once jumping out and rolling to avoid becoming a pancake, immediately you recognize that it was a trap set by the police as there are dozens if not hundreds of riot police men waiting to swarm you the moment you landed, and the most logical course of action to take? Run. The protagonist runs to the side of the police and makes a jump for a ladder only to find there are more police waiting for him at the top who promptly knock you off the ladder. Immediately you are swarmed by said police men and put into custody being told one of your teammates ratted you out, so is this the end of The Phantom Thieves? The game just started though, that can’t be the end, right?
Correct, and this is a fantastic way to introduce a story. It hooks you in and keeps your interest, especially with the question, who ratted you out? Once arrested the game cuts to an interrogation room where you find that you have been beaten and drugged mercilessly by two agents. They shove a clipboard into your face and with your drug addled brain, force you to sign a confession admitting to everything you have done. This is of course, where the player creates their name for the character they spend an in-game year playing as. Small side note, I stick with the name Kokkuri Takashi, a name a friend gave me years ago when I started playing Persona 4 for the first time. After this, another investigator walks in, this time instead of two men who beat you senseless, it is a slender woman who begins an intese interrogation of you, drilling you for every detail of your story. This is how you play out the main game, the screen shifts and phases out, switching the time to the first day you spent in Tokyo.
Rest assured, I will find who betrayed us.
For story purposes, this is what I will leave it at. If you want more then try to experience it for yourself, Inmate.
Spoilers over. Read at your leisure, Inmate.
Persona 5 recieved a stylish design that is reminiscent of Street Art and it is easily one of the most enjoyable parts of any menu in the game. From the stylized menus tailor made for each character or specific funtion, to the most basic of UI and player interaction, the game always keeps itself consistant.
As mentioned above, the characters are both well developed, and have fantastic voice acting. I have a surprisingly deep connection to the characters from previous Persona games, and I honestly thought I would have issues connecting to these characters. But of course once again, I find myself pleasantly surprised with the fact that I found no problems connecting and enjoying any of these characters. They feel almost like people I would actually know in the real world and be friends with.
This game is a fantastic edition to the series and one to be remembered for years to come. It’s deep and meaningful story and themes as well as characters are the sort of things that manage to stand the complete test of time and continue onward to become a classic. A must play for future gamers, if you will.All in all, this game was well worth the near 4 year wait, ever since the tease came out I was eagerly anticipating it. While this game may be considered far darker than the games before it, it is definitely the best in the series and the complete redefinement of the JRPG genre. Atlus, thank you loads!