- Developed By Atlus
- Published By Atlus NA
- Release Date: 4/4/2017
Wow, just wow… Persona 5 is a game that managed to exceed my already high expectations with the sheer amount of detail that the game has, the effort that went to this game is almost disturbing.
The game changes its gameplay depending on if you are in what are known as “palaces”, or the world where the characters reside in. I’ll start with talking about the palaces, as that’s the more traditional aspect of the game.
This is where combat takes place, it’s where you dungeon crawl, battle, and where you’ll notice some other similar attributes seen in the usual modern J-RPGS. With of course the introduction of other new features to the franchise, some from another Atlus franchise (while I know the game’s roots, I don’t really consider Persona part of the SMT games), while others are new additions to the games.
The protagonist of the game is transferred to Tokyo, due to certain events that occur in the beginning of the game. The game’s story takes place here in Tokyo, most of the story takes place in the real world, instead of palaces, though they do play a big role in the game’s story. I’m happy to say that the developers have put a lot of attention into ensuring that the characters are well fleshed out and ones you want to learn more about. Even side characters are given the opportunity to shine from time to time.
You are even rewarded with interacting with some the people in Tokyo. In fact, many combat benefits can be gained from communicating with the characters a certain amount of times. However, do keep in mind that the time you have in the game is limited, and you have one in-game year to progress through the game so, try to use that time wisely.
The one word that most describes the game would have to be “style”, infact the game oozes with it.This is made possible due to the consistent eye-popping pallet the game uses, as well as it’s phenomenal typography and many other minor touches that give this game its charm.
In fact, I’m willing to you show the amount of detail the creators of the game are willing to go to, not by showing you the main menu of the game, but the menu that shows up for visiting a fucking clinic (there is even a theme specifically for visiting the place).
While those things may seem to be unnecessary in improving the overall game’s experience, they are a part of what makes the game unique. However, the games “style” isn’t what makes it great, the combat mechanics do.
Persona 5 has one of the most fleshed out turn-based battle systems of any game that I have ever played. It’s mostly due to the inclusion of the demons from the Shin Megami Tensei games to the series. This is because the game encourages you to exploit the weakness of demons, as you are capable of utilising multiple “personas”, besides your main persona, you can interrogate the demons.
Speaking of Interrogations, I’m happy to see that it is an improvement from the way Shin Megami Tensei handles it. The problem with the way SMT handled it is that it was too luck based for my liking. You had to choose from the same limited speech quotes and see the demons react in different ways. Luckily, Persona 5 gives you a hint of the demon’s personality, making you react accordingly. You are even rewarded with exploiting a demon’s weak-point by having the attacks perform more damage, getting an extra turn, and even switching to another ally via a feature called the “Baton Pass”. This can even give you an opportunity to expose more weaknesses, where you can then either commence in what is known as an “All Out Attack” to give out further damage, or try to communicate with the demons to receive benefits such as Items, currency, or increasing your manpower by having them join the team.
You can do most of what I just mentioned, and you can access some of the other mechanics, such as commencing basic actions such as blocking, melee attack, using ranged weaponry, all with the click of a few buttons. The only time you have to scroll down on the battle menu is to choose from the attacks available, choosing an item, or a few other instances where the developers were pretty much forced to do so.
Such detail may seem minor to notice, but I assure you that’s not the case by any means. The pace of the combat increased more than I expected, largely due to fights against fodder enemies ending as fast as they should. There also another mechanic that helps increase the pacing of the game which I’ll soon go down to. To have such depth in combat, and make it easy to comprehend, is truly an extraordinary feat. I mean I’m not the smartest tool in the shed, yet I still managed to understand all of that.
—-However, there is a decision that was made that I’m sadly disappointed by, and that is having status effects. Sure you can say it’s to balance the game and make the bosses feel more intimidating but, I don’t feel that removing a feature that is in the game is the best way to go at it. Why not just make the chance of these skills just more unlikely to hit, or am I that unlucky that I happened to never have them connect to the bosses? That’s doubtful.
I might even go as far as say that it would add more to the experience of fighting the bosses. It would be another risk/reward mechanic to consider in combat, by sacrificing an ally’s turn when using an attack that could be less likely to connect, then having the effects last less than what is typical from the weaker enemies, for balance’ sake. This would even make it more satisfying when they finally and as I mentioned be REWARDING.
With all the fixes added to the SMT mechanics, with the persona spice added in of course, I did expect that to be the case. This just made status alignments feel less meaningful, as their feature happens to work on regular demons, yet fail miserably on proving to pose a shred of a threat against bosses.
I know I may have talked a little too much revolving that one point, but removing a battle feature for the sake of “convenience” is jarring when you really start to take notice of. This is also one of the few flaws that I could really find within the game and is something that rarely shows up (granted on one of the more important fights in the game).
Stealth in Persona
When I first heard of the inclusion of stealth in a turn-based RPG, and have it be an important and recurring feature, I was worried. I mean stealth is usually not implemented properly if it’s not the initial main goal of the game. I’m happy to say that it’s a feature that does not deter from the game’s experience, but rather improve it.
The main reason for this is that the dungeon’s designs play towards the strengths of the stealth, and uses them to its utmost potential.
Another advantage is that it’s a simplified version of what is typically seen in other stealth games. This is because the combat gets to be what’s at focus. In fact, you can’t even kill them via ambush. However, the “ambush” mechanic does give you a full turn to attack, giving you the upper hand in battle. The biggest reason I believe Persona 5 is part stealth game, because of how important they are to completing the dungeons. In the top-left corner, there is a meter that increases if you are spotted by an enemy, and are not taken care of. If the alert meter reaches a hundred percent, you are forced to back out to the real world. This isn’t as annoying of a feature as it first seems since you can fast-travel between what are known as “safe rooms”.
However, I do have a small issue with the stealth, and that is having to sneak between surfaces of a wall or object, and engaging with the enemies of the game, requiring the use of the same button. I did find times where I wanted to sneak in from enemies to progress a dungeon faster, where I accidentally attacked them while trying to shift between the sides of the walls with the “x” button. It is something that won’t happen as much if you take notice of your surroundings, and you can minimise that from occurring as long as you position yourself from your opponent as to not engage with but still, it happen and it will suck, so be patient as to not spam the button repeatedly.
While I did say the game becomes faster to complete, that’s mostly due to having the option of ignoring fights against opponents. Keep in mind that depends solely on your skill in not getting caught.
Dungeon level designs
This game has one of the best dungeons in any game I’ve played. There is not even a SINGLE dungeon in the game that’s similar to another. This makes the game one of the least repetitive J-RPGS that I played.
Besides aesthetics, each dungeon implements puzzles that change the way you progress them. This makes what is usually a repetitive gameplay style feel fresh. It really does change things up a bit, making an incredibly long game to finish, easy enough, right? Another facet of the game I appreciate is that most of the dungeons have a certain verticality to them, one that is sadly, something not integrated masterfully in many J-RPGs similar to this game.
I don’t mean by that the use of stairs to progress onto the multiple floor levels, but the way some of the levels are designed and help complement the parkour feature of the game. While the parkour is not that complex of a mechanic in the game, it does give the developers the opportunity to design the dungeon in a more creative matter.
Persona 5 is a phenomenal game, filled with perfected mechanics that easily make this game a candidate for game of the year. It’s full of sheer brilliance. I know I didn’t really mention the story in any meaningful way so, I’ll just quickly talk about what I think. The game’s story is interesting and especially engaging, mostly due to well-executed and well-written characters that you end up caring more about, as the game progresses, as well as a well thought out and distinctive premise.EVEN if the game’s story somehow ended up being subpar, which thankfully is didn’t, it would still have the masterfully engineered gameplay to make it stand out from the rest.
Persona 5 is a game that deserves to stand proud as one of the greatest RPGs of this decade.