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About the product
- Persona 5 marks the return of the award-winning franchise on home consoles since the PS2 generation
- Fast-paced Japanese role-playing game mechanics, exciting action sequences
- Vibrantly stylized characters, enemies, and environments, elegant anime-style cut-scenes
- Soundtrack featuring the fresh sounds of acid jazz composed by the gifted Shoji Meguro
- Overcome various obstacles with graceful Phantom Thief action. The simple-to-learn, but hard-to-master controls will be enjoyed by newcomers and veteran Persona players alike.
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Persona 5 is a game about the internal and external conflicts of a group of troubled high school students - the protagonist and a collection of compatriots he meets in the game's story - who live dual lives as Phantom Thieves. They have the typically ordinary day-to-day of a Tokyo high schooler - attending class, after school activities and part-time jobs. But they also undertake fantastical adventures by using otherworldly powers to enter the hearts of people. Their power comes from the Persona, the Jungian concept of the “self”. The game's heroes realize that society forces people to wear masks to protect their inner vulnerabilities, and by literally ripping off their protective masks and confronting their inner selves do the heroes awaken their inner power, and use it to strive to help those in need. Ultimately, the group of Phantom Thieves seeks to change their day-to-day world to match their perception and see through the masks modern-day society wears.
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The problems with this game don't end there. This series continues to boast too much dungeon crawling with this entry. At least it follows in Persona 4's footsteps of making the dungeons more interesting than Persona 3's recolored blocks for a 250+ floor tower (Tartarus). However it's still a flaw that needed to be brought up. Oh and the turn based combat is also a problem. It's 2017 ATLUS not 1997, if Square's Final Fantasy can move away from it why can't your Persona series?
The story/plot, is actually quite a step backwards. Whoever thought it'd be a good idea to make us play as anti heroes/pseudo villains needs some serious help. And the way this story ends is about a hundred times more upsetting than the canon ending for Persona 3. It's an ending that leaves me feeling like nothing was actually resolved or accomplished over the course of the game.
I hate the look of this game. It looks like Eternal Sonata meets film noir. This is a game made for the PS3 released onto the PS4 without taking advantage of any of the hardware's capabilities in the next generation console. It gives the game a dated feel all around which coupled with the gameplay and characters only makes the game look a hundred times worse.
The music for this game is forgettable and bland IMHO. The most standout track is the returning incarnation of the Velvet Room theme first used in Persona 3 way back in 2005-2006. I also have a huge issue with the Velvet Room itself. The fact it's a prison isn't my issue oddly enough (though I could do with less bondage sex slave imagery and overtones). I don't like Caroline and Justine at all, and Igor has been downright destroyed since Persona 4. Where Igor has always been creepy, he's never felt less welcoming than he does in this game.
A closing complaint as I'm going to go crack this game in half and throw it out my window as soon as I'm done with this review; I don't appreciate how I'm surrounded by a bunch of jerks for NPCs and supporting cast members. From Sakura-san to Kawakami-san to random school students I can eavesdrop on everybody's a prick. I play video games specifically RPGs to escape such people not to deal with more of them. If I wanted to deal with jerks I'd just live my real life not the life of this god forsaken protagonist.
This is the worst JRPG I've played in years and not a good start for my run with a PS4.
After many, many P4g and P4 PS2 play throughs, I can attest that P5 is a well-made follow up to P4. The lineage is clear. The music is great and the story is solid. Atlus did a great job in some areas in particular:
- The Tokyo details. You didn't have to spend time in Shinjuku to pick up on everything, but if you've spent any extended time anywhere in metropolitan Japan - Osaka, Kobe, etc - there is so much here to connect with. From the convenience store layouts to lines of subway ticket machines, the environment designers hit all the right notes. THERE IS EVEN A POLLEN WARNING FOLKS.
- The music. Now arguably P4 had better music, but the soundtrack is still pretty awesome stuff.
- The visual design is as colorful and as lively as walkthrough through Shinjuku or Dōtonbori in Osaka after sunset. Atlus sort of took the Catherine graphics design and went nuts.
- Offering a Japanese audio track for free. Confession: I haven't actually heard a single word of the English track. I have a Japanese copy I brought back from Osaka and I played through the American release from start to finish with the Japan audio. I know some people have ranted about flaws in the localization, but if that stuff bothers you so much, just get the full Japanese version. If your kanji isn't really up to snuff like mine, but you can get through the audio, the American release is an easy choice. The Japanese audio track is a free download on the PSN store.
- 100 hours from start to finish. This shouldn't be a surprise to any Persona vets. The truth is, a lot of this play time is more about watching the story unfold and fulfilling character stat boost tasks than some grueling marathon. It's like a Netflix season really.
- Though the difficulty spikes are still there, the combat is also still tons of fun, strategic and really satisfying.
Now some complaints. Persona 5 is not perfect. Neither was 4 or 4G. Or 3. Or 3 FES. Or Q.
- Main dungeons are not half random like before, but honestly, they're still a little bland. Some have some really great bits and the use of color is fantastic on all of them, but you're still essentially on rails waiting for a button prompt to hit shadows for combat. I actually think Persona Q felt a little better than this even if you were just moving on squares. Traversal in a Persona game has never been a focus of the designers and it's not really much different here than past titles, but it feels limiting. Mementos - the side mission grind playground - IS made of randomly generated room branches and mostly a good edition since dungeons disappear permanently after you beat them, but it's sort of small scale simplistic stuff that often feels a little weak in comparison to the rest of the game. However, you finally do get a mystery machine van that we didn't have in P4.
- 100 hours from start to finish. The downside to this? Well a lot of that time has to do with Morgana telling you what you can't do on particular days early on (this was something the game used to force on you in P4 but now handled through a screen character). Another chunk of time is the infinite cross fading loading screens between any action that happens in the game.
- Persona 4 was a little slow moving until you hit the 8-10 hour mark. Persona 5 is marginally better, but arguably, the game doesn't actually begin until when the 3rd dungeon begins which is roughly 18-20 hours in.
- Lastly, and this is 100% subjective, but as good as this game is, it is lacking the immeasurable charm and heart from P4 or P4g. I'm not taking anything away from the full group of characters in P5, but overall, it's maybe 9/10s of Persona 4. There is a distinct lack of freshness to many of the game's systems too as some aspects of the game feel lifted from Catherine too. But as I type this, I know there were plenty of people who said similar things about Persona 4 coming off P3. Your mileage may vary.
You can't go wrong though. Person 5 is in line with the other life dominating Atlus entries to the series and is so dang amazing that my complaints above came after much thought from a player who has braved the Tartarus, Midnight Channel and now the Metaverse. This is a great game and in many ways is the opposite of open world games in good and bad ways that are dominating video game releases these days. By the end, it's not really about stats or how many cars you have in your GTA garage, it's about looking back and truly earning the right to say, you went on a real journey and you did it among friends.
But I still miss Yukiko and Rise. And maybe Chie.