Persona 5 Review

Persona 5 Review Darryl Linington
Storyline
Gameplay
Graphics
Sound
Lasting Appeal
9.8
Just shy of perfect
User Rating: 9.4 (3 votes)

Developed by Atlus and published by Deep Silver, Persona 5 is the latest role-playing game to grace consoles. While originally released on the PlayStation 3, Persona 5 has finally made its way to players on the PlayStation 4 console. With the formalities out of the way, let’s get straight into the review.

Developer Atlus, the team who brought you Catherine on the PlayStation 3, has made a triumphant return with yet another masterpiece in the JRPG genre. This time around, Persona 5 places the player in the shoes of a second-year high school student who has been expelled, from his previous high school, for defending a woman from being molested by a powerful politician. With a charge of assault against him, the protagonist is sent to Tokyo to stay with a family friend as well as attend Shujin Academy during his year-long probation.

Upon arrival in Tokyo, the protagonist is branded a troubled teen – by both the students and adults around him – due to his alleged violent behaviour. Once settled in, the protagonist is summoned – during a dream – to the Velvet Room where Igor, a character from past Persona titles, resides. Within the Velvet Room, the protagonist is told he must be rehabilitated. While this is vaguely explained, the protagonist is then granted access to a supernatural mobile application that allows him to enter the Metaverse, which is a world that reveals the distorted desires of those who reside in the world of Persona 5. Once within the Metaverse, the protagonist can essentially steal the hearts (treasures) of corrupted adults – from within their personal Palaces – in order to force them to have a change of heart. The very first heart stolen is that of a perverted, abusive, teacher who uses his past achievements to bully students into submission. It’s at this point where the protagonist meets a few like-minded characters who not only have personal agendas against the before mentioned teacher, but also want to make a difference in society around them. Without giving too much away, I’ll end the synopsis there.

When it comes to story, Persona 5 features one of the best storylines in the series. During the campaign, character and story development progressed in such a way that it kept me engaged for a ridiculous amount of hours (we talking close to 100 hours folks). Watching the characters mature throughout the year at the Academy was something that I thought I’d never see in a JPRG, and made spending this much time on a single playthrough well-worth the time. From start to finish, I found that Persona 5’s story was perfectly paced. There were times where there was an immense amount action and chaos happening all at the same; however, this was then balanced out with times where the protagonist, as well as his friends, had downtime where they would discuss various day-to-day events. This sort of pacing kept Persona 5 interesting and engaging.

Overall, when it comes to story, Persona 5 has a rock solid, well-written one that deserves all the praise in the world. The characters are interesting, excellently written, and comical at the same time. I found myself caring more and more for each of the characters the more I got to know their back stories. What also makes Persona 5’s story so great is the fact that it is not shy to touch on darker subjects such as abuse, plagiarism, drugs, and suicide. There is a heavy story here with deep characters and even deeper subject matters; however, the developers have taken this initial tone and brightened it up with colourful animations, stylish music, and some rather comical banter between the characters. This allows the more serious side of the game feel a bit more approachable.

As stated above, the writing and script within the game is excellently done and exceeded my expectations completely. Various conversations either be played out with a voiceover while others were done via just plain text. Shifting between the two may seem inconsistent, but essentially this balances things out as it keeps the player engaged.

Apart from the storyline and characters, Persona 5 features a rather impressive battle systems. Battles are played out in a turn-based style and the player can opt to either attack with a melee, magic or ranged attack. To add to the combat options players can also deal damage by using creatures called Personas. Battling with your Persona makes combat more interesting as a Persona can often stun enemies and give the player a chance to attack. Alternatively, if the player chooses not to attack, they can essentially hold up an enemy to either gain it as an ally… or rob it of its loot. Personas are much like Pokemon; however, instead of throwing a Pokeball at them you will need to negotiate with them mid-battle to join your cause. Just be warned, you will need to be levelled up sufficiently to negotiate with Personas successfully.

Each character starts off with a different Persona; however, once at the right level, you can return to the Velvet Room and essentially fuse two Personas together in order to create a much more powerful Persona in battle. I personally loved having this option as I could mix and match Personas toward my play style.

Personas also player a role when it comes to interacting with various Confidants within the game. Confidants are Persona 5’s version of Social Links. These are the folks you essentially build relationships with in order to gain more abilities, bonuses, and items as you progress. Spending time with your confidants will be your primary source of game time outside of Palaces.

Apart from interacting with Confidants and fighting the good fight, the player will also need to manage their time. As you are playing the role of a second-year high school student you will need to study, exercise, get a part-time job as well as keep relationships close with your Confidants in order to boost stats. There are also other activities that boost stats like visiting the bathhouse, seeing a movie, reading a book… or even going as far as taking part in clinical trials to either earn cash or boost up your skills. But as stated before… This all takes time… So time management is really crucial when playing this title. If you do miss a deadline, say for instance stealing a corrupt adult’s heart, you will hit the game over screen… so don’t spend too much time sweating it out in the bathhouse, or earning cash in your part-time job, as you could be spending this time ranking up your stats with your Confidants.

Apart from the above-mentioned tasks, tackling Palaces and dungeons takes up a huge chunk of time. These beautifully crafted levels have been designed to represent the twisted minds of the main enemies that you face. When tackling these breathtaking areas, you will notice that no two Palaces are the same. One may represent a visually breathtaking castle… while another may take the form of a highly guarded museum. Adding this amount of variety to the Palaces allows Persona 5 to be the visually breathtaking title that it was meant to be.

As stated above, Persona 5 is all about time management, which means that you won’t be able to complete a Palace in one sitting… You will often have to progress toward a point and exit in order to strategize with your fellow teammates as well as restock on items. This, as well as offering up over 100 hours worth of gameplay, gives Persona 5 a tremendous of lasting appeal.

With so much to do in Persona 5, as well as so many choices to make, I found myself opening up multiple saved games in order to replay certain areas in order to try to make different choices. This proved to be a step in the right direction as Persona 5 is a title that can be played over and over as it features multiple endings.

Conclusion:
Persona 5 is just what the JRPG genre needs. Not only is it colourful and funky, but it also has a very serious tone to it when it comes to covering topics that are usually avoided in games. There is a deep, yet brilliant story on offer here with deep characters that become more interesting the more you get to know them. To add to the accolades, Persona 5 is a visual masterpiece. Not only is the world around you beautifully crafted, but the character models are also a step above the rest. This combined with the funky, yet slightly repetitive, Acid Jazz soundtrack makes it a title that is quite honestly on the verge of perfection.

Apart from visuals, there is a lot to do in Persona 5. One can either tackle the main story or venture out and explore the city as well as its various subway stations, back alleys, shopping districts, and city centres. There is around 100+ hours worth of gameplay here, which makes it a title that is a cut above the traditional JRPG.

Overall, Persona 5 is an excellent title that deserves all the praise in the world. So much so, that it has been nominated as a game of the year contender for 2017 by the team at Tech IT Out. If you are a JRPG fan, then Persona 5 is a must purchase.

Persona 5 was reviewed by Darryl Linington on the PlayStation 4

Contact: Darryl@techitout.co.za
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Follow @DarrylLinington on Twitter

Editor of Tech IT Out. Former radio host of Cliffcentral.com. Former Editor of IT News Africa and ITF Gaming. All round techie, gamer and entrepreneur. For Editorial Enquiries Contact: Darryl@techitout.co.za or via +27788021400.