After several delays, numerous trailers and announcement of an additional release on the PlayStation 4, Persona 5 is finally here. Atlus and Sega have seen a tremendous amount of success with the SMT spin off series. Within the last few years they have released movies, side games and plenty of collectables. Persona 4’s re-release on the Vita, Persona 4 Golden, was a cult hit and shortly after the announcement for Persona 5 set the internet ablaze. Persona 5 was set to release in the winter of 2014 but was wrought with many delays during it’s development. This compounded with the announcement of a PS4 release left fans frustrated and worried. While certainly not on the level of Final Fantasy versus 13 or Duke Nukem Forever, the delays influenced rumors of troubled development. Worry not, after spending 15 hours in the game thus far I can safely say Persona 5 is on its way to be one of the best releases in 2017. Not an easy feat
Like Prior Persona games, you start off as the new kid in town starting life at a new high school. This time set in Tokyo, Persona 5 quickly sets the stage for introducing the new cast of characters and the plot wastes no time in throwing the player right into the mix.
Similar to prior games in the series you are given a persona (think summons in Final Fantasy) and unlike Persona 4 which used the initial 10 hours to slowly introduce the battle system and relationship system through mundane tutorials, Persona 5 lets the game flow with tutorials being brief and to the point. Trusting the player to understand the games systems and giving more plot context in introducing new game play concepts.
Persona 5’s cast of characters start off as archetypes that you’ve seen before in countless teen movies but quickly show depth and nuance that very few games have, even to the least important characters. Like in prior games, how you interact with your confidants will impact your various Persona’s levels, skills and even provide unique abilities that would be locked out otherwise. Your daily life is filled with going to school, studying, doing a workout, going to the movies, working at a part-time job and much more.
What you choose to do and who you choose to do it with impact your character’s development and the development of other characters. Atlus smartly works in character threads and growth with these game play systems so they never feel routine and you actually feel like you’re getting to know these characters on the same level as the player character.
Like other JRPG’s Persona 5 is filled with menus, sub-menus and stat tracking that would normally overwhelm anyone who isn’t familiar with the genre. Persona 5, however, uses it’s anime influence on its sleeve and stylizes every menu, every loading screen and transition screen. There is a flow within the game that keeps the momentum going and always capturing the players attention. Cut-scenes are beautifully done anime and the soundtrack is a fuse of smooth jazz and j-pop.
Overall I’m barely scratching the surface of this massive game. Already though I’ve seen more fulfilling story arcs than in most games in their entirety and cannot put this game down. Stay tuned for a full review next week.