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Review: Persona 5

Leading a double life. It’s something that gets linked to serial killers easily. But not everybody who lives a double life is a killer. Remember all those superheroes? Most of them are living a double life as well. I’m somewhere in between. Yes, I kill, but only those monsters that are corrupting our world. I rarely kill persons, I kill the evil in their heart and return to my normal life afterward. It’s not easy doing so when the entire world labels you as a criminal.

Meet your new hero

Persona 5 is the first numbered Persona game since 2008. We had to wait for it a little longer but Atlus finally released the game on the Western market. If you haven’t played a Persona game before, it can best be described as a typical JRPG with dating simulator and Pokemon elements. It’s a unique story for the solo player and it will keep you entertained for 80 to 100 hours filled with incredible gameplay. Person 5 marks the start of a new adventure and thus a new hero.

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The nameless hero is falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit, resulting in suspension from his previous school. To get the boy back on the right track, he’s forced to live in Tokio with some kind of guardian running a typical Japanese bar. The bar serves as your local HUB and saving point. By sleeping there, you can save your progress and advance to the next day. As a good student should, you’re forced to sleep every night, skipping a night isn’t an option.

 

One of the best JRPG games

 

Once you wake up, you’ll need to go to school over and over again and lead a perfectly normal life. Sounds easy, until you discover a way to travel to the Metaverse. An alternative reality that shows you how some individuals see the world. A lecherous teacher who thinks he’s better than others will result in a dark castle with that teacher as ruler in the Metaverse. Your goal in the Metaverse is to change the heart of those corrupted people. By doing this over and over again, you’re hoping to make the world a better place. You’re not doing this alone, you’re an important member of the “Phantom Thieves of Hearts” and you’ll meet some interesting persons right off the bat.

Meet the others

A very important aspect of the game is meeting new friends. The first one you’ll meet is Ryuji, the school rebel. After spending some time with him, you’ll get to know the real Ryuji and start appreciating his personality more and more. Thanks to the gorgeous scenes and endless conversations, you’ll feel connected to the virtual characters in a way not a lot of games manage to pull off. Later on, you’ll meet more interesting characters, all with their own personalities and desires. Most of them would like to spend some time together with you but your time is very limited.

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Persona 5 uses a day and night cycle that’s advancing fast. At first, it’s not that big of a problem since your days aren’t filled and you can easily do what you want. The more you advance, however, the more people that will need your help. Good to know is that some of those events are only playable on that day so you’ll have to decide. Since you can’t help all of your friends on one day, you’ll be forced to disappoint one of them. Just like in the real world, disappointing your friends isn’t a fun thing to do and Persona 5 is able to transfer this feeling perfectly.

Improve your stats in the real world

As you can see, spending time in virtual Tokio is a big part of the game so be prepared for a lot of conversations and cutscenes. Where this could get boring in other games, Persona 5 keeps things interesting thanks to its incredible narrative and gorgeous anime scenes from time to time. Virtual Tokio looks incredibly good and also serves as a training zone for combat. By accomplishing certain goals, you’ll gain stats that can aid you in combat or social interaction.

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By answering the right questions in class, you’ll get smarter for example. A smarter person is also able to perform smarter moves. Or perhaps you should watch ‘romantic’ movies so you can improve your social skills with the girls. These skills are important to advance the story and Persona 5 handles things in an extremely innovating way, keeping it interesting to keep your stats on point.

King of the palace

The other major part of the game is set in the Metaverse where you’ll need to storm several palaces and claim the throne. Palaces are dungeons and that’s where the JRPG action really kicks in. In palaces, you’ll need to defeat foe after foe, discover secrets and reach the boss of the place. By defeating him/her, you’ll change the heart of that character and transform the world into a better place. The palaces all look and feel unique, a huge improvement compared to other Persona games.

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A palace is created using the point of view of the leader. A teacher that abuses his students to perform to their maximum potential will have torture rooms installed while he’s running around as a king of the castle. Discovering the different palaces and their leaders is incredibly fun since each palace has its own way of tackling it. It’s amazing to see the improvements in the Metaverse compared to older Persona games. The Metaverse is an important aspect of the game so we can only be pleased with these improvements.

Attack them when it’s your turn

Like in any other RPG game, you attack in turns, using several menus. The difference with Persona 5 is that everything looks incredibly slick. The menus look badass and the moves you can perform are just great to look at. The combat itself offers what other games also offer, at first sight. You have a melee attack, a Persona attack (meaning the monster you summoned will attack), a long-range attack, defense and item command. You can also command your teammates or give them general directions so that the AI takes over command. You can even ‘rush’ the combat by pushing the options button, resulting in your party constantly delivering melee attacks until each enemy is defeated. This is a great option for those who don’t like combat.

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I never used it, however, since the combat is a lot of fun. It’s very fluent and really breaks open when you’re able to throw each enemy on the ground. When this happens, you can perform special attacks together with a teammate to inflict massive damage. Combat remains fun thanks to this but also because of the different types of enemies. Just like in Pokemon, you’ll face different enemies, all having a different weakness. Attacking their weakness is crucial to surviving the battle. Aside of that, some enemies also offer a great personality.

Catch them all

It will happen from time to time that enemies are begging for their lives during combat. This gives the game an interesting twist. You can force those enemies to give you some items, or even better, recruit them as a new Persona. Personas are the creatures you can summon during combat. Some will boost your stats, while others will be able to deliver massive damage to your opponents. Collecting all the Personas is very addictive and gives you the same kind of feeling games like Pokemon give you.

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When you change your Persona is entirely up to you but keep in mind that battling with the same Persona over and over again might give it some new, more powerful skills. This only adds to the strategy layer of the game. Things really get strategic when you start to fuse monsters in order to create new Personas. Thanks to the Velvet Room (a location in your dreams), you can experiment with the smaller monsters you ‘captured’ and fuse them together to create your ultimate Persona. Needless to see, this is a lot of fun and offers some truly deep strategic thinking.

Conclusion:

Persona 5 is without a doubt the most complete JRPG experience currently on the market. A lot of time went into creating this game but in the end, it really pays off. Persona 5 has something for everybody to enjoy. During the daytime, you’ll get an extremely addictive life simulator set in Tokio, filled with interesting characters and narratives. In the alternative universe called the Metaverse, you’ll get your share of brilliant turn-based combat set in incredible environments. Collecting Personas is another fun part of the game so you’ll never get bored while playing it. It’s the most complete game in its genre at this moment and it’s worth playing without any doubt!

9.5/10

Got interested in games since I could read. Started with Nintendo but evolved into an all-round gamer. I love all kind of games; triple A games to Indie. If the vibe is right, I'll enjoy playing it.