One of my favorite genre of video-games has been turn-based RPGs, capturing my imagination over the years. The Persona series has been a favorite of mine for an extended time. Persona 3 became a standard of my PlayStation 2 days, and Persona 4 made my appreciation of the series concrete. The most recent entry into the franchise, Persona 5, released in North America in April 2017. My familiarity with the series up to this stage has provided me with great expectations for the latest release. Developer Atlus’ newest game does not disappoint, using the notable parts of earlier games and collecting them together, culminating in the definitive Persona experience.
You assume the role of the protagonist, like past Persona games. The hero is a transfer student to a new school as in past entries into the series. As the protagonist, you will need to forge new friendships to survive your time in high school. Our hero in this game is not the most developed character to date. I found him to be boring and dull, and the supporting cast to be more interesting and compelling. While earlier games presented a robust blend of magnetic and engaging supporting characters, they produced a hero who was further developed. This flatness in the lead character is the greatest drawback of the game.
Supporting roles in the game are excellent, picking up the slack of the protagonist. The initial three characters of Ryuji, Ann, and Morgana are each complicated and complex characters. Ryuji masks his mind of defeat through a superior attitude. Ann struggles with achieving the expectations of those around her and wrestles with the regret associated with that. Morgana hides his individual doubt and insecurities beneath a cloak of certainty and masculine overkill. These are only a handful of the many characters you will meet during the many hours of Persona 5’s narrative. They are developed and complicated characters that capture the player’s concern.
The dialogue suffers from various rough stretches. However, the use of dialogue mixed into the story and combat provides an experience that makes up for the peculiar lines. The overall narrative is a treat to encounter, and the developers produced a fantastic world that compels players to care. In Persona 5, the story is the main course instead of the appetizer. Persona 5 expects the participant to be so absorbed in the plot that the battles and dungeons feel like stepping stones to advance the narrative. The story that Atlus crafted succeeds in this goal with flying colors. One of my greatest and most prevalent grievances with many games is reducing the drama for more action. Persona 5 does an exceptional job at balancing its pacing with the gorgeous animated cutscenes that do not outlive their welcome.
If the story in Persona 5 is what keeps players wanting more, the gameplay keeps players running back. Each dungeon is loaded with numerous enemies that become more challenging as you make progress. The turn-based encounters carry out what many genre games fail to accomplish; make the battles appear less like an errand, and more enjoyable and exhilarating. While you still have the time to stand back and evaluate each encounter, the presentation gives each battle a frantic tone. This along with the numerous techniques you use to attack enemies helps give the combat a fresh and exciting atmosphere.
The game does an exceptional job at using all the side quests and fashioning them into the nucleus of the game. Each task, from answering a question in school to eating lunch at a local restaurant, influences the stats of your character over the course of the game. Even the connections you form with your teammates and different characters allow you special abilities and stats that assist you during combat.
Persona 5’s turn based combat is inviting, but the gameplay is not without its shortcomings. During many of the stealth sections of the game, the cover system can be clumsy and awkward, placing you into potentially compromising positions if you are not careful. This aspect appears like it could have been further refined. While it doesn’t destroy the game’s experience, it works against the non-tedious nature that Atlus worked very hard at producing.
ART & MUSIC
The artistry and overall design of the game is superb. Using color, shapes, and movement in a unique design creating an exciting nature to the game. The level design succeeds in giving each dungeon a unique atmosphere. Character designs are spot on, contributing to a certain spunk and attitude each character portrays.
Persona 5’s soundtrack is the frosting on the cake and ties the total effort together. Shoji Meguro brilliantly mixes acid jazz with traditional and pop elements, producing one of the most notable game soundtracks to release in a long time.
Persona 5 is the culmination of twenty years of tinkering from the people over at Atlus. The latest entry is by far the greatest and exhibits the improvement of the series. Providing charming characters, with entertaining combat, with excellent art and music; Persona 5 is not only the best game in the series to date, it’s one of the greatest JRPGs of all time.