Persona 5 is a game with style. I knew this from the beginning, having seen the trailers and screenshots of the new Japanese entry. However, seeing is only one thing. I was able to experience a small portion of the English-language version of this highly anticipated JRPG, and it is going to be a surprise to everyone.
Persona 5 is a smooth operator. Its vibrant colors pop off the screen with comic-book-like flair. This gives the things we take for granted, such as menus and interfaces, the same love and affection that its complex anime characters. Your phone doesn’t just display text messages; it also slides across the screen at an angle. Text messages appear on your actual phone. It’s not enough to press a button and get the spoils at the end. Your main character will run down the hall as numbers and money explode as if he was navigating through pages of a manga. Persona 5 is a style icon.
Persona 5’s combat system and story are just as satisfying as any other entry in the series. However, style without substance is empty calories. Persona 5 is a standalone game, but it has the same structure as previous games. Combat is still turn-based. You still gain demons (aka Personas) to equip different abilities. You’re still a high school student hanging out in the real world to boost your Social Links and fuse more powerful Personas. Persona 5 elevates all that and makes it a better experience.
Persona 5 has one advantage: Persona 5 uses procedurally generated maps from previous games to create fully hand-crafted, custom-built dungeons. Each dungeon feels unique, and designers can weave stories within its halls more easily. This allows for a more natural flow between the real world and demon-infested areas. In Persona 4, you had to wait for the story to let you move on. You’ll find many obstacles in Persona 5’s Dungeons.
Persona 5 draws inspiration from Shin Megami Tensei, the Persona series that was spun off from it. Also, Persona 5 uses some of Wii U’s exclusive Tokyo Mirage Sessions to help with Persona. You can now talk to the monsters that you battle instead of just flipping cards at the end. You can hit them with an attack that they are weak against, and then you will have the chance to confront them. Sometimes, you might even be able to convince them to help you. They will tell you what enemies are weak against and resistant to before casting your spell. There is a lot to absorb – more than any other Persona game since each person has their gun. It’s all presented in Persona 5’s signature manga art style.
Persona 5’s story is about trying to change things. Although I didn’t have much time to see the story, I did learn that the protagonist is a bit of a bad guy. He has a past and moves to Tokyo to attend a reform school. The faculty is closely watching him. This is a far cry of Persona 4’s goodie-two-shoes or 3. It still needs to set up characters and locations, but it won’t take you two hours to scroll through dialog boxes as you did with Persona 4.
I wish I could have spent more time with Persona 5 to understand better how everything works together and truly absorb the menus. God. I am raving about menus. Persona 5 is so thoughtful; even a screen for an equipment unit has pop art panache.