Being a normal High Schooler in most situations (especially from the high schooler’s perspective) is often seen as a monumental task.
Being a High Schooler with a criminal record who gets sucked into an alternate reality and is tasked blatantly by a creepy old man and a couple of cute but overbearing lolis to save the world; that’s another thing entirely but exactly what we get with the newest iteration of the Persona series aka Persona 5.
!!Major spoilers ahead so please be warned!!
I recently finished my play through of one of my favorite video game series and wanted to write down a few take aways from my newest 100+ hour play through that seems to be the standard for all Persona game endeavors.
This game is a beast. It is long, grueling and sometimes extremely frustrating (I’m looking at you Ann and Ryuji with your constant missing and getting crit/tech’d… ugh…). With that said, what this game does right for being so long is the fact that it keeps you constantly engaged. You are always meeting new characters/social links that you want to know/learn more about. Ex yakuza, now proud father, check. A Maid who is also a teacher and will come over late at night to give her favorite students encouragement/back rubs (for a nominal fee of 50 dollars), we got those. How about a whiny internet fan boy who wants so badly to be accepted as a part of the group? Sure, throw him in there too. That’s what is so great about Persona; the development of these relationships where everyone is so different but in the end, all able to come together with the help of your protagonist to accomplish a greater good, and eventually even save the world!
Social links are just one of the aspects this game has going for it. The villains are all especially evil this go around and can be resented for several different reasons. We start small with a high school teacher abusing (physically and sexually) students for his own distorted pleasure. The story then moves all the way forward to the end with a super corrupt politician who sees the country (Japan) as nothing more than a boat he is using to steer where he sees fit. The villains drive the game in a good way, and keeps the player always asking themselves who they will have to deal with next and how can the next villain possibly top the corruption of their previous counterpart. We as the players, with their rag-tag group of friends are thus tasked as the notorious ‘Phantom Thieves’, of stealing their hearts and forcing them to repent their evil ways.
This is not to say that Persona 5 doesn’t hang around a bit too long (one or two dungeons in my opinion) or adds a few characters with no likability (I’m looking at you Mishima) but for the most part, it is the story and the characters (and villains in particular) that drive you to want to play for the 100+ hours that it asks of you in order to finish the story.
From an aesthetics point of view this game is beautiful with a style all of its own. It is fresh, interactive, cool and stylish. It is a totally visceral experience in that you feel like you are engaged with everyone and actually living the life of a young Japanese kid who, by the way, just so happens to be saving the world with his group of friends and Ryuji. You answer your phone, your cat mom tells you to go to bed, you play arcade games, all with a super engaging UI, original and funky score (please look up some of the music on YouTube, it is amazing) that is super user-friendly, smooth and doesn’t deter from the game/gameplay in any way which is a monumental task with today’s games it seems (especially when forcing you to play with a controller).
I’m not going to go greatly into detail with the story and things like that; that is for you, the reader/player, to discover on your own. But know that when you start this roller coaster of an in-game year you will be along for an awesome, beautiful and bumpy ride. Be ready for feels, be ready for RNG, be ready to date the one true waifu (QUEEN!) and go into it knowing that it will definitely be a 100+ hours well spent. Overall Persona 5, while not my favorite in the series (4 Golden holds that honor), is still an amazing game, and I would easily rate it 9.5/10. Please do yourself a favor and check out one of the greatest modern JRPG’s in recent memory.