by Kyle Stephens
Persona 5 is a role-playing video game/life simulator developed by P-Studio and was published by Atlus in Japan and North America. In Europe and Australia it was published by Deep Silver. It was released in Japan on September 15, 2016 in Japan, and it was released to the rest of the world on April 4, 2017 for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. The worldwide release was coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Persona series.
Persona 5 follows a group of teens (and a cat/humanoid mix), known as The Phantom Thieves as they try to change the hearts of people and ridding them of their negative desires. The battle gameplay is like the typical JRPG: taking turns attacking foes, labeled as shadows, in the hopes of defeating them. You also have access to these beasts called Personas than can be called upon in the “otherworld” known as the metaverse to come and help you out in the midst of a tough enemy. As you progress, you are able to gain more Personas through negotiation, or by fusing existing Personas in the area known as the Velvet Room, and also get treasures in the dungeons, hereafter known as palaces. The life simulator portion of the game follows the main character, who you get to name, but is codenamed Joker during the battle gameplay, as he lives a life in Japan, following a previous event where he got sentenced to probation after defending a woman from a drunk, brutish man. Included in the life simulator is going to school, hanging out with your friends (the bulk of which is the people you enter the metaverse with), creating close relationships, holding a part time job, and living an ordinary teenage life. As you progress and continue to hang out with friends, their friendship level, aka the Confidant Level, increases, giving you and your teammates new powers that will work in the metaverse.
This is perhaps one of my favorite games of 2017, and an excellent candidate of any Game of the Year awards. The mix of RPG style fighting and life simulation is what keeps me going throughout the late hours of the night. There is just so much I can do in this game, such as taking on a food challenge, entering a relationship with someone you care about, to all the dungeon crawling activities in the metaverse. What sticks to me the most is that, almost right out of the gate, you are jumped straight into the metaverse and taught how to get the most out of the encounters with the shadows, especially when it comes to ambushing them. Plus, some of the metaverse dungeons, known as palaces have some good puzzle aspects, like finding a correct code to enter a door, or trying to find a specific object to stop making spikes come out of the floor (as can be hinted from the 4th palace). The life simulator is overflowing with stuff you can do, like taking part in a job at specific locations, like a beef bowl shop. You could also hang out with awesome friends you make in Shujin Academy or out in Shibuya and other locations you can visit by train. Plus you can work on your skills of charm, kindness, knowledge, proficiency, and guts by taking part in activities, such as watching films, reading books, doing things with your friends, and so much more. This game does not hold your hand while you play the game, which is the biggest thing I like about the game, apart from making dialogue options, which is always a plus.
Overall, this is a well-created game, despite it being in development hell (2008, development began). P-Studio made the game stay true to the series and kept the gameplay as fun and entertaining as it was in rest of the Persona series, and has expanded beyond the controller to the TV series, since Persona 5: The Animation was released not long after the game was released to positive reviews. Here’s hope to more great Persona games!
P-Studio. (2017) Persona 5 . Japan: Atlus
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