Can I just write a review for Persona 5 that says the game is pretty damn great, and call it a day? And we can all agree on that? No? Ugh.
Really though, Persona 5 IS pretty damn great. I’ve enjoyed the series since Persona 3, like a lot of other people I assume, and everything about Persona 5 manages to enhance everything preceding it. The core concepts are still the same. Youth rebelling, high-school drama, awesome and strangely designed monsters, and a whole lot of dungeon crawling. But Persona 5 does introduce a hefty number of new mechanics, like the standalone “Palace” dungeons, a stealth mechanic that actually works, and a varied dungeon design with unique and weird themes that fit the story.
I don’t think it is worth spoiling much of the game here, after all it’s been out for a little bit, and people are either in the middle of it, or just now playing it. But I will say that I’ve really enjoyed the story, honestly more so than I ever did Persona 4. The game may not have as memorable a cast as P4, but it picks up and gets moving at a much quicker pace, and doesn’t have a lot of dull moments in between. Most of the voiceover work is solid, and the music is absolutely fantastic, fitting the game world perfectly.
And while this may come as no surprise, the game just oozes style. There’s so much stuff crammed in here, even in simple menus, that I’m constantly picking out little details that I’ve previously missed. Persona 5 has a real unique look to it, and all of it feels remarkably cohesive and downright elegant in execution.
It’s also just really fun to play. You still have the standard day to day planning mechanics of the last two Persona games. You’ll generally be presented with some sort of time limit with which to complete the story dungeons, and in between you can spend time strengthening your bonds with both teammates and other denizens you’ll encounter. You can also spend time working for cash, or engage in a variety of activities to boost your core attributes, which in turn will affect your ability to create new bonds, succeed during exam times, and so on.
When it’s time to enter a Palace, or the ever-present Mementos dungeon, that’s where the game really kicks into high gear. Like previous games, you’ll explore a series of floors that are filled with shadows, which represent the enemies you’ll do battle with. Striking a shadow before it notices you allows you to ambush them, meaning you’ll be able to take a full turn before the enemy does. However, in Persona 5, the way you approach these shadows is a little different. Now you can hide behind objects, and dash between nearby objects, in order to creep up on an unsuspecting shadow from cover. It’s certainly far more efficient and fun than the approach previous Persona titles have taken.
Dungeons can also host a series of other hazards and obstacles. You’ll encounter security cameras, various puzzles, and even alert states if you get spotted by too many Shadows while exploring. This in turn can make the dungeon much tougher for you, and can generally only be reduced by successfully defeating other Shadows that you’ve managed to sneak up on. This isn’t to say that the stealth mechanics are hard or cumbersome here, they aren’t, but they do add another of depth to the exploration aspect in Persona 5.
The rest of Persona 5 isn’t too different from the previous entries. There is still a big focus on collecting various Persona to use in combat, and combat revolves almost entirely around finding the weakness of the enemy you’re fighting, and exploiting that weakness to gain extra turns. Combat can still be pretty challenging at times, you’ll definitely encounter bosses and other enemies that seem to possess zero weaknesses, but these tougher encounters never feel unfair. Most boss fights have some sort of unique mechanic to them as well, which is always interesting to see play out.
I’m absolutely in love with this game, and if you haven’t given it a shot yet, I think you’ll find a lot to love about Persona 5 too. It’s not a huge departure from Persona 3 or 4, but there’s been some noticeable changes and improvements made that do make a difference, all of which are for the better. The dungeon variations, the stealth mechanics, and even the ease with which you can navigate the overworld map are noticeably better than before. So even if you’ve felt a little lukewarm about the series up until now, I’d still urge you to give Persona 5 a try