PREVIEW – Persona is back, after many remakes of the fourth game, a fighting game, and a spin-off dungeon crawler for the 3DS the series is returning to its roots aka the PlayStation consoles. This game will be the fifth main entry in the series, with an all-new cast, location, and themes. JRPGs have been a bit stagnating, but with two of its main pillars returning (Final Fantasy and Persona series) to the main console does it mean a resurgence of JRPG, or will it be quickly forgotten as they are refusing to change. Let us find out what Persona 5 has in store for us.
The story of Persona begins with a silent protagonist (as it is usual for this franchise), defending a girl who is molested by a man. Due to the social standing of the man, the protagonist is arrested and sent to Tokyo-s Syujin High School and is put on probation.
There he meets a classmate of his Ryuji Sakamoto, and together they enter „The Palace”, an unknown world where they meet a shapeshifting being called Morgana (takes up the form of a black cat), and convinces the Protagonist to unlock his Persona. The protagonist, and later his friends become the „Phantom Thieves of Hearts” a vigilante group bent on being freed from society-s limitations. As they break the chains by defeating enemies in „The Palace” pressure is on them as both the adult authorities, and an unknown force is trying to stop them.
The story of Persona 5, and in general has always been an interesting one. As it deals with mature themes, and while the art style is a very comic book like in the 5th game the theme of restrictions and society are present here. It is a very Japanese topic though in the end, one that Western players might not be able to identify with, but for some, it might be interesting to see how Japanese society puts pressure on its High-School students.
While the overall plotline makes the franchise feel generic, it can prop up interesting narratives, fun characters, and neat design choices. The combination is a half visual novel, half JRPG combat game.
Now’s our chance!
The gameplay of Persona 5 is a turn based JRPG system, with timed events linked to social events. Our characters do not just battle in dungeons against monsters, but the protagonist has duties to perform, side activities to complete, and romances to maintain (if he wishes to). Events can be school trips, festivals, or even exams(ouch).
These events will allow the player to immerse himself in the world of Persona 5, and Tokyo. The game’s focus point is not only combat, but to make connections with new people (or monsters), and to form alliances. This is done via the signature element of the franchise The Social Link. It is basically a Japanese version of the Sims, where we have to maintain certain statuses with our partners. If we are good enough in conversations and do not put them down and treat them as mere pawns, they will trust us more, and some might even fall in love with us.
The combat of Person 5, this time, has gone through a lot of changes, though. The development team decided to lift some gameplay elements from Shin Megami Tensei series.
Persona is actually a spin-off of Shin Megami Tensei which dealt with the whole demon-defeating element differently. In Shin Megami Tensei you could recruit demons, and now Persona is finally allowing the player to do the same. While in the previous Persona games, the player character had one Persona, in the fifth entry we can now negotiate with defeated demons to join us. We will gain new masks that allow us to switch between Personas.
Also, a new element for the series is long and short range weapons which will add further depth to the game.
Persona’s Bizarre Adventure
The graphics of Persona 5 look like the style of Atlus’s previous game called Cathrine. It does not look like Crysis, but it looks stylized like hell, which fits the tone of the game. The cutscenes were done by Project I.G. who helped animate Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures to be brought on to the TV screen.
While the graphics are okay, based on the previews, the audio is vibrant as ever. Fast tempo jazz seems to be the theme, this time, around, and it works. Much better than the calmer music the previous entry had.
The Persona series ahs never been about graphics, but luckily it seems that the art style, design, and music will make up for not being something high tech.
2017 Year of Persona?
Persona is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated JRPGs after Final Fantasy XV. It does seem to let go of some of the limitations of the franchise and mix it up a bit. The anime cutscene adds more flavor to Persona 5, and hopefully, the story plus the gameplay will be just as top notch as Persona 4.
The return of a beloved franchise, which has been in development since 2011 in some capacity. It is shaping up to be one of the most interesting JRPGs for a long time.
Could be good:
+ Interesting narrative, fun characters
+ New combat mechanics, and social gameplay
+ Awesome music
Could be bad:
– Too much grind
– “Lost in translation”, or censorship
– Does not look that good even on PS4
Publisher: Atlus / Deep Silver (PAL)
Relase date: 15th of September 2016 (JP) / 14th of February 2017 (NA) / PAL (TBA)