REVIEW – Another spin-off for Persona 5. This time the story is set in the Metaverse and is a tactical RPG, so if you like XCOM or its millions of clones, you will be interested in Atlus’ game, which doesn’t take the gameplay from the Japanese titles, but rather adopts the style of its western counterparts, mostly in a passable quality at best, so it’s worth playing through at most once…
Join the Phantom Thieves as they lead an uprising of the heart! Assemble an all-star team of heroes in an all-new story in this thrilling combat adventure set in the iconic Persona universe.
If you want to enjoy the story, you need to know Persona 5
P5T is a departure from the base Persona 5, but it might be a problem if you don’t know the base game, but if you’re going to get into it, you’re bound to have a ton of references and jokes flying over your head. The characters will be less sympathetic, and the dialog itself doesn’t seem as faithful as in the original Pee Five, but very strong. The gameplay is still good for beginners, though, as it’s good as an entry point, so it won’t be too challenging, and the characters (the main characters from the base game, the Phantom Thieves) are there almost exclusively to keep the franchise from hanging out too much in this product, which is set between the final boss fight of Persona 5 and the epilogue. You still control the gang of Phantom Thieves, who are still in high school, and each of them has an important role in the game, as well as their Personas or subconscious manifestations. Unfortunately, the simplification common to spin-offs is mostly applied here, too, and despite the addition of two new characters (Erina and Toshiro), the art style (this applies not only to the childish, chibi visuals, but also to the writing itself) is bogged down by serious themes, because even though authoritarianism is used as one of the themes, the visuals make the whole thing seem rather frivolous.
And during combat, the XCOM-style gameplay comes into play, where you can move your characters around on a grid, and they sometimes have to take cover, even though they all have weapons, or personas, or extra abilities (like the area-wide fear effect). This is all good, but nothing more. It just does what it has to do, and it obviously doesn’t want to do more than that. If it weren’t for the magic moves, Atlus’ game could hardly be called Persona. In vain is the solid map design, which doesn’t get boring even during the side missions. At least you can be happy that everyone always hits each other, so it’s not like in Fallout 4 (or any VATS game) where you have a 95% chance of hitting someone in the head, and then all your shots miss, and Todd Howard’s gleeful grin comes to mind, and you send him to hell in your mind. Well, there’s none of that here, and there are no external, obstructing factors.
Simplified equipment, weapons and tuning
There’s not much to do with equipment either, so buying and upgrading isn’t on the agenda. We tune the weapon, change it, and that’s it. There are also special moves between team members (a la Super Mario RPG Remake), and you can stack multiple attacks to take out more enemies faster. It’s also possible to be tricky, and even rewarding: if you don’t have a useful move in your turn, just skip it, as you’ll have many more options in the next turn no matter which of the three characters you bring into battle. Each of them has a unique skill tree, and there’s no need to worry about messing up because you can always start over. In keeping with the Persona franchise, you can also combine Personas to create stronger ones, and since everyone can have more than one, you can experiment to find the right winning formula.
But even this doesn’t make the P5T stand out in the least. We’ve seen more than a few XCOM-style games, and among them we can find a winning creation. Are there any puzzles? No. Instead, there’s a ton of cutscenes, a lot of time spent in menus, and combat. There’s also a lack of the social element that we saw in the base game, so from that perspective it’s a decidedly flat game. You don’t even see the bad guys in the real world, which is another missed opportunity. Oh, and also, depending on the platform, the loading times can be annoying, so you can go to the bathroom if you want to have fun on Nintendo Switch. If you call that fun.
The weakest Persona
Persona 5 Tactica doesn’t deserve more than a six and a half out of ten, and it’s probably fair to say that compared to the first two Persona games released on the PS1 (those had a first-person perspectivve!), it’s probably the worst game in the franchise. Maybe there are others that just don’t come to mind, but this is just not good enough. Recommended for fans of the Persona franchise, maybe, XCOM fans, ditto. Otherwise it’s forgettable. At least you can’t complain about the voice acting, it wasn’t that bad, but it’s not enough.
+ The sync is good
+ Great track design
+ No problem for beginners… and it’s over in 20 hours
– This is not worthy of the name Persona
– Nothing makes it unique
– Spends a lot, a lot
Style: tactical RPG
Release: November 17, 2023.