Persona 5: A Series First-Timer’s Review

Jose Noriega, Staff

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The Persona series, along with the Shin Megami Tensei series has been going on for over a decade now, and while the series has always done well in its home country of Japan, its impact has never been as strong in the west. That was until the release of Persona 5 in North America on April 4, 2017. This latest entry of Persona would also be my introduction into the series as a whole, and there is no better way to enter this franchise than now. From the well-written cast of characters and story and characters to the engrossing combat system, Persona 5 proves itself to be not only one of the best JRPGs released to date but also one of the best games of all time.

Persona 5 Art Book Cover: Courtesy of Atlus Games

The story and setting of Persona 5 let the player take control of a protagonist, whose name can be customized, which is falsely accused of assault and is put on probation and forced to live under a guardian in the Japanese city of Shibuya for a year. Here the character is then transferred to Shujin Academy High School to spend his school days for the year. From this point on, without giving any spoilers, the protagonist meets a wide array of characters to help along the journey and is gifted the power of Persona, which allows the user to take control of beasts of the cognitive world to vanquish foes that stand between the player’s path to victory. With this power, the main character along with a strong supporting cast, use the power of Persona to correct the injustices of the real world by altering the cognitive one. The story even tackles sensitive subjects and themes with excellent execution in a manner that does not feel forced but perfectly appropriate for the overall story of the game.

Combat Screenshot: Courtesy of Kotaku Australia

The gameplay of Persona 5 is a constant juggle of time management of ranking up social links of characters, progressing in the story, side mission requests, and simply ranking up the main character’s social stats since their overwhelming at first, once a couple hours into the game, the game’s tasks soon become routine as the player soon becomes accustomed to game’s inner workings, thus allowing the player to be fully immersed into the title. The combat of the Persona is turned base, like many JRPGs before it has critical hits, strengths, and weaknesses while also having many of the modern JRPG mechanics such as counters and combos. Though, Persona adds an interesting new mechanic to JRPG combat, that of being “interrogation” where a weakened enemy has the chance of being questioned whether for money, important items, or even joining the player’s roster of personas. Thus enabling an amazing new layer of depth to player flexibility and making a very commonly used combat system feel fresh and welcome.

Menu Screenshots: Courtesy of Atlus Games

The presentation of Persona 5 perhaps stands out in its own outmatched pedestal. From the very well designed characters of Shigenori Soejima and dungeons taking the player to a castle filled with twisted desires to a beautiful art museum with pieces hung up on the walls, to even the insane attention to detail of the game’s very own menus that appropriately match the tone and characters of the game, and top-tier jazz-themed soundtrack composed by Shoji Meguro that knows when to ramp up in an intense boss battle and when to smoothly transition into an emotional moment.

Persona 5 is an outstanding work of game development that offers the player well-written characters and story, alongside engaging combat, that when once completed with its over 100 hour campaign will have the player wanting to come back to reunite with their magical high school friends and conquer the injustices of modern society once more in New Game +. This game will truly stand the testament of time and will leave those who play it, an unforgettable experience, thus making Persona 5 a true must-own masterpiece.

Final Mustang Verdict: 10/10

 Image: Courtesy of Atlus games

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Persona 5: A Series First-Timer’s Review