Release Date: April 4, 2017
Platform: Playstation 3, Playstation 4 (Reviewed)
115 hours and 54 minutes. That was my final time for the end of my first play-through. To put it simply, Persona 5 is a masterpiece. A game that has so much style, so much substance, and so much character that it became near impossible to put down for the entire week I spent beating it. Much like the Final Fantasy games, there is no prior knowledge needed from previous games in order to tackle the latest title.
The story of Persona 5 begins similarly to the other games in the franchise. You play as a transfer student entering a new high school in Japan. For the remainder of the school year, you take on the daily life of your main character. While this sounds simple in theory, it gets quite complex as the game continues. Persona is a series that is well known for its emotional themes and heavy symbolism. The theme of Persona 5 is to break free from being a “slave to society” and no longer be chained down.
On your way to your first day of school, you and a classmate suddenly arrive at what seems to be a palace of sorts. While in this “other world”, the main cast awakens to their Personas, physical manifestations of their desire for freedom, and conquer the palaces. Thus becomes the birth of the Phantom Thieves. While in this world, the Phantom Thieves have the ability to steal a person’s Treasure, and in doing so, force a person (usually a malicious one) to undergo a Change of Heart and confess to their crimes.
The gameplay of Persona 5 is broken up into two parts: your high school life and your Phantom Thieves life. As a high school student, there are vast amounts of things you can do. You can watch a movie, go shopping, go to the batting cages, fish, read books, work part-time, play video games, or spend time with your friends.
In the Phantom Thieves life, the game’s exploration and battle system kick in. As you navigate in dungeons, there are puzzles to be solved and secret areas to find. In battle, you have a basic battle menu of Attack, Item, Guard, Persona, and Gun. Some enemies have weaknesses to be exploited, as does your party. This gives the game a strategic aspect as well.
Besides the gameplay and graphics, the Persona series is most famously known for its Confidant system, once called Social Links. This is a “Bond System” of sorts. There are 21 Confidants in total, each one representing a Tarot Card. Confidants are other characters you encounter in the game, whether it’s a party member, a teacher, or even a journalist.
Each confidant adds something new to the table in terms of character growth and giving the player abilities that will help in dungeons later down the line. As you learn more about what each individual is going through and do what you can to help them, you grow attached to their stories. This gives you an incentive to befriend as many people as you can and raise their links to the maximum of 10.
ART & SOUND
This is where Persona 5 truly shines in every regard. The game is gorgeous–and that’s putting it mildly. Whether you’re in the heart of Japan walking around and looking at the sights or you’re in dungeons exploring the area, the game is incredibly easy on the eyes and just oozes an insane amount of style. Even the menus in the game move around based on what you click as you navigate them.
However, the music is what sets Persona apart. Every single track out of the 100+ that is in this game is beautiful. Whether it’s upbeat, funky, jazzy, or heavy, the music had me singing along to it. Not once in my play-through did I get tired of any of the tracks, no matter how much they repeated.
Persona 5 is not only one of the best RPGs I’ve ever played, but one of the best video games I’ve ever played. This is a game so unique, so incredible, so near-perfection, that something of this caliber only gets released once every few years. I’m completely in love with this game. If you don’t own this game yet own either a PS3 or PS4, you are doing yourself a great injustice.