When a game is arguably perfect as Persona 5 it’s all the more jarring when a part of that experience is of a vast contrast with the rest of it.
What am I referring to?
The curse of the silent protagonist of course. In a game that is so heavily story driven in a such a linear fashion with diverging paths that lead to a few conclusions, it almost seems like a miscalculation by the developers to have a silent protagonist. What is the value of such a thing anyway? Back in the day it was a byproduct of the limitations of the hardware and storage of the time, but now, now when we have games that are on average 50Gb plus and hardware that can mimic the mannerisms of living beings to a high degree of authenticity, it’s just unnecessary to have a silent protagonist.
Oh… crap, look at the time… I’ve over step the intro a bit, but oh well this is my review so I’ll give myself a pass.
So where was I? Ahh yes, Persona 5! Is it a good game, should you get it, is it all that it’s cracked up to be… Well, yes to all those questions and more. If we rated games in this site then this would certainly be somewhere around a 9 out of 10 or something of a similar nature, however we don’t use arbitrary ratings to quantify games we review, so allow me to tell you about the fantastic ride that is Persona 5, and you can decide for yourself if it’s the game for you or not.
In Persona 5 you play as a young no name character code named Joker. He’s a teen who was forced to move from his home to another city due to a situation involving him trying to save a woman being accosted by a man on the street. The outcome of which was him being sued by the man and thus resulting in him being sent out to a new city, school and lifestyle for a year of probation.
A shitty situation for someone who attempted to do the right thing.
Joker as he’s known by his friends is no different from any other protagonist that one would encounter in previous Persona games in that he doesn’t talk, but rather let’s his actions do the talking for him. Now in a way this is all fine, but it’s unnerving to have dialogue boxes popup with options for replying to another character only to have joker grunt or do nothing, then seeing the other characters respond as though he did. This and only this is the single issue I have with the game.
The other characters are magnificent, oooh and I mean magnificent in every sense of the word. Their design, voice acting, animations, everything. They’re all great characters, and they are the primary reason why I kept returning to the game over and over. Like previous Persona titles each character has their own arch that reveals their Persona, and over the course of the game you are capable of delving deeping into each of your companions motivations and past. This wealth of character depth even extends to the NPCs and enemies, and it’s so well done that you’ll likely find yourself completely immersed in it by the end of the first few chapters.
What you get with Persona 5 is a game that breaks the mold. It raised the bar for all JRPGs, a bar that was previously set by its predecessors, Persona 4 Golden. With most games it’s either style or substance. With Persona 5 it’s substance dripping with style. Every single aspect of the game begs to be seen, to be admired. From the menus to the transitions between them. It’s all fluid and stylistic in a way that I’ve never seen before. The closest I’ve seen with regards to this flamboyant style was in “The world Ends With You”, and there’s a vast gap between that game and this one, again that’s with regards to style. In Persona 5 everything is alive, everything moves, even the dialogue boxes. It’s the type of game that begs for your attention at all times, which is unique for a turn-based role-playing game that favor a more methodical classic style. The Game lets plays spend some of their time as a student in Tokyo, and the rest is good ole dungeon crawling goodness.
As I illuded to before, the Improvements to this franchise don’t stop with just its style, it extends to that oh so classic of JRPG battle systems as well; turn-based battles. In Persona 5 you are given the choice to battle enemies or out right avoid them using the game’s intuitive stelt mechanics. If you choose to battle then you are capable of using standard turn based attacks, items, and Persona (which look amazing btw). All of this is standard Persona affair that veterans should be familiar with, but it gets better. Now you can turn Persona you battle into allies, by negotiating with them. In this way you are able to bolster your ranks with those that would otherwise seek to hinder your progress. It’s all done similarly to the shin magumi tense games, so what this means is negotiating with enemies in an effort to sway them your way, so expect to encounter Persona with different very human-like personalities and desires. Some you may be able to convince to join you quite easily, while other will use you for their own ends then still take the piss at your expense.
Persona 5 is the best JRPG of this year, and some may argue that it’s the best JRPG ever made, but that’s more of a subjective statement. What is factual is that it improved on every aspect of gameplay set by its predecessors, as well as infuse some new flair to the turn-based sub-genre. If the main character had more personality I’d probably even call this the perfect game. Sadly that’s not the case so it’ll have to settle for almost perfect. That being said I do think that you should get a copy of this game if you have a PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 3, if you haven’t already.
The copy of Persona 5 used for this review was provided to us by it’s publisher, Atlus USA. This game is one of our Game of the Year titles for 2017.