Platform Played: Playstation 5 Through Backwards Compatibility
Available On: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam
Developer: Omega Force / Koei Tecmo, P-Studio
Publisher: Atlus / Sega
Single Player, RPG, Action, Hack/Slash
Western Release Date: February 23, 2021
Written And Played By: Nicholas Ahlgren
This game is a spin off of the original Persona 5 that came out on September 15th, 2016 in Japan and was later brought to the west on April 4th, 2017 on the PS3 and PS4. Atlus has developed and published many different titles including but not limited to the Shin Megami Tensei series for Nintendo consoles, the Persona series for the PlayStation and Nintendo consoles and also publishes games from Vanillaware. This game originally came out in Japan on February 20th, 2020 and was localized to the west this year.
The overarching story is a little bit simplistic, but there are sub stories within the story. There is an evil in the world that you need to figure out by traveling across Japan. In this game, you are also changing people’s hearts and there are jails instead of palaces and monarchs instead of palace rulers. These monarchs are stealing people’s desires and are affecting them in many different ways. There are many different things that happen to the phantom thieves both in and out of the jails.
Within the first jail, you meet someone named Sophia; who introduces herself as humanity’s companion. Throughout the game, you get to know Sophia and why you found her in the jail. Sophia is quickly brought on as a member of the phantom thieves and helps you in the jails as a playable character. She, unfortunately, is not actually able to leave the jail as a normal human but instead resides in Joker’s phone. She is helpful both in and out of the jails, even if it’s not actually in person.
Throughout the game, you also work with a member of PubSec who is named Zenkichi Hasegawa. Zenkichi helps you in the story with different hints about who a monarch could be or where a palace might be located along with helping with some other things like calling cards. Zenkichi has had a rough past and you learn about who he is throughout the game, just like you do with Sophia. Besides Zenkichi and Sophia, there are a lot of new characters that you work and interact with to solve the mysteries happening in Japan.
The game takes place over approximately a months time. Before even visiting the jails and getting into the combat situations of the game, there are many different things to do in the overworld. You visit many different cities in the real world by traveling with the thieves throughout Japan in an RV. Some of the things that can be done within the world include visiting different shops that are helpful both in and out of combat. You can also collect different ingredients and recipes for Joker’s Kitchen which allows you to make different healing items for when you actually reach the jails. Every time you make a new recipe in the kitchen, you get BOND experience which is helpful.
Besides the shops in the main areas and Joker’s Kitchen, you can also visit the velvet room to craft and create new personas from older ones or level up the ones you currently have. Also, you can get requests that range from defeating a certain number of a specific type of enemy, collecting a certain number of items, defeating a monarch again, and more. There are also certain special requests that your friends give to you in the hub area that are time sensitive which gives you a deeper look at who they are. Completing these requests rewards you with different things including BOND experience points, weapons, protectors, accessories, new recipes, useful items, and money!
Before going into any of the jails, you want to make sure you are fully prepared. There are different items that you can equip to each character that affects their defensive and offensive statuses along with other stats as well. These are either bought in Sophia’s shop, general shops in the world, or rewards from requests. You will also want to have lots of recovery items for your health and stamina points, HP and SP. Sometimes getting a SP item is not always the easiest thing to do. Manage them wisely when you do have them.
Besides this, there is a new thing in the game called BOND skills. These BOND skills allow you to increase different skills such as stat points for the 5 different stats for each character/persona. They also increase the amount of BOND experience you can get at a time, money and regular experience earned for battles, and a lot more. These are very important to remember not to neglect as they are very beneficial. The grind to get all of these is somewhat painful and will take you a lot of time to do so make sure to pick the ones you feel you want first. Now, once you are prepared, it’s time to take on the jails.
Inside of the jails, you are able to play with many different characters. You can only have a total of 4 characters in your party at one time, one of which must be Joker. Each of the characters have there own type of persona and you need to watch out for weakness/party type match ups. Joker can use many different personas as he has the title of trickster and each of them have specific skills. The rest of the cast; Morgana, Ryuji, Ann, Yusuke, Makoto, Futaba, Haru, Sophia, and a character that is unlocked through story progression; do not actually have that ability rather they have a specific type and specific weaknesses. Each persona has a physical and magical attack, agility, defense, and luck stat that affects how they play. Watch out for that when it comes to battles.
There are lots of fights within the palace in the style of ( Dynasty) Warriors games where there are many different enemies coming for you at once. The A.I. of the other team members are very good and they are very helpful in these fights. The camera does try to fight with you on the occasion, especially if you are locked on to an enemy, but the battles don’t usually last too long. These can seem repetitive and get tedious to do, but still try to do them as you need to make sure you keep your level high. There are instances where you have to fight a Named Shadow. They aren’t too hard, but they do pack more of a punch than the more common enemies. Defeating these shadows earns you a guaranteed shadow mask while defeating the regular shadows only provide you a chance to get one.
While the path within the jails aren’t always a straight shot, your objective is simple; take down the monarch. You must go and collect 3 items from these areas within the jails known as prison keeps. These items are an artifact that is special or holds significance to the monarch of that jail. In order to get these items you have to defeat these mini bosses that protect each of these items. These are harder than the named shadows, but are weaker than the monarch of the jail. Once you get these three objects, traverse your way through the rest of jail and get to the monarch. There are also lots of puzzles throughout the different jails.
Besides the main objective of the jail, there are also these enemies called Dire Shadows. These particular shadows easy to spot because they are standing and have electricity flowing around their bodies. These are extremely hard challenges, even more so than the monarchs of the palace. They won’t attack you so it’s easy to avoid them if you are not ready for the challenge. There are also other strong shadows that get unlocked later in the game that give you access to a new shadow formula to create a stronger one later down the line. Overall, some of the jails seem like they took way too long to get through; however, they all provide something different so the jails never seem like they are the same thing. If you ever need to get out of the jails to refresh your health or stamina, it’s a lot easier to do. In this game there is no penalty for leaving without fully completing it in one go, as there is no time skip when you leave the metaverse.
There are many different things that I take seriously besides gameplay and story. That includes the music, the graphics, and the visuals. First off, the music is just what I had hoped it would be. The music always kept me going in the jails and overworlds even through some of the slower parts of the game. Sometimes, I just left the music playing meanwhile I was doing other things because it’s so good! There is a mixture slower songs, faster ones, and then there are upbeat songs where the beat just hits you in the feels. It really is such a great soundtrack like the original game and also the royal version. The sounds and audio design as a whole are really amazing.
Besides the music, I also look at the graphics and visuals. It looks like a mixture of the graphics from a traditional warriors games mixed with the graphics from Persona 5. The cutscenes look like they are taken directly out of the original game and when a dialog box appears, it looks like you’re playing the traditional game as they look very similar. The visuals and the graphics in the jails look very good overall along with all of the character and enemy designs. The dialog in the game is very good and there were so many funny scenes where I was just dying on the floor. There is a performance and a graphics mode that focuses on frame rate or resolutions respectively. I am really glad that more companies are implementing that now. I played mostly on performance since I prefer higher frame rates vs higher resolution. It ran very smooth without any major issues that I saw and still looked very good. I also tried out graphics mode and I saw that there were some better details in some areas but the frame-rate wasn’t as solid as the other mode, so I switched back. There were no issues that I saw which broke the game which is always a great thing.
Okay, to sum all of this up, if you really enjoyed Persona 5 and the content of what is in there, and do not mind Warriors style gameplay; you are going to have an absolute blast with this game and it is definitely worth the pick up. If you like the story and graphics and characters of Persona 5 but hate warriors games and the combat of that, this might not be a game you get right away but eventually will during a sale down the line. If you love warriors games but hate large plot lines and the way persona works, you might not like this game in all honesty. It took me about 48 hours to roll the credits in the game and that was completing every request possible before unlocking the post game content. Now, adding to the game is the post game content which included defeating all of the monarchs for the jails again, defeating the reaper and dire shadows, finishing any requests, trying to get the platinum on PlayStation, or starting new game plus. In order to unlock New Game+, you must defeat the reaper. Once you do, NG+ is unlocked along with the Merciless difficulty. This game meshes the world of warriors and the vibes of persona in such a way I was left wanting more while also feeling very satisfied.