Persona 5 is a game that has been on my periphery for ages, but I’ve never really known what it is. A JRPG made by Atlus a subsidiary of Sega. Beyond that, it’s been this colourful mystery.
Until Christmas when it was gifted to me by a friend (thanks Adz!). Now, we usually buy games for each other, that the other never finishes. Often barely starting them. Persona 5 is different.
I’ve been looking to scratch that JRPG itch that I’ve had for a long time, and with no expectations, Persona 5 seemed like the perfect game.
I don’t have the hours to sink in straight away like I used to. So my playthrough is very steady. But I’m about ten hours in and getting a rough idea about how things work.
Getting to grips
Holy shit, Persona 5 just hits you in the face with its style. Honestly, anime clips, voice acting, vibrant colour palette, a funky score.
What the hell is this game?!
The first few hours are nothing less than a dump of information and exposition. Setting you up in the world of Persona 5.
You play as the lead “Ben Kirby” in my case. A school boy that has had a bit of a rough time thanks to intervening in an assault.
For all of its colour and vibrancy, you see very quickly that there’s some real dark undertones. Assault, abuse, self harm/attempted suicide. Honestly, there’s depth here that I never anticipated.
Glossy, slick, dark.
Persona 5 is something else!
I’m only halfway through the first palace, but I’ve got Persona’s and allies. In fact, I’ve been deepening my bonds with those allies, too.
That’s the key thing I’ve learned about Persona 5. Relationships matter, and you need to choose how you invest your time.
Being able to leave a Palace and return to the designated safe rooms is genius. I was trying to get through the whole thing in one go. But without the items or money to buy them, I could only take my party so far.
Take your time…… It’s on pretty much every load screen. And I think I’m starting to get it now? Don’t rush, pick how you spend the precious hours in the day, but don’t miss that deadline.
Travel, chat, talk with NPC’s. I’ve learned to make coffee and I’m taking part in drug trials. It’s all to benefit me though, and to help me get through the Palaces.
Put in the effort with your friends to benefit from stronger bonds. Spend time on developing yourself.
When I first saw that I was playing as a school boy, I sighed…..but the setting is perfect to add weight to the importance of bettering yourself. Bettering your relationships, too.
Depth is the word
So story/thematic depth is front and centre. Followed by the systems for bonding, creating new Persona’s and learning to save/leave dungeons when you need to.
Then there’s combat. Persona 5 offers good old fashioned turn-based combat. And I love that. It has so many intricacies, that it feels fresh and fun.
The “1 more” system. Talking enemies into becoming a Persona for you (think Final Fantasy GF/Pokemon that you can use until you run out of SP or in some cases HP). Stealth attacks to get the first moves in, elemental weakness/resistance. Physical, long-range and Persona attacks.
Persona 5 delivers a really deep but accessible combat system and I really enjoy it so far. Even when I get absolutely destroyed.
There are a couple of things that have irked me so far. Both, I think are relics of the genre more than anything else, though.
Persona 5, for all it’s style and substance, is still a JRPG.
Designated save areas in dungeons/palaces. I get it, it adds to the challenge, and those rooms can be used in a few ways. However, if you’re fighting through an area and have spent 30+ minutes trying to find the next safe room and then you die, you lose that progress.
Yes yes, this isn’t new. No it isn’t the end of the world, but it’s not 2001. Does it need to be so punishing? I wouldn’t mind, but I struggle to get good chunks of time to play, so losing progress is really soul-destroying.
The other relic in Persona 5 is the movement when you’re controlling your character. It’s super-clunky, and classic JRPG style.
When I’ve streamed the PS4 to the PC, if there’s a drop in frames or some period of lag, I’ve suffered for it. Often accidentally being seen and triggering a battle.
Not the end of the world, and movement is such a small part of the game. The depth comes in everything else.
It’s quite jarring, though in 2021 for a game that’s only a few years old.
Minor gripes aside, Persona 5 is starting to click, and that just makes it so much more engaging.
Take away the glossy sheen of style and you’re still left with all that substance. I feel like this could be something quite special.
I’m slowly slowly chipping away at it, and I suspect it will take months to get really into it. But Persona 5 has eased me in nicely, and now I’m ready to really get stuck-in.
I don’t know that I’ll finish Persona 5 any time soon, but the story has be motivated to get this palace done. Kamoshida has got it coming!
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