Persona is a series that can really be a hit or miss with RPG fans. The series is often looked at as either an over hyped dating sim with Pokemon elements by it detractors, or as meaningful and epic sets of stories that dive into the hearts and minds of those experience what it means to grow up in a world constantly spinning out of control. With that said, will this entry into series embolden its detractors or justify its champions?
Platform: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Price: $59.99 (Review Copy Received)
This is a review coupled with a supplemental video review. You can watch the video review above, or read the full review of the game below.
Persona 5 has to be the best visual experience I have had in video games, period. It’s almost unreal just how well this game is presented to the player. Even after 160 hours of play time, the game’s visuals are still refreshing and brilliant.
Every aspect of the game from character and Persona design, menu layouts, animations, Metaverse and Palace styles, compositions, color pallet, and overall themes are so tightly tuned and crafted, it would be nearly impossible to find a game that does it better.
One of the best examples of this is how a typical battle is laid out for the player, visually. Animations, character and enemy models, battle menu layout and design dance around each other until the final blow is dealt. You can also get bonus points if you manage to pull off one of the hyper-stylized “All Out Attacks” to end the fight.
If you are looking for visual flaws, this game doesn’t really have them, which is astonishing considering how much time I spent playing the game. Even in large and populated areas, the game smartly fades in character models from shadows, to save processing power. It’s not only a nice trick but it works well with the overall art style.
What really serves to push the visual experience forward, as well as all other aspects of the game, is the overall personality. This serves as the foundation to the game, and the team behind Persona 5 knew exactly what they wanted to make. Any deviation from its core personality, via a poor localization or change in contextual content could have ruined the experience. Luckily, those two things did not happen.
One of the most daunting aspects of the Persona series is the gameplay, and all the paths you can take in it. Persona 5 does a lot to make this massive game more accessible by those who are Persona virgins while not taking anything away from hardcore fans. This mostly comes down to how the game presents information, stats, actions, and equipment. It does so much right in this aspect, it makes the overall gameplay feel like a continuous flowing river you control, rather than some rapids you are being thrown down.
Persona 5 splits the players time between daily activities in the physical world and sprawling adventure in the cognitive one, dubbed the Metaverse. Most of the time, players will be spending much of their time exploring the physical world, learning story details, meeting and building bonds with people you meet in Tokyo as well as your team, and preparing to pull off grand heists within the heart of the Metaverse. During this time, you will also be slowly gaining points toward 5 social stat areas that will help you interact with those around you: kindness, knowledge, guts, charm, and proficiency.
Building bonds not only helps build up story elements, but provides your team with invaluable skills and buffs that you are going to need to complete the game. This process gives meaning to every action you take on multiple levels. Considering you have a limited amount of actions you can take throughout the course of the game, the choices you make are that much more meaningful. Persona 5 is one of the only games that really builds on the story via gameplay and vice versa, which it does impeccably well.
One of the funnest things about the Persona series is building up your own personal army of bad ass Personas via fusions and negotiations. There is nothing like building up that perfect Persona to match your play style, only to then go out and dominate the Metaverse. If you’re more of a collectaholic you can take as much time as you want in the Metaverse collecting and crafting Personas to fill out your compendium. With the visual and style edge that Persona 5 has over other games of this nature, it will be a rewarding experience for new and old fan alike to collect them all.
Combat in general is an extremely gratifying and rewarding experience, bringing a mix of style and substance to the table that most other RPGs can’t even hold a candle to. While very classic and simple in nature, the ability to juggle your opponents, preventing them from even landing a hit on the player by utilizing your team effectively with Personas you crafted is amazingly satisfying.
For those who want even more, you can activate a new game plus option to restart the game, while also giving you access to gear you farmed, money, your Persona list, Social Stats, and a number of other spoiler type things you earned in your first playthrough.
The interlacing style and substance of Persona 5 even coils around and encompasses its soundtrack, which is hands down the catchiest soundtrack of 2017. I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s most likely the catchiest of the last seven years. The sound design in general is equally as good, bringing to life the Metaverse as well as Tokyo.
Voice acting in both English and Japanese is excellent, and well cast for the most part, outside of one instance of a little girl in a Social Link cutscene that made me bust up laughing because of how odd a particular line was. Without going into spoilers, it even plays into the story in a way that threw me for a loop, making it all that more rewarding for savvy players who pay attention to all the details of the game.
Now it’s time to take on the monumental task of telling you how amazing the story of Persona 5 is, without spoiling anything about it. To set the bar, this game single handedly pulled me out of a gaming slump after having to review this and last years “slightly above serviceable” AAA games that no one will care about this same time next year.
The long and short of it is that you are a good Samaritan high schooler who gets wrongfully convicted of assault after you stop an attempted rape. This leads you to be thrown into probation and removed from your city, leaving you in less than ideal position.
Those who have played previous games in the series might be shocked at the contrast of Persona 5’s beginnings versus other games in the series. Persona 5 also breaks the massive game and story into manageable bits as if you are tackling a series that lasts 6 seasons. This provides a nice balance of tension and relief, making the story more rewarding over the course of the game, rather than a consistent sprint to the top.
There is so much detail in every aspect of the story that keen eyed players may pick up on future events, causing them to prepare accordingly. However, there is still enough left to the imagination that players will be twisting and turning along with the story as it progresses, giving a nice blend of the known and unknown.
Every character feels fleshed out to a T, making them not only interesting but human, which is a rare feat for any story. A lot of this has to do with just how well the game is paced in not only the main story, but side stories involving your Social Links and how well crafted the narrative for those are.
This is compounded when you realize that Social Links tie in heavily with major points of the story. Some characters which you might hate at the start of the game can become your favorites by the end, with the feeling like they have really grown through the game. This gives an added sense of accomplishment knowing you were the catalyst that helped make that happen.
Persona 5 is hands down game of the year. Every aspect of the game is not only well designed but well integrated to the point of perfection. I have yet to see a game in my lifetime that does it as well as Persona 5. We almost always see the story as a boat to float the gameplay, or the gameplay as the vehicle in which to drive the story forward in video games, neither of which are the case here.
Persona 5 opts to be a spaceship where every member of the crew is highly skilled and pulls their own weight in order to take the player to another world. Beautiful and masterfully executed, it’s not a question weather you should buy the game, it’s a question of why haven’t you bought the game yet. You will not get a better RPG or gaming experience for quite some time, so do yourself a favor and pick this one up.
Persona 5 was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a review copy provided by Atlus. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
The Verdict: 10
- Amazing personality in every aspect.
- Beautifully stylized and designed.
- Well crafted storytelling.
- Masterful Soundtrack
- Great localization.
- Highly detailed characters.
- Easily 100 plus hours of amazing gameplay.
- Voice acting is pretty good.
- “Shouldn’t you be going to sleep?”
We noticed that many user said they had a hard time ordering the game on Amazon or their local stores so we worked out an Affiliate link for Play-Asia where you can order the game.