The familiar tone echoes through the room, the words “Legendary Phantom Thief” appear in the upper left-hand corner of the screen, the PlayStation reminds me one last time that it can’t take a screenshot because the scene is blocked. I hit, enter rest mode, lay back on the bed and let out a loud sigh. The television screen goes from black to that annoyingly bright, “no connection detected” blue. I dig my cell phone out of the blankets and proceed to delete the millions of tabs open in Safari. List of books in Persona 5 and their location. Deleted. The best way to catch the guardian of the pond. Goodbye. Where can I find Hope Diamond and Crystal Skull? Good riddance. Mementos request locations, and my Persona Fusion Guide, I close them all.
I fire off the Facebook status, so everyone else knows that I got that Platinum Trophy, and then throw the phone back into the covers from whence it came. As I lay there looking up at the ceiling and wondering to myself, was that the best game I have ever played?
I mean, there have been RPG’s I have loved before, hell I loved Tales of Berseria, I thought I would play that all the way through again, and I couldn’t even bring myself to decide on the carry over for new game plus. Sure, I have also poured a lot of time into games to get a platinum trophy, but that was Final Fantasy 13 and farming Trapezohedron was monotonous as hell.
Until now there was only one RPG, that I’ve completed multiple runs through the main story. That was Mass Effect 2, and the only reason I played through that story twice was so I could play through as fem shep, and make decisions differently, so I could see how they would affect ME3. It’s funny because I can’t really tell you how they affected ME3 cause after my playthrough with my “true” character (the character that you make choices, based on how you would actually make choices, not making choices because you want good or bad guy points) I couldn’t bring myself to play through that story again.
Persona 5 is the second game, I’ve played through multiple times, and the first JRPG that I have actually played the new game plus on. I can also definitively say that it is my favorite game ever, ending Power Stone’s 18 year run at #1.
I love this game so much, it was something familiar, yet it was the something different I needed, and just about all its aspects were executed phenomenally. Let’s start with the story, also, here’s your spoiler alert if you haven’t played already. The story starts with a bang, you’re captured, someone in your party has betrayed you, the police have beaten you senseless and drugged you, and now you’re sitting face to face with the assistant DA who is both your last hope to survive and trying to tie the noose around your neck herself. Then you learn your character has a rap-sheet for a crime he didn’t commit, which has sent him away from home for a year while he attends the only school which would take a kid with a record, Shujin Academy.
So, the story puts you on edge from the jump, because you’re filled with the desire to get revenge on the clown who got you locked up. You are super paranoid because you know someone you come across is going to betray you. So, every new character you meet, you’re like “Can’t trust him, not sure if I can trust her either, all of you teenagers are shady! So is it this little Cat Monster!” Then while you’re twitchy, questioning all these people who come into the main characters life, Atlus starts throwing mad real things at you, in heavy ways. It starts with a teacher abusing his students, physically, mentally, emotionally AND attempting to do so sexually. While the Principal is doing his best to protect him, and just when you’re already juiced up to beat this teacher down, they throw an attempted suicide in and now all you’re doing is dungeon crawling in a blind rage, hoping you can tear the face off this punk ass teacher.
Then after this initial altercation, each new villain and subsequent dungeon, the emerging pattern begins to deepen your rage because Atlus does such a great job creating terrible people, who you want nothing more than to kick their ass.
The great thing though, is once you think you’ve settled into the pattern of the story, it throws a curve at you and now you’re not dealing with the typical asshole, but a kid who has severe emotional and psychological trauma surrounding the death of her mother and while you are trying to help her out you realize you’ve been seeing this whole situation through a keyhole and there is so much more going on. Then once you think you’ve got that figured that out, they throw one last curve at you.
This is just the main story too!
The side stories between the main character and confidants, the people you spend time with to build up social links, which give you new abilities and help your character grow, are incredible as well. They range from light stories like a disgraced politician who is trying to work his way back honestly all the way to a teacher who feels so guilty for the death of one her students that she’s gets extorted to the point where she’s forced into becoming a sex worker. The stories of the confidants are what makes Persona 5 one of the rare games where playing the NG+ is worth it, more than just if you are trophy hunting and trying to get a platinum. I mean, you probably could play through the story once, and get all of the confidants maxed, which means experiencing their complete story, but to do that would require you to look at a guide. As for me? I don’t like using guides when I play through an RPG, I like a fresh playthrough, without knowing the proper way to do things and seeing if I can beat it at the end. I only use guides when it comes to trying to platinum a game.
I also enjoyed the characters too! Well, for the most part, I loved the stories of Makoto, Yusuke, Ann, Morgana, Haru and Futaba. Then there was Ryuji, oh my goodness, Ryuji got on my nerves so much. If it wasn’t him blowing up the phone during summer break, it was constantly getting hit with wind moves when he has his, evade wind skill. I hated Ryuji because I was already paranoid about who was going to sell us out to the police, and Ryuji was being fast and loose talking about official Phantom thief business. Which coincidentally, comes back to bite you in the ass in the story, which was a nice touch to throw that in there.
The gameplay in Persona 5 is a such a welcoming break, from a lot of western RPGs, which are hack and slash button mashers. I like turn-based RPGs, I like having to think out a strategy, and then hope to execute it before the enemy nullifies all my stat bonuses, or get lucky and lands an insta-kill move on me. The difference with hack and slashes, is they make you think you can use skill to beat the difficult parts, but they still have the grind it out leveling up aspect. Nothing frustrates me more than having the skill to beat the boss but then having the difference in our level be the crucial decider in the conflict. Either go turn based, and let me know my level is a factor in the fight, or be hack and slash and let my skill with sticks determine the winner, too many games try to combine the two and that’s infuriating.
I loved how Persona 5 worked in ways to keep the fights interesting, by ending them with unique art based on which characters turn it was. My favorite, of course, being Joker’s, with “The Shows Over,” followed closely by Mona when he says, “Thee Endo” (I must admit I’m a sucker for Japanese voice actors using English). The rush feature, when dealing with weaker enemies is also a great way to keep the player moving along and for fights to not get too tedious. The use of the characters and their Persona played a big role too, being able to get a party with the right amount of damage, the right amount of support, and deciding how to use the main character were all great wrinkles that kept battles interesting.
The soundtrack to this game is incredible as well, it has taken will power, the likes of which I have never before displayed to avoid buying the 30 dollar OST off iTunes. I did, however, buy a few tracks that weren’t on the CD that came with the Take Your Heart edition that I bought. I do not think there is a better song to play when you’re trying to get things done than Rivers in the Desert. Then when you’re ready to kick back and relax throw on Underneath the Mask. The tracks when main characters awaken their Personas is also great, and you will find yourself humming the random fight
I won’t comment too much on the waifu system because I know everyone has their feelings about who they picked and why. I just want you to know that you’re wrong and the only correct choice is Hifumi Togo.
If you haven’t started playing Persona 5 you should go get it immediately and play it through twice, I poured 200 plus hours into it to get my platinum trophy and I don’t regret it at all. The game requires problem-solving, strategy, and the ability to manage your day. The story is great, the subplots and side stories are great as well. I’ve never played a game that I enjoyed as much as I have Persona 5, so if you’re looking for a break from Zombies, feeders, campers and constant parrying, check out a game with a lot of depth in Persona 5, you won’t regret it.