The last week of my life has been solely devoted to Persona 5. It’s a well-crafted and original JRPG/sim adventure that explores some really interesting subject matter. I’m disappointed in myself for waiting until now to try the series out. Looking back at the significant presence since Persona 3, I’m not entirely sure how the series entries always seemed to pass by like ships in the night. That being said, I have had my share of frustrations with the game, but before I go into that I’m going to talk about how undeniably badass it is.
Amazing Soundtrack Composed by Shoji Meguro
My god, the music in this game is fantastic. I’m sure there are some gamers out there who can overlook a quality soundtrack. I get it, music might not be your thing (loser). Well good luck keeping up with that tendency when playing Persona 5. This isn’t your standard background noise, ambiance, or complementary melody. This is a truly fascinating series of compositions that not only matches the evident tone of the game design, but actually helps to develop it further.
The energetic funkiness of the Last Surprise, the main battle theme, is a track that just won’t grow stale for me. I must have heard it 846.72 times at this point, yet every time that chorus kicks in I’m bobbing my head side-to-side while my team delivers swift ass beatings. The smooth tranquility of Beneath the Mask is perfect for winding down for some introspective time at the end of the day. It’s impossible to not feel like a debonair individual, with a flair for the dramatic, when Life Will Change jams out that first sweet riff. Go take a listen for yourself and if you don’t get it, then I don’t get you.
Unique Art Design from Soejima & Suto
My first impression from reviews and videos was that the action packed menu interface would prove to be too distractive. I quickly abandoned this reservation after trying the game out for myself. While the graphically bold menu and command designs are not exactly a new addition to the Persona series, the level at which they blend with the environments and characters is seamless. Not only is my eye always get drawn to the right places during combat, dialogue, or map navigation, I’ve actually developed a muscle memory for all of these sequences based on the fluidity of their design scheme.
While the interface is a great contribution, it isn’t the only thing delivering aesthetic value to this game. The environments and settings provide an easy outlet to become fully immersed. While It’s more than common to encounter a JRPG with a derivative anime style, there is a certain originality to the way each area is portrayed here. The life sim sections of the game offer small, slightly boxed in subdivisions of the city. However, the use of space and intricate detail in each of these areas creates enough atmosphere to fulfill anyone’s lifelong weaboo dream of living in an anime. On the flip side, the metaverse offers entirely separate visual experience. The Palaces (dungeons) are well designed and completely unique from one another. Each comes with its own set theme that does a great job of consistently breaking the monotony.
Unforgettable Story Brought to you by Katsura Hashino
From the very first mention of teenage students being abused by a corrupt and self-absorbed adult I was hooked…and a little disturbed. I’ve played my fair share of adult oriented video games, but this was different. Persona 5 covers realistic topics, even if the antagonists and protagonists are a little over the top at times. Regardless these are things that you could see happening in the real world, and probably are happening as we speak. The story takes a dive into the inherent evils that exist within humankind, but also leads with the portrayal that these signs are not always obvious to the outside observer. Victims are taken advantage of to the point where they feel like their voices wouldn’t matter even if they were to speak up.
These severe themes cause you to become invested in the multi tiered story, and the characters who seek to define justice and question the authorities that exploit the weak. Events that you’ll encounter during the calendar year have pressing deadlines. There always seems to be this looming reminder that each step you take is going to bring you closer to that inevitable conclusion; you should choose wisely. This format not only makes for an engaging story, it also teaches the lesson that putting off important decisions can be detrimental to the future. It takes a lot of time and inspiration to craft a story with so many layers, but it worked so well here.
As great as Persona 5 is, it doesn’t come without its annoyances. The social functions and sim sections are a fun twist on the classic JRPG format, but a lot of restrictions are placed on the daily choices you are allowed to make. Often times story events will fast forward you to the evening. This wouldn’t be a huge issue if not for the fact that when this happens you typically can’t use the evening time to do anything progressive. I’ve lost count of how many times Morgana has forced me to go to bed like a punished child. The common reasons are usually along the lines of “don’t you have that thing to do tomorrow? Let’s go to bed.” This removes a lot of the charm that comes from the freedom you are granted in other areas of the game.
Getting more nitpicky, I’m not very impressed with the movement controls, especially when it comes to the sneak/stealth functions in the palaces. General movement is clunky and hard to manage. Moving between the hiding places feels glitchy and many times leads to being seen for bullshit reasons. Leaving combat sequences can also plant you directly in the line of site of a newly spawned enemy. There are ways to “counter-glitch” the system, which I find myself using frequently. I’m not saying that this system shouldn’t be present in the game. There are actually a lot of benefits from manipulating the level of alert inside a palace. I just think a few tweaks could be made to improve fluidity.
So those are my two basic frustrations that are easily overshadowed by amount of quality that Persona 5 brings to the 2017 lineup. I can say with confidence that this game will be a treasured addition to my library down the road. I’m already excited about the prospect of starting up a new playthrough in a year’s time.