Review: Persona 5 Reviewer: Jawad-Ul Islam Genre: Role Playing Game (RPG) Initial Release Date: September 15, 2016 (Japan Only) Worldwide Release Date: April, 2017 Platforms: PS4, PS3 Developers: P-Studio and ATLUS Publisher: ATLUS, ATLUS USA, Deep Silver, SEGA Writers: Shinji Yamamoto, Yuichiro Tanaka, Katsura Hashino Director: Katsura Hashino Producer: Katsura Hashino Designers: Naoya Maeda Composer: Shoji Meguro Persona 5: The Epitome of a Great JRPG • OVERVIEW: Persona 5 is chronologically the sixth installment in the Persona series, which is a spin-off series based upon the much larger Megami Tensei franchise. • PLOT: Without spoiling too much of the amazing story, the game follows the story of our unnamed protagonist (codename: Joker) in modern Tokyo. After he has been falsely accused for an assault he did not commit, he is transferred from his hometown to Shujin Academy. Him and other students are awakened to special powers and became the secret vigilante team known as the “Phantom Thieves”. They travel and explore the Metaverse, a supernatural realm born from the subconscious mind and desires of humanity, and steal from the hearts adults with malevolent intentions for the greater good. • GAMEPLAY: The gameplay of Persona 5 is well mix of dungeon crawling with turn based battle system when travelling around the Metaverse and a unique slice of life style gameplay when you are travelling through the real world where you interact with NPCs (Non-Playable Characters) and build your relationships with them which can affect your stats and efficiency when battling enemies or “Shadows” when traversing the Metaverse. In the Metaverse, there are two types of dungeons: the Story generated “Palaces” and randomly generated “mementos” which is the culmination of all the subconscious desires of humanity. • METAVERSE GAMEPLAY: Battle system – The Persona series uses a “turn based” combat system and battles can be initiated by surprising enemies from behind, which may give you a slight advantage, or engaging enemies head on for an even playing field for both AI and your own party members. There are 3 methods in which you can battle with. Physical attacks, Gun attacks and elemental attacks by summoning your Persona. The game has usual RPG tropes such as Hit points (HP) which is your health bar and different characters have different levels of health available to them. Skill points (SP) are basically magic points which can be used by Personas to cast elemental spells, use curative spells to restore HP and stat boosting spells. SP management is crucial and important as SP restoring items are scarce and SP and HP fully reset and refill only when you exit the Metaverse. At the end of each story generated dungeons or “Palaces”, there will be an awaiting boss battle which will test both your skills and tactical prowess. Personally, I had a difficult time with some of them and had to go back and level up before facing them again so it would not be wise to avoid the enemies when exploring the dungeons. Palaces are also available for a set amount of in-game time and not finishing those in time would be game over for you. Weapons – Basic physical attacks are used with weapons and each of the playable characters have a unique weapon and gun. The protagonist (Joker) uses daggers and knives, and a handgun, both of which is balanced in terms of both accuracy and power. Ryuji, the protagonist’s first and best friend, uses heavy weapons such as axes and clubs and shotguns, all of which are high in damage but low in accuracy. So each character has their own class of physical weapons and guns which they can use in battle. Persona Summons - Physical weapons and guns are comparatively weaker and this is where the real fun begins. Personas are the manifestation of the characters' inner psyche and they are summoned to cast special or elemental attacks and occasionally physical attacks to enemies. There are 10 elements in total: Physical, Gun, Fire, Ice, Wind, Electric, Psychic, Nuclear, Curse and Bless. While Physical and Gun can be used by the party members, all the elemental damage are cast by Personas and most Personas have strengths and weaknesses to different elements and some have no weaknesses at all. Casting elemental powers cost SP and the stronger the attack, the greater the SP cost. The Personas are based off of mythological gods and creatures from different folklore such as Anubis from Egyptian mythology, Odin from Norse mythology and Sui-Ki from Japanese myth. The party members, other than the protagonist, can only carry one and unique Persona. The protagonist can carry many different types of Personas and can either negotiate a Persona to join them, or fuse existing Personas together to create stronger and more powerful Personas with stronger attacks. Exploiting enemy weaknesses or causing a critical hit can cause a “hold up” mechanic where you can negotiate with Personas to join your cause, ask for money or items or launch an “All out attack” where you deal tremendous amount of damage upon the enemies. • OVERWORLD GAMEPLAY: When you are not traversing out in the Metaverse, you’ll be spending your time in the real world and doing everyday normal things of a Japanese highschool student such as studying and building relationships with other characters. However, time management is key as you only get to do 2 tasks in a day so you have to prioritise on what you could do or not do. Furthermore, visiting the Metaverse would tire you out and you will not be able to do any tasks in the same day. Social Stats and Confidants – There are five social stats in the game: Knowledge, Guts, Proficiency, Kindness and Charm. Building these, are required as it allows you to access additional gameplay mechanics, access to stronger items and new characters. Doing tasks such as answering questions in school or repairing items, playing video games, making coffee or taking a bath can help in building your social stats. Confidants are the relationship you build with certain characters in the game, each representing a different trait with their own set of charms and characteristics. There are 21 confidants in the game and improving your relationships with them can gain you additional perks and powers when battling in the Metaverse such as party member switching mid-battle or easier negotiation. Some characters are available on certain days and some lend more useful perks than others so use your time wisely as spending time with a confidant also count as a task for the day. • MUSIC The game boasts an amazing soundtrack with composer Shoji Meguro knocking it out of the park and vocals from Lyn. Songs such as “Last Surprise”, “Life will Change” and “Rivers in the Desert” are absolute headbangers. • VERDICT Honestly, words alone cannot express the sheer joy and excitement I have felt when playing this massive 80-100 hour game. With so much activities available to do in the game, an intricate battle system and an engaging yet thought provoking story of attaining free will from the limitations of modern society, it is a game you must play to experience it all. Overall Rating: 9.5/10 It was hard to shorten it but it’s just below 1200 words!