The sequel to Persona 5 is here, four years later. And everything is almost exactly the same – except for one thing.
Personagames are probably the Japanese publisher Atlus most beloved game series (at least internationally) and Person 5 was a stunningly good game, one of the top ten games of 2017. The game got one Royaledition with a little extra content and some changed features almost a year ago on PS4. Persona 5 Strikers, which is today’s consideration, may sound like some kind of DLC or spin-off, but it is in fact, the official sequel to The Sovereign JRPG. And you who played the previous game will feel completely at home – except in the battles. Namely, they have replaced turn-based battles with action-focused ones. Which turns out to have both advantages and disadvantages.
The story continues after the break in Person 5 (feel free to read that review first if you want to know more about the world and the game itself) – “Joker” (which you can name as you wish) is back in Uncle’s café and reunited with all friends: Ryuji, Futaba, Ann and the cat Morgana among others – new acquaintances in the Phantom Thieves gang are also waiting to make their entrance during the game. It can be said that this game retains basically all the news from Royaledition (Show Time special attack, duck hook, ammunition being restored between battles, etc.) and for real-time fighting.
At first it all feels like a bit of a musou game (obvious is Omega Force involved on a corner, just like in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity): to wade through hordes of enemies with sweeping, spectacular attacks. But of course, nothing is as superficial as it may first seem in one Persona-game. There is a maintained depth in the battles here, even though they are (to some extent) skill-based now. It’s important to keep your tongue in your mouth and remember some key combinations, even if the game is good at guiding you right and running a small guide overview at the bottom of the screen during battles. It can be quite hot, when you change Persona (Joker can carry a large number of such with him) then everything stops, otherwise it is fully revealing and attention to when to dive away powerful attacks at the right time (R2 on PS4) and activate specials. That your fellow characters (who are controlled during the battles by the computer) constantly shout out tips and wishes makes the whole thing a little chaotic and confusing sometimes, but you soon get into the flow and when you figure out each enemy’s weakness (and memorize it) so the game is actually not very challenging (at least not on Normal).
Apart from the arcade-action element, everything is pretty much the same. The days go by, you usually have to prioritize what you want to do with the time you have and we are offered a deep, in-depth and engaging anime story with a lot of intermediate sequences and plenty of dialogues, some of which are loaded (you can easily switch between English and Japanese during the game – try and see what you like best, both have their merits).
In terms of presentation, it is also very familiar, despite the fact that almost four years have passed. We tested the game on PS5 via backwards compatible mode for PS4 and it floated on like a dream, with very short charging times. The aesthetics are still appealing. At the same time, it’s a low odds that in the future we will get to see a dedicated PS5 version of the game with extra eye candy and effects, maybe 4K and 120fps, who knows? The soundtrack is to some extent the same songs as in the predecessor, but with some new features (you who played the previous game on PS4 or have Joker in Super Smash Bros on Switch get some bonuses unlocked, including new music). The voice acting has a high anime class and the entire production exudes quality right through.
As Person 5 four years ago so is Persona 5 Strikers a JRPG that requires a few hours of patience and investment on the part of the player, but which also rewards these abundantly. You love being in the Jokers Tokyo and the parallel world – Metaverse – which so David Lynch-skt challenges us as players. The action element cheers up an otherwise quite smooth game, but does not provide the same overview and control as the turn-based one. Honestly, you get used to it quickly, so you do not immediately miss the old system and it is likely that turn-based battles are a bit passé, now that even Final Fantasy VII remake switched to real-time battles.
If you played and hated Person 5 so learn Persona 5 Strikers Do not do enough differently for you to change. It is in many ways a completely straight sequel. But if you like us (and large parts of the world) loved Person 5, so are Strikers a both fun and long-awaited reunion. And the new combat system is in any case something new in an otherwise rather conservative game series. Whether it is better or worse then everyone gets to decide. In any case, we did not mind.
A must for lovers of JRPG games in general and Personaseries especially when this is released on February 23rd.