I finished persona 5 on normal mode and this review is written shortly after that. I tried to stream persona 5 to youtube and someone from atlus flagged me twice… so I’m sad. It won’t negatively affect the game review but atlus giving me two strikes is… annoying.
I played Persona 3, and 4. Persona 4 was probably one of my favorite games of all time. It’s that good. So when I got Persona 5… I went in with decent expectations, they better not ruin the perfection that was P4. Even with my high expectations… I gotta say they totally nailed it. I enjoyed pretty much every moment of the game.
From the beginning… of when you first awaken your persona. The anime cut scene gave me sick nerd chills. Well. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it was hella impressive. I played the game on normal mode which in hindsight was a bad idea because they don’t give you enough gold on the first playthrough. I didn’t even have enough gold to fuse the ultimate persona that I unlocked.
For me Persona 5 is centered around 3 big things - gameplay, plot, social links and coolness factor. Let’s talk about the gameplay. Within the dungeons they added platforming aspects… platforming and solving puzzles in order to advance the game. None of the puzzles were particularly hard… I actually didn’t need a guide despite the fact that I played the Japanese version. I did miss out on a lot of things though since Japanese is hard. So the new pre-battle roaming… is very satisfying. Compared to P3 and P4 where you would struggle to get first strike by surprising the monsters… it’s relatively easier to get the jump on monsters. And you really do want the initiative because it’s the difference between winning in one turn and dying a painful death.
They introduced the concept of the baton pass. It’s an interesting mechanic. I didn’t fully abuse it for the longest time because I thought you would lose a turn… to whoever you passed to. But it turns out it stays on the same character’s turn. Since it’s essentially the one more concept from previous games. You can hit a weak spot -> chain to a partner. That character gets an attack boost… and they could also get another turn if they were after you. Basically with the main character he’s easiest to get a weakness hit since he has all elements… you can then pass and give someone else two turns in a row. That blew my mind.
They introduced game memory… so you don’t have to memorize weaknesses. That’s a big plus… also once you fuse the persona… as in you own it somehow…. all the weaknesses gets revealed. Another big bonus since monsters / your own persona’s are the same. They introduced a gun mechanic, and I think the mind/flare element is new. So there’s 10 elements in the Persona 5 universe… I think that’s a bit…. extreme. Since… it now takes at least 10 turns to try every single element of a boss. It’s just annoying. To have to try 10 elements to find out the boss has no fucking weakness.
I didn’t specifically grind…. I just fought every battle that was along the way… since avoiding them leads to bad consequences. You want the first initiative turn instead of risking the inverse. One of the complaints I have is that I lost probably 12 hours of my life due to game over in normal mode. One bad crit and it’s game over. Also by the time the enemies have access to light/death instant kill… you don’t really have the personas or skills to defend against it… so I think there’s a small window where you can just get insta-zapped if you’re unlucky. The mechanic where the game ends when the main character goes down… combined with instant kill drove me nuts. It’s like… I kept a persona from a previous battle -> got ambushed -> got instant killed. Sad. Face.
Aside from the random zaps of instant kill, I’d say the battles are overall fun and varied. It’s good that they warn you when a boss is gonna do a mega attack in a turn. Aside from the battles I think the personas are a bit weak in the beginning. I mean… I’m use to playing a persona with no weaknesses… and you don’t really get access to one until midgame / late midgame… which is frustrating. I think part of the reason is that I don’t know how to use the isolation chamber. Basically the velvet room has some bonus / extra functionality besides buy/fuse/register. I think you can actually get rid of persona weaknesses… which I haven’t figured out yet.
Story wise… I thought the story was a bit too predictable and straightforward for the longest time. But of course like all Persona games… there’s a twist. I was pleasantly surprised by the twist in a sense that I was surprised that I wasn’t able to see it beforehand. Normally, now whenever there is a twist… it’s something that I expect. Like when I watched boku dake inai no machi… I was like. I think that’s the evil character even though I don’t want him to be…. and he turned out to be the evil character. I was also worried about messing up and losing time like in Persona 4. Where you could lose 3 months of game time if you made the wrong choice…. luckily it isn’t as bad in Persona 5. I did read the guide to pick the right answers, but it wasn’t live. I read the guide beforehand… and based on the principles of the guide I managed to pick all the right answers in Japanese.
The social links. I definitely enjoy the social links aspect of the game the most. In my first playthrough I sadly couldn’t do everything that I wanted. The sad thing is… there are so many links that are blocked on stats… I’m not sure if that’s the case with old games… but I know that I didn’t struggle as much in Persona 4. Like. You need Max Courage to start a social link. Or max knowledge. You don’t get max of the paramaters until late game. So a lot of the links are prevented from advancing. That was really frustrating. I guess the game is meant to be played twice… protip is to just play the first playthrough in safety mode. Safety mode gives you more gold. I’m actually doing my new game plus in safety mode. I’ll do my 3rd playthrough in hard mode… if I ever reach it. You simply don’t get enough gold in normal mode. Which is disappointing.
My japanese is actually good enough to understand most of the social link events… which is surprising and good. Basically, each persona you have a link with generally has one main story point that you help them resolve… usually by going to mementos.
Overall - I’d say Persona is a 9.5/10. In my mind it’s definitely game of the year. I don’t think there’ll be a JRPG that can come close to it within 3 years. I played a bit of FFXV - gotta say FFXV seems like a disappointment compared to Persona 5. Persona 5 just took everything great about P3/P4 and made it even better. It’s set in Tokyo and the rail / subway stops corresponds to real life. If you like Final Fantasy… then you’ll probably love Persona 5.