|Release: April 4, 2017|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, drug reference, partial nudity, sexual themes, strong language, violence|
The stealth stuff is clever and ties in well with the motif, but it is a bit awkward. The hours-long tutorial section doesn’t properly disseminate how it works, making the build to figuring it out and having all the options unnecessarily confusing. For example, you have the ability to snap to cover in the very first, teasing dungeon-like section, then it’s taken away until the plot deems it appropriate to come back later. Enemy lines of sight aren’t super clear, and looking around geometry, especially that early portion without cover, is frustrating at times. The cover stuff also feeds some lazy design, often shooting you down narrow hallways so you can bounce across a line of conveniently-placed furniture.
The combat is awesome, visually satisfying and full of features to play around with. New to this iteration in particular is an old-school feature from the proper Shin Megami Tensei series, from which Persona is actually a spinoff. You can now hold a Persona at gunpoint instead of murdering it, and talk to it. You can demand money or items, or even convince it to join your team.
Fusing demons together to make new, more powerful abilities available is the mechanical crux of these games, and having the classic recruitment method bolted onto Persona 5 is novel. It can be frustrating at times, especially early on, since early on you have to score a knockdown on every present enemy to get a conversation started. Avoiding victory can be difficult when you’re one-shotting monsters.
Persona 5 also continues the tradition of being a pseudo visual novel/time management sim in which you’re also attending high school during the day. While being wary of your goals as superhero thieves, you also have to attend class, answer trivia questions, build your social and physical abilities, and much more. It’s always sort of the icing on the cake with these games for me, as I’m much more interested in the storytelling and dungeon crawling. But it’s another unique quality these games have, and really goes the extra mile to sell the Persona experience as an interactive anime.
When the exposition stops and the dungeon waits for you, you can spend time building relationships with the cast and finding the various side quests and sub-activities scattered around the city. It all ties together of course – building abilities opens up your options (especially in subsequent runs) and fostering relationships massively improves your combat options. Persona 5 is also about time, how you use it and value it.
Persona 5 is a massive game. Dozens upon dozens of hours, even on the critical path, are eaten alive before you even notice it. It achieves this with a level of production that rivals even a Final Fantasy game, albeit on a wildly different plane. There are some hiccups, such as fuzzy textures (this is also on PS3, mind) and some awkward camera/movement, but as soon as the next eye-catching visual effect pops up or the next exciting cutscene with legitimately upsetting villains unravels, it’s like nothing else in your surroundings matters. Persona 5 is special, even more so for people who have been paying attention to this series for the past few decades. Just, you know, clear your calendar for a while.