Persona is back with Persona 5 and it’s the same as ever, but now on Playstation 4.
I have been a Persona fan since day one. The mix of Japanese social life in high school and battling monsters in another world go together like chocolate milk and salt. Try it. On paper its not supposed to work. In fact, it should be a disaster. However, Atlus could create a niche within a dying genre that spawned multiple sequels and spinoffs. So, when Persona 5 was announced for the PlayStation 4, I was beyond excited. Its Persona, but next gen. This is going to be great.
Persona 5 begins with our protagonist (I named my character Freaky Zeke after the soon to be great Dallas Cowboy) coming to the aid of a young woman being assaulted by an older man. Freaky Zeke being the cool young man he is steps in between the two. It is at this point where the man shows himself to be quite powerful and wealthy in this city. So much so that when the police arrive to the scene it is you that is under arrest. The older man has convinced the woman to lie on his behalf. Thus, beginning our story of adult betrayal.
Having to start a new school and a new life. Our silent protagonist is brought before series regular Igor in the all too familiar Velvet Room. It is here we learn that Igor has plans to help rehabilitate Zeke by granting him the gifts of accessing his persona and visiting the Metaverse.
Saying and doing the right things build your character. In game and out. A good lesson to be learned.
It is standard fare from here. We begin meeting new friends and enemies. All of which represent a different side of you and thus a different persona. The stronger these bonds are the stronger your personas become. Building these social links also grant many different abilities in and outside battle. Maxing out your social links come in many forms. Working out, going to the theater, taking the hot ladies out on dates… Its all done well and done before. New comers to the series may see this a breath of fresh air to the genre. Old veterans like myself will often find ourselves skipping through the conversations. Looking for the opportunity to answer a question correctly and score brownie points in hopes to level up our stats.
Familiarity is the name of the game in Perona 5.
A friend invited me to a game while I was playing Persona 5. I told him after this boss fight and we are good to go. To which he replied, “Use a magic attack, look for a weakness, if not there change your persona and knock him down. Hurry up”. When boiled down to its essence, that is what combat is. Always has been. Just find out the enemies’ weakness and destroy it. But that is the foundation of the combat. The complexities of combat come from everything outside the battle. Its in your prep work.
Often, I find myself leaving the Metaverse or dying simply due to exhaustion or poor planning. One bad persona load out and you’re a sitting duck. Because the enemy has the same advantages as you do when you are knocked down. Make sure to take the time brew a hot cup of LaBlanc coffee or by enough soda. Once your SP or magic stamina runs out, your characters are almost useless. More than often I am leaving dungeons and my party has full health. You’re a gun with no bullets. Luckily you can restart a story fight from the beginning of that fight. Any other loss and you are back at the last safe room.
Persona 5 does just enough to feel fresh. It does not take any risks in its formula. And I am a little disappointed in Atlus because of that. I forgive the formula not evolving while on the PlayStation 3. How much could they do without breaking anything? Plus, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I was really looking forward to what Atlus would bring to the Persona series with new hardware. This was an opportunity to impress the non-fan. Instead they seem very comfortable in the tight box they created.