I pushed a guy and the law won. I don’t understand how the law won…

It’s been a year since the release of Persona 5 and now it’s finally getting a review here on The Backlog. Hooray! And believe me when I say the wait for this game was worth it.

The story of Persona 5 is quite a doozy. The main character is put on probation after helping a woman from a drunk politician. Yeah, that doesn’t seem right but if you have power, why not abuse it! While on the first day at school, the protagonist and his soon be bestest friend stumble upon a world of distortions. Now it’s up to you and your group of friends who seek justice to take the hearts of distorted people and save the world!

The gameplay is quite good in this installment. In battle, each button has a use which is a first in the series. In previous Persona games, the battle menu is a simple ‘select on the list what you want to do’ but here, each action has a correlating button. If you want to physically attack, press X. If you want to guard, press O and so on and so forth. It is such a great mechanic especially if you keep the cursor on memory so no more mistakenly selecting the wrong attack  (as far as I know, the memory cursor is in the Persona and Items menus so watch out there). Persona 5 brings back the ‘everyone has a gun as a secondary weapon’ mechanic from the first Persona game. It works much better here than in the first game since it is not a ranged attack. Persona 1 had a lot of problems…

Persona 5 keeps the same battle mechanics as the previous two games in the series. You still have weak hits and critical attacks that downs enemies to allow for an all-out attack. But when it comes to obtaining Personas, Shuffle Time is nowhere to be seen. Here you must talk to the enemies to obtain Personas. This is a throwback to the much early Persona games. If you read my reviews of the first three Persona games, you get a gist of what you need to do to get a Persona there but in Persona 5, it is much simpler. Getting a Persona can be done in a certain number of ways. In battle either you can down an enemy and instead of doing an all-out attack, you can talk with the enemy to either receive money, an item, or obtain their power. The other way is when you get their health low enough, the enemy will start a plea bargain. Getting their power works similarly to how you get tarot cards in Persona 2 Eternal Punishment. You have to get on the enemy’s good side so they remember that they are actually a Persona and not a shadow. They ask you a few questions (2-3) and you must answer them correctly to get them otherwise they will either keep fighting you or run from the fight.

Getting into a fight is a bit harder in this game. Since the whole aspect of Persona 5 is being a thief, you have to be more cautious about starting a battle. You have to sneak up on enemies by either walking up behind them while their backs are turned or hiding and then ambushing them. The only problem with hiding, even though it’s great, is moving to the next hiding spot or ambushing the enemy while already hiding. Here is what I mean… There will be times when you crouched down in a hiding spot and you want to move to the next one without being seen. If you are close enough to see the next spot, it will glow white and a prompt will appear. It’s all good unless you are not paying close enough attention to where the spot is or if you are moving way too fast to all the hiding spots that the enemies become aware of you and you’re in trouble. There were times when I switching spots and I went to the wrong side of the spot simply because the game and I were not on the same page.

Also be aware that the game has a security level in each Palace/dungeon. Every time you get noticed by an enemy, the security level goes up. If it reaches 100%, you cannot explore anymore and have to wait a day for it to go down. In order to keep the security level low, do not get spotted by enemies and if you do, fight them and the level will go down.

The Velvet Room is still here as it should be. The look of this one is more sinister than all of the Velvet Rooms combined. Here it is shown as a prison and the fusions take the form of executions. Fusing Personas made me a bit uncomfortable as it showed the Personas walking to the death to a guillotine looking pretty sad. Luckily you do have the option to skip the cutscene. You still have the basic and advanced fusions but there are some new things as well. You can strengthen a Persona by leaving them in the Velvet Room. They will learn a new skill during their stay. There is also the Itemization. Perhaps you don’t like a Persona and want to get rid of it but not via fusion? Make it an item! It can be either an accessory, a weapon, a Skill card, or just a item. While in the Velvet Room you have to deal with Igor’s assistant… or assistants in this case. Meet Justine and Caroline, the guards of the Velvet Room. They don’t like you very much but that’s okay, I don’t like them either. You can have a Confidant with them and it plays out very similar to Elizabeth’s quests in Persona 3. You need to fuse a Persona with a certain skill in order to build a Confidant with them. Building a Confidant with them allows you to do more things in the Velvet Room like the Group Guillotine fusion.   

Besides the standard dungeons and the puzzles within them, there is Mementos. This place is just like Tartarus from Persona 3. Mementos is the dungeon that is never the same twice. In Mementos you will be able to find treasure chests (unlocked and locked), craftable items, and requests. You will receive requests from your classmate Mishima, the one who runs the Phantom Thieves fansite, and he will give you a text informing you of a target to pursue. Either the Mementos request will come from him or from Social Links. I spent a lot of time in this dungeon doing requests and getting craftable items and trying to get some trophies.

Speaking of Social Links, they are back but are called Confidants. They are pretty similar to the previous two Persona games and their Social Links. You can have Confidants with party members and non party members. Building these bonds will give you more abilities, items, and bonuses. And as always, once you have maxed out a Confidant who is a party member, their Persona will evolve, making it stronger. The one bond I suggest players to get is the one with Mishima. Doing his Confidant will give the bonuses of having party members gained EXP when they are not in the party after battles.

 

Social Stats are back and I hated it. You have to deal with five social stats. Five… The stats are  knowledge, guts, proficiency, kindness, and charm. Getting these stats will help further your Confidants and all the little side things you can do in the game. Note that these five social stats have five levels and they suck. I thought I was annoyed when I had to get a certain stat leveled up in Persona 3 just to begin a Social Link with Fuuka but that was nothing compared to the Confidant with Makoto. I had to be super smart and charming just to finish hers and it took forever… But I did get number one on my exams.

There is not a lot to talk about with the side things to do in the game except that they have trophies tied to them. Most of the trophies deal with reading all the books, playing all the retro video games, getting all the drinks from the vending machines, and what not. But doing some of these things will help build up Social Stats. For example, playing a certain retro video game will improve your guts or charm. Doing these side things will also help extend play time and give you something to do when you aren’t running around in a Palace or Mementos or maxing out a Confidant.

Overall, I do recommend Persona 5. I found it very enjoyable and I loved all the mechanics that were brought back from the very early games in the series. I do wish the game was a bit longer. It was shorter than the previous two games and not as hard. The final boss felt like a let down but at least it didn’t have 14 forms.

We did it, Erin. We covered every main Persona game including the ports. The last games we need to review are Arena Ultimax and Q before the new dancing spin-offs come to the States. I’ll get on those soon… Whenever that will be…

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