Today we’ll be talking about addiction. Like not terrible addiction or the opioids for the Midwest addiction, but more, “haha you were up until six in the morning, why are you still awake, you said you’d go to sleep earlier to fix your sleep schedule, you passed out on a bus yesterday, what the fuck?” and then you precede to continue the activity the next day until six in the morning again and you look yourself in the mirror asking, “Why are you like this?”, but you know you’re gonna do this again addiction. And for me that is Persona 5. I’ve owned this game for slightly over nine days and have eighty four hours clocked on this game. It is literally an addiction, but a respected addiction. I’ve gone drinking with friends and refused to play this game till I sobered up because I didn’t want to screw anything up in my playthrough addiction. I’m probably going to New Game+ this game because I want to have a perfect playthrough addiction. I’m forcing myself to be social and volunteer for activities because I know that if I don’t I’ll be staying inside all day and playing the game addiction.
If I didn’t have school, I wouldn’t be writing this article. That’s how bad this game has hit me, and no other game has really ever hit me as bad as this (maybe with the exception of .hack//G.U.:Rebirth and that’s only because I was twelve). But other than that random rant of my addiction to this game, I must say that this game is great. While I expected this game to be good, I didn’t expect to be hooked to it. So today I’m gonna give some in depth opinions on the game, rather than shouting, “Hey! Play the game! You’ll love it!” to the heavens.
If we want to start out with the basics, Persona 5 is the fifth mainline game in the Persona series. No. You don’t need to play the first four to understand the fifth, but if you want to play the third and fourth, please do. I highly recommend the fourth because it was my first Persona game, and I unfortunately chose to play the game a week before my finals, and woo that was a stupid choice (It was fun. I didn’t study. I got a 3.6 that semester. It was weird.). So with most of the Persona games you’re a Japanese high schooler by day, taking quizzes and interacting with classmates, and you’re a summoner of fantastic creatures by night (really by afternoon depending on the game). In Persona 5 you’re a phantom thief, having the power to travel into people’s cognitive universes (the Metaverse and Palaces) and “steal” (change) their hearts. In regular people terms: you go into crappy people’s mind space and make em stop being crappy.
Now the reason I’m in love with this game, and stupidly addicted, is because this game has a great narrative, wonderful game mechanics that work well for the game, fun characters, and A E S T H E T I C. And I’d like to deep dive so others who might be on the fence about Persona 5 or new comers can at least have an understanding (I realize this post is super late, but my excuse is that I’ve been playing Persona 5).
Now when it comes to the narrative of JRPGs, I usually insult it, chalking any flaw a narrative might have up to the flaw of being a JRPG, but with Persona 5, it’s different. I quite enjoy the story. It’s not the best story, no, not at all, but it’s still pretty good. It mixes the usual Persona and JRPG tropes (being a Japanese teenager, randomly getting powers, dungeons, contracts, and a story progressing from a minuscule moment, i.e. stopping a petty crime, into one of global scale) into its narrative and weaves a story that has some style. The story starts off on November 20th and you’re being caught for a crime, and most of what you do in the game takes place before that day. Every significant progression you make, whether it be completing a story arc or making a new friend/ party member will fast forward you back to November 20th as you receive questions from a prosecutor and realize how large the story is getting. It’s a nice way to develop the story and having you be a “criminal” investigated by a prosecutor slowly makes you question how you were caught. It works in noir-esque style with wonderful twists and turns you’ll never see coming. Now you might question, well what about gameplay? And that really where the game gets fun.
So I’ve already mentioned that in this game you’re a high schooler by day and Phantom Thief by afternoon, and this plays into the game mechanics. There’s an in game calendar and the game essentially goes from 4/7 till 12/24 for playable time, giving you about eight months of in game playing time. Each day is split between morning (which usually doesn’t matter unless plot is happening or you’re answering a quiz question), afternoon/ after school, and evening. During the afternoon/ after school section you can interact with classmates, work for a part time job, partake in whatever Tokyo has to offer (eat food, go to a cafe, study, go to the batting cages, watch a movie, read etc.), or go into the metaverse and crawl through some dungeons. During the evening you can interact with classmates/ friends/ confidants, work for a part time job, take a bath (yes. Taking baths are important on Mondays and Thursdays.), or make tools to help you get through the metaverse.
This game has a something for everyone. I have a few friends who thought this game would essentially contain nothing but dialogue trees, but when you’re not interacting with people, you’re fighting enemies in either a morphed subway system or someone’s messed up cognitive palace. The gameplay for fights in turn based, but there are enough skills and battle elements to make each battle feel fresh. Also the battles just feel cool when you’re summoning your Persona and your character yells out the Persona’s name.
When you first get your persona, you’ll realize there are slots for extra personas. For a customize nut like me, this is one of my favorite elements of the game. While the other party members are stuck with one Persona, you can have up to twelve (or so). In order to attain more Personas, you can battle them and get them to a point where you can negotiate with them—you usually have three options during negotiation which are to ask for its power, ask for an item, or ask for money. If it’s a new Persona, I usually attempt to add it to my roster. When you receive a new Persona you can fuse them to make more Personas. Let’s just say I’ve once spent an hour just making new Personas (because I have a problem, guys).
Another element of the gameplay is your confidants. The roles of certain characters are based on tarot cards. You’re, technically, the Fool. So you have twenty-two confidants to make. With each interaction with a confidant, there’s a chance to level up your bond with them. In doing so, you’re able to get certain benefits. Your social stats go up, your confidants will boost your abilities for battles or help you progress through non-combat moments better (protip: some of the most useful confidants are The Star, Temperance, and The Moon). Unlike previous games, Persona 5‘s use of confidants actually gave me incentive for boosting their bonds beyond giving party members their evolved Personas or romancing characters, and because of this I actually wanted and enjoyed interacting with other characters. Which leads to my next point: the characters.
While I joke about the main party’s names, they’re more than that. Characters are Persona 5’s and Persona in general’s bread and butter. They’re what we feel attached to. They’re who we make memes about. They’re who we wage war about when someone questions, “Who’s best girl?” Or when someone questions, “Who’s best boy?” (but let’s face it, this question isn’t asked as much). We learn to love these characters and as you progress through the story and interact with them more you’ll root for their well being and happiness and understand how they flow with the theme of the narrative. They’re all characters who’ve been wronged by society and they’re simply relatable. This cast of characters might be my favorite. There’ve been too many moments where I’ve laughed when interacting with them and hoped to get to another day just to interact again.
But if none of that is enough, there’s one last reason to play this game, and it’s aesthetic. Let’s face it. This game shoves style in your face and never stops until you acknowledge it as cool and aesthetically pleasing. Through out most scenes (sans confidant boosts, interrogation scenes, and The Velvet Room) delightful acid jazz plays through the background for mellow moments outside of the dungeon and epic moments in them.
Every scene is brimming with color. Every motion no matter how small has an animation for it. This game simply oozes coolness, and that was a real kicker for me. Well I was going to buy this game anyways, but it was an added bonus. As you play this game, you start to understand how much effort the devs put into this game and how they wanted to entertain you even to the most minuscule level. And for that reason I’m head over heels addicted to this game. So try out the game. If you don’t like it, I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure most people who touch this game will find some sort of merit in it. I’ll leave you with the opening to the game. I’ve got to go back to praising ATLUS (creators of the game). Later days.