When Persona 5 launched in 2017, I fell into my new RPG obsession. I loved almost everything about the Phantom Thieves’ journey, but the characters and the story are what stuck with me long after I completed the 100+ hour journey. So when Persona 5 Royal was announced, I couldn’t wait to come back and repeat the adventure with new characters, new locations, and an extra story arc at the end. However, while I loved Persona 5 Royal (a lot, in fact), it left me wishing for a whole new story with the cast of beloved characters; I wanted to see how their friendships and life have evolved following the crazy events of Persona 5. It might not be an RPG like the game it serves as a sequel, but Persona 5 Strikers promises to give me the news. adventure I dreamed of. since I set foot at Café Leblanc almost four years ago.
Co-developed by Atlus and the studio behind the Dynasty Warriors franchise, Omega Force, Persona 5 Strikers is hardly a direct successor to the Persona 5 I fell in love with. However, if you expect it to be like what we’ve seen Omega Force do with Hyrule Warriors, where it’s all about non-stop action and a constant stream of hack-and-fight battles. -slash, you are surprised. During the first few hours of the game, I felt less like playing some weird, dissonant sort of spin-off action game and more like playing a sequel to Persona 5 with action-based combat.
The similarities and differences between Persona 5 and Persona 5 Strikers are displayed very well through the cast of characters and the way you interact with them. Most of my first few hours were spent talking to the Phantom Thieves. I loved hearing more about what they did in the months following the end of Persona 5. The passage of time was especially exciting for characters like Makoto, who is now in college and at a another place in his life. If you like the stylish aspect of the title, almost all of the characters sport a new look as well.
However, as the characters and their voice actors return from the original Persona 5 (sorry, Kasumi fans), the social elements have been drastically reduced compared to the main series. Instead of social connections, you can develop connections with characters on your team. Much like the dearly departed Social Bonds, Bonds unlock new stat boosts and new character abilities. Unlike the Persona 5 system, however, you don’t earn points for upgrades by going to a ramen shop, amusement park, or sanctuary with your friends, but rather defeating enemies. I’m a little disappointed with the lack of social options because that’s such a big part of what made me fall in love with these characters and the show as a whole in the first place, but this project never did. was meant to be a social simulation. like the original version.
While the original characters already have a strong bond with each other, they welcome a new member to the ranks of the Phantom Thieves very early in the story. Sophia is an artificial intelligence character that Joker and Skull find on their first trip to the Metaverse. She joins the team, providing narrative advice in addition to her combat skills. Using her yo-yos, she can attack a wide range, while her blaster allows her to strike enemies from afar.
In Persona 5, the team infiltrates a palace, discovering a corrupt ruler, gathering information about him, and using an app on his phone to switch to the metaverse. This process remains the same at Strikers; The team discovers that something strange is going on involving Alice Hiiragi, a fashion stylist and idol who has developed a strangely ardent following. Ultimately, the seemingly sweet Alice has found a way to capture the desires of ordinary people, turning them into obsessed fans who will do anything for her, including a man who drops to his knees and confesses his love to her in front of his own. fiancé. Once the Phantom Thieves figure this out and see Alice’s true nature, they know they can’t let her stand, so they begin an investigation by talking and listening to the fans scattered around Shibuya.
Once the team has enough information, they return to the Metaverse to infiltrate Alice’s dungeon, which turns the area around Shibuya Crossing into a prison. The dungeon I played, although shorter than a Persona 5 Palace, shockingly unfolds like in the original main RPG; you move through the area, ambushing shadows as you go. The biggest difference in the whole game is in the combat; rather than the turn-based fare of Persona 5, the battles take place closer to the fast-paced action of the Warriors series. While you can hack and cut at your leisure, considering the strategy is crucial. Not only can you switch between your active party using the d-pad, but you can pause the action to swap Personas and use their abilities. Capitalizing on an enemy’s weaknesses can knock them out, opening the door to a powerful all-out attack. I was also caught off guard by the way the battles are spaced. Based on my time with the Hyrule Warriors games, I expected the battles to be more constant. Instead, dating is more about breaking up exploration.
Even when you’re not in the dungeon itself, Shibuya and the surrounding area feels like coming home if you’ve ever played either version of Persona 5. Shibuya and Yongen-Jaya are laid out exactly like in Persona 5, and seeing the gang return to Leblanc or their hiding in the driveway made me smile. I know the team will eventually leave Shibuya and Tokyo as a whole over the course of the story, but these callbacks to the Phantom Thieves’ flagship adventure are fun.
If my early hours are any indication, Persona 5 Strikers serves as a compelling follow-up to one of my all-time favorite RPGs. Not only am I drawn to the idea of continuing the lives of the various members of the team, but I am intrigued by the direction the story is taking. Persona 5 Strikers launches for PlayStation 4, Switch, and PC on February 23. To see the initial trailer for its location in the West, head to here.