I preface this review with chance confession – this is my first Persona game, and I’ve never particularly been a fan of the style of games (heck, even anime) that Persona seems to borrow so liberally from. Despite this, I sit here after spending so much time with Persona 5, the latest game in the series. Blown away. Surprised. Amazed I managed to see through the melodrama and enjoy it for what it was. But I did. That’s because Persona 5 is a game you absolutely should try.
Persona sees you playing as the nameless (well, you can name him) protagonist who is transferred to Shujin Academy in Japan following an altercation with the law. There, he meets up with a group of students who eventually become aware that the world they’re living in is more corrupt than they would seem. After a mysterious app appears on their phone, the students can enter the subconscious of the corrupt people in their society and unravel their thoughts to not only protect themselves but the world as well.Best described as a very quirky, very Japanese take on Inception, Persona’s story has a lot more to it than you might think. The characters each have their own very well fleshed out story arcs, the overarching story is intriguing (from beginning to end) and each of the vignetted stories surrounding each of the game’s dungeons are compelling. Make no mistakes, there is stereotypical melodrama and protracted exchanges of dialogue, but still, Persona 5 is an arresting experience from beginning to end, with some lulls here and there.
Persona 5 is different to other role playing games. In it, you divide your time between managing the priorities and day-to-day tasks of a high school student; and exploring abstract worlds in pursuit of your treasure and goals. A good Persona player will balance real world activities like building bonds with friends, various hobbies and studying for exams with relentless dungeon crawling, battling and equipment developing. An even better player will realise, on their first run especially, that you can’t do everything you’ll want to do. Art imitates life, it seems.Though while these activities all sound mundane, they all feed into Persona 5’s core gameplay mechanics. When in the real world, you’ll attend school and then be given options on how to use your time after school. Initially, it’ll seem overwhelming. Should you hang out with a friend, study for your upcoming exams or just go and hang out at a diner or restaurant. As mentioned previously, there’s heaps to do in Persona 5 and you’ll be overwhelmed initially – but prioritising each of these is tantamount to your success.