Until this year, I never paid much attention to the Persona series. In fact, I left Persona 5 off of my 2015 list of upcoming turn-based RPGs, despite it being a huge turn-based JRPG fans were looking forward to.
But once Persona 5 came out and people began raving over what an excellent game it was, I decided to give it a try. And you know what? Persona 5 is definitely an excellent JRPG.
First of all, I’m just delighted that at a time when many people claim only action RPGs sell (despite Pokémon’s unending success) and series like Final Fantasy have backed away from turn-based combat, Persona 5 is a big-name JRPG with an enjoyable turn-based combat system.
Unlike a lot of turn-based RPGs where basic battles generally come down to using your basic attack over and over, it’s important to make use of elemental weaknesses in Persona 5. Hitting an enemy’s weak point stuns them and lets you attack again–and the same goes if they hit your weak point.
If you incapacitate all of the enemies in the battle, you have a chance to negotiate with them. This was fun. Instead of just beating your enemies, you could ask them for money or an item, or talk them into joining your team.
Fighting through dungeons and recruiting Shadows is only one side of the gameplay, however. In between dungeons, you have a lot of time to go through your daily life. Along with spending time with your friends to improve your bonds (one of the most important and enjoyable parts of the game), there were lots of activities to do: reading, studying, fishing, watching movies, playing games, etc. These activities use up time, however, so you aren’t able to do everything.
(Normally I dislike games with time limits and such, but Persona 5’s time passes when you complete activities, not in real-time. Since I could wander to my heart’s content without risking the deadline, it was much more relaxing.)
It’s difficult for me to say which side of the gameplay was more enjoyable. In the end, I have to say both, with how they fit together. The dungeons wouldn’t carry it on their own, but the daily life sections wouldn’t hold up as well without the dungeons in between. It’s a great system that really made it addicting to play.
And best of all, it’s heavily story-driven.
I play RPGs for their stories, and Persona 5 did not disappoint. I feel like it’s rare to have a 100+ hour RPG that’s this focused on stories and characters (usually that much time comes from lots of exploration or grinding), but Persona 5 pulled it off.
The story was filled with thrilling, epic moments, and as the stakes got ever higher, I was excited to see what would happen next. There were also lighter scenes and lots of funny moments, and I loved the characters.
Increasing my bonds with my confidants provided many entertaining moments and enjoyable characters arcs, with some parts that were funny and others that were sad. When the end of the game finally approached, I felt sad saying goodbye to these characters I’d grown so fond of.
I’m not saying Persona 5 is a perfect game. The main character seemed like they weren’t sure if they wanted a self-insert/blank slate character or a set protagonist, resulting in someone who came across as a set protagonist whose pre-determined personality involved him rarely speaking and having very little internal monologue. At that point, why not just give him a fuller personality and dialogue?
There were also some tonal inconsistencies from time to time, and I cringed every time one of the characters said something about “those rotten adults.” It felt like it was trying to push a “teens vs. adults” idea that wasn’t as present in the narrative as those line made it sound.
But those are just minor quibbles. Overall, Persona 5 was a fantastic game filled with exciting moments, and I’m really happy I gave it a chance. I can’t wait to go back and try more games in the Persona series after this!Like this post? Tell your friends!
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