Now this really is an out of date one. Given that the game was released 1) Jointly for the PS3 and PS4 2) Over 3 years ago worldwide 3) Even longer that that in Japan & 4) We’ve seen a re-vamped version released in Persona 5 Royal since then. However, it’s what I’ve been putting my time into recently so you all get to hear about it. I take you now to the Metaverse, It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s lorded over by people with their own agenda. Who can save us but a group of High School students and their cat aka The Phantom Thieves.
I for one do enjoy JRPG’s (at least the ones that make it this far west), although I must confess I haven’t really played many outside of the larger franchises (basically anything made by Square-Enix). I had heard of the Persona series before this but never actually played one until now. I saw it on sale on the Playstation Store, took a leap and I am glad that I did. Despite how much of a slog the game felt at times I was truly driven by the story and the asthetics.
The game centres around the mute, unnamed, leader of the gang refereed to as ‘Joker’. After being put on probation for a crime he didn’t commit, he’s shipped off to Tokyo to live with a family friend, he enrols in Shujin Academy and whilst there he discovers the Metaverse, the ability to user Persona’s (a manifestation of a persons personality, granting them power in the Metaverse) and the people who use the Metaverse for their own selfish gain. It’s up to Joker and his Scooby Gang to right the wrongs of these evil doers and bring them to justice.
The game is very much split into 2 parts and as the game progresses you jump between the two. In the real world the game is a life-sim, where you go to school, hang out with friends, go shopping etc. It is here where you’ll be spending most of your time, gathering information on bad guys in order to gain entrance into their Palaces (their own little corners of the Metaverse). The sections in the Metaverse are where the action happens and where you fight the bad guys. Like any JRPG worth it’s weight in salt it’s purely turn-based combat. The combat itself is fairly balanced, each character has their set elemental strengths and weaknesses and with a good mixture of elemental enemies in each palace without excessive grinding it’s never a complete “walk in the park”. However Joker’s ability to switch Personas means that if you have a good mixture of different elements and enough items to keep replenishing his SP then battles can become quite one sided.
I really enjoyed the art and aesthetics of the game, despite being released for the last console generation the anime art style prevents it from feeling old, in fact there were a few times I forgot this. Warning, don’t mistake the cute anime style to mean that it’s a kids game. The casual swearing, hyper-sexuality of some of the characters and the literal penis monsters will tell you it’s not (yes you read correctly, there are literal penis monsters). The soundtrack too has a kind of cult classic vibe to it, I find it hard to put into a category but if forced I’d say “Soul” but I’m not happy doing so. It’s very memorable and almost makes everyday life seems cool.
Now for my final thought. My main gripe with the game has to be the length of it. Now don’t get me wrong, I like length in a game as much as the next person so long as the gaps are not padded out with papier mache. I must have easily put 100+ hrs into the game before I beat the final boss but I recon that with a good editor that could easily have been halved. Also whilst I’m at it, the number of times I’ve been going through a story phase only for it to abruptly stop at days end so I can tuck Joker into beddie bies really annoyed me, needlessly breaking the flow of the game. Then again I supposed if did that it would technically be classed as a visual novel rather than a game. Still despite that I put in the hours needed to reach the end because I was genuinely interested and wanted to keep going until the end.