I haven’t played a Persona game since Persona 3 was released on the PS2. There I was, glued to the couch in a cramped apartment. Surrounded by two cats, “hint” printouts and dirty food dishes. Hours, days, weeks went by and I was diligently winding my way through the 25th hour, each dungeon, each connection stronger than the last. I must have spent 20 hours alone, trying to fuse the ultimate persona: Lilith.
That same fate was feared with Persona 4. Despite this, I had bought it for PS3, but tucked the game away on my shelf, never to play. Years later Shin Megami Tensei released Persona 5 and that was it, I fell off the wagon, the addiction full on again. It’s only been out for a week, but I’ve put in far more hours than I can afford to admit. The final quests of “Horizon: Zero Dawn” were rushed through, just so I could shelve the game and jump into Persona 5 with no loose ends.
Persona 5 is a special game, one of deep, interpersonal connections, school and secret lives. A delicate balance of what has to get done and a limited time to do everything that needs to be done. It’s a frightful mirroring of real life, adulthood embodied in a videogame.
How it all begins
You start Persona 5 as a troubled youth with a criminal record who’s on probation. Though your crime was really only standing up for a woman in distress. You hit the wrong guy, a well connected guy who turned the tables on you instead.
Because of your “crime”, you’re expelled from your old school and shipped off to live with the salty owner of failing coffee shop. He starts off your year long relationship simple enough, you have no freedoms and he threatens daily, that he’ll kick you out and ruin your life should you slip up just once. No one at school trusts you. The volleyball coach is a real charmer and seems to be the guy who runs everything. But they all know you and your reputation. Life in Persona 5 doesn’t start out easily.
Naturally the first person you meet is the other “bad guy” of the school. A hyper-active blond kid with one foot through the expulsion door. So it’s only natural that two troublemakers meet and “connect”. Thus, your first real bond is formed.
The Style of Persona 5
Persona 5’s music and style is reminiscent of 70’s spy flicks and detective shows. The music makes everyday life, school, shopping feel great. It’s lively and exciting.
The graphical style of Persona 5 is over the top on cool. Everything has to be stylish and exciting, even if it has no meaning. The girls are all attractive and skinny. They look feminine, while the guys, well they are skinny too. The art and narration of Persona 5 hasn’t been poisoned by the Social Justice Warriors of the Western world. Unlike Mass Effect Andromeda, where all the woman are butch, and men frail and feminine, Persona strives to keep the confused SJW philosophies out of the game.
This makes a very appealing and accessible game to the greater population and doesn’t feel like you are being force fed the new world indoctrination of confused individuality.
My only gripe with Persona, and well, most modern Japanese games is how much control they take away from you. Once it was made available I just wanted to explore Mementos, but I was sucked away with midterm exams, and Madarame’s castle being investigated. Almost 2 weeks passed by before I could really do anything that I wanted. Sort of just how real life can be. There is a ton of dialog in the game too. Tons of reading, voice overs and more. It’s daunting to think how they scripted and implemented it all. I hope the world opens up just a little more, so I can explore some. I still have a lottery ticket I bought back in May, that I haven’t been able to check because the way the game sucks control out of your hands.
In closing, Persona 5 is still a fantastic game. Lots of style and personality are crammed into this game. As it is a Japanese game, there’s possibly a million layers and things that I may never get to see. The whole shopping mall district is a place I’m dying to explore more, once I can wrestle control over the things I want to try out.