Ryu’s Bites: Persona 5 (PS4)

Persona_5_cover_artLanguage: Audio: Japanese & English; Subs: English
Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus (NA) Deep Silver (EU)
Format: PS4
Type: JRPG, Social Simulation
Demo Box: PS4 (OLD)
Synopsis: Persona 5 is a game about the internal and external conflicts of a group of troubled high school students – the protagonist and a collection of compatriots he meets in the game’s story – who live dual lives as Phantom Thieves. They have the typically ordinary day-to-day of a Tokyo high schooler – attending class, after school activities and part-time jobs. But they also undertake fantastical adventures by using otherworldly powers to enter the hearts of people. Their power comes from the Persona, the Jungian concept of the “self”.
The game’s heroes realize that society forces people to wear masks to protect their inner vulnerabilities, and by literally ripping off their protective masks and confronting their inner selves do the heroes awaken their inner power, and use it to strive to help those in need.
Ultimately, the group of Phantom Thieves seeks to change their day-to-day world to match their perception and see through the masks modern-day society wears.

Like a lot of other people I was eagerly awaiting Persona 5, I even preordered the deluxe edition that came with the plushie and bag, something I rarely do. Sadly, this is a game i’ve dropped and i’m unlikely to complete, hence it being a ‘Bites’ post rather than ‘Musings’ one.

When the game arrived and I saw the goodies in the game, I was initially not impressed. The bag was cheap and crappy and practically unusable, the plushie, was well, a plushie. The only thing that impressed me was the steelbook case. While I’ve my doubts it’s actually steel, it was however a really smart case.

So I sat down to play the game and was ready for Persona 4 Golden, only better! Did it deliver? Sadly, for me thats a resounding NO.

The game starts off poorly IMO, from whats revealed you start the game about halfway through, and then go back in time through flashbacks. I found this to be very clunky, and frankly not well executed, and a lot of the time to be annoying.

This was made worse when you find out the protagonist’s reason for moving. Not spoiling or anything, but he (and the game) tries to paint him as a innocent hero, but he’s not really innocent. He had indeed committed the crime he was accused of, and while yes there was mitigating circumstances that would have lead to a ‘Not Guilty’ verdict, you can not deny he did the crime.

So I ended up feeling that this could have been introduced and handled a lot better.

The beginning of the game is frustrating, more so than P4G, in that it has way to many cut scenes with frustrating breaks of gameplay. This is a game, not an anime or movie! Don’t have a hour long worth of cut scenes at the start of the game.

For me this was made worse with the way it was paced, you’d move 5 feet, cut scene, move 5 feet cut scene, rinse and repeat. While this does slow down after a while and the game opens up, I just found it frustrating and tedious. I want to play Persona 5, not watch it!

Cut scenes like this seem to be on the rise in game, and frankly it depresses me a little. Games are meant to be played, not watched.

From there were have the voice actors, thankfully we get the japanese voices this time because frankly the english ones leave a lot to be desired. Now they aren’t bad, unless you’re comparing them to P4G and P3P, in which case they are bad.

What’s worse, for some reason they changed the VA for Igor, and this new guy is terrible. Frankly he needs to quit, I’ve heard text to voice programs that have more dynamic range than this guy. His voice was terrible a single monotone for everything, pauses in wrong places, urgh. Given how amazing the VA was for P4G and P3P it’s a shame they changed him. For me this was almost game breaking, I found his voice so bad it actually ruined my game, and I’m someone who listens to badly dubbed chinese movies!!

The above video is from Jermtheleo, check out their channel here

Thankfully you do have the japanese voices, and they’re pretty damn awesome, especially Igor. This does mean however all of the incidental voices when you’re out an about are going to be in japanese as well, which since they aren’t translated (subbed), means you can miss some clues. That’s a trade off I personally can live with though!

Next we have the art style, and frankly this is individual taste. My initial reaction to the art was ‘meh’ its not great but it’s not bad either. The over stylised cartoon graphics remind me of some of the 80’s and early 90’s cartoons I used to watch on a saturday morning. Loved them back then, but not so much now.

Likewise the music is ‘meh’ as well, it certainly has it’s moments, but mostly I just don’t care about it.

Thankfully the combat is the same as the previous games, with the only exception being the ‘all out attack’. In P4G it was an amazing pile on fight with a 60’s Batman vibe with it’s ‘Biff’ ‘Bop’ ‘Kabam’ sound bubbles. Every now and then a character would get thrown out and they’d pile back in. Frankly this was awesome to watch, and a lot of satisfying fun.

That’s gone, all you have now is a quick cutscene which is ‘meh’.

Finally we have the direction the game is heading in. Which frankly is worrying me more and more. Persona is an off-shoot of Shin Megumi Tensei, another awesome game. The first 2 persona games were actually very close to SMT, it wasn’t until P3 that the game found it’s own identity which was solidified in P4.

Now however they seem to have thrown that identity out the window and are heading back to being a SMT game, negotiating with demons to get them to work with you feels like the first step into that.

Now while I’m a huge fan of SMT I do find it a shame that they’re throwing away the identity of Persona and trying to shoe horn it back into SMT. I’m guessing the games don’t sell well enough for them?

Sadly, P5 is the game that is least likely to get played for me. I’m currently on my 8th play through of P4G and I’m still addicted to it. Still playing it everywhere I go, whether it’s the bath, the beach, on the train to work or even sat in the barbers waiting for my hair cut.

P5 just doesn’t have the same spark that the previous two games have that make them so addictive. Part of that could be because they went purely with the PS4 and didn’t do a PS Vita version, I don’t know. But sadly P5 will sit on my shelf gathering dust.

But what if you’re new to the franchise, is P5 worth it for you?

Personally I’m in two minds for that. Given that Persona 4 Golden is currently on sale (in the UK PSN Store) for £3.99 I’d say get P4G and play that, it’s the better game IMO. What’s more if you don’t have a Vita, you can pick up a PS TV (Vita innards in a box to connect to the TV) and play it on the big screen. These days you can pick up one of those for around £30-40, so you’d get both for less than the cost of P5.

That said, if you don’t want to go that route, then yes Persona 5 would be a good introduction to the games. Since you’d be going in as a blank slate the game would be fresh and new, and not constantly comparing itself to the past games in the series.

Even then though, I’d recommend you wait for it to go on sale and for it’s price to drop to around the £35 mark. (Case in point Horizon Zero Dawn is now around £35 from its £55 launch price, and thats only after a few weeks)

Author: Ryu Sheng