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One of the most polished games I’ve ever played

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    Persona 5

    Rating: 5.0 – Flawless

    One of the most polished games I’ve ever played

    There’s so much to talk about in the game that it’s hard to figure out where to start. I think the first thing is the fact that it is one of the most polished games I’ve ever played. The development team took their experiences with the two prior Persona games and really refined their ideas to bring out the best in them. The game that it reminds me of greatly is The Witcher 3. Both games present the best each respective series offers and the amount of effort and thought put into them is very much apparent.

    The gameplay is absolutely the best the series has to offer so far. They’ve added a lot to combat to make it a much more enjoyable experience. Of the things they added, I feel like Baton Touch is the game changer. It in essence gives the game a feel a little closer to Press Turn while still being One More. You’re able to give other members the ability to take action after a down. It gives attack and healing bonuses too so making good use of it really opens up how you fight. When you combine this with the new elements and spells, there are a lot more things to consider as you play than before. It’s not only in combat that gameplay is improved though. The game has two types of dungeons so you have something whether you’re a P3 or P4 fan. In addition, the Confidants (Social Links in previous games) provide a ton of benefits outside of just persona fusion bonuses making them all useful to playing the game. They’ve even polished this aspect out by laying out Confidants in a much more even manner meaning that you’ll have things to do both at night and during the day. You won’t have to do everything during the day.

    They also show how much they learned on the story and characters front. In my opinion, this is the best Persona game for both of those. The story is well written and well plotted. It never drags and never fails to be engaging. One that really struck out about the writing is that it feels like the writers grew up and knew the problems with the previous games. Persona 3, which I adore, definitely has an edge or overdramatic feel to a lot of its writing. Persona 4 leans too much on its tropes. In Persona 5, it feels natural and the interaction between the cast and their actions in the story feel much more real, for lack of a better word. The thematic elements, messages, and imagery remain consistent and on point throughout. The game is also dark. Persona 3 is dark but in a very abstract way (imagery, mood, etc) where Persona 5 is dark because it’s very tangible and heavy. The first story in the game will surprise a lot of people that play it.

    Persona 5’s characters are in a place similar to the writing. They’re not overdramatic as Persona 3 nor are they overly trope-y like Persona 4. It really takes the strengths of both prior games and combines them. The characters have their own individual problems they deal with but they aren’t weighed down by them. Their interactions feel natural and their chemistry is really good. There are few canned gags/routines but is used with restraint. It also really helps that the Confidants also manage to really flesh out the character’s overall arc through the game while still being fun at the same time. This can be said of the non-party member Confidant as well. They flesh out the characters amazingly well, much better than the previous games, and are still feel fun. Their integration into the main story is very well done to boot, creating a much more cohesive product.

    On the sound front, the music is absolutely fantastic. Their decision to go with jazz as the main influence was absolutely perfect. There are a ton of great tracks and I think it’ll hold up much better than the prior games in the long run.

    I’ve heaped a lot of praise on the game but I do have a few problems with the game. The graphics could be a little better, particularly the textures. It’s pretty good overall and oozes style but the signs and the like are really awful looking. Another problem is that the shop menus and the party menu are over-designed at times, reducing the overall usability. They look great but there are sometimes too many things flying around or it’s annoying to read because of the layout. Some of the sound effects that play when you press buttons or do some things are also really annoying as well. The game also as few problems due to the structure. It’s not a huge deal but it’s something that obviously needs to be fixed at some point down the line. Later characters don’t get as much interaction time with the cast reducing their overall presence and impact when that shouldn’t be the case.

    In the end though, that stuff is sort of minor. The game itself manages to nail everything else. After beating the game, I feel that the game is good enough to make it on my top games of all-time list pretty easily. It’s so good that it actually makes me a little worried about whether or not they can live up to the expectations they’ve set for themselves if and when they decide to do a Persona 6.

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