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Shadows, distortion, and high school drama?

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    Persona 5

    Rating: 5.0 – Flawless

    Shadows, distortion, and high school drama?

    Let me start off by saying that Persona 5 is my first Persona experience and I was not disappointed in the very least. There are several components that make Persona 5 the fantastic experience that it is. In role playing games that span a long time, and in this case very long, being invested in the characters and the fictitious world is key. Persona quickly wraps you into the world the game developers have created and keeps you invested in each of the characters. Additionally, Persona 5’s battle system is quite fun and filled with different things users can do.

    Upon booting the game up and starting a brand new game, a narrator asks if you would like to agree to a contract before starting the game. This was certainly different than what I have experienced in other games and caught my attention immediately. The story places you in a future event to start the game, with the main character trying to escape. After this sequence the game takes you back to the past that lead up to that event.

    The game followed the story of Joker, which is his nickname. The player will have the ability to name the main character. While the main character does not really talk, outside a few scripted words, I felt quickly drawn to him as an engaging character. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, trying to help a bystander. Due to circumstance, he gets in trouble and put on probation. He gets shipped off to the city, living with a guardian.

    During this probation period, the main character will meet other students in his new school. They will quickly find out that they have the ability to travel to an alternate reality, the metaverse. The metaverse is where people’s shadows reside. A shadow is someone’s alternate cognition that lives outside the real world with the real person not knowing it. In the metaverse, our team of characters can change their heart. The story and the characters are definitely the strong part of the game.

    The game’s game play can be described in two aspects. There is the social aspect. When the main character, Ryuji, Ann, Makoto, and others are not traversing the metaverse and taking down twisted shadows, they spend their time going to school. This includes the full school load, such as studying, taking exams, or being called on in class.

    Aside from attending school, the main character can build relationships with his team members and other characters within the game. By doing so, the main character can level up their relationship and gain certain advantages, such as a team member taking a critical hit for you during battle. Building these relationship usually entails hanging out with them and selecting certain choices during conversation to improve the relationship.

    In addition to hang outs and attending school, the main character can partake in other activities high schoolers partake in. This includes getting a job, going to movies, or even playing baseball. Doing these activities will allow you to build skills, such as charm, knowledge or proficiency. These skills help with relationship building and other aspects in the game.

    When you are not doing high schooler related activities, players can take their team into the metaverse. This is either through mementos, which contains distorted shadows but not incredibly strong ones. It is sort of a minor league of shadows. During the main quest, you will go to the metaverse to take down a palace, where there is a shadow ruler.

    You will battle enemies and solve puzzles. The battle system is a turn base system. While turn base have fallen out of favor since the PlayStation 2 days, Persona 5 does it right. Many Japanese role playing games use real time battle systems these days, but feel like button mashers. With the variety of options in Persona 5’s system, it makes things more strategic. When pulling up the turn base system, the users will have multiple options like using skills from personas, utilizing a normal attack, using items, or firing your gun.

    Each team member has access to Persona that allow them to use special skills, such as utilizing fire attacks. Additionally, players can use guns with a limited set of bullets. The characters can also use normal attacks. One thing that I must say was slightly disappointing is enemies having certain weaknesses. While this makes sense where a certain enemy is weak against fire, a battle turns into finding the weakness then being able to exploit it going forward. As a result, it feels a bit like luck. Once you identify the weakness you can defeat enemies pretty easily. With that said when you knock an opponent down, you can do an all out attack which is pretty cool.

    Now I also must say the boss fights in this game were fantastic. They were intense and added intensity to the game. With that said, the main highlights of the game are the character interactions, story and the battle system. I also enjoyed some of the puzzles being mixed in. While they were not overly difficult puzzles, it added a nice break to the action. Some of the places were especially long, so I enjoyed being able to break up all this action with some light puzzles and character interactions in the real world.

    The game is a very long one. I spent over one hundred hours beating the game. After the game is complete, you can start a new game plus which I am looking forward to. In the new game plus, certain things are carried over from your past game. This adds some replay value. At the current price point and the amount of hours it takes to beat this game, the game provides tons of value.

    I also love the art direction of Persona 5, which is an anime style. The artistic direction is beautiful. The game looks very good. Character models looked sharp and action sequences look good. During some of the animated cut scenes, it looked straight out of an anime. Also the battle animation look great. In addition, the game features multiple locations like shibuya that look great.

    The voice acting in Persona 5 is quite strong for the most part for a video game. There are some bumps for some of the characters, but they were more minor characters. Most of the main characters delivered lines strongly and with the right tone. This certainly needed to be true with the main character rarely speaking. The music during the palaces are also quite catchy. It gets you really into the game. Overall the sound department is quite good.

    There are some flaws with Persona 5, but overall I loved my first experience with the Persona series. The game had a great battle system, the character interaction was superb, and story was engaging. This is probably the best Japanese role playing game I have played since the PlayStation 2 era. Not only was the game great, but the experience was fulfilling all the way through the one hundred plus hours. When the credits rolled, I wanted more and that is telling of a game’s quality. I would definitely recommend Persona 5.

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