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Well, let's kick my move to dreamwidth with the game that a lot of people (Including myself) have been waiting over a decade for to drop, Persona 5. Now I'll admit, I ignored a lot of the hype, and I tend to ignore a lot of hype, in general, mostly to avoid being disappointed (FF15 would be the best example of that, but I wasn't as disappointed because again, I got off the hype train). I don't watch trailers either because trailers usually just contain cutscenes and no actual gameplay content about 75% of the time. But unlike FF15, where I was overall disappointed, Persona 5 pretty much exceeded what I was expecting.

Also, be warned, there are some heavy spoilers in here, mostly with characters themselves. I'm going to try to avoid main plot spoilers, but be warned.

Title: Persona 5
Rating: M
Genre: JRPG, Modern

Graphics 7/10 - Now I'll admit, the graphics don't look any different than like, say, Tales of Xillia on the PS3. I mean, this is where the game probably suffers the most, so if you're going in expecting to see like FF15-like detail, you're going to be really disappointed. But I think the style makes up for it. The biggest example is probably the menu system, where you're treated to seeing the main character sort of interact with you depending on what you're doing.

The dungeons range from being dark to colorful and bright. I actually did feel like I was in a subway (And getting lost the first day as well) and I did actually feel like I was in Shibuya the times I was walking down the street. The artwork for portraits is done really well. The cutscenes are done well too and there's a lot more than previous installments as well.

While it's not the most heavily graphic detailed game, it makes up for it in it's style.

Plot: 8/10 - I'm going to try to hold off on major plot spoilers, but the game comes down to this: The Main Character (Since there's no official name for him, I'm going to go by the name he's called in the Manga, Akira) is walking home one day, where he happens upon a scene where a woman is obviously having... difficulties with a drunken man. Of course, Akira being a sensible human being, goes to help, only to have the situation completely turn on himself after the man falls down on his own accord and proceeds to yell, 'I'll sue!' (It's more like, 'I'm going to press you for assault!' rather than sue). Yeah, you should guess where this going, because this situation? Happens in real life.

Anyways, he's falsely accused of assault, and ends up with a criminal record. He's sent off to another town to be put on 'probation' for a year. Along the way, he meets people that, like him, were pretty much 'wronged' in some way, which leads us to our main theme, a bunch of outcast teens being lorded over by some of the shittiest 'adults' I've ever seen.

While walking to school one day, Akira gets pulled into a strange world along with another boy named Ryuji and... there is our 'Dark Hour'/'Midnight Channel' world of the game, called the Metaverse. Everything seems strange at first, and I'm not going to spoil it, but basically, Akira awakens to his power of 'Persona'. While in this world, they come across a cat-like creature named 'Morgana', who has no memories of his past, but seems relatively knowledgeable of the Metaverse. And basically, rocks fall and shit happens from there.

To be honest, trying to summarize the plot without some major spoilers is like impossible. So I'm going to cover the companions a little instead.

Up first, we have Ryuji, who honestly, I never really liked too much. He's like a combination of Kanji and Yosuke, but lacking the spark that drew people to those two characters.. He's supposed to fill the 'Best Friend' slot, but I don't feel it at all. He feels more like a distant friend than anything. His backstory is somewhat interesting, a teacher was badmouthing his mother and the track team and in his anger, he ends up assaulting a teacher. And because of that, the entire team suffered, as it was disbanded. The thing is, Ryuji never really grows from the beginning to the end of his story, which is maybe why I didn't care much for his character. It's like they took the anger from Kanji and the semi-douchebagness of Yosuke and forgot to add the buddy friend vibe from Yosuke and the 'deep down goodness' of Kanji. Also, we're supposed to keep our identities a secret, it's kinda hard to do when you're practically shouting, 'I AM A PHANTOM THIEF!' out in public. ~_~

We have our mascot fill in of the group, Morgana. Morgana fits his (Despite Morgana obviously being a female name and having a female VA, Morgana is, indeed, male) role fine, though his obsession with 'Lady Ann' can get on my nerves, especially when there's other interesting female characters. I also feel Morgana fits the 'Best Friend' role to Akira much better, but that may be because Morgana is with you pretty much everywhere you go (He's a cat outside the metaverse, so he basically lives with you), so he has a chance to develop more than Ryuji. He has no memories, but he believes in his heart that he was once human, and wants you to help him collect 'Treasures' and discover the deepest of spoilers so he may go back to being human. I will admit, it's fucking funny to see Akira carrying a cat around everywhere (And yes, this includes stuffing Morgana in your desk at school, I mean, no one notices a fucking cat tail hanging out of his desk!?) and barely anyone bats an eye (Some people will say something about a cat's meowing, but go back to doing whatever).

Next up is 'Lady Ann', who is basically the good looking girl of the group and man, they don't let you forget it. Holy shit, there were times I wanted to slap Morgana cause I was so tired of hearing 'Lady Ann' this and that, and I was tired of the perverted shit from my own damn team thrown her way. Mostly because I feel like she's wasted potential. She's one of the blandest characters of the group (Not the most bland, that goes to another) and by the time her Confidant Link got interesting, it was over. I wanted to see more between her and Shiho, but instead, it focused around a model who actually looks familiar named Mika. I swear, I've seen this character somewhere before, and if anyone has any info, leave it in the comments.

Then we have Yusuke, our quirky art student, who is stalking Ann (Just shortly after Palace one, ho lord) and wants her to model Nude. Yeah, that was not a good way to introduce this character, especially after the stuff that happened before. Later on, you find out Yusuke comes off as wanting to do this more for art than checking out a naked girl (He even asks Akira to model nude for his art. X_x). So in a way, that redeemed him for me, but it took a really long time for me to get interested. I did like him more than Ryuji, but that's because he doesn't come off as bland and has his own charm.

Our next party member is Makoto, and holy hell, she's WAY more fucking interesting (If not, the most interesting of all) than Ann and Ryuji. She's your typical honor student, who does nothing but study and is pretty distant from her students around her. However, her Confident Link actually develops her and she grows as a person by the end of it. I'm not going to spoil it, because it's one of the better ones. I also love how badass she can be and her fucking Persona is a goddamn motorcycle. >.> She fits the 'brains' of the group until someone else joins.

Then we have Futaba, the 'NEET' of the group, and our 'Fuuka/Rise' of the team. I won't spoil her backstory, because it's MASSIVE plot spoilers, but she came in as my second favorite character. She has her own charm and quirky nature (Being a gamer and all, because she throws a lot of net and game lingo out), but it doesn't come anywhere as creepy as Yusuke. Her Confident story also has her grow as a character and I'd highly recommend you do her story.

Then we have Haru, probably the most forgettable and blandest of the group, but the problem with this? She comes in so late in the game, that there's no time to develop her. This is where I say Persona 4's treatment of Naoto comes off much better, mostly because with Naoto, she interacts and appears in the game's story beforehand, so we have a grasp on her character, even though she came to the group around the same time as Haru. I don't really have much to say about Haru, her Confidant story is boring and forgettable as well. Of all the characters, this one was poorly written and poorly handled.

And finally, we have Akechi, who also comes in very late, but he actually appeared during the story early on, so we have a grasp on his character. He's the 'ace detective who is trying to solve the case of mental shutdowns and somewhat becomes the brains of the group. His Confidant story is automatic, linked to the main story (Gives vibes back to Persona 3). I found that strange, but overall, his was well done to a certain extent. Without getting into massive plot spoilers, I feel like Akechi is... wasted potential, and you'll see why, moreso end game.

We have other Confident links and lemme say, compared to Persona 3 and Persona 4, the ones outside your party members are REALLY well done, save for a few hiccups. I actually did like almost every non party member's stories, and it also showed that not all adults I ran into in this game were total shitheads. I won't spoil them either, because really, you should do the stories yourself (That's a big thing in this game, after all).

I am going to say, I find the overall plot good for the most part. It does get dark, especially early on, so be warned on that. I don't think it gets as dark as Persona 3 or even 2, but it does get dark enough for me to give a warning about. I found Persona 3's story to be over the edge of 'too dark', but I think this game hits a perfect balance between dealing with dark issues and having it's light but quirky moments.

One complaint I have, I found the weaker parts to be, sadly, at the end of the game (And a certain character that I talked about above). However, it wasn't bad to the point of ruining my game experience. Overall, the game had me hooked from beginning to end. But I will warn, put aside at least 2 hours when you reach final boss time, cause holy shit, this game's ending is one of the longest endings I've sat through.

Music/sound 8/10 - I'll have to admit, I was really tempted to lower this, mostly because there's quite a few tracks I'm not fond of. But the tracks that I did like, I really liked them a lot, and I realized, that's how I felt about other Persona games, so I kept it as is. This Persona sort of goes for a more jazz type theme, which does fit the mood of the game. Some of the Dungeon's music is really well done and I like all the battle themes in the game. And the 'overworld' theme is really well done and I was thrown for a loop when after playing the game for over 10 hours, they put lyrics to it. But that has actually been a staple of the games, having lyrics in many of the songs in the game.

Gameplay: 9/10 - I have to say, it's been a while since I really enjoyed a turn based JRPG. Honestly, I can't really remember an old fashioned turn based RPG that I liked since Bravely Default on the 3DS, let alone a home console JRPG.

The gameplay is pretty much in the same vein as Persona 3 and moreso Persona 4. With a few minor changes/upgrades. First off, you can switch people out whenever you want. This is good because if someone is low on sp (Mana bar for this game), you can swap them out for someone who has a full bar, even if you're in the middle of a dungeon. You have your typical melee weapons, and they brought back guns from Persona 2. But honestly? Unless you have a gun that gives stat debuffs or the demon happens to be weak against guns, you're probably going to not bother with it until boss fights where extra attacks may make/break the fight.

You also have your Personas, and everyone has a set Persona besides Akira, who can swap out Personas at random. You can gain Personas by either making a contract with a shadow or by fusing them in the Velvet Room. Whereas your party members are stuck with their Persona for the rest of the game. So basically, whoever you put in your main line up will be that, and you can basically compensate for what you lack via Akira. Everyone learns different moves, but for the most part, whoever has the 'fire' spells will be only learning that, and so on and so forth.

Personas have a range of skills, but they basically serve as your 'magic' of the group, though there are 'physical' skills that will use your hp instead of sp. Dungeons are pretty much a balance of trying to clear them as fast as possible, but also focusing on saving your sp or using it to do 'all out attacks'.

Speaking of all outs, most enemies you meet will have some sort of weakness. The big trick to the game is exploiting those weakness to knock all the enemies off their feet. And if you manage to knock them all down, you can go for an all out attack, which usually kills all the enemies on screen or will do massive amounts of damage. In regular fights, you can actually talk to the demons (Something taken from earlier Persona games) and you can either have them become your Persona, or instead, they can give you money/items. Doing this will bypass the fight entirely (Though you do gain exp and money if you killed any).

Basically, it comes down to you either needing money (For your daily life, equipment, or fusions), needing items (Saving you the trouble of buying them or getting lucky and getting a sp healing item), needing power (More Personas means more chances of fusions or maybe you just really want that Persona?), or needing exp (All out attacks will usually wipe the entire pack out, unless you're underleveled/undergeared).

You also get cards later on down the line, so if there's a certain skill you need, you can slap it onto the Persona of your choice and bam. You can get more when a certain character joins you instead of farming one of the dungeons for that one card you want, basically, this character can make you a duplicate of any card and if you level his Cofidant link, he can make higher level ones.

I'm avoiding speaking about the Dungeons because they are heavily linked to the story and I don't want to spoil it. But for the most part, the Dungeons are your typical RPG flair, and unlike the last 2 games, these aren't based at random. There's also some clever puzzles in this one, and one of them actually caused me to have to write shit down, and it's been over a decade since I actually had to do shit like that.

There's also a stealth system in the game, which I think is a miss, because some parts of the game, it's nearly impossible to hide in certain areas, especially long ass hallways, without getting caught or waiting for the enemy to turn it's back, you dashing in as fast as you can, and causing a surprise attack. And you'll want to do surprise attacks as much as you can, cause if the enemy gets the drop on you, you can easily die.

And if Akira dies, the game automatically ends (Unless you play on Safety). That's the only thing I wish they would drop out of the game, cause it sucks getting far into a dungeon, only to make one stupid mistake and Akira dying because that light/dark skill that kills in one shot decided it wanted to work that one time. :/

Also, if you get caught by enemies too many times, you can get thrown out of the dungeon. I mean, in a way, it makes sense, you're supposed to be a thief, and what does a thief do? Sneak around without getting caught. There's certain tools that can bring down your 'bar' if you get caught too many times and the bar lowers if you ambush an enemy, but still. It's a clever new system, but it has some obvious flaws. I will say this though, I never managed to get a bar over 50% in the entire time I played, the highest was maybe close to 40%, but I ended up playing a lot more carefully than I usually do, and probably a couple of hours was me waiting for the enemy to come into sight before ambushing them. So needless padding.

And yes, you can play the game on a mode that basically makes battles trivial. If you're looking for a much more casual experience or going through NG+, it's good to have on, but I'd recommend to play on easy at the very least. Unless you know the tricks and trades of the series as a whole, would I recommend anything beyond Normal, because I heard the harder modes are really brutal.

Now that I covered the fight system of the game, let's get to the other important aspect of the game, the 'life simulation' portion, which was added in from Persona 3. Remember, Akira IS a teenage student, so while you have this 'mystic' power shit, you still live the life of a student. Which can range from studying for exams, hanging out with your friends, going to the movies, working a part time job, taking a bath at the bath house down the street, trying to pass the 'Big Bang Burger challenge', watching DVDs, playing video games (Playing a game within a game...), making tools for your 'heists', or hitting a home run at the batting cage.

There is SO much shit you can do compared to the previous Persona games that even I haven't found everything. And everything you do raises 'social stats', which basically serves as 'flags' for most of your Confidant routes.

If you think also, that the life sim part isn't important to the game, think again. By forming close bonds to your teammates or maybe the non teammates, say, for example, that guy in your class, you increase your own power. In previous games, it just meant fusing more powerful Personas for your main protag and your teammates would just get a more powerful Persona if you befriended them. But in this game, your 'Confidants' offer you a wide variety of abilities. You have the obvious ones, like getting more exp or money after a fight. But you have others, like befriending a certain character will let you switch characters out DURING a fight, which can come in real handy in a pinch. Or another will help you make powerful sp healing items. Or another which will let you read or make tools during class. And another will teach you special moves that you can use during fights. This isn't limited to non-teammates, as in the closer you are to your teammates, the more they offer in battle (They'll help you with negotiations with demons if you fail or they may take a fatal blow for you), and if you form a tight bond with them, their own Persona will evolve into a more Powerful version of their original.

The one good thing of this is now it's just as important to level those non party member links as it is to level your teammates. Not to mention, you can now take your party members to different places you can unlock because someone invited you there previously, or you read about it in a magazine. You can actually continue to do this even when they're maxed out, and if you take them to a place they like, they can give you something to decorate your room with. It's not something you HAVE to do, but it is a nice touch.

And yes, you can actually 'get into a relationship' with certain girls of the game. You can date one or you can date them all, if you so wish. The choice is really up to the player, and you get something special from them during two 'love bonding' events in the game that actually does go over to NG+. For the curious, in this game, I chose the Priestess, who happens to be one of my favorites of the game, on my first run. >.>

And it's all on you. Basically, you have to focus your social teenage life with the life of a Persona user. If you spend too much time on being a Persona user, you may actually hurt yourself in the long run, because you don't have enough power to defeat the tougher enemies down the line (Even outleveling sometimes doesn't fix it). However, if you spend too much time on your social life, someone will get hurt or killed and the game ends (Or it flips back a week, and all your previous progress is basically set back, which is really annoying). It's all a balancing act. Now I've seen a lot of people use the guide over at GameFAQs, but I'd highly suggest if this is your first Persona game to ditch the guide and find stuff on your own. I found quite a few things on my own that the guide doesn't really mention or doesn't mention until late end game.

Also, you do have a limited time and I think one flaw in this game is that if you explore certain dungeons, you waste an entire day until you max a certain Confident who will let you go out at night. And I feel like a lot of days are wasted, because the characters talk for like 5 minutes, part ways, and the game goes to the night, only to have Morgana nag you that you need sleep. It's really frustrating at times when you want to go out and do something, and the game basically tells you otherwise.

Other than a few minor things, the gameplay is pretty much the same as the previous with some life improvements.

Overall: 8/10 - Despite a few minor complaints and the graphics being previous generation, this is a very solid JRPG that any RPG gamer should have in their library. If you're new to the Persona series, this game is a very good one to pick up to get into it. And fans of the previous games will definitely be satisfied for the wait.


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