Persona 5 - What You Need To Know

Persona 5 on the PS4 and PS3

Persona is my absolute favourite Japanese Role Playing series, which on the face of it is a rather bold statement. But I have spent hours and hours playing through Persona 4 Golden when it was released on the PlayStation Vita.

The much anticipated fifth entry to the series is out now, and has garnered critical acclaim. Here is a look at the series, and why you should be interested in it.

Do I need to have played the other games in the series?

Persona 5

Much like the Final Fantasy series, each individual Persona entry is its own self-contained story. Fans of previous games may get the odd reference to past games or characters, but all in all you won't be missing out much jumping straight into the latest entry.

What's it about?

Each Persona game follows similar themes, it focuses on the day to day life of a group of students in Japan as they unravel supernatural mysteries. The characters are outcasts who have come together, and are all facing their own issues as they grow up. The series touches on serious issues of adolescence as the cast of characters build relationships with one another.

The bad guys are the darkness within people's hearts. This darkness manifests itself as shadows that take the form of different monsters that you have to battle against. It's a quite obvious metaphor, of coming to terms with issues that are affecting the characters.

In Persona 5 you are part of the Phantom Thieves, a group of high school kids (and a cat, because why not?) living in Tokyo, Japan. Their main goal is to rid the world of evil by 'stealing the hearts' of corrupt members of society.

What's the gameplay like?

Persona 5

Persona is a unique mix of gameplay; its part life simulator and part dungeon crawler. As a high school student you must attend classes, but you can also engage in after school activities, meet friends and hold down a part time job.

As the game is set over a full year, you only have a finite amount of time and there's no way you can see all the game has to offer. The interesting part is that certain activities helps strengthen you and you team. Giving you access to new skills and abilities, giving you an edge in battle. Whereas if you earn extra money by working a part time job you'll be able to afford better weapons and items to help give you an the edge. It's an exercise in time management and offers a lot of incentive to replay the game.

Combat in Persona is turn-based, much like a traditional Japanese Roleplaying game. The protagonists fight with Persona, which is like the embodiment of themselves. Like the opposite of the shadows I mentioned earlier, the main character has the ability to use other Persona that can be earned by defeating shadows. These Persona can be combined to form stronger ones, with a number of different variants available to suit different playstyles. Think of the Persona as being someone similar to Pokemon; they are allies in battle that allow the characters to fight with different abilities.

Why should I be interested?

The Persona games are an incredible experience, the gameplay is a unique blend that never gets boring. There are a number of different ways to play the game, and you'll have a completely different experience to someone else playing the game.

Persona 5

One of the most breath-taking parts of Persona is the art direction. The game looks like it's jumped straight from the pages of an anime, and Persona 5 pushes this even further than before. It's effortlessly stylish, with a number of great touches that make the visuals pop and spring to life.

Have I mentioned the soundtrack yet? Because as well as the gorgeous visuals, Persona 5 has an incredible acid-jazz inspired soundtrack as well as upbeat pop-work numbers during battle sequences. The music never feels out of place, and helps to create an incredibly atmospheric and above all else, cool experience.

The average game time clocks in at about 120 hours, so there's plenty to see or do. And believe me, you'll be hooked on Persona 5's world as soon as you see the title scene role on by.

By Jon Davison

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