Benz Eye View: Persona 5

Persona_5_cover_art
Persona 5

Pros: 

1.) When it comes to video games (especially in JRPGs like Persona 5), making a narrative around this medium can be tricky.  The writers have to create a story out of the gameplay that is made for a certain type of game (i.e. shooters, RPGs, etc.).  In this case, the game’s narrative passes in flying colors.  Not only is the main plot engaging, but the many side stories (particularly in the confidants: the people that the main character hangs out with who have their own set of problems) have their own appeal.  All the characters (from the members of the Phantom Thieves to the confidants) have depth and appeal (with great English voice acting, though the Japanese voice actors playing high school teenagers sound a little old to me), and it helps that this 100-hour game makes you hang out with them for gameplay and story purposes, making you care for them more.  I can go more into how the symbolism and parallels in the game are well-thought out (like how the Palaces, the dungeons of the game, represent the Seven Deadly Sins), but that requires a more in-depth review, and someone who knows more than I do.  Instead, I will leave this video by Zamkusen to explain more about the symbolism in Persona 5 (another part of Persona 5 Symbolism is in his channel).  However, there are MAJOR SPOILERS in the video, so watch at your own risk, or just play the game first.

2.) This is by far one of the flashiest and stylistic presentations in video games I have ever seen.  When I played this game for the first time, I was awed and amazed on how the game delivers so many things that any typical game developer could have done with a simple presentation.  One good example is the pause screen:

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Look how amazing that looks!  A normal pause screen is just a darkened screen with a few texts to tell what you want to do.  In this game, the developers took a few steps further by making it stylish and alive, and each menu have different looks.  There is more where that came from.  If you manage to beat the Shadows (the common enemies in the game) with an All-Out Attack, you get a very stylish victory screen over the regular one when you the beat enemies normally.

P5_Hero's_Finishing_Touch

There are plenty more, but I will leave it to you to find out.  Also, the music is just awesome and entertaining.

There are much more like many of the imaginative character and environmental designs, but I am dragging out a bit too long, so let’s move on to the one thing that is important to a video game…

3.) …And that is the gameplay itself.  The gameplay consists of living a normal high school life while trying to increase your social stats (which that is important when you need to hang out with certain confidants) for the entire game year.  When it is time for the Phantom Thieves to invade the Palaces, the player has to reach to the end of the dungeon before the end of their deadline.  This is absolutely fun, because the game gives you a reason to complete these dungeons like leveling up (or if you do not finish them, it is an automatic game over).  The fighting mechanic is a basic turn-based battle in which the characters take turns in attacking each other or increase their battle stats temporarily.  As the game progresses, you will earn certain new moves (from new playable characters and confidants) that can help you get better in the game (although, I argue that a few of them are unnecessary like I never used Chihaya’s fortune-telling skills).  Despite not doing anything new, it is still fun to play, and it is enjoyable leveling up your characters and Personas while progressing through the story.

 

Cons: 

1.) The graphics are decent to make the game look tolerable, but I would not call it next-gen graphics.  In fact, they look like they belong to the PS3 (which there is a PS3 port alongside the PS4 version).  There are a couple big distractions in that department.  First, there are plenty of character pop-ins when the locations load in.  Couldn’t Atlus do a better job to prevent that from happening?  It is 2017 after all, and many AAA games do not have that problem.  Second, many of the background characters look bad compared to the major characters and Shadows.  Why do they look bad?  Not only do they look they are slightly melted, but they also do not have any eyes.

Tokyo_walk
Look at the main characters (right) and the NPCs (left).  They look like zombies compared to the Phantom Thieves.

That is very creepy.  I seen someone slightly defend this as it is considered symbolic.  I slightly understand, but it still does not excuse how ugly they look.

2.) It does get pretty annoying how the narrative takes control of the gameplay sometimes.  There many moments where I want to hang out with certain confidants or try some other activity, but the narrative gets in the way, and prevents me to do anything by forcing the main character to rest for the day.  I understand why they had to do that in a narrative standpoint, but it is restricting in a gameplay point-of-view.  It is slightly frustrating, and they slightly need to work on that.

3.) There are some odd localization moments in the game.  Meaning, there are some questionable English lines and pronunciations I find odd.  Other than a few times that some lines have pretty bad grammar, there are lines that seem a little weird in the context of the event.  One big example is when one of the characters is complaining that he is not good in English despite speaking English himself (if the game is played in the English dub).  The localization itself is not terrible, it is actually pretty good (there are few people who claim that the localization is terrible, but it was later pointed out by actual localization experts that it is fine).  It just needs a little more proofreading to make this top-notch.

 

Overall: 

It has been a while since I made a video game review.  The last one I made was in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (Oh, what do you know?  The Phantom Pain vs. The Phantom Thieves.  How funny.), and that was less than two years ago.  I decided to do another game review, because why not?  The Persona series is a JRPG game series that began in Sept. 20, 1996 as part of a spin-off of the Shin Megami Tensei series made by Atlus.  Since then, it became very popular (especially in Japan) that eventually spawned sequels and spin-offs.  I started getting into the Persona games when I played Persona 4 Arena: a fighting game with certain RPG elements.  From that game alone, I fell in love with the characters.  I managed to play Persona 3: FES and watched Persona 4: The Animation, and I appreciated the characters and story from each of them (although I have not played Persona 4: Golden since playing that game actually makes people spend more time with the story and characters in that game over a 25-episode anime).  Now we got the latest game of the series: Persona 5… and I enjoy almost every minute of this game.  I have played this game three times already (the second time just to get all the trophies, and the third time for the heck of it since I love these characters so much).  It is great for any newcomers to the series (you do not need to play the other Persona games to enjoy this one) and JRPGs in general.  The narrative is fantastic with clever symbolism and correlations, the characters are deep and compelling, the gameplay is fun and addicting, and the overall game is a blast to play.  There are a few errors here and there, but it is an enjoyable game nonetheless.  The Phantom Thieves have surely stolen my heart for this game, because it is the one game that will steal the hearts of many.

9/10

Oh, and for those who are wondering who did I pick as a romantic interest for my main character…

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Fear Makoto Niijima, the Post-Apocalyptic Raider, suckers!

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