I’ve had Persona 5 for about a week now and I’ve already logged about 17 hours of gameplay.
I still have a ways to go based on my simple Google search, which revealed that a completionist style playthrough of the game should take about 172 hours. Given that the last game was released in 2008 and this game was initially scheduled for release in 2014, but was delayed for quality reasons, you can be sure that a lot of care went into every minute of this game, and so far, that seems to be the case.
The first few hours of the game are slow-paced with a lot of tutorial content to get through, but they space it out in such a way as to make sure it doesn’t feel like a tutorial. The interesting dialogue, anime-style cutscenes, boppin’ background music and talented voice actors make it not only bearable, but enjoyable. And even 17 hours in, I am still being taught new things about the game. All too often, games will throw you in and teach you every mechanic in 20 minutes, which is easily forgettable and an absolutely unbearable experience for a first impression. Persona 5 drops you into intense (but easy) gameplay for a few minutes, then backtracks to begin teaching you how to play the game over a very long period of time so as to keep things interesting and allow you to commit the instructions to memory.
In Persona 5, the player can go to school, study, hang out with friends and explore the city, including shops, bookstores, batting cages and more. This pushes the player to feel like a part of the world and the downtime allows you to do different activities to boost different stats that may come in handy later. It sounds boring, but the world is fascinating and they keep the more mundane aspects fairly fast-paced so half the game doesn’t feel like going on chores.
The plot of the game revolves around the concept of “Phantom Thieves,” your character’s group of rebellious teenagers that can enter into a “palace” that exists within the distorted desires of a corrupted person, the first target being an abusive volleyball coach. The goal of infiltrating a palace is to cause the person to have a change of heart and stop their heinous behavior. The infiltration of palaces in this “metaverse” is where most of the game takes place when not in between missions.
When inside a palace, you must sneak around to reach the treasure at the core of their distorted desires, ambushing enemies to enter complex turn-based combat that feels incredibly satisfying. You utilize melee attacks, magic attacks and gunfire — all with satisfying animations — to destroy enemies or knock them down to enter a hold-up and rob them or have a lovely chat to convince them to join your team as a Persona. With many different enemies, a variety of combat options and multiple ways to end a battle, the combat never feels dull and I have never once found myself wanting to skip a battle just to get through it faster, which is rare for me in turn-based combat style games.
The game is heavily stylized and every character feels so cool. The outfits, the attack animations, the individualized “all-out attacks” all work together to create a “heck yeah” feeling with each moment.
The characters all feel unique and each have their own well-developed backstories that explain a lot about their actions and emotions and make them all very lovable for different reasons.
All-in-all, Persona 5 is a wonderful game that a lot of evident care went into. It stands currently as my favorite game to come out in a long time. Persona 5 acts as a stand-alone game too, so no previous Persona experience is required.