It has been eight long years since the release of one of the greatest JRPGs of all time: Persona 4. Now there is a new main title out for the Playstation 4 and 3 in the long running Persona series. Persona 5 has just released in Europe and you best hope you pre-ordered your copy if you wanna play it, because this brilliant title has just sold out seemingly everywhere! PS3 and PS4, you’ll have trouble tracking down a copy for the short term. But anyone that has ever loved Persona is unlikely to get caught out here, they’ll have pre-ordered it.
Persona has its own mark to set upon the genre and everyone that chooses to play this series, and how not? With its bright and vibrant characters, a genuinely engrossing story, its over the top visuals that go hand in hand with its genre spanning soundtrack. If you’re not tapping a toe at least when the battle music kicks in for the first time, I would recommend checking your pulse, because it’s likely that you’re clinically dead! To say that it covers all bases and checks all boxes is an understatement in its own right, there are so few games that manage this seemingly impossible feat of nailing *everything* across the board. The Last of Us and Red Dead Redemption both feature on said list, so you know it’s reserved for games of the highest calibre.
The first was released a long time ago in the late nineties for the Playstation in Asia and North America, it’s sequel followed in Japan in 1999. The third main series entry, also with a two in the title to confuse matters, released in 2000. This title had a relatively recent remake in 2012, but alas, it did not make it to the West. 2008 saw Europe get it’s hands on Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3, with Persona 4 following the subsequent year also for the Playstation 2. A prosperous history linked with Sony, and most of these titles have had re-releases, portable ports and associated spin offs. Hell, Persona 4: Golden *made* the Playstation Vita a much-needed console… At least for a little while, if naught else. Sony and Persona, the very definition of a symbiotic relationship, and one that pays off heavily for JRPG gamers!
You start out as a high school student (oooooh, big surprise!!) who has to lie low for a year following an altercation which you involved yourself in. While most gamers may gloss over some of the aspects of the opening few hours, there are some scenes which may cause obvious distress for some. Scenes involving sexual violence can be very problematic for some so please be aware that if scenes depicting this may cause issues, it may be best to avoid. There is nothing graphic in that respect, but some of the scenes are supposed to make the player feel uncomfortable, to question what you would do in that situation. A theme that is expertly brought up more than once.
Supremely stylish and flashier than a Vegas Casino, the last game I felt in such awe of the presentation was Viewtiful Joe ever so many years ago. While only early on, it is very clear that Persona 5 is going to keep up, and likely exceed, the already sky-high expectations put upon it by years and years of high quality main series titles, and with such a very long time since the last main series title release, it’s hard not to put this on the list as “Another reason 2017 is something else for Gaming!”. The game’s opening will likely leave you in equal parts hypnotised and confused, but it’ll more than do the job of keeping your attention in a state of rapture and not letting go for a while… A loooooong while. The in-depth fleshing out of characters: the heroes and the villains, and the wonderfully interactive narrative are mainstays of the mighty Persona series, always have been and hopefully always will be!
The glitzy and sometimes meretricious battle system is rock solid as you choose different Personas to assist you in confronting demons, both your own and those of other people. A great story and characters will only get a game so far (I’m looking at you, Bioshock Infinite), but luckily, the combat itself is involving, punchy and unique enough to prevent it from getting the “JRPG Fatigue” from a series’ failure to evolve, while still remaining true enough to its roots to avoid alienating those that have loved it the longest. One of the hardest razor-thin lines to walk… And Persona skips down the line, laughing triumphantly.
There are three games recently that all stand out with a correlations of situations:
– One of the biggest names in Gaming.
– Originally began development for a different system.
– Development time excessively long.
Three games have done this very recently: Zelda, FFXV and Persona 5. Zelda is one of the very best games I have played (truly), while FFXV ranks up there with Brink as one of the biggest disappointments of my life. Where will Persona 5 ultimately fall on this spectrum? Early indicators imply it may even be up there with Zelda: Breath of the Wild which would truly make 2017 the best year in gaming for me since 2007! But I mustn’t get carried away, I am still very early in and it could all go ever so horribly wrong before long… Because the start of FFXV was brilliant, and it all went downhill from there.