The Family: The Brotherhood
By Donte M McNeal

Based in Michigan, Donte's Playground is a blog by Donte M McNeal. His posts range from nonsensical ramblings about anime, in-depth reviews of books and television/film, to random spurts of philosophical babble.

The Greatness of "Persona 5"

The Greatness of "Persona 5"

So, I’ve taken a break from the anime challenge (broke it up and returning to it near the end of the year). Today though, I’m talking about a project that sprung up out of nowhere for me (not so much for other people, but I digress). What project is that? Well, it’s the game that’s at the center of this JRPG-centric year I’ve been having in gaming.

Persona 5

You’ll have to excuse me if this review seems a bit…biased. I absolutely adore this game. Now that that’s out of the way, what is Persona 5? Well, I’m sure you can tell from it’s title, but P5 is the latest entry in the Persona franchise, which is itself a part of the Megumi Tensei franchise. It’s actually the fifth game in the Persona series. It revolves around our silent protagonist, who comes to be known as Joker, and the merry band of friends that gravitate toward him. These youth come to discover that  the world they live in is unfair, corrupt, and downright unjust. And so, you all come together to do something about said injustice in the world. Sound familiar? That’s because it’s a tried and true formula, but P5 does, well everything, exceptionally well.

Plot

In a nutshell, the game is about a bunch of high schoolers in Tokyo who harness the power of Personas (the manifestation of their psyches) to battle the suppressed psyches and desires that have become corrupted in those around them. Joker, and his group of friends (the Phantom Thieves of Hearts) do their best to save those who have become corrupted by stealing their “heart” and enacting a change of heart in them. If that sounds complicated, don’t worry, it’s not. However, I won’t divulge much about the plot of this game, mainly because Atlus (the developer) had the gaming community up in arms due to its stranglehold on how much about the game could be shared when it was first released. I’m not a game streamer, but I follow a few who are, and they were only allowed to share a small portion of the game before and after its release. This was due to Atlus not wanting their story-driven game to be spoiled, which I could understand. I think the story is something you should experience for yourself, because despite the characters being (mostly) high school kids, the story goes down some dark paths, two of which include blackmail and attempted suicide. Just know that the plot of this game revolves around freedom and how each of these characters attain it, be it from corrupt adults, or the problems in their own lives. It is definitely one of P5’s strongest points, and I’ll leave it at that because I don’t want to spoil too much about it.

Characters

From left to right: Makoto, Ann, Yusuke, Joker (our protagonist), Haru, Ryugi, Moragna (the cat-like creature) and Futaba

From left to right: Makoto, Ann, Yusuke, Joker (our protagonist), Haru, Ryugi, Moragna (the cat-like creature) and Futaba

I think the strongest part of P5 is its charming and memorable characters, but that’s just me. Sure they start off as the usual tropes: fair-haired, and misunderstood beauty, simple-minded and loud rebel/delinquent, prim and proper student council president, hyper-introverted computer whiz, you get where I’m going. The thing that I enjoyed is that even though Joker meets them and they initially fall into these stereotypical roles, the more time you spend with them, the more you discover just how complex these characters are.

And learning more about the friends you gain is the one thing you never tire of. Whether its learning what their dreams are, the troubles they’ve faced (or currently face) or even what they like to do on in their down time is so interesting that it’s a blast discovering new things about the friends who help you try to clean up the world.

Especially Makoto, because she’s Queen, and also best girl. Don’t agree? Fight me.

Especially Makoto, because she’s Queen, and also best girl. Don’t agree? Fight me.

Gameplay

I went into the game blind, not even having heard of the Persona franchise before. I got the game because it looked different from things I’d been playing recently, and I’m glad I did! I was able to experience the game without any preconceived notions about what to expect, and I think I was better off for it. P5’s a turn-based RPG, which I’ve only experienced with games like Digimon and Pokémon I’ve played in the past, so that was something I had to get used. Now, I have a budding love for turn-based RPGs.

Everything about this game screams rebel, from group of main characters,

to its much talked about menu,

or the outlaw-like Personas the main cast sport.

Joker's initial Persona

Joker's initial Persona

The color design is striking in nearly every area of the game, and the transitions into its numerous anime cut scenes, just works. As you can see, I’m doing little more than gushing, but that’s just because the game is just so good!

Time passage is broken up by day and night cycles, moving forward with each activity you do. This includes exploring all of what Tokyo has to offer, hanging out with friends, working part-time jobs (because even Phantom Thieves need money) and other odd, yet entertaining things to pass the time. I’d rather not tell you how many hours I lost just exploring, talking to every person I saw and experiencing the different things and places you could enjoy in the game. And I’ve yet to see everything P5 has to offer.

On another note (hehe), Shoji Meguro knocked it out of the park with the amazing music, so much so that I got the soundtrack for the game. I saw online someone said that’d have the music playing as they did regular, everyday things and it made it that much more entertaining to do it. I put on the album while shopping, and found myself imaging that I was a Phantom Thief lurking around a Palace. When a certain song comes on, you’re instantly transported back to the moment you first heard it in the game and that only makes you want to get home and play it again. That’s happened to me quite a few times. Just check out this theme and say it's not catchy!

Persona 5 is easily one of the best games I’ve played this year, expertly balancing drama, comedy, action and mystery. It’s actually being touted as one of the best RPGs ever made, and I agree wholeheartedly. This game will forever hold a place in my heart, and I’ll be returning to it (after spending months with it after its release) before the year is done for sure. Long live the Phantom Thieves!

 

And long live the Queen!

Belart Wright's "The Glitch Fiends: Part 2"

Belart Wright's "The Glitch Fiends: Part 2"

Liz Long's "SuperNova"

Liz Long's "SuperNova"