Release date: September 15, 2016 (Japan), April 4, 2017 (World Wide)
How long it took me to beat it: 170 hrs to win, 230 hrs to 100%
I’m going to tell you right now that Persona 5 will be my favorite game of 2017. I don’t care what games come out between now and December 25. I will not love any of them half as much as I love P5. As soon as I beat it, I immediately started a new game plus and finished it for a second time. Overall, I’ve clocked in 230 hours to 100% & unlock the platinum trophy. I have never done that with a JRPG of this length and depth before. I didn’t even do that for Final Fantasy X, and FFX is my favorite game of all time! Without a doubt, Persona 5 is my second favorite game of all time. I’m currently fighting myself to not play it for a third time. However, I need to give myself a break. This game was taking over my life. I would play nonstop for hours upon hours! It was super addicting and would not let me go. I need rest!
Plot: A Japanese second-year high school student is wrongfully convicted of assault and is sent away to Tokyo on probation. While attending his new high school, Shujin Academy, he discovers that an alternate dimension called the metaverse. There, he is able to summon powerful entities called Personas. Personas are magical demons that only a select few can summon in combat. The metaverse is also home to dangerous monsters and shadow copies of evil humans that live in the real world. If the shadow of a corrupted human is defeated, their real self will reform and end their evil ways forever. This concept provides an opportunity for our hero to fight the criminals the Japanese justice system fails to act upon. With a team of like minded friends and classmates, the main character creates the Phantom Thieves. The team’s main goal is to right the wrongs of society and stop the evil adults from hurting others. However, as the Phantom Thieves become more popular and influential across social media, they become the target of a malevolent secret organization. There is a grand conspiracy in motion and our heroes are becoming too troublesome. Powerful individuals, who have knowledge of how find and weaponize the metaverse, fear that the Thieves will disrupt their nefarious plans. A battle for the future of Japan, if not the entire world, has begun.
Gameplay: The game play is amazing. It is split into two parts. There is the traditional turn based JRPG side and a social simulator side.
- JRPG side: you explore the metaverse and battle countless Shadows. After the battle, you can engage in “negotiations” to either convince the shadows to join your side, give you money, or hand over items. If they refuse, you can beat the living shit out of them! When a shadow does join you, it will become a new persona that will aid you on your adventure.
- Personas: The main character can collect over 190 different personas throughout the game. Personas will level up and learn new abilities the more you use them in combat. You obtain new personas through negotiation or fusion. When you have two or more compatible personas, you can fuse them together to make a single stronger persona. It should be noted, that only the main character can collect different personas. Other party members have one persona with a specific set abilities.
- Weaknesses: During combat, you discover that enemies have certain weakness that you can exploit with Agi(fire), Gara (wind), Bufu(ice), and other types magic. The monster is knocked down and you get an extra turn. As the game progress, you may even be able to pass the turn to another teammate. With all monsters knocked down, you can start a dialog or an all out attack. All out attacks can deal major damage to all foes on the field.
- Persona Itemization: At some point in the game, you can be given the option to itemize your persona. You can turn them into weapons, armor, or ability cards. You can find the best equipment in the game through this method.
- Social Side: you spend time with your party members or other supporting characters, find jobs, attend school, work out, go fishing, see movies, read books, and more. All of these activities can also rank up your 5 social stats: Guts, proficiency, knowledge, charm, and kindness. These stats affect how well you do in school and how far you can pursue particular confidants.
- Confidants: There are 20 confidants. They are your party members or supporting characters. You can spend time with them and engage in their respective subplots. Most are optional while others are part of the story. You will unlock new abilities and perks as their ranks goes up. Each confidant maxes out at rank 10. These abilities can make the game a lot easier. You can make more money, gain more experience points, get discounts, and new options during combat. Tip: Each confidant represents a different arcana (Moon, Death, Fool, Temperance, etc). If you have a persona in your position with a matching archana, then you will get more points to rank up that particular confidant. Always prepare and keep that in mind.
- Time: It should also be noted that the game operates on a schedule and that activities take up time. You will have to plan accordingly to make sure you don’t waste any in-game days.
Mementos and Palaces
The metaverse can be explored through Palaces or Momentos. Palaces are story based dungeons that must be defeated by a specific day. Fail to do so, and it is game ovwr! Momentos is a super long dungeon that becomes longer and longer as you unlock pieces of it after completing Palaces. In Momentos, you can capture the shadows that you miss in the Palaces and you can undertake side missions called “Requests.” They are similar to “hunt” missions from Final Fantasy. You take a request and find a mini boss to defeat. Tip: Let the requests stack to 5 or 6 before going into Mementoes. It will be the best way to manage your time. Also, the weather in the real world will affect Momentos. Rain will make enemies stronger (but drop better items), heat wave will possibly give them burn, and flu season will possibly give them despair(which kills an enemy after a few turns). Tip: There is a powerful mini boss that can net you a ton of exp. Wait for flu season and fight him when he has despair.
- The story is fantastic! It kept me interested and engaged from beginning to end. It made me laugh and made me cry. It made me have all the feels.
- The game does a great job of making you care about the characters and the world they inhabit. It felt like a 2nd home that I never wanted to move away from.
- The main character is a bad ass. While you control what he says, you can make him out to be a really cool guy. He can be kind, supportive, intelligent, and a total smart ass.
- Makoto is best girl.
- I love Morgana and all of his memes. I like him a lot more than Teddy from Persona 4.When he does that goofy cat laugh, I lose my shit!
- The overall party of the Phantom Thieves is great. I enjoyed all of their banter and was not annoyed by a single one of them. Some members can be a little frustrating, but I still love them. I used all of them frequently in combat and never felt anyone of them were useless.
- It has a hard mode and merciless mode option. Love that. Final Fantasy 15 only had normal and it was way too easy. I want a challenge and P5 delivered!
- The music is phenomenal! I will be humming the tunes for the rest of my life.
- Great villains. Every hero needs a good set of villains, and P5 has a great rogue’s gallery for the Phantom Thieves to deal with.
- Battles are fun and never boring.
- The social simulator is fun and addicting. It is arguably more entertaining than the combat.
- You can fast forward through the story parts and it is fantastic. It shaves off a ton of time when you are speeding through new game plus.
- Sometimes, P5 will not let you play the damn game. You desperately want to return to the metaverse, but the story will not stop! You are just pressing “x” over and over. Just let me play the game damn it!
- I don’t want to go to sleep Morgana!!! I have confidants that need to be ranked up and midterms are next week!
- It ends
Words of Wisdom: I strongly recommend playing on hard mode. It is a fair challenge and normal is way too easy. I also recommend not worrying about maxing social stats and confidants too much on your first play through. Just experiment and do what you can. You are not going to Max ALL of your confidants on your first go. You might get lucky, but it’s going to be pretty hard. I Maxed my social stats first and then on my second play through I worried about my confidants. Final Tip: Save often and have back up saves. You do not want to make a mistake that you are stuck with!
Last thoughts: P5 is my favorite game in the Persona series and it is easily one of my favorite games of all time. It broke my heart when I finally ended my time with this world. I like a lot of games, but not as much as this. P5 is a very special to me and I sincerely love it with all of my heart. I can’t wait for the inevitable spin-offs and sequels. If you have a PS4 and like JRPGs, you need to treat yourself and get this game.
I give Persona 5 a 5 out 5. Loved it!