RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Dec 24th 2017 at 08:00:00 AM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under Turn Based RPG, rpg, ps3, ps4, playstation, atlus, sega

There are rare moments in gaming history where a game releases and shows that it is truly possible to learn lessons from a well designed video game and apply them to the real world. For most of us the first lessons that come to mind might be critical thinking skills from having to think abstractly to solve a puzzle, twitch reflexes from high octane action games, or the obvious social benefits of a good online community. [i[Persona 5[/i] is something different, and represents a far more difficult pill and series of lessons for many around the world to swallow. Persona 5 is an important game, not because its the best selling in Atlus' history and could represent a small first step in a larger paradigm shift for turn-based role playing game design, but because it is one of the most down to earth reflections of the corruption that can penetrate and permeate a society from the highest levels down to the lowest. It's the same type of importance one might give to say, the first Deus Ex for calling out many of the problems of society, governance, and the very real world of false flag operations and conspiracy that existed in the late 1990's while that game was being developed and is still continuing to this day.

Persona 5 is a game that focuses on individual freedom. The game starts with the main character, canonically named Akira Kurusu, running across a woman being harassed by a bald man. He steps in between the woman and the man, who ends up falling down and threatening our hero with a lawsuit. It turns out, the man is a high ranking member of Japan's National Diet, so he pulls strings to run Akira through the coals and be labeled as a criminal, which has extreme effects on the prospective future of a Japanese youth. The social conservatism, honorific appeal to authority, and strict behavior expectations underlying modern Japanese culture make this feeling of oppression and isolation even stronger. Akira is kicked out of his house by his parents after being sentenced to probation, only being taken in by his legal guardian for the game, Sojiro Sakura, for money. The night before his first day at his new school, Shujin Academy, Akira notices that his phone has a mysterious new app on it, and deletes it. Akira's string of bad luck seems to continue as he is quickly introduced to his new school's troublemaker, Ryuji Sakamoto. The app on Akira's phone mysteriously returns and seems to activate itself automatically, acting as a sort of dimensional portal. Akira and Ryuji end up in a prison, and it looks like the two will meet an early, untimely demise, when Akira awakens to the power of his Persona. The release of Arsene (Lupin) knocks the guards away and gives Akira and Ryuji the cover to escape. By the time they escape the two are hopelessly late to school and Akira's probation appears to be in jeopardy for the moment.

The two had ended up in one of two of Persona 5's dungeon types. The two kinds are Palaces and Mementos. Palaces are similar to the dungeons of Persona 4. Each one has its own theme and focuses on its own character. In Persona 5, the Palaces are modeled after the Cardinal Sins, all 8 of them. Mementos is designed in the same way that Tartarus was in Persona 3; it's one long dungeon that is divided into sections. Progress in Mementos is locked to progression through Palaces. Mementos is described as the Palace of the general population. The deeper the party delves into Mementos the more odd and surreal the surroundings become. Mementos is also where the player can meet up with a Persona series staple, the Reaper. The main Palaces manifest as a result of powerful and corrupted personalities, so they're all customized.

Say hello to Arsene (Lupin)

While Persona 5 dropped the Shin Megami Tensei prefix, the game did bring demon negotiations in as a replacement to the card system of Persona collecting from Persona 4. To enter negotiations all the enemies must be knocked down, either through hitting weaknesses, using the game's status effects, or critical strikes. The player even has options to extort money and items from demons while they're in a negotiation, which fits right in with the theme of phantom thievery. Combat has also been heavily re-balanced. Playing on the easier difficulties might make this harder to realize at first, but on harder difficulties there were plenty of struggles which end up forcing creative thinking, right from the beginning of the game. On Hard mode players will likely have troubles fighting more than one Berith in the first Palace, since its quite possible to be one shot by them even when you match their level 9 strength. Putting one to sleep at the start of the battle helps immensely. This enemy was placed specifically where it was to teach players that status effects were re-balanced to work with a much, much higher success rate than in previous Persona or SMT games. In fact, status effects are so useful that Atlus brought back an elemental skill that have been absent since Persona 2, Nuclear. They also brought in another element from the first Devil Summoner, Psychokinesis or Psy in Persona 5. If the player gets an enemy to fall under some kind of mental status effect, such as confuse, fear, despair, rage, or brainwash; the player can inflict a Technical attack bonus by using a Psy spell. Burn, freeze, or shock can be chained together with a Nuclear spell to deal a Technical bonus as well. Sleep and dizzy can be combined with regular attacks to deal a Technical bonus.

All these changes make Persona 5's combat system the most engaging and deep in the series so far. Given that Persona and the overall Shin Megami Tensei series are known for having less forgiving combat than most others, with deep knowledge of the specifics of the combat system and its options being the best way to achieve victory. Like usual there are still battles where the player can be destroyed just by having the wrong Persona equipped and as a result, the enemy exploits its weakness and chain attacks Akira and/or the whole party to death. Bosses can be trial and error tests of patience and strategy as usual. Some go down in one attempt because the player has the right tools, or has good enough tools to claw victory from defeat. Others could take over a dozen attempts on Hard, even with strong equipment and Personae. For those who are not interested in the challenge or how all the changes to the combat system feed into it, then Atlus made even easier difficulties than ever before. One can rush through the game on the easiest difficulty and not worry about much of anything the whole way through.

The game has more options to spend your time than ever before.

Social Links make their return with a new name, one that fits with the theme of thievery and secrecy: Confidants. Confidants are even better than Social Links were before. In Persona 3 and 4 all players would get out of leveling their Social Links were the actual story for the character, and a slight experience boost to a freshly fused Persona of the character's specific arcana of the tarot. Persona 5 adds some other effect, whether its useful can be up for debate, but some are extremely powerful and should be taken advantage of. For example, leveling up your party members' Confidants gives actual in battle options to make use of, one of the most beneficial is the Baton Pass, which lets combat members pass their extra turn to another member after they exploit the enemy's weakness. Baton Passes allow a player with good information on their enemies, and the right skills to exploit them, to make seemingly difficult battles much easier.

The series has become rather well known for its music and visual design. Persona 5 brings the audio heat. The music matches the themes quite well, and show plenty of mischievousness and playfulness while you're wandering around town, enjoying more casual days at school, hanging out with the confidants, or running through the dungeons. The main musical styles that were composed for the game are jazz, soul, and funk, and the main subgenre known for including all those elements, acid jazz. The visuals pop with a style that undoubtedly will be copied by smaller developers in the coming years. However, the game has some minor graphical bugs. At some points in Palaces and Mementos light seems to come from nowhere, or bleeds through the background, which can end up looking like a mess. These bugs are seemingly random and not in set, specific spots that were overlooked. Its not enough to destroy the experience, but over a long game it becomes hard to not notice.

Persona 5 is an incredible game, and its been getting critical praise and awards from around the industry. This has also translated into sales, as Persona 5 is already Atlus' best selling game in their history. Atlus is going to continue being a rising force for years to come, with upcoming games already getting similar buzz and big gaming tradeshow marketing as Persona 5 with its upcoming Shin Megami Tensei V for Nintendo's Switch. If you own a PlayStation 3 or 4 then Persona 5 is one of the must-own role playing games for the consoles.

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And of course Joker has a new name for the anime, and they announce it the day this is published. His new name is Amamiya Ren.
This was easily one of my favorite games I played this year. Second to maybe only Mario Odyssey but even then its too close for comfort.

Everything I loved about Persona was not only in this game, but it was improved upon. I really can't recommend it enough to someone who wants to play a good old fashioned jRPG that has all the comdortable RPG tropes while still turning a few on their heads and updating others to make more sense to modern gamers. Not a moment of this game wasnt enjoyable. Very excited to see what else ATLUS has in store for me this coming year.
Unfortunately, a Persona protagonist's name isn't canon until Atlus uses it in a game.  The P3 and P4 protagonists have had at least three names each across licensed adaptations and spin-offs.  I wish Atlus would just give their protagonists a default name option from the start.

P5 was definitely the best game I played all year, the Confidant system was a much needed improvement and having dungeons with actual level design was very welcome.  I binge played this in under a month and had to stop myself from doing a second playthrough immediately.  I did think that some of the elements that were brought back from Persona 1/2 did give the game a bit of an identity crisis and undid some of the refinements that P3 & P4 made, but it was still brilliant.

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