There’s no point in beating around the bush: from what we’ve played so far, Persona 5 is utterly brilliant. We’re around 20 hours in, and although we still have potentially triple that amount of playtime to go, we can’t deny that we’re absolutely enraptured with Atlus’ latest. Even as we’re sitting here right now, writing this article, we’re thinking about what’s to come when we take our next trip to Tokyo.
Okay, so Persona 5 is pretty bloody good, but we all kind of knew it would be. Much like its predecessors, it manages to meld its many components together with such elegance that you always feel thoroughly engaged. Whether you’re exploring the hellish dungeons of someone’s mind or you’re hanging out, building one of your social links, there’s a confidence and charm to the game that simply can’t be ignored.
Much of this swagger comes from the title’s mind-blowing sense of style. Screenshots and our descriptions can’t possibly do this aspect of the release justice; every visual element boasts such care and attention that we’d dare say this is one of the most striking games we’ve ever played. Heck, even the menus, which feature animated backgrounds and slick navigation, put some full releases to shame in terms of art direction. It’s truly a sight to behold.
We could go on and on and on about just how good Persona 5 looks, but we really would be here all day, so we’ll quickly shift the topic of conversation to gameplay. Over the first few hours or so, the title does a good job of gradually introducing core systems and mechanics. Once they’ve been covered, it’ll start going into detail at the appropriate times, offering tutorials and hints as you progress. Compared to previous games, this fifth main instalment does seem a touch more accessible, and that’s a good thing. There’s a lot to wrap your head around, so succinct explanations are vital, and the return of the ‘safety’ difficulty setting ensures that anyone can enjoy the story and life simulation elements without having to worry about getting a game over screen in battle.
Again, there’s a colossal amount of content here, but as always, Persona 5 runs on an in-game calendar. Your time is limited, so forward thinking is encouraged. It does take a little while before you’re allowed to spend your free time however you want, but once you’re able to roam Tokyo at your leisure, the title does a fantastic job of showering you with opportunities. You may want to dive back into a dungeon and train while hunting for treasure, or you may want to further strengthen your bond with a friend. The masterful twist here, though, is that whatever you choose to do, it never feels like you’ve wasted your time – there’s always a goal to work towards.
Speaking of goals and conclusions, the story starts off hot, in contrast to the reasonably slow and peaceful beginnings of previous titles. We won’t go into much detail here, but so far, the narrative has really shone through. The pacing is sometimes methodical, and we have seen a couple of twists coming, but as you’d expect, the writing is superb, and the characters that we’ve encountered have all had us dying to know more about them.
However, what perhaps sets Persona 5 apart most from its relatively cheery predecessor is its far darker tone. Unlike the sleepy town of Inaba from Persona 4, Tokyo presents a cramped and looming setting – an environment that’s perfectly suited to the title’s themes of rebellion. The game’s often sinister, and openly deals with a catalogue of mature topics. Of course, as is the case with everything in Persona 5, the art style plays on this flawlessly, offering up a blood red colour scheme.
It’s safe to say that we have exceptionally high hopes for Persona 5, then. If it can keep up this level of quality until the credits roll, we’ll have something really, really special on our hands.