Publisher: Atlus/Koei-Tecmo| Developers: Omega Force and P-Studio| Release Date: February 23, 2021 | Genre: Action RPG| Reviewed On PS5
Review copy was bought at retail
The Persona 5 story continues in Persona 5 Strikers. Much like its previous spin-off for the fourth entry such as Persona 4: Dancing All Night and Persona 4 Arena it is a canonical sequel to the original. It just doesn’t cover Persona 5: Royal’s ending. Sorry, Kasumi fans.
Unlike the original, it’s an action RPG combined with the frenetic game-play of a Musou game. This has worked in the past with game such franchises as Zelda, Anime franchises such as Gundam, and as well as the older Dynasty Warriors titles.
Here, it mostly works, with the game being real-time, and could see it be an approximation of how a Shin Megami Tensei game would work with a real-time combat system. You do access Joker’s and other character’s unique ‘Persona’ which deal magic attacks, as well as upgrade weapons, armor, and the other things that go through in your typical RPG loop.
Combat is frantic with dozens of enemies on screen. As well as partner AI that doesn’t get in your way. You can switch between different members of The Phantom Thieves on the fly, and control them. For example, you need to heal a character you can instantly switch to say Morgana, and heal whoever needs it.
You also get easy to memorize combos which in line with the Musou lineage. They’re unlocked through defeating a certain amount of foes. What keeps the repetition at bay is the weapons and skill unlocks which go from the normal such as HP unlocks or to the unnecessary such as unlocking weapons at the store.
The player is tasked to go through various dungeons dubbed ‘Jails’ as opposed to ”Castles’ and defeat the boss. You also have a cooking system which is much like crafting but the ingredients can only be bought at the store. The recipes can be unlocked by going to town visiting Resturants and completing side requests.
There are few gripes with the game. One is weapons being locked by completing sidequests This was probably done for padding game length. It’d make sense to do it for the most powerful weapons in the game and not just to get to the next tier of weapons. To improve on the next title the game should naturally unlock weapons through story progression. Another issue mechanics-wise is sometimes the camera can’t keep up with the action and may get stuck on walls in the narrower dungeons in the game. It’ll take about 40-50 hours if you go through the critical path of the game. Now, onto the graphics.
Graphics and Presentation
The graphics do a magnificent job of replicating Shigenori Soejima’s style and even the user interface exudes style much like its predecessor. The game runs at a smooth 60 FPS. It was reviewed on a PS5 and the framerate didn’t buckle no matter how many enemies are on screen. The only flaw here is a large amount of aliasing but the art helps overcome that technical hiccup.
Localization is better than the original with one of the characters using a bit more colorful language and some references that don’t feel out of place such as memes. The puns also return at the expense of Morgana being the form of a cat in our reality as well. Overall (as usaul) an inspired loc job!
Music is also great with the upbeat acid jazz by Shoji Meguro. The fusion of Hip-Hop, Jazz, and rock with some lyrical styling keeps the combat feeling fresh. Unfortunately, a lot of it’s reused from the original, but there are some new arrangements of themes such as ‘Taking Over’ and ‘Blooming Villain’ which are rocked up to go with the more action-oriented gameplay.
The story is set 6 months after the original Persona 5 with The Phantom Thieves disbanded after the incident with political candidate Shido concluded. It involves the SIRI like EMMA system which is made by the tech company, Medice, which has been causing people to bend to its will.
The Phantom Thieves then reunite along with a new character, Zenkichi Hasegawa, a detective, who is investigating the incidents. It all winds up being an entertaining road trip through Japan and not just Tokyo. The leads such as Joker and the crew have fully developed but have to fight (symbolically) antagonists that reminded the player of what they were before unleashing their Personas.
This makes P5 Striker’s story about the antagonists they encounter as well as some new characters along the way. It helps the game’s story not be stuck in the rut that a lot of spin-offs get into with the mains going through the motions but allows them to speak as fully developed characters and helping the supporting characters out to grow themselves.
Overall, Persona 5 Strikers gives enough fan service and is a worthy continuation of Persona 5 with only a few flaws such as a somewhat fussy camera and some padding, but is a great spin-off or say sequel in both the Musou series and Persona sub-franchise.
Frederick Guese is a video creator and editor at PlayStation Haven. An QA industry vet and has worked at Respawn Entertainment, 2K Games, and Activision-Blizzard. Frederick is working on being a narrative designer, writer, editor, and video producer. You can visit his Twitter, Youtube channel, and Instagram. He’s a big fan of Hideo Kojima games and JRPGs.