Hello guys it’s me again! Check out my previous blog posts on Persona 5 below!
Last time, I reviewed Persona 5’s story. Now we move swiftly on to the gameplay!
Persona is quite a unique series in that it combines social linking with dungeon crawling. It’s a JRPG but a unique one at that, set in the modern day with fantasy aspects included. This is derived from the world in which the characters can enter, dungeons, otherwise known as Palaces and the powers they can use from their Personas. These Personas are a mask that protects them from the distortions of these Palaces.
Anyway, the gameplay has stayed true to form from the previous instalment of the Persona series, Persona 4, whilst massively improving upon its gameplay. I mean they really went above and beyond for this!
Where do I even start? Well let’s talk about the style first of all. In short, Persona 5 is stylish as hell! The game has a comic book-esque style to it from it’s speech bubbles to the game’s menu.
Oh the menus!!
The menus in this game are particularly artistic from the main menu to the shopping menus, the animation after your party performs an all out attack and even the screen that follows after defeating enemies, the way money and experience points splash onto the screen (you’ll see what I mean once you see it yourself). Its little intricacies are a thing to behold and I’ll admit to initially spending my time clicking through each option in the main and shopping menus just to see the little, subtle animations. It really adds to the game’s style.
Kudos to the team behind Persona 5 because they really went above and beyond with the world in which the protagonist resides, the social linking system and the Palaces/dungeons, which are no longer random might I add!
In regards to social links and building up stats (such as kindness, knowledge and proficiency) there’s just so much to do! Set in different areas of Tokyo, the scale of Persona 5 differs vastly from Persona 4. In this game, you can travel by train to many different places, some of which you pay a small fare for and there are a number of options as to the things that you can do. You can choose to relax at a bathing house, read at the library, dine at the diner, go fishing, play video games, watch a DVD or a movie at the cinema and there are an endless amount of shops to buy items and gifts for your friends. Even upon completing the game I don’t think I did quite everything, so it’s something that I will have to explore in my new game plus.
There are plenty of social links to get through as well. Social linking provides an opportunity to build bonds with acquaintances and people within your main party and there’s a unique bunch of people that you can create these bonds with. You hang out, levelling up your links and these links prove to be particularly beneficial. Not only do your main party members help you as you level up, taking a blow for you or getting rid of your status ailment for instance, other social links are able to help you in your fight against evil as you level them up. Whether that be Takemi, a doctor that works at a clinic, selling useful curing items and equipment, or the man you live with, Sojiro, allowing you to make coffee that will replenish SP (Spirit Points), it proves useful to make and level up as many social links as you can.
One thing about the social linking system that I found to be an inconvenience was the way in which you were unable to level up a lot of your social links because one of your stats were too low. I was often prevented from levelling up a social link because I didn’t have enough kindness or charm or guts. You gotta get that stat up a level or two before you can even progress further with that link!
Early on in the game, you are unable to talk properly with Iwai, an owner of a gun store because you lack the guts. It wasn’t until I had raised my guts to level 4 out of the maximum of 5 that it is able to reach, that I could open up my social link with him. That would have been fine, only by this point I was reaching THE NEAR END OF THE GAME! Just how am I supposed to get my social link with Iwai up to Level 10 when I don’t have long left in the game until the point of no return? With quite a few of my social links I had to get my stats up to level 4 or 5 (which takes ages) until I could even progress further. It’s virtually impossible to get so many of your social links up to the maximum level for that reason unless playing a new game plus (which was no doubt their intention). It just seemed a little bit unfair. I mean, while I really enjoyed the game, do I particularly want to go through another 105 hours of gameplay just so I can maximise my social links? It’s a lot of time to spare for a second play through.
The dungeons in this game is a massive improvement. Personally I enjoyed the dungeons in Persona 4. Yes, I am aware that it could get a bit tedious at times. It was a case of wash, rinse, spit repeat. Fight shadows, find treasure chests, fight more shadows, find the set of stairs to go up and then repeat the same pattern until you reached the end. These dungeons had so many levels and you would just pray that the next level was the end when in fact you had five or six more set of stairs to go. It was very tedious.
Persona 5’s dungeons were revamped, each uniquely created with plenty of puzzles included. Completing these puzzles are often the key to moving on to the next section, armed with safe rooms that you can save your progress in between. You can choose to be sneaky, sneaking behind walls and objects with a quick press of the x button, ambushing your enemies from behind and this was a lot of fun! Not only can you sneak around in this way, but you can jump up walls and sneak through ventilators. I truly felt like a Phantom thief (the name of your party) sneaking my way to the treasure.
Whilst the dungeons for this game have vastly improved, it didn’t stop them from feeling tedious at times. It’s very fun at first but as I got further into the plot and opened up more Palaces, the puzzle aspect of the Palaces started to get too much. It seemed like it was puzzle after puzzle, obstacle after obstacle, bad guy after bad guy. Just how many obstacles do I need to get through to get to my goal here? To be fair, it did make me feel accomplished getting through all the game threw at me but damn, some of these mazes were more complex then I thought they needed to be. Still, the amount of effort that they put into these dungeons were evident and that’s something I can’t take away from them.
I won’t say too much about the Personas (it’s not my favourite part of Persona 5’s revamp) but again, there are quite a few things that they included. Most notable is the negotiation system with your enemies following a battle, where you can negotiate with enemies to join you, ask for money or an item. If you ask them to join you, all you have to do is pick the right answers to their questions and they will become your Persona. Apparently, this negotiation system was in the earlier games and they brought it back. I did enjoy squeezing money out of my foes and sometimes, negotiating was an easier option then defeating particularly hard enemies.
You still have the option of fusing your Personas in the Velvet room, a recurring theme within the Persona format. They added some new things to the velvet room too. You can lock up a Persona, putting them on lockdown allowing them to overcome a weakness or you can sacrifice one Persona to another, earning their experience points and an ability. I actually didn’t really utilise the new things that were included too much. I found that they were not necessary to fight the bosses and complete the game, but it was a nice touch nevertheless.
Overall, the gameplay is slick, majorly improving upon social links and stat building and let’s not forget its well thought out, complex dungeons. In Persona 5, you’re never stuck for something to do. When you take the time to really check out everything that you can do within this world, you realise just how much time and effort the team put into this game. Gameplay gets another solid 8/10!
Check out my review of the music below!