By Patrick Aguda / February 18th, 2021
|Title||Persona 5 Strikers|
|Release Date||February 23rd, 2021|
|Platforms||PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC|
|Age Rating||ESRB – Mature 17+|
Persona 5 is one of the best JRPGs I’ve played. I loved the anime aesthetic, great character development, outstanding soundtrack and the solid turn-based gameplay. Needless to say, when I heard Omega Force was working with Atlus to make a sequel to that game, Persona 5 Strikers, I was excited. So, when I got the chance to review this sequel, I jumped at the chance. However, with that excitement also came some doubt. How would Persona 5 Strikers fare without the turn-based gameplay that made its predecessor so great? Would the story still have that great character development I’ve come to expect from the series? I will admit, while I was excited to see the Phantom Thieves back in action, my expectations for the game were not high. I feared the game would be a half-assed cash grab, capitalizing on the popularity of the original game. Is Persona 5 Strikers a worthy successor to Persona 5, or does this spin-off sequel fall short? Did the game prove me wrong and manage to blow me away, or were my fears proven true? Let’s read on and find out!
Persona 5 Strikers takes place six months after the events of Persona 5. Joker returns to Tokyo to spend summer vacation with the rest of the Phantom Thieves. However, as they’re preparing what they need for their plans, unexpected events see the Metaverse’s return, and Joker and the Phantom Thieves are called back into action.
I found the story in P5S to be very enjoyable. While the story may develop a bit similarly to Persona 5, the events that occur still managed to grip me, and I really loved the addition and development of new characters, Zenkichi Hasegawa and Sophia. These two characters really worked well with the main cast, and seeing their own stories progress throughout the main story was a treat to see. I especially loved watching Sophia grow as she hung out with Joker and the rest of the Phantom Thieves as she looked to understand the human heart. The Phantom Thieves still had that great chemistry with each other, and I loved seeing their banter before pulling off important missions.
Like in Persona 5, you can name the Protagonist and choose what he says during certain scenes in the story. I really appreciated these additions as it really felt like you’re carrying your character over from the original game. You can reuse your character’s name from the original game and use the dialog options your character would’ve said in the original. These dialog options can range from serious to downright silly. I enjoyed seeing the character’s reactions, especially Ryuji’s, to some of these silly lines.
The gameplay in P5S is split into two locales: the real world and Metaverse. The meat of the gameplay takes place in the Metaverse in locations known as Jails. Jails are comprised of multiple maps for you to explore. These maps have treasures for you to take, Shadows to defeat, and may also involve some platforming to traverse. While traversing the Jail, you can have four members in your party at a time, though Joker is required. You can change your party at any time while outside of combat. In order to initiate combat with a Shadow, you can just attack them normally, allow them to spot you and start the battle, or perform an Ambush on them. Ambush is a pre-emptive attack which depletes the enemies’ health and leaves them susceptible to heavy damage or, in some cases, an All-Out Attack.
Combat in P5S, unlike Persona 5, is heavily action based. Battles take place in localized areas, surrounded by a barrier, once you contact a Shadow. There are three types of battles: normal ones where you have to defeat all enemies, Hacking Battles where you have to defend Oracle, and battles where you have to survive for a certain amount of time. The majority of battles involve just defeating all enemies within the barrier. Normal attacks with the character’s melee weapon are performed by pressing the square button. The triangle button, depending on when it’s pressed, can perform different actions, depending on the character. It can be used to perform firearm attacks, add elemental affinities to your attacks, power you up and so on. When pressed in a combo with the square button, you can perform certain Persona abilities without using up HP or SP. What abilities are performed in the combo are preset, depending on the Persona being used. These abilities can be physical attacks, an elemental magic attack, or even an ability to buff yourself. Persona abilities can also be performed by holding the R1 button. When you hold down the button, time stops and you’re given the option to choose from a list of different skills your Persona possesses. When using skills from the Persona menu, a certain amount of HP or SP is used to execute the skill. If you don’t pay attention to your HP and SP gauges, you may not be able to execute a Persona skill when you need it the most.
Like in Persona 5, Joker has access to multiple Personas, so you can switch between Personas depending on the situation. Enemies are weak to certain elements, just like in Persona 5, so use Joker’s Wild Card ability to your advantage to strike the enemy where it hurts the most. If you strike an opponent’s weakness enough, you’ll be able to perform an All-Out Attack with your party. These attacks cause a heavy amount of damage to all enemies in the vicinity, and can really help dwindle the enemies’ numbers. When using this on bosses and mini-bosses, you’re also treated to a special attack animation and a nice graphic at the end. Another way to take out many enemies at once is the Showtime attack. As you damage enemies, the Showtime gauges slowly fills up. Once it’s full you can perform a devastating special attack to every enemy in the combat area. This attack is very useful if you’re being overwhelmed by a large number of enemies. Another way to really punish enemies is a Technical attack. These can be performed by using certain Persona skills after an enemy is afflicted with an ailment. For example, if an enemy is afflicted with fear, you can perform extra damage by using a Psy skill on them. There is also the Phantom Dash ability which you can activate, at certain times, with the circle button. Using this ability, you can leap to certain objects in the environment. Once on the object, you can utilize a special attack such as swinging on a lamp post or detonating a parked car. Using these environmental attacks can really help you in a pinch.
Joker isn’t the only character you can control. You can play as the other members of the Phantom Thieves by pressing one of the directional buttons, depending on who you have in your party at the time. Each Phantom Thief has their own unique fighting style and weaknesses associated with their Persona; Skull is slow and tanky with powerful charging attacks; Noir punishes enemies with her wide range and powerful axe swings; Panther can harm and reach multiple enemies at once with her whip; Mona is very quick with his sword; Fox can punish enemies with counterattacks; and Queen can batter enemies with her fists of justice, perfect for one-on-one encounters. After utilizing a character for a good amount of time, you can unlock Master Arts. Master Arts unlock extra abilities for a character, so you’re rewarded for using your favorite character a lot.
You can power up your characters by leveling up or buying equipment in the real world. Outside of leveling up and buying equipment, there’s also the Bond Board. Here, you can use Bond Points to buy upgrades for your party to make traversing the Jails easier or even power up their stats. For example, one of the skills you can purchase heals your party’s HP and SP after winning a battle. Bond Points can be obtained by winning battles, participating in social events in the real world with the rest of the Phantom Thieves, or after completing major story events. Also, like in Persona 5, Joker can fuse more Personas to use in the Velvet Room. Later on, you also gain the ability to cook food. Foods vary in effect, and they can heal your HP and SP as well as grant buffs.
The combat in this game was surprisingly much more in-depth than I thought it would be. You can’t just wail on enemies; you really have to pay attention to their weaknesses to make it through fights. I really enjoyed how you had to make use of all your skills and, in some cases, the environment to make it through fights. This gave a good amount of difficulty to fights, especially mini-boss and boss fights. And the difficulty was never overwhelming, it was always just the right amount. Plus, your party AI is actually helpful, especially in clearing out enemies and in boss fights. I was a bit hesitant in playing an action-based Persona title, but the combat really impressed me and blew all my doubts away. Attacks flowed well, and I never experienced any stuttering or drops in frame rate during combat. The only issue I had with it was the camera. Sometimes, when you get too close to a wall or if you’re in an enclosed space, the camera would zoom in too close and you couldn’t see your character or who you were attacking. This could be a real problem, especially in tough fights. The problem occurred when I was locked onto an enemy and even without lock-on.
Pages: 1 2Action RPGAtlusOmega ForceP STUDIOPersona 5Persona 5 StrikersPS4Reviews