By Patrick Aguda / February 18th, 2021
The majority of Jails in the game have a pattern to completing them. First, you gather information on your target in the real world. Next, you enter the Jail and gather three items called Cores. After gathering the Cores, you fight a special mini-boss called a Lock Keeper. After defeating the Lock Keeper, you send the Calling Card. After sending the Calling Card, you confront the Monarch. Like Persona 5, P5S is heavily story based, so there are plenty of story scenes that give you a break from Jail exploration. Unlike Persona 5, there’s no time limit to completing the Jails. You can enter and exit the Jail with no consequences whatsoever. So, if you need to heal up or buy more items and equipment, there’s nothing wrong with leaving the Jail and coming back later. Aside from the main objectives, you can also take on Requests. These are optional side missions that offer rewards such as Bond experience, new Persona fusions, unique weapons, higher levels for Bond skills and much more.
It really felt like I was playing a continuation to Persona 5 while playing P5S. The way they split up Jail exploration and real world events was almost exactly like Persona 5, minus the time limit and Confidant events. I enjoyed watching events unfold in the real world and then entering a Jail in order to save the day. Story cutscenes in-between gameplay sequences could be long at times, sometimes 10-20 minutes. But, for a story-focused series like Persona, these scenes were very welcome, and I had no problem with their length.
Graphically, Persona 5 Strikers keeps the anime aesthetic of its predecessor. The character models still look great, and I love the Phantom Thief designs for each member. I liked how each Phantom Thief member had unique motions for attacking and running around. The Monarchs for each Jail looked very unique, and each Jail had a design complimentary to their Monarch. Persona designs stayed the same between Persona 5 and Persona 5 Strikers, but those usually don’t change much, so that’s not an issue. Regular enemy mobs use Shadow designs seen in Persona 5, so if you played P5, you’ve seen what the Shadows will look like in P5S. Cutscenes are portrayed in three different ways: using in-game graphics, pre-rendered CG cutscenes, and 2D animated scenes. Each method looked great and really added to the splendor of this game. The flashy UI from Persona 5 also makes a triumphant return. All in all, I really liked how the game was presented graphically, even though some designs were reused from P5.
The soundtrack in this game is as stellar as its predecessor. Some tracks like “Beneath the Mask” make their return while others like “Last Surprise” got a fast-paced remix. There are some new tracks like “Daredevil” and the opening theme, “You Are Stronger.” Each song fits their respective event or battle very well, and I enjoyed all of them. I especially liked “Daredevil” as it felt like something badass was about to happen whenever it played. If you have save data from Persona 5 or Persona 5 Royal, you can unlock the battle music from both titles. While I appreciate this option, those songs just don’t fit well with the fast-paced action of P5S. The combat in P5 was much slower, so those songs worked well with it. The default battle music, “What You Wish For” and “Axe to Grind” worked perfectly with the battles, so there was no need to change them. The game also features dual audio, which is a big plus in my book. I played the entirety of the game with Japanese voices (since I played Persona 5 with Japanese voices), and the cast did a great job bringing the characters to life. I, unfortunately, did not get to listen to the English audio, but I’m glad the option is there for those who prefer it.
To answer my question from the beginning of the review, Persona 5 Strikers absolutely blew through any expectations I had. The game has great character development, beautiful anime-styled graphics, an earworm soundtrack, and, much to my surprise, excellent action-based combat. It’s come to the point where I would welcome more spin-offs with this combat system. It took me about 60 hours to complete the main story while completing the Requests available to me, so you have a good amount of content to play through. After beating the game, more Requests unlock, so you have plenty to do even after finishing the story. However, I don’t recommend playing this game unless you’ve played Persona 5 or Persona 5 Royal, or you watched Persona 5: The Animation. P5S spoils events that occur in P5 and you won’t be as attached to certain characters if you haven’t played the original. But, if you’re a huge fan of Persona 5, I highly recommend you pick Persona 5 Strikers up. It is definitely worth the $59.99 price tag, and I promise you won’t leave disappointed.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
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