Persona 5 Scramble Review


Ellen Heitmann, Staff Writer

Overview and Story

Ever since the Japanese release of Persona 5 Strikers, fans have been begging for a western localization. A full year and three days later,the gamet finally came out in English on February 23rd, 2021 on Steam, the Nintendo Switch, and the Playstation 4. As a canon sequel to the highly popular and critically acclaimed game Persona 5, and after a year’s worth of anticipation had been built up, players finally got to see if the game truly lived up to expectations.

Persona 5 Strikers takes place in Japan following a group of high school students known as the Phantom Thieves. It takes place about a year after the events of Persona 5 and references the original game heavily, so I would highly recommend not playing it until you beat the original. It also does not matter whether you played Persona 5 or the remake: Personal 5 Royal, as both lead into Persona 5 Strikers just as well. The game begins with the Phantom Thieves all returning for a reunion at their usual hideout, and we are quickly shown that a new app known as EMMA has become increasingly popular. EMMA is an artificial intelligence program that can basically do anything for you. With unnaturally accurate advice, much of society has become reliant on it, and it also allows you to message friends. Upon friending a specific person, the main characters realize they have been taken into an alternate reality. This place is known as the metaverse, or the cognitive world, which the Phantom Thieves had been to many times before in Persona 5. Put simply, many specific individuals start using EMMA to send people to this ‘cognitive world’, which they then use to control the thoughts and actions of the people sent there. These individuals begin to rise into fame through their newly gained abilities, and it is the job of the Phantom Thieves to defeat them and find out the mastermind behind the incidents. Additionally, seeing as the game takes place a year after Persona 5, a lot of the characters have matured a lot, while still remaining faithful to their original selves. I definitely found some of the characters I didn’t care for in Persona 5 to be much more likeable in P5S, while all of the newly introduced characters were enjoyable as well.

Gameplay and Combat

Since P5S is a Warriors game, many people were hesitant about gameplay. Warriors games are a series developed by Koei Tecmo, and are typically used to make spin-offs for popular franchises. For example, there are Warriors games for The Legend of Zelda and Fire Emblem as well. They typically strictly follow a set hack-and-slash gameplay formula, where your characters are extremely overpowered and you can easily tear through hordes of enemies in a few swings. As a result, they are normally very easy and very flashy, mainly being made so people can see all of their favorite characters in action through the non-canon spin-offs. However, P5S deviated heavily from the base formula. Not only is it a direct canon sequel with a full overworld you can walk around in and a heavily fleshed out story, but it also offers a variety of dungeon-crawling gameplay as well. Outside of the cognitive world, you get to explore cities in Japan such as Shibuya, Sendai, Osaka, and more, while the cognitive world contains a variety of massive, distorted realms the player can use unique abilities to go through. For those who have experience with the Persona series, these areas are the equivalent of Persona 5’s palaces, Persona 4’s TV world, or Persona 3’s dark hour.

Photo credit: Megami Tensei Wiki

Similar to any other Persona game, the combat is based around personas, which are mythical beings that characters can use to cast spells and acquire various abilities. While P5S adopts action-based combat unlike Persona’s usual turn-based nature, you still have to manage your Spirit Points, which are required to cast spells, and Health points, which cause you to die when you run out of. To cast spells, you can open a menu which freezes time, allowing you to think through which ability is best to use. Magic skills cost SP to use and physical skills cost HP, and each targets a set area of enemies in front of you. The game rewards good SP management, as it would not take long to feel the effects of running out and, therefore, losing access to your main damage and healing options. Throughout each metaverse section there are plenty of checkpoints where you can refresh your health and SP, so it is never too much of an issue. Outside of spells, each member of the Phantom Thieves has a unique set of normal attack strings. You usually form a team of four characters to use, and can switch between them freely during fights. The more you use each character, the more abilities they unlock. For example, some abilities allow you to cast a spell without the use of SP, while some work to increase your damage. Elements also play a big role in the combat, as most enemies have a specific weakness you can target, while each party member is assigned a primary element their attacks are based on. For example, Ann can use fire abilities, which are extra powerful against ice-type enemies who are, therefore, weak to fire. Each enemy has a shield icon next to their health bar, and striking these weaknesses can break the shields. Once all shields are broken, the Phantom Thieves can perform an all-out attack, which does massive damage. Additionally, each playable character has a ‘showtime’ meter, which will build up over time and allow them to use a devastating attack when full. The protagonist, Joker, works a bit differently from the other characters though. He can use more than one persona and can access every element, so you can build him however you want. For example, with Joker, I can have one persona for healing, one for physical damage, one for magic damage, and more, and switch between them at will during battle. Since there is no cooldown or penalty on switching personas, this can be very overpowered, but the game remains quite difficult as enemies have massive health pools and damage output. Just like every other modern Persona game, the Velvet Room also makes a return, which is an area you can use to fuse powerful and specialized personas in. Overall, P5S gameplay felt very solid. With in-depth combat mechanics, fully fleshed out dungeons to explore, a massive overworld, the high difficulty and strategic requirements, and more, the game really created its own unique experience and a fresh take on classic Persona gameplay as opposed to being just another Warriors game. 

Photo credit: GamerBraves

Music and Other

The Persona 5 Strikers soundtrack contains a variety of its own unique pieces along with remixed songs from the original Persona 5. Additionally, the deluxe edition of the game allows you to use music from Persona 1 through Persona 4. The music was a major selling point for me and a lot of the general audiences; I don’t think there was a single song I didn’t like. I would also like to point out though that the Steam version of the game has some issues with crashing. My game crashed about six or so times during my run, which can be frustrating. However, in my opinion, it was not bad enough to ruin the experience at all. This issue will probably be fixed eventually but it is definitely something to be aware of.

Should You Play?

In my opinion, if you liked Persona 5, there is no reason not to try out P5S. Having a new story,seeing the characters grow, and experiencing more of the series was incredibly enjoyable. The new music and gameplay mechanics kept it feeling very refreshing and new, while still not deviating too far from the original. Overall, I really enjoyed the game, and hope more people give it a chance even if they aren’t a fan of Warriors games.

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