Persona 5 Strikers opens with a thief on the run, identical to Persona 5.
Joker, the sport’s protagonist, nimbly jumps throughout a constructing in Persona 5 Strikers’ first cutscene. He’s within the Metaverse, a mirror dimension on this planet of Persona the place people’ true needs are made manifest. When Joker encounters a Shadow, he dives off the roof and rips off its face masks, exposing its true self. Joker and his enemy fall right into a crowd of Shadows under, on the Metaverse model of the crowded streets of Shibuya. Shadows encompass and outnumber Joker, once more, harkening again to Joker’s seize firstly of Persona 5. However as a substitute of getting hauled off to an interrogation, establishing Persona 5’s body narrative, Joker stands his floor in Strikers, attracts his knife, and summons his Persona.
Immediately I’m in management. The UI crackles with Persona’s normal aptitude, however the Shadows will not be patiently ready for me to take my flip, as I’ve grown accustomed to in 300+ hours of Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal. No, these Shadows are reserving it in direction of me — a crowd of Bicorns, Pixies, and Jack-o’-Lanterns. With a single hit of the sq. button, I slash my knife by way of the gang, they usually all shatter into nothingness.
This was once I first thought I understood Persona 5 Strikers, as I performed by way of the primary chapter of the sport as a part of a preview. It is a Musou sport from Omega Drive, developer of the Dynasty Warriors franchise — hack-and-slash motion video games during which gamers kill legions of enemies in big real-time battles. Strikers seemed and appeared like Persona, a lot in the way in which that Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity seems and feels like The Legend of Zelda, however any hope I had of a real Persona 5 follow-up left me throughout that huge battle.
However I shouldn’t have judged Persona 5 Strikers so rapidly. Regardless of what its opening moments confirmed me, Persona 5 Strikers maintains way more of its supply DNA than anticipated.
A Persona 5 follow-up at its coronary heart
After dropping out of the Metaverse and into the actual world, I discovered a Persona sport ready for me. Set six months after the ending of Persona 5 (Royal doesn’t exist on this timeline, it appears), Joker and Morgana the cat are again in Shibuya to go to the Phantom Thieves. Issues have modified up to now few months — with the senior women, Haru and Makoto, now in school and the socially anxious Futaba truly attending faculty — however the Phantom Thieves reunite as if no time has handed. And as a Persona 5 veteran, taking part in Strikers feels equally acquainted.
After my Dynasty Warriors-esque battle within the intro, I sit by way of lengthy conversations with my pals. I make dialogue decisions and my allies reply. Then, with Morgana in tow, I roll across the metropolis. The map is a smaller model of what it was in Persona 5, and the angle is similar. It seems and sounds identical to the beloved JRPG — a lot in order that my spouse thought I used to be replaying Persona 5.
I spent a majority of my 6+ hours in Persona 5 Strikers doing what I did nearly all of the time in Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal: chatting with folks and selecting dialogue choices. It’s Persona 5 first and Strikers second.
A quicker breed of Phantom Thief
Persona 5 Strikers is a leaner sport than Persona 5. As a result of it’s summer time trip, I don’t must go to highschool. And I don’t have after faculty and night free time to extend my relationships with my pals or enhance my intelligence. These methods aren’t in Persona 5 Strikers.
The Persona roots stay, although. I nonetheless have a Bond stage with my friends, which I can use to purchase totally different perks that improve your complete crew. It’s not particular person like in Persona 5; I can’t select to strengthen Ryuji’s stage by hanging out within the arcade with him, for instance. As an alternative, when all of the Phantom Thieves battle collectively, we get some Bond expertise, and after we hang around and chat in the actual world, that provides Bond as nicely.
The fight is the place issues actually change, however even the fast-paced Musou stylings of Persona 5 Strikers keep grounded within the Persona components. Exterior of some huge battles — just like the opening one, or areas the place I’ve to defend Futaba, a help character, throughout a hack — battles are inclined to happen inside a small area.
Whereas exploring the dungeon, I can play as any of my 4 occasion members, every of whom play drastically totally different from Joker whereas sustaining the identical fight personalities they’d in Persona 5. And so long as I’m not in fight, I can swap out my occasion members for different Phantom Thieves — together with Sophia, a model new character for Strikers. Our crew can sneak up on an enemy and shock assault them by pulling off their masks. Alternatively, enemies can strike first in the event that they spot us, gorgeous our infiltration unit firstly of the combat. However as a substitute of sneak assaults turning right into a turn-based battle with three Shadows, I’ll find yourself combating thirty directly in a knock-down, drag-out brawl. The sport’s fast tempo is a big change from the turn-based Persona video games, nevertheless it’s drastically smaller than different Musou video games.
These battles happen inside Jails, a barely extra open model of Persona 5’s Palace dungeons. These Jails are within the Metaverse, and the Phantom Thieves must infiltrate them, sneak round, deactivate traps, and resolve puzzles to achieve the internal sanctum of every Jail. Alongside the way in which I can change out my occasion members and grind XP on enemies in arena-like battles. However after each combat, the makeshift area fades away, and it’s again to prowling the dungeon.
The combating is as advanced or so simple as I care to make it, though I skilled a number of problem spikes throughout my playtime — spikes I mitigated by being extra methodical and buying extra therapeutic gadgets, though I additionally might’ve simply grinded out extra ranges if I needed a neater expertise. In fight, I can slam my arms on the controller to do some sweeping assaults and possibly a particular transfer to get by way of most battles. However I can even delicately weave combos, or use my Persona’s expertise to fight enemy weaknesses; mentioning my Persona drastically slows every thing round me, letting me make some tactical assessments or catch a fast breather.
Six hours in, Persona 5 Strikers seems like a wise twist on one in every of my favourite video games of the previous decade. The stuff I really like continues to be right here, and whereas there are points of the Persona gameplay that I do miss in Strikers, I’m nonetheless having fun with the fight sufficient that the elimination of particular person social hyperlinks, stats, and time administration methods hasn’t began to sting simply but.
In line with individuals who’ve completed Strikers — because it launched in Japan final 12 months — there’s nonetheless loads of sport left, with quite a few Jails to battle by way of after my time in Shibuya’s Metaverse. I could possibly be heading for an enormous shift, and the points I liked about Persona 5 might soften away in favor of extra acquainted Musou parts. But when what I’ve performed for the primary Jail of Persona 5 Strikers follows by way of till the tip, it’ll be a worthy follow-up to Atlus’ star franchise.