Persona 5 Strikers PS4 Review – Persona in Action

 

 
Overview
 

Genre: RPG
 
Rating: M
 
Release Date: 23/02/2021
 
Overall
 
 
 
 
 
4/5


User Rating
5 total ratings

 

Positives


- Great merger of Persona and Dynasty Warriors
- Heavy focus on narrative
- Feels like an Action-RPG Persona, as opposed to a Warriors game with a Persona skin

Negatives


- No confidant system
- Heavy aliasing often apparent


Posted February 11, 2021 by

 
Full Article
 
 

My first experience with the Persona series came back on the PS2 when I found a cheap copy of Persona 3: FES at JB Hi-Fi. By that point I had played plenty of Japanese RPGs, but there was something different about the game that grabbed me. The setting was different to anything I’d played before and the music pulled at me. I fell in love, a love that has continued through multiple entries and spin-offs over the years. Now, the latest of those spin-offs is here: Persona 5 Strikers. Combining Persona and Dynasty Warriors, and pulling more influence from Persona than I expected, Persona 5 Strikers is a fantastic experience for fans of either series.

The story of Persona 5 Strikers begins four months after the end of Persona 5, as the Phantom Thieves come together during the summer vacation to plan out a camping trip together. As they’re planning out their preparations, they’re introduced to a new AI companion app named EMMA – Think Siri, but on steroids. With their plans all done, they head into Shibuya to buy up the supplies they need, only to find themselves transported into an alternate-Shibuya filled with Shadows. Once again they find themselves dealing with the Desires of the wicked, rehabilitating their hearts to make them valuable members of society, as opposed to sociopathic monsters.

It’s a very ‘Persona’ story, in no way feeling out of place in the greater continuity of the series. It focuses in deeply on its characters and themes, with an emphasis on its narrative that I haven’t seen in many games from Omega Force in the past. Every part of the story feels like something I would expect from P-Studio, even down to the 2D animated cutscenes and the visual-novel style in which the story is presented. Unlike many other Dynasty Warriors adaptations of other IPs in the past such as One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4, this feels much more like the original IP than Dynasty Warriors. I didn’t expect such a heavy emphasis on narrative, but it’s absolutely welcome.

That heavy Persona slant continues into the general mechanics of Persona 5 Strikers. Just like in other Persona games, Joker is able to collect multiple Personas and combine them in the Velvet Room to create more powerful ones. The same level system is there for characters, with them levelling up as they gain experience from completing battles. This is slightly different for Joker, as his Personas don’t receive experience, instead requiring you to spend a separate currency earned to level them up at your will. You’ve got the same general gear and equipment setting as other games in the series, and the items you find are instantly familiar.

Where these mechanics start to change are in the relationships between characters. The confidant system we all know and love isn’t present in Persona 5 Strikers. Instead, the game features a new Bond system. As you complete certain activities and progress character relationships, you’ll unlock Bond skills that can be purchased. These skills are typically party wide things such as increasing everyone’s stats permanently or recovering HP after successfully ambushing an enemy. It’s not quite as fun as the Confidant system, but it’s still an interesting new system that Rewards you as you progress through the game.

Now, I can already hear you asking, ‘What do you mean ambushing enemies in a Dynasty Warriors game?’ Unlike other games in the franchise, you generally won’t find yourself in massive wide-open areas with a billion enemies here. Instead, Persona 5 Strikers features the same dungeon layouts you’re already familiar with from the wider Persona series. You’ll investigate hallways and rooms, with individual enemies wandering around. Come into contact with one of these enemies and you’ll enter a battle, with a large number of them surrounding you and ready to be destroyed.

Once battles commence, the biggest shift in style becomes immediately apparent. Gone is the turn-based system you know and love, replaced with real-time action combat. You have some basic combos, which combine regular attacks with Persona abilities, a dodge, the ability to target enemies and all of those lovely Persona skills you’re used to. Those skills are triggered by holding a button, which causes time to stop. From there you can select your skill, move the targeting to get the most bang for your buck, and then unleash it upon your enemies. Knock enemies down and you can trigger All Out Attacks, while hitting enemy weaknesses can also trigger follow up attacks as well. Combine these with new environmental attacks that can be triggered and the ability to freely swap between your party members at the press of a button, and combat initially feels diverse, although it begins to drag after the hundreds of battles you’ll engage in.

Where Persona 5 Strikers begins to slip a little bit is in its visuals and audio. The game follows a very similar art-style to Persona 5 which, while making it immediately recognisable, also makes the somewhat lower quality models stick out that much more. Environments and characters are generally well-detailed, however there is heavy aliasing visible that turns edges into shimmery messes in motion that distract from other moments. It makes sense given the significantly higher numbers of characters/enemies on screen at any one time, but it’s still distracting. Similarly, the music in the game is a nice facsimile of Shoji Meguro’s style, but it simply doesn’t hit the same way or reach the heights of the main series.

Unlike other Dynasty Warriors mash ups, Persona 5 Strikers maintains much more of Persona’s style and mechanics than it does from Dynasty Warriors. It creates a game that will be immediately more appealing to Persona fans, with a heavy focus on narrative and dungeon crawling, as opposed to massive open environments with a bunch of different objectives to rush between. There are a couple of shortfalls, and the lack of a confidant system is a big hole to fill, but if you’re a fan of Persona, then Persona 5 Strikers is absolutely the game for you.

Persona 5 Strikers was played on a PlayStation 5 via Backwards Compatibility, with a review copy provided by the publisher. The game will also be available on Nintendo Switch and PC on release. For more information, check the official website.


Andrew Cathie

 
Rocket Chainsaw's premier Fantasy-loving Editor. I basically play anything and everything that looks like it could be fun or interesting.