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Persona 5 thoughts
Posted: Posted May 1st, 2017 by Jo Nathan

I've mostly finished the game at this point (still getting through some of the ending scenes) and I've clocked in a bit over 100 hours. I don't want to make a wall of text, just wanted to say a few general things, because there is just way too much to say about this game.

Leading up to the game's release, I wasn't worried about it being better or worse than Persona 3 or 4. The only expectation I had was that it would be another Persona game and it would be good. Now that I'm at the end, it's hard to say whether or not it's better from an objective standpoint. For each player, it's all going to hinge on whether you adore the characters or find them annoying, kind of like Undertale, actually.

As for my part, I think Persona 5 is my new favorite video game. My favorite game has been Super Mario RPG since I was a preteen so that's not something I say lightly. I've honestly never played a game before that made me feel so much anxiety over the well-being of its cast, the emotional highs and lows, the utter feeling of comradery; that invaded my dreams on so many consecutive nights or gnawed at my brain all day every day while I was at work; that has made me feel so sad that I've reached the end.

To put it another way, this is the same way I felt about Undertale, except with a lot more intensity.

I dunno. I could be blowing its quality out of proportion in my mind and maybe other people think the game is just ok, and maybe Super Mario RPG will still be my favorite game after I settle down from this initial burst of emotion, but it's honestly how I feel at the moment. It's resonated with me in the greatest possible way. I haven't finished going through the ending scenes yet and I feel compelled to reload my file so I can restart the ending and see it again. I can't think of another game that's made me do that before.

I'll make more detailed comments over time, but I just wanted to get this off my chest for now. I never realized how much of a sucker I was for sappy shit.

There are 13 Replies

Is the PS3 version worth getting?

Posted May 1st, 2017 by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

I have the PS4 version so I can't say for sure, but I honestly can't imagine there being any significant difference between the two versions. Not that the games are ugly per se, but Persona isn't known for being groundbreaking with its graphics.

Posted May 1st, 2017 by Jo Nathan

I know very little about Persona, but I did play Shin Megami Tensei IV a couple years ago. As I understand it the two series share certain role playing sensibilities and familiar iconography but go in very different directions. In the case of Persona, there's less of a focus on, say, demonic invasion and more on the daily lives of the teenagers that nevertheless come upon the means to invoke demons in battle.

Where would you suggest a newcomer start with this series? I get the impression they're self contained stories.

Posted May 2nd, 2017 by Famov

@Famov: you pretty much nailed it

P4 is really good, and is probably the lightest of the series (but that's still about high-school kids solving murders, mind). Conversely, P3 is dark themes, dark iconography, and features a neurotic shut-in for a protagonist (it's also the game that almost didn't see an English release because the Personas are summoned via mock suicide). I haven't played 1 or 2, but Persona 1 (the 1996 release) had a *very* liberal English translation initially that some people find jarring. I've heard it compared to a 4kids dub. 2 comes in two parts.

Posted May 3rd, 2017 by Pink Peruvian Flying Bear

I haven't played 1 or 2 so I can't speak to those, but I understand that 3 is the one that sort of came to be the basis for the games that followed. I started with 3 and I think it's a good starting point. If you played 4 before 3, I think 3 would feel clunkier by comparison and mar the experience a bit, which would be unfortunate because 3 is awesome in its own right. This is the advice Laxan gave me when I first got into the series, and I have come to agree with him.

In 3, you only control your character directly in battle while the other party members follow vague strategies that you designate to them (i.e. conserve magic, prioritize healing, things like that). You can control everyone directly in 4 and 5. I do find some merit in the way 3 does it because it forces you to strategize in different ways, which in turn adds variety to the series. Of course, a lot of people don't like that and it would definitely feel like a step backwards if you played 4 before 3.

Another thing people criticize about 3 is that you get just one dungeon, but it's huge. You spend the entire game traversing it one floor at a time, and it can be a little repetitive with its procedurally generated floors. Personally I found it cathartic making progress little by little in this dungeon, but others found it tedious.

If you're the kind of person who doesn't care if older games lack some of the features and polish of newer games and can appreciate them for what they are, you'll probably be fine starting with any of them.

Posted May 3rd, 2017 by Jo Nathan

So I kind of rambled in the original post about how much I liked Persona 5 without really explaining why I felt that way. I'll elaborate on that a bit without going into spoiler territory for now. Sorry for the wall of text, except I'm not really all that sorry.

As previously mentioned, Persona 3 was pretty dark compared to the lighthearted (but still kind of dark) Persona 4. I'd say Persona 5 is a darker version of 4 in some ways - that is, its setup feels similar to 4 and it has similarly lighthearted aspects, but it delves into more serious, depressing subject matter. Perhaps the main reason this game struck me as hard as it did is because it feels real in many ways: fucking terrible people who have a bit of power and decide that they need to abuse it for their own selfish gain, no matter whose lives they ruin. People sit idly by and do nothing, maybe because they're too scared to do anything, too gullible to realize what's happening, or just don't give a fuck either way. Rape, murder, suicide, corruption and conspiracy, brainwashing the masses with media propaganda, this game is not shy about showing what a terrible species we are, and a cynical asshole like myself just eats that up like candy.

Persona 3 and 4 both started out with your character transferring to a new school and gaining a new, weird power. Persona 5 does that too, but it did it the best - it gave a better explanation of WHY you're transferring to a new school, and it's not a happy backstory. In fact, the first few hours of the game felt downright oppressive. It gave me more reason to keep playing so I could overcome the hardships and (hopefully) see a happy ending.

The same goes for the supporting cast and the terrible experiences they're going through. Different people will like or hate the supporting characters to different degrees, but as for me, I love the cast in this game. I felt like 4 raised the bar so high with its cast that I was keeping my expectations in check for 5, but Atlus gave me a pleasant surprise. One character in particular brought me to tears and I can't stop thinking about how fucked up and depressing that character's story is. They all have depressing stories, really, but I don't know... this one character's story in particular struck me deep inside, maybe even disturbed me a little. They quickly became my favorite character and was enough to elevate Persona 5 above my previous favorite video game.

I also want to briefly talk about the main antagonist. For me personally, this isn't the kind of bad guy who's "fun" to hate; I fucking hated him and wanted to crush him. By comparison, the villain from 4 is a clown. Very few foes in video games have motivated me so much to keep on going so I could take them out.

Between enjoying the characters, feeling terrible for them and their shitty situations, and absolutely loathing the main villain, the emotional highs and lows in this game were well above average for me.

Thoughts on the gameplay

Persona 5 improves on the previous two games in several ways. In Persona 3 and 4, the dungeons have you do little more than run around, open chests, and fight enemies in procedurally generated dungeon floors. Persona 5, on the other hand, has hand-crafted dungeons, and you even do some light puzzle solving. However, if you actually liked the idea of gradually working your way through a single large dungeon with procedurally generated floors, like the one from Persona 3, Persona 5 has one of those too. It's the best of both worlds!

In Persona 3 and 4, strengthening your relationships with characters was just a means to boost exp for personas so you could get stronger personas faster. The one exception is, in Persona 4, teammates will gain some extra auxiliary abilities in battle. In Persona 5, every relationship provides extra perks and that makes it more worthwhile to get buddy-buddy with everyone.

Persona 5 introduces guns to the battle system, which are discrete from your regular melee attacks or the skills performed by your personas. I understand that guns were in one of the older Persona games, so this is actually a throwback which is pretty neat. Guns deal more damage than regular melee attacks but they have limited ammo, so that adds a fun dynamic to battles.

From a gameplay perspective, there isn't too much else to say. Most of it is what we've come to expect after 3 and 4, and that's perfectly fine with me.

Is Persona 5 better than its predecessors in every way? I wouldn't say so. I can name a few things that I felt were done better in Persona 3 and 4. I could also name a few parts of 5 that I felt were kind of weak in general. Nevertheless, the game is a sum of its parts, and the sum is greater than anything else I've experienced in a video game. I've played a few games that took me over 100 hours to complete - I didn't feel like they dragged, but I was definitely done with them and ready to move onto something else. After taking 108 hours to finish Persona 5, I just don't feel ready to move onto something else. I jumped right into NG+ so I can laugh and cry and cheer and gasp my way through the story just one more time before I fire up Uncharted 4.

Also my level 88 Odin with vorpal blade and repel physical is fucking murdering everything LOL

Posted May 3rd, 2017 by Jo Nathan

So, my best friend and I are about 100 hours (getting close, at least) into it and we're just now about to see Futaba awaken from her deep sleep.

Haven't beat the game, obviously.

My thoughts are that it is the most polished Persona game in the series, the music is solid but still not as strong as P3 or P4 (like...the music doesn't really change with the changing seasons....hrgnnnn....), and the story is still up in the air. It's all going to come down to story in the end.

I will report back promptly!

Also, Breath of the Wild is taking my time, too.

Posted May 12th, 2017 by Laxan

Fuck. I'm approaching the end of new game +. You're making me feel like I've got no life. (cool)

Posted May 12th, 2017 by Jo Nathan

Sorry. Um, been playing back and forth between Zelda and Persona. Also, my partner is moving in. So, there's that. I will probably be doing a New Game+ shortly after beating P5.

Posted May 16th, 2017 by Laxan

Posted May 16th, 2017 by Laxan

I beat the game recently! You won't read this, but I'll make a post soon.

Posted July 9th, 2017 by Laxan


Posted July 9th, 2017 by Jo Nathan

Just gonna leave this here

Posted July 13th, 2017 by Jo Nathan
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