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Persona 5: First Impressions | Apr 3, 2017

Persona 5 First Impressions.The in medias res opening is very effective in establishing the mood of the game.

First impressions of Persona 5, the Atlus title I’ve waited so long for. And the very game I bought a PlayStation 4 for.


All screenshots copyright property of Atlus, naturally.


Persona 5 Graphics and Art Style

To be honest, I didn’t like Shigenori Soejima’s art style at first glance. It feels blocky, with excessive inking and over-simplified shading. For a PS4 title, I expected more realistic renditions. Such as those in Ryu ga Gotoku 0 and 6, or Uncharted 4.

But after half an hour, I realised this art style is part of the overall cartoon / manga-ish feel. Together with bold zigzag lines in various interfaces, a strong sensation of motion and mischievous heroism is maintained, one that really gets you high after a while.

I particularly love the snazzy post-combat summaries. Not only are they extreme oshareh, there is a pronounced feeling of liberation. I feel both free and triumphant after every combat.

Grumpy Ryuji.
Bold lines and angled elements establish a strong graphic novel feel.
Ren Amamiya Meets Ryuji Sakamoto.
I love these Anime cutscenes. They provide for refreshing contrast with the usual gameplay scenes.
Persona Awakening.
Funky and cool is the overall word.

The “Real” World

I’m not too deep into the game yet, so I’ve only seen Shujin Academy, some train stations, a back street, and one “palace.”

So far, everything lives up to expectations for a PS4 title with open-world capabilities. Actually, I should say I’m thrilled. Cartoonish as the art-style might be, every scene comes with incredible details to deliver that real-world feel. I look forward to buying food from every stall, visiting the local sento, investigating secret locations in the school!. I also can’t wait to see how the obligatory school excursion scenes would play out.

Persona 5 Juice Store
A juice booth in the middle of a busy interchange station. Just like in Tokyo.
Persona 5 Subway Ride.
These subway scenes really remind me of public transportation in Tokyo.
Persona 5 Hachiko Statue.
Hachiko! The symbol of Shibuya Station. Incidentally, you walk right through crowds in this game. IWhile this felt odd initially, it’s superior to how you can’t move a toe without bumping into something in some games. For example, the Yakuza series.

Click here for more screenshots of P5’s open world locations.

Dungeons i.e. Palaces

As mentioned, I’ve only played for a few hours, so I’ve not entered any major dungeons yet. So far, the only one I’ve been in is compact, with enough unique sceneries to remove the tedium of dungeon crawling. (Actually, it doesn’t feel like d-crawling in many ways) In addition, there’s lots of possible interactions with items or companions during exploration too.

It might be different with larger dungeons, though this is not an issue for me since I don’t mind d-crawling. (And Atlus did handle dungeons very well with the preceding two SMT IV games)

One aspect that’s somewhat unpleasant, on the other hand, is the inability to save as and when you wish while in the dungeons. For whatever reason, Atlus retained this annoying feature from previous Persona games; you can only save in special rooms. I can foresee this being a nuisance with larger palaces.

Persona 5 Kamoshida's Castle Jail.
As expected of a PS4 title, dungeons are no longer just repetitive looking tunnels.

Persona 5 Combat

Here’s where the game truly, truly shines!

The combat is smooth like milk chocolate, to put it simply. Smooth, delicious yumminess that’s usually over within a minute, provided you played your strategy correctly.

There’s plenty of stylish maneuvers and fanciful flourishes to sustain that graphic novel feel too. Of course, combat might still get repetitive towards the end of the game, as is the case with all RPGs. But hey, there’s always the auto function. Like with other Persona/SMT games, I only need to be careful not to go auto when up against physics-repel enemies.

Persona 5 Eiha Spell.
Combat is intense and quick. With plenty of voiceovers too. (Morgana can get annoying after a while, though)
Persona 5 Combat Summary Screen.
Victory summary screen.

Characters / Dialogue / Voice-overs

So far, the only companion I’ve interacted at lengths with is Ryuji, who feels somewhat stereotypical. Given he’s one of the confidants, I expected a lot more character depth from him.

Voice-over itself is decent. I say decent, not superb, for I’m bugged by how Japanese family names are given American pronunciations. SaKAmoto. TaKAmaki … With the second syllabus always on a rise. I know I’m nit-picking here, but come on. There’s an Anime with Sakamoto in the title. Couldn’t the pronunciations be more “Japanese?” Just so to preserve the overall ambience of the game?

As for humour, P5 is on par with earlier Persona titles. Where I am now, things are just getting interesting. Morgana’s many comments and insults are also things to look forward to.

Story

I’m undecided about the story at the moment. I do like the in medias res style of the prologue, which is starkly different from earlier Persona titles. However, this quickly reverted to the usual formula of individual persona awakenings. With there being quite a few main characters, this is going to take a long while before it ends.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it feels tedious to play. There are enough twists and turns to keep things interesting.

Just that, I was expecting a different story format this round. Then again, it IS nine years since Persona 4. Some of today’s players might not even have touched a PS2 before. The whole experience could still be quite riveting for many players.

BTW, I appreciate the nods to earlier Persona titles. Such as the truth-rendering power of uwasa (rumours).

Nijima's Casino.
Gorgeous colours and a dynamic feel.
Ren Amamiya Flashback.
How earlier chapters are told as flashbacks is interesting. But the story flow remains similar to Persona 4.

Naughtiness

I want to comment on this, but I’m not providing any screenshots, so as not to spoil the fun!

There are many write-ups on how the Persona Franchise targets younger players i.e. it’s more young people-friendly. But to Atlus, being young-friendly apparently just means not discussing religion.

As for other areas, oooohhhh

What’s in the first dungeon really made me sit up. And go, wow!

And the whole situation with the evil teacher behind the first dungeon.

I leave it to you to discover these naughty bits yourself when playing the game.

Music

Music has always been a big part of the Persona franchise for me. I’ve been a fan of Shoji Meguro since Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. One of the reasons I looked forward to Persona 5 so much was because Meguro was returning as composer.

And he doesn’t disappoint! For this round, Meguro-San included jazz elements into the soundtrack, which feel so appropriate for the story. It’s like, other than inherent coolness, doesn’t the jazz technique of birthing a sophisticated tune from an original one summarises the whole concept of empowered personae within the game heroes?

On top of which, the soundtrack uses a lot of warm jazz organ sounds, a selection that immediately appeals to the organ player in me. It’s like, what better way is there to spend nights and weekends? As in enjoying two of the things I love most at the same time, i.e. jazz organ music and video gaming?

I would say the soundtrack is what I’m most satisfied with during my first play of Persona 5.

PS: And it seems like, California Potato Power music would make an appearance in the DLCs!


Like what you see?
Consider getting a copy of Persona 5 today!

Check out my other Persona 5 posts!

Take Your Heart Premium Edition Unboxing

Open-World Roaming

Dungeons

Persona 5 Tips: 15 Things I Could Have Done Better in the Game

Persona Official Magazine Persona 20th!

Summary
Persona 5: First Impressions
Article Name
Persona 5: First Impressions
Description
My first impression of Persona 5, the Atlus masterpiece I’ve waited years for. The word to summarise my opinions, stylish!
Author
Scribbling Geek
the authorScribbling Geek
The geek divides his free time between video games, movies, anime, and attempting to write decent short stories. Oh, and trying not to sprain his fingers from playing demisemiquavers on his Electone.

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