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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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).
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 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!