Of all the games to receive the Musou treatment, I can safely say that the Persona series was possibly the last one that I would’ve thought of. Thankfully, both Omega Force and P-Studio have come together to implement the gameplay style in a meaningful Persona 5 sequel that features new characters while also expanding on the universe.
The game starts off with a quick introduction to the gameplay before diving into the story. You take on the role of Joker, who returns to Shibuya to meet up with all his friends from the Phantom Thieves. The group decides to spend their Summer vacation together and plan to kick it off by going on a camping trip. However, while getting supplies for the trip, Joker, Morgana and Ryuji encounter a local celebrity by the name of Alice Hiiragi. Her appearance at a nearby store causes quite a commotion and results in the trio going to check it out. Alice then heads into the crowd to give away private access codes to some lucky attendees, Joker included. This is when things become quite interesting. Joker inputs the code into an AI phone app called EMMA and suddenly they’re transported to an alternate version of Tokyo called a “Jail”. While there, the trio runs into Alice’s shadow and it’s made quite clear that she is evil and has nefarious intentions. Shortly after surviving an encounter with Alice, they run into Sophia, who helps them escape the Jail and regroup with the rest of the Phantom Thieves. They all decide that they will need to venture back into the Jail in order to deal with the danger threatening the citizens of Tokyo, and any other dangers that may follow.
The story is quite an entertaining affair and is told rather well thanks to the great voice acting present throughout. Sophia is a great new character and her curious nature is actually quite funny at times. The conversations that take place during the game are incredibly well-written and honestly, there’s a fair amount of character development, with each one having some time to shine. It should delight fans of the original game and newcomers too since the gang makes an effort to touch on past events. This should be enough to catch newcomers up to speed and also pique their interest enough to play the original.
As mentioned before, the gameplay in Persona 5 Strikers is that of the Musou genre. In other words, it plays like a hack ‘n’ slash game in a large area versus a large group of enemies. Most of it involves executing combos and following them up with devastating blows. Damage an enemy enough or hitting them with their weakness can make way for an All-Out attack, which summons each team member to your location to deliver a massive attack that damages each enemy in the immediate vicinity.
It plays rather well and it’s incredibly easy to get sucked into the action because of how flashy it is and frankly, how easy it is to pick up and play. It’s not just a button bashing affair though, and can provide quite a challenge when you least expect it. It’s also helpful to switch out your party members regularly since they all play differently and have advantages in certain situations, not to mention that you open up some decent moves when tagging them as the active character.
This is also linked to the way you navigate the various Jails, since stealth plays a sizeable part in the challenge you can expect. Moving around out of sight above or behind your enemies can open them up to an Ambush, giving you the upper hand from the start of the battle. Being spotted also fills a meter, which has various effects for the Jail that you’re in. Firstly, if the meter completely fills, you’ll need to leave the Jail and return later to re-attempt the mission. Additionally, as it fills, it locks chests located around the Jail; meaning you won’t be able to open them and grab their contents. It’s actually quite beneficial to maintain stealth in the early game since these chests contain useful items such as healing items or equipment that you would have to otherwise pay for.
Personas still play a big part in the game and making use of them in combat can slow down the action so that you can take your time planning where to deliver your attack. Just like the characters, the Personas also increase in level, ultimately getting stronger. Joker is the only one who can make use of multiple Personas though and just like the original game, they can be combined to create even stronger ones.
Visually, Persona 5 Strikers maintains the stylish presentation from the original game. Not only that, but the story is conveyed in excellent anime cutscenes and conversations in visual novel style. The one downside is that the camera can get a little iffy during combat. You can lock onto a bigger enemy in order to focus things, but it can still get a little messy when more enemies join the fray. The extremely catchy Acid Jazz-esque soundtrack also makes a return with the main battle theme from Persona 5 being remixed for Strikers.
A review code for Persona 5 Strikers was provided to Gameblur by the Publisher
Gameplay8/10 Very Good
- Entertaining Persona story and great character development
- Flashy gameplay
- Great visuals and soundtrack
- Sometimes iffy camera