The in medias res opening is very effective in establishing the mood of the game.

Persona 5: First Impressions – Apr 3, 2017

First impressions of Persona 5, the Atlus title I’ve waited so long for! The game I specifically bought my PS4 to play.


All screengrabs copyright property of Atlus, naturally.


Graphics

Bold lines and angled elements establishes a strong graphic novel feel.
Bold lines and angled elements establish a strong graphic novel feel.
I love these Anime cutscenes. They provide for refreshing contrast with the usual gameplay scenes.
I love these Anime cutscenes. They provide for refreshing contrast with the usual gameplay scenes.
Persona 5 Screenshot
Funky and cool is the overall feel.

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

After 30 minutes or so, I realised this art style is part of the overall cartoon / manga-ish direction. Together with bold zigzag lines in various interfaces, strong sensations of motion and mischievous heroism are consistently maintained. This really got me high after a while, and I particularly loved the post-combat summaries. Not only were these summaries very o-sha-reh, there was that pronounced feeling of liberation. I felt both free and triumphant after every combat.

The “Real” World

A juice booth in the middle of a busy interchange station. Just like in Tokyo.
A juice booth in the middle of a busy interchange station. Just like in Tokyo.
These subway scenes really remind me of public transportation in Tokyo.
These subway scenes really remind me of public transportation in Tokyo.
Persona 5: Hachiko Statue at Shibuya Station
Hachiko! The symbol of Shibuya Station. Incidentally, you walk right through crowds in this game. I.E., the pedestrians exert no physics. While this felt odd initially, I concluded it’s superior to how you can’t move a toe without bumping into something in some games. For example, the Yakuza series.

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 highly excited. 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 stalls, visiting the local sento, investigating secret locations in the school, etc. I also can’t wait to see how the obligatory school excursion scenes would play out.

Click here for more screenshots of P5′ locations.

Dungeons (Or Palaces as they are called in Persona 5)

Persona 5 Dungeon Screenshot
As expected of a PS4 title, dungeons are no longer just repetitive looking tunnels.

As mentioned, I’ve only played Persona 5 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 scenery to remove the tedium of dungeon crawling. (Actually, it doesn’t feel like d-crawling in many ways) There’s also lots of possible interactions with items or companions during exploration.

It might be different with larger dungeons, but this is not an issue for me since I don’t mind d-crawling. (And Atlus did handle dungeons very well with the two SMT IV games) One aspect that’s somewhat unpleasant, though, is the inability to save as and when you wish while in the dungeons. For whatever reason, Atlus chose to retain that annoying feature from previous Persona games; you can only save in special rooms. I foresee this being a nuisance with bigger dungeons.

Combat

Combat is intense and quick. With plenty of voiceovers too.
Combat is intense and quick. With plenty of voiceovers too.
Persona 5 Victory Summary Screen.
Victory summary screen.

Combat’s where I think Persona 5 really shines. It’s fluid and quick, to put it simply. Smooth, delicious latte that’s usually over within a minute, if you play your strategy correctly. There’s also plenty of stylish maneuvers and flourishes to sustain that overall graphic novel feel. Of course, combat might still eventually get repetitive towards the end of the game, as is the case with all RPGs. But hey, there’s always the auto function. As with other Persona/SMT games, I just have 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 expect a lot more character development and comparison down the road.

Voice-over 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 might be nit-picking, 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?

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

Story

Persona 5 screenshot.
Gorgeous colours and a dynamic feel.
How earlier chapters are told as flashbacks is interesting. But the story flow remains similar to Persona 4.
How earlier chapters are told as flashbacks is interesting. But the story flow remains similar to Persona 4.

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 while before it ends.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not 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’s been 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.

Oh, I appreciate the nods to earlier Persona titles. For example, the truth-rendering power of uwasa (rumours).

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.

What I saw in the first palace really made me sit up. And go, wow.

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

I leave it to you to discover those nasty bits yourself by 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 new tune from an original one summarises the whole concept of empowered personae within the game heroes?

On top of which, the Persona 5 soundtrack uses a lot of warm jazz organ sounds. This immediately appeals to the organ player in me. What better way is there to spend nights and weekends than by 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.

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!

Are You On Amazon Prime?

About Scribbling 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.

Thank you for your comment.