Person 5 - Critique
Unlike the long epic cutscenes offered as an introduction to the previous parts of the series, Persona 5 begins its long journey with beating speed, offering you a memorable chase through a lively and particularly stylish Tokyo casino. This is a bold choice, like the game experience offered. By discovering the turn-based combat system (complex but accessible) during this introduction, fans of the series will not only see the return of game mechanics inherited from Persona 3 and 4, but will also witness the arrival of fights from a distance and from negotiation phases, features absent from the opuses released over the past ten years which have increased the depth and variety of the fighting. Persona 5 represents the culmination of everything that this saga of the J-RPG genre has striven to build, taking up the emblematic elements of the series and adding to them a good dozen of surprising new features.
Without a doubt, this is the most powerful plot ever offered in the history of the saga, and Persona 5 puts you in the shoes of a student who spends his nights saving the world. During the day, you take your lessons, take quizzes and live the life of a typical teenager, but when the bell rings, you take over the minds of corrupt adults and fight their inner demons to make them better.
The scale adopted by Persona 5 is astounding when compared to that proposed by the dungeons of its two closest predecessors, with palaces two to three times larger. While Persona 4 required you to travel extremely linear corridors before reaching the top floor of a dungeon, Persona 5 offers interconnected passages, tons of hidden rooms, doors that open while solving puzzles, and even excursions outside the dungeons that allow you to explore the hidden corners of your target's mind. Going into the assault on a new dungeon can sometimes be intimidating, but solving its different puzzles and progressing through each of the new areas offered gives you a deep sense of accomplishment.
If the alchemy between the characters never reaches the standards set by Persona 4 and its team seemingly straight out of an episode of Scooby-Doo, the much more coherent main plot of Persona 5 offers each of the characters the opportunity to shine individually, exploring their troubled past (such as the loss of a parent) to give more depth to the events you are experiencing. This saga has never hesitated to explore serious subjects, and this time it emphasizes school harassment, the sale of drugs, suicide, and a whole bunch of other questions always treated with justness which prove sometimes incredibly moving. The motivations pushing each character to join you are as understandable as they are singular, and each target has completely credible convictions. Thus, the past of an unrepentant dealer will not necessarily justify his crimes, but will make him much more than a vulgar caricature of villain.
The Persona 5 combat system is based on the familiar turn-based formula, with melee attacks, magic attacks based on one of the eight elements and the use of ranged weapons. In a similar way to capturing a Pokémon, you collect Persona that you will use during combat, and each one of them has its own set of skills and its own strengths and weaknesses. If each of your partners has a permanent Persona, you have as main protagonist the capacity to use several at the same time. This means that you can get additional Persona to use as you progress, and collecting many Persona with unique abilities is a great way to tailor your playing style to the type of combat you prefer. You can also merge different Personas to create new ones, allowing you by extension to inherit certain abilities until you find the one that works best for you.
The design of the different enemies turns out to be varied and colorful, from humanoids who could just as well be part of your team to extravagant and complex monsters, and seeing HD versions of enemies similar to Jack Frost remains a real treat for players following the franchise for more than 20 years. The Persona are even entitled to voice dubbing which strengthens the scope of negotiations during the fighting.
Exploiting the elementary weaknesses of enemies turns out to be fairly standard (the ice weak against fire etc.), and the possibility of alternating between different Persona to adapt to your opponents prevents the clashes from becoming too repetitive. This option also allows you to choose the right element whatever the situation, which will prove extremely important when you are opposed to enemies vulnerable to a single type of attack. When the going gets tough, exploiting the enemy's weaknesses becomes imperative, and the clever use of the new Baton Pass ability lets you create combos causing exponential damage that can completely change the outcome of the battle. The Baton Pass ability allows you to pass your turn to another member of your team after you have unlocked the use of these bonus actions by hitting the enemy's weak point. This gives you the opportunity to link several assaults and at the same time makes the confrontations even more strategic. This is a game-changer, since you must not only make sure you have a Persona to which the enemy is vulnerable, but also select partners with the right skills to continue your combos.
Obviously, like any good self-respecting J-RPG, Persona 5 must offer you an area in which to grind while fighting waves of enemies in order to reach a high level. And if it is impossible for you to return to the different palaces that you have completed, you can visit at leisure an area called Mementos . Mementos is a vast separate dungeon whose corridors are procedurally generated (as was the case in the previous part of the Persona saga), and it offers you new levels that are always more complex when you finish palates. This is a welcome change of pace, since offering simple battles not interspersed with puzzles gives you some respite after crossing a particularly demanding dungeon. As you cannot go back to the previously completed palaces, this dungeon also represents an excellent opportunity to recover the Persona that you may have missed (the Persona specific to each palace will be added to the new Souvenir areas when you complete them. ). Add to that the possibility of merging different Persona to obtain new combinations, and it becomes almost impossible to miss them.
The Mementos dungeon also houses the secondary missions of Persona 5, which invite you to change the intentions of your targets on a smaller scale (among which we find exs a little too invasive and small guys) in order to obtain money and bonus items. These missions are like little pellets and their respective plots lack scriptwriting substance, which prevented me from being interested in these secondary characters in most cases. That said, some of them have proven to be quite effective, such as that of this animal lover fighting against the ill-treatment inflicted on them, or that of these employees annoyed by the abuses of their boss. Missions of this type have proven surprisingly moving in some cases, or ended on a rather unexpected humorous note. The most elaborate ones are the ones you get through your Confidents, who can be members of your team or other characters with whom you develop affinities over the adventure. These confidants will sometimes introduce you to additional characters whose intentions will have to be changed in the Souvenirs dungeon so that you can continue to develop your relationship. These missions are generally interesting and allow you to better understand the ins and outs of their respective stories, such as this sympathetic person who has become mysteriously Machiavellian or these unexpected links between characters.
Persona 5 is above all a modern and particularly solid turn-based J-RPG, but it quickly turns into a life simulator. When you are not saving the world, you are free to move after the day is over. So you can visit the main districts of Tokyo and take part in different activities: training, fishing, taking a student job, testing your drumming skills, watching a movie or more simply going home to study, play a game retro, or read dozens of books. These different activities are a good step forward, compared to the rather limited number of things to do in Persona 4, and also a good way to develop your personal stats like Charm, Courage or Kindness.
In addition to these many activities, you also have 20 Confidents to spend time with, in order to forge strong ties with your comrades or other residents of Tokyo. By advancing this type of relationship, you improve your stats and benefit from various advantages which prove to be extremely powerful. Spending time in the company of a well-spoken politician can, for example, help you improve your negotiation skills, train with an expert in arcade games wielding the light-gun like no one will improve your mastery of weapons. distance, and rubbing shoulders with the local board game champion will give you new strategies to use during fights. Finding the right balance between the many activities offered by Persona 5 and developing these relationships (which can only be on certain days) is a welcome challenge that will probably require players wishing to maximize their daily progress to establish a timetable specific.
The Confidants you meet are of all ages, genres and backgrounds, and benefit as a bonus from voice dubbing and remarkable personal intrigue. I often found their personal stories as interesting as the main story, which led me to devote more time to this type of activity. As was already the case in previous installments, many of these relationships can become intimate (I mean, "really" intimate), but it is disappointing to find that Persona 5 does not allow you to go out with a person of the same sex, despite a certain sexual tension that may arise between your character and some of his male confidants.
By offering you so many possibilities and limited free time, Persona 5 reinforces the impact of each of your decisions in a fantastic way. Choosing to take a part-time job may allow you to earn money to buy better weapons, but will prevent you from developing your relationship with a Confidants and improving your stats. In the same way, spending time with a certain Confidants may allow you to unlock a skill in line with your playing style, but it will prevent you from learning more about others, and by the same opportunity to discover their respective stories. Maximizing your grind skills, or finishing a secondary story after months (game-wide of course) spent watching it progress turns out to be extremely rewarding experiences, and even lamenting over the many occasions that you have missed ten times the replay potential of the title and makes the launch of a "New Game +" even more attractive.
The Tokyo Jungle
Not to mention the dozens of activities available, the simple fact of exploring the virtual Tokyo of Persona 5 remains a real delight. From the lights illuminating the Tokyo night to the crowded subway trains that you take to get to school, every corner of this world turns out to be extremely colorful, and every detail seems to have been meticulously thought out in order to honor the real megalopolis. Japanese. The animated graphic style adopted by the title is reinforced by the presence of fully animated cutscenes, which are absolutely magnificent and punctuate the events of the main plot.
Each area of Tokyo is absolutely unique. Thus, neighborhoods like Shibuya, Shinjuku and Akihabara, have major visual differences outside the emblematic places that remind us of their very real counterparts. There is a clandestine bar in the Shinjuku district while that of Shibuya shelters a rather family restaurant, and Akibahara accommodates an arcade and stalls selling high-tech products and video games. The more the map of the game is revealed (knowing that you move between the different districts using the metro), the more you become aware of the incalculable number of things to do in this virtual version of Tokyo, compared to the port of the island of Tatsumi of Persona 3 and the province of Inaba of Persona 4 of a relatively small size in comparison.
All this is sublimated by the extremely stylized rendering of Persona 5, and I happened to navigate the title menus just to appreciate their splendid transitions. These particularly sharp design choices even benefit other aspects of the game, such as these transition scenes that differ depending on the mode of transportation you use to leave an area, where these summary screens appear after you have won a battle. .
It may seem strange to put this incredible style forward as it is immediately recognizable from the first seconds of play, but I do not count the number of times I have been amazed by the magnificent effects on the screen when I ambushed an enemy and found myself right in the middle of the battle, off the beaten track to appreciate the weather effects accompanying a rainy day, or when my character took out his umbrella while he left a building. Finally, the acid jazz-inspired soundtrack of Persona 5 sublimates the whole adventure, from the calmest moments to the impressive boss fights, by offering a certain coherence to the different aspects of this extraordinary experience.
Translator's note: Persona 5 is only available in English in Europe, some terms of this test have not been translated (they are generally in italics).