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Persona 5 Review

03 May, 2022

I’d like to start this small review with this small fact: I have not “finished” the game yet. In fact, I’m still playing it… kinda. Let me explain.

Das Posetíve

I had heard of this game off and on throughout the years since it’s release, but it wasn’t until probably the beginning of this year that I was like “ya know? Maybe I should get it.” At that time I was looking for immersion games I could play for my Japanese learning, so I thought this game may be an interesting jump in (even though it may be difficult). Well, I got the game and found out that the English release is just that, only English. It wasn’t like Monster Hunter World or Rise where you can change it over to Japanese. Nope. I would’ve had to have bought the Japanese version in order to get that. JOKE’S ON ME I GUESS.

Despite that, I said “phooey, I’ll just play it anyway.” Boy am I glad I did.

I guess some of the highest praise I can give this game is that it seriously got me thinking about relationships and the connections I have with people in my real life. This game does such a good job of gamifying real life relationships that I’ve actually been able to use some of its concepts to level-up my own real-life confidants… I mean friends. That in itself was revolutionary.

The concept of the game was really cool to, going into people’s distorted dream worlds where their corrupt desires mirror how they see the world and stealing those desires away from them to bring about a change of heart. What a neat idea! It matches some things in real life too, but I won’t get into that (most likeley not suitable for the internet what with all the CORRECTNESS these days). So A+ on theme and matching it to rationales for having close relationships in your school life in the game.

The gameplay is nice too. This is certainly one of those games where I wouldn’t normally like turn-based RPG’s, but they managed to build a system that perfectly fits the mold of “tough at first” but then “gets easier once you know it”. They made it in such a way that it makes a first encounter with a new enemy a game of cat-and-mouse, both of you whacking each other until you manage to find the enemy’s weakness. But then from there comes all of the tools necessary to make subsequent encounters easier and also adds variety into them since once you’ve managed to weaken all of your opponents you get to do other, non-combat focused negotiations like parlaying for money, convincing them to join you (aka catching the pokemans) or even getting a spiffy item from them. This turns an otherwise boring combat encounter into something that allows you to get what YOU want out of the encounter, which is a huge bonus in a turn-based game. I also really like how much this game reminds me of Sly Cooper, what with all the sneaking around, and the fact that the “random encounters” aren’t really random as you can see the encounters before they happen. I really like that I don’t have to worry like you do in something like POKEMON where you end up going “AAAHHHH!!! LET ME GO TO THE POKECENTER AND HEAL!! AAAAAHHHH DARN YOU TALL GRASS I DON’T WANT TO BATTLE RIGHT NOW!!!!" because in Persona 5 you can simply avoid the battle because you can see it coming literally a mile away (or like, 30 feet away at least).

El Negativo

All that said, there is one thing that is glaringly obvious about this game that AT FIRST didn’t bother me at all: the encyclopedic amount of inane babble that the characters spew constantly.

Okay, I hear what you’re saying. Now hear me out okay. At first, this didn’t bother me at all. It was cool seeing all your different Confidant’s perspectives and seeing how all the characters in the world interacted with each other. But after about 50 hours I was hitting a point where I just had it up to my ears with constant blather everyone barfs at each other. Again, words are what drives this story and I really didn’t mind it. It wasn’t until the characters saying things like “DAMN! This SUCKS!!!!" when you were in the middle of experiencing a sucky situation. One character saying it is fine, but then every other character chimes in with “What a downer…”, “I can’t believe this is happening!”, “Wow! I think this is about the worst thing that could have happened!”, “Where could we have miscalculated?”, “I think we need to fall back and re-stratergize how much we suck”… and on and on. You probably got bored halfway through reading thsoe examples. SO DID I!

It’s this sort of reading fatigue that sets in towards the later half of the game where the developers thought it necessary FOR EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER IN A SCENE TO REACT TO WHAT’S HAPPENING OR SAY SOME QUIPPY JIB ABOUT SOMETHING. It just gets to you after a while.

Now to be fair, it was around the 65hr mark that I decided to take a little hiatus. I left and did some other things. It wasn’t until this past weekend that I saw somebody play the intro again that I figured I’d pick it back up again. And at first, I was cool with the dialogue again. I must have been grinding too much that it was just getting to me, or I was so close to the end I just wanted to hurry up and finish it. But NO. I got fatigued AGAIN. Although this time, I realized what it was. It was all the side-chatter of other, lesser, stupider characters that I felt I had to read that was cluttering up my mental RAM. So now I just click through and skim those parts, but I dutifully read the core character’s lines. This has helped me pretty well, but it still doesn’t circumvent the times when characters talk just to talk. That’s still the unfortunate truth of the matter.

Also, the game makes it seem like “Wow, you have so many things to do, and every day you have two things you can do.” THIS IS A LIE. They make you think you have enough time to maybe hang out with a friend then head to the Big Bang Burger to increase your Guts, but then all of a sudden the story decides to completely hijack your plans for 6 DAYS STRAIGHT and force you to do mid-terms or some crap that just so happen to line up with the time-frame of when you’ll get murdered if you didn’t steal someone’s heart in time (how convenient for the developers) but you did do it in time so instead you have to wait around for 3 MORE DAYS FOR NO REASON AT ALL, meanwhile you’re relationship is eroding beneath you because you couldn’t get your freaking Guts high enough in time because the game decided to screw you over and steal your agency as a player even though, according to the game, you had plenty of time to do so. Congratulations, you’ve unlocked the longest run-on sentence I’ve ever written. And now you’ll be upset at the game for about an hour and then cool off and continue playing anyway.

Aside from those things, the only other negative I could aim at the game is more of a general, broad-strokes criticism. And that is: this is a PS2 game wrapped in the skin of a PS3 game. It has all the hallmarks of an older-school PS2 RPG:

Those are some of the things indicative of an undercover PS2 game, of which this is one. Still, it’s a very good PS2 game. I just wish it took cues from games preceding it, using the now-common quality-of-life changes made to the gaming industry that makes playing a game that much more enjoyable to the end-user. LIKE BEING ABLE TO SAVE WHEN YOU NEED TO BECAUSE YOU HAVE REAL LIFE YOU NEED TO DO OUTSIDE OF THIS GAME.


All-in-all, this is a game I will remember for the better. Sweet concept, mature themes that deal with real-life issues, true-to-life relationship building and a fun combat system that isn’t overly cumbersome. I’d say I give this game a 4.5/5. All those silly PS2-isms are really holding it back from being a 5/5 game for me, as well as the falsehood of my perceived time I have to do things in the game. Seriously, don’t take so much agency from the player. IT’S A GAME, I’M SUPPOSED TO BE HAVING FUN NOT FIGHTING THE ARBITRARY RULES SYSTEM LAID OUT BY THE GAME DEVS.

Anyways, like I said: a good game if you can overlook it’s seeming age. Yay for good JRPG’s! Wahooooo!!!

kenizl86 out!