Game: Persona 5
Platform: PlayStation 4
Rated: M for Mature
School, part-time jobs, and taking the crowded subway each morning—This is the monotony of life, and often the reason we escape to media like video games. So, who would have thought this average material—life—could be the basis of a fantastic video game? Developer Altus, that’s who—and they were correct.
We follow the tale of a high school student recently transferred to Tokyo after succumbing to legal issues through no real fault of his own. This new home seems harsh and uncaring, for his foster father, teachers, and fellow students treat him as if he is a dangerous criminal who could re-offend at any time. As if things could not get any worse, his first day at school turns into a literal nightmare. Running late and unable to locate the school, our hero and an acquaintance get transported into an alternative reality—a dark and twisted castle. Soon the pair discover that this strange distortion is a version of the school manifested from their PE Teacher’s evil heart, a place in which he perceives his students as slaves. This grim frame of mind is an imprint from the man’s real world views, and a clue to crimes he may have committed, namely physical abuse. However, all is not lost. Within this bizarre realm, the two students discover that they can unleash hidden powers and battle the monsters found inside the castle. From there on out, the students take it upon themselves to defeat wicked people via entering this distortion and removing the evil portion of their heart.
Living the Good Life
Battling enemies in this alternative reality will be instantly familiar to fans of classic titles such as Final Fantasy and Pokémon. You explore your surroundings and attempt to ambush adversaries to gain a preliminary advantage in battle. Once engaged, the action transforms into a turn-based mode in which the player can direct attacks. The game mechanics feel fluid and pleasing to execute, also defeated monsters can be caught and used in later battles, à la Pokémon. Despite the immensely satisfying fighting system, I had the most fun outside of it, in the game’s version of Tokyo. Persona 5 has two divided and lovingly crafted worlds: the distortions and Tokyo. The latter holds many enjoyable ways to prepare for the foes in the former. Nearly everything you do in the city can help you gain an upper hand in the other world. For instance, by answering questions correctly in class or studying in the library or in a café will increase your character’s knowledge, and, in doing so, will grant you more abilities. Improving your charm will aid you in relationships, while proficiency expands effectiveness in combat— or you could take a break from improving your stats by applying for a part-time job and earning some extra income to buy supplies for use in those unforgiving fights. But be warned, choosing to perform one of the aforementioned activities will cause time to pass, meaning you won’t be able to do it all. Getting a job could go a long way in providing your team with items, yet be detrimental by causing you to bypass social interactions that could lead to fascinating side quests. Persona 5, like life, is full of choices that only you can make. The game’s people and places look as if they have leapt right out of an anime. The character models exhibit all the classic Japanese cartoon tropes, like exaggerated expressions and large, communicative eyes. These colorful folks inhabit an equally vibrant Tokyo. The subway system and school hallways are alive with chatter, often speculating about our protagonist’s shady past. Clothing changes depending on if it’s a school day and the weather switches dynamically. This cartoonish style is bound together with affectionately drawn and animated cinematic scenes.
Persona 5 is the perfect blend of Role Playing Action, initiative exploration, vital time management, and beautiful anime visuals. This is the closest you will come to the perfect RPG.