The Persona series gained a ton of success since the release of Persona 5 a few years ago. Players have danced it out, got them in gacha and fought it out as the Phantom Thieves. With the release of Persona 5 Strikers, the beloved characters take on a whole new journey with a new take, an action RPG. With Koei Tecmo and Omega Force’s resources, they’ve put together a game that surpasses expectations for what’s possible with Persona. From the surface, Persona 5 Strikers seems like another Warriors game from the same old Omega Force team. Persona 5 Strikers flips that notion on it’s head as a new action RPG while implementing features fans know and love. Omega Force crafted one of their most impactful games by branching out of the Musou genre and making a game that respects its influences.
The Return to Shibuya
Nearly 5 months since the end of Persona 5/Royal and our protagonist, Ren Amamiya (Joker), is finally back in Shibuya. Summer, coffee and curry are in the air as Joker heads back to Leblanc with Morgana. He’s greeted by his friends and fellow Phantom Thieves as they plan out their summer festivities. Joker is back in town and decides to crash in the attic once again as his vacation is underway. However, the Phantom Thieves’ summer is going to take an unpredictable turn. Joker is greeted once more by Lavenza, the Velvet Room attendant. With a worried look and smile, Lavenza sums up the situation as a new ruin is being put into motion. Joker is confused but knows he must serve as the Trickster once more.
The next day, Joker and Ryuji decide to spend time in Shibuya Crossing and hear local chatter of Alice Hiiragi. Alice is a popular idol and stole the hearts of many fans with her cute looks. Upon meeting her for the first time at a local event, she gives Joker an “EMMA keyword”. EMMA is a popular app akin to Apple’s Siri but with friend/messaging functionality. After using Alice’s keyword, the world starts to shift and the Phantom Thieves enter the Shibuya “Jail” in the Metaverse. Joker realizes that his work as the Trickster is starting in the middle of his summer vacation. Changes of heart are happening across Japan so he’s going to need his Phantom Thieves and new companions along the way. One such companion is Sophia, humanity’s companion, and may lead to some answers for what’s going on.
Phantom Thieves In Action
As previously mentioned, this is not a traditional Musou game. Persona 5 Strikers is an action RPG with Musou elements such as waves of enemies and attack combos. As an action RPG, it takes into account all the things that make the Persona series what it is. This means that weakness and strengths matter, Personas may be acquired/fused and much more. In fact, using a Persona stops time so players can choose what attack they want to use similar to using a turn in Persona 5. This makes for a refreshing game from Omega Force that isn’t just a Musou style game first and foremost like Hyrule Warriors or Dynasty Warriors. Elements from Persona are intertwined with the fast and methodical character driven action.
The Phantom Thieves wield their signature weapons, Personas and abilities in battle. Additionally, players use a baton pass to switch characters on the fly or when party members find an opening against an enemy. Status effects, debuffs and openings for technical attacks also play a role here too! This goes for both the party members and enemies so may sure you’re not found on the receiving end of a stunning attack. This leads to some really satisfying engagements and some challenging ones if the party is not fully equip. Joker’s inventory comes into play as the Wildcard though as he can switch between acquired Personas to strike weaknesses where his party members can’t. All of the combat builds meter for each character’s Showtime attack, a devastating wide area attack similar to those found in P5R.
A Familiar Set of Features
Persona 5 Strikers incorporates a lot of features from Persona 5/Royal like social events, Persona fusing, cooking and requests. Personas and characters level up the exact same way too! Very little is missing from the core Persona experience in P5S except for confidants, some fusion functionality and school semesters. Confidants are not present since the characters have known each other for over a year so it makes sense. In place of the confidant system is the “BOND” system which rewards players for doing requests, social events and more. The BOND system levels up and rewards BOND points used for upgrades. These upgrades include higher level lockpicking, boosts to overall stats and extra bonuses to features. Although the confidant system is not in place, character interactions are deep and rewarding all the same.
One of Persona 5 Strikers’ strongest aspects is familiarity of features. Persona players gain access to a lot of the features that are staples of the series. This includes the same party management system, auto-recover in the Jails and Persona fusion. Fans coming from previous Persona games, especially Persona 5/Royal, feel right at home while engaging in all new content. Returning features are also tweaked to fit an action RPG like changing party members from the menu or adjusted skills for wide area attacks since Jails are relatively bigger than Palaces. This makes for a satisfying transition from traditional turn-based combat in P5R to character driven action with RPG elements in P5S.
Changing the Pace with a Refreshing Sequel
Players who spent hundreds of hours in Persona 5/Royal might be fatigued by all those hours in turn based combat. It’s a really fun experience but sometimes, it’s good to change things up before the experience becomes tedious. That’s where Persona 5 Strikers comes in as having played this directly after Persona 5 Royal enhances the experience. P5S introduces a lot of meaningful and different content with the Phantom Thieves while being a worthy follow-up to the original JRPG. Players can dive right in with a new action RPG take on the series while exploring new areas and obtaining all those Personas again. On top of this, players get to know the Phantom Thieves even more with new social events and story segments.
Koei Tecmo and Omega Force refined their combat system with P5S for a very satisfying action game. Performance of P5S across Switch, PS4 and Steam is great with each version being a great one to pick up and play too. For those who love Persona and the recent games, Persona 5 Strikers is a must buy. For myself, it gave me reasons to love the characters Atlus created even more from the original Persona 5 to now. We definitely recommend it as one of Atlus and Koei Tecmo’s best collaboration games to date, if not the best. That being said, these companies might have made a solid foundation for some future Raidou Kuzunoha games so please Atlus?
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Disclaimer: this game was not provided to us by ATLUS or Koei Tecmo. It was purchased by the reviewer.