High school was an interesting time to say the least. While many friends of mine don't seem to particularly care for it, I have rather fond memories of my high school days. From all the trouble I would get into, to the many friendships I had in high school with both my peers and several of my teachers, I would say it was an overall great time for me. What seems to be missing from my high school life was the ability to enter different realities and fight demons. That would've definitely made it better, oh and it's the premise for this lovely game. As always, these are just my opinions and I do not wish to offend anyone with my thoughts.
In Persona 5 you play as self-insert character who had to move to a different town because he's currently on probation for a crime he didn't commit. You quickly discover the "Metaverse" or an alternate dimension that not only mirrors the real world but in it exists the darkest and most twisted thoughts of a human as a "Shadow." To be specific, your darkest and most twisted desires are manifested into a being known as a "Shadow." While duel world gameplay is nothing new at this point, Persona 5 has a lot of fun with the idea delivering mostly unique dungeons and a plethora of monsters to fight. While some might find it generic, it is certainly entertaining.
Writing and the Characters
To me, this is Persona 5's best and most unique quality. There are a near infinite amount of games where you play as a character you don't care about. As a result of not giving a rip about said character or characters, your investment in the game is limited. Here, Persona 5 has a plethora of richly developed characters with some of the best character-arks I've seen in some time. In a move shocking me, I actually liked the entire roster of main characters and side characters, as well as even being invested in their personal lives.When my boy Ryuji was pissed, I was pissed. When the cinnamon roll Makoto was sad, I was sad. When the gang was laughing, I too was laughing along side them. The writing in this game also deserves several shout outs for being both genuinely hilarious as well as equally witty. It's been years since I've been this invested in character's lives that after completing the game, I truly felt a Persona shaped hole in my Persona shaped heart.
The gameplay is turn based combat, or when you have all of your units make an action and then the enemy does the same and so on. Persona 5 spices this up by adding in the "weakness mechanic" For example, if you hit a fire monster with an ice attack, you deal extra damage because that monster is weak to ice. If you successfully do the above mentioned formula, you get an extra turn and can string together some excellent combos. Needless to say, the gameplay never really gets dull with all these different variables in play. The most unique thing about this game is that being a high school student isn't just background noise for the game. You actually spend time in class, then choose how to plan out your day. So after class you choose between fighting monsters, hanging out with friends, studying, etc. You have a variety of social stats that keep track of how good you are in certain situations with your friends and so on. Rather than just making this a cool little side project for people who enjoy characters and clever writing, you're heavily rewarded for spending time with friends, studying and so on. The reason being that you have a relationship/friendship rank with each member in your party. The higher the rank goes up, the more stats and abilities that person gets. To fully max out these relationships, you need higher social stats so it then turns into a game of cleverly planning out how you're going to spend your day while also making sure to get the bad guys. It may sound farfetched, but it is an absolutely absorbing experience.
Unfortunately, one of its biggest issues is that there are several different variables to keep track of. Outside your classic weapons, armor and magic types, status conditions plague the game with an overabundance of different ailments that can hinder your character. Hunger, fear, despair, dizzy, burn, shock, freeze, brainwashed, to name only a few. I find that it becomes vexing to remember which ailment does what exactly and since its based on RNG (random number generator) it can feel like "bullshit" when you get afflicted so many times. While we're on the topic of RNG, the overabundance of "insta-kill" spells really drove me up the wall. Once again, because it's based on a dice roll more or less, it can feel daunting with how many times you might die. I'm not suggesting to give it an actual percentage of frequency (Lord only knows that would make it even worse), but rather to purge Persona 5 of instant-kills spells entirely. If there was one dungeon specifically that exemplified all of the worst gameplay features that I've described, it would be without a doubt the fourth dungeon. Seriously, that boss fight as well as it's multitude of status condition abilities can go send itself to the deepest layer of hell.
While I had quite a few things to complain about with the gameplay, this is still one of the best games I've ever played. I cannot overstate how much I cared about these characters and how much anyone would care should they find the time to play this game. The whole social stats system is absolutely brilliant and sucks you right into the world. Overall, I give Persona 5 a 4/4 and I highly recommend this to gamers of all variety to give it a shot.