Persona 5 Strikers Review – A Powerful Different Self


At the end of Persona 5, we said goodbye to an amazing cast of characters that we came to love over the course of a 100-hour story. Last year’s Persona 5 Royal gave us an excuse to relive that same adventure with additional content, but fans were craving a whole new journey. Persona 5 Strikers reunites the cast from the original game six months later for an all-new journey across Japan. While it drastically changes a few key elements of the experience, it still feels like a true, immersive continuation of the game that stole the hearts of RPG fans nearly four years ago.

Many parts of the Persona 5 experience come in Strikers; after hearing rumors of humans abusing their power, take control of the Phantom Thieves as you investigate the allegations before jumping into the cognitive world of the Metaverse to infiltrate their dungeon (which are called “prisons” this time) and their hearts to change. Along the way, you’ll fight through tons of shadows as you progress to the dungeon leader for a climactic showdown. While knowing the story of the original game improves the experience, it’s not a requirement to enjoy Strikers. The fame of this formula is like a warm homecoming to those who have played Persona 5, but once you start taking down enemies it’s clear that this is a different beast than the traditional turn-based RPG series.

When it’s time to fight, Persona 5 Strikers transforms from a methodical dungeon crawler into an all-encompassing action game. The hack-and-slash style of combat from Musou games like Dynasty Warriors is implemented in small-scale encounters; each Phantom Thief has light and heavy attacks that you use in different combinations to perform special attacks with status effects. I loved the frenetic and intuitive action that comes from slashing through hordes of enemies and watching them fly off the edge of Joker’s blade or Panther’s whip, but the combat adds extra depth using the characters’ Personas.

At any point in a battle, you can summon a character’s Persona; the action pauses while you choose a spell to cast and the area it will affect. If you hit an enemy’s weakness, you open them up to a follow-up attack. If you hit them hard enough, you’ll launch a powerful All-Out Attack, with the whole team jumping on the enemies at once. The summoning system, combined with the fast-paced combat and various environmental interactions, delivers a smooth experience that allows you to take out enemies in a stylish and efficient way. My favorite fights involved me switching between characters, rattling different combos, exploiting weaknesses with their personas, detonating explosives, dropping chandeliers, and delivering devastating final blows to close out the show. A constant flow of this action would be tiresome, but Persona 5 Strikers does a good job of speeding up encounters within the prisons.

Prisons have many traits in common with Persona 5’s palaces. They both exist in the Metaverse, have a ruler you try to defeat to change their behavior in the real world, and they’re full of shadows to take down. However, prisons do not provide the creativity of the palace design. I appreciated the waypoint that always told me where to go, but when almost every prison is a venture from point A to point B, I ended up feeling like I was just going through the motions to get to my destination. One prison tries to confuse the formula with a short stealth section and paths with portals that dump you into other areas, but these changes come across more like half-hearted gimmicks that I was happy to see were abandoned after one go.

Each prison is ruled by a monarch, a powerful person in the real world who has found a way to steal the desires of ordinary people to essentially enslave them. Rather than indulge in one of the seven deadly sins, monarchs have their hearts corrupted by some form of personal trauma. I sometimes struggled to empathize with the characters when it came time for their change of heart, but when this narrative thread works, the Persona 5 Strikers story delivers some really moving sequences about how trauma can change a person. These moments are enhanced by how many of them draw parallels to what a member of your team went through in the first game.

Catching up with various members of the Phantom Thieves was the element I was most excited about in Persona 5 Strikers, and it pays off for the most part. I loved learning about what they’ve been up to since the first game and seeing them grow even more through this adventure. However, I was disappointed with the limited social simulation capabilities. The social link mechanics are nowhere to be found in Strikers. Instead, you have a bond system that allows you to upgrade the party. You can talk to the characters in town and invite a companion of your choice to do certain activities during the story, but the conversations are mostly insignificant and disappointing.

While not every single element comes together as well as in Persona 5, I was more than happy to embark on another adventure with the characters I developed such a bond with in 2017. The action may be very different, but the heart of the series remains intact.


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