When Persona 5 launched in 2017, I fell into my new RPG obsession. I beloved practically all the pieces concerning the journey of the Phantom Thieves, however the characters and the story are what caught with me lengthy after I wrapped up the more-than-100-hour journey. So when Persona 5 Royal was introduced, I could not wait to leap again in and repeat the journey with new characters, areas, and an extra story arc on the finish. Nonetheless, whereas I beloved Persona 5 Royal (a lot, in fact), it left me wishing for an all-new story with the beloved solid of characters; I needed to see how their friendships and lives advanced following the wild occasions of Persona 5. It will not be an RPG like the sport it serves as a sequel to, however Persona 5 Strikers guarantees to offer me the brand new journey I have been craving since I first stepped foot in Café Leblanc practically 4 years in the past.
Co-developed by Atlus and the studio behind the Dynasty Warriors franchise, Omega Power, Persona 5 Strikers is hardly a direct successor to the Persona 5 I fell in love with. Nonetheless, should you go in anticipating it to be like what we noticed Omega Power do with Hyrule Warriors, the place it is simply nonstop motion and a continuing stream of hack-and-slash battles, you are in for a shock. Over the course of the primary a number of hours I performed, I felt much less like I used to be enjoying some form of unusual, dissonant spin-off motion recreation and extra like I used to be enjoying a sequel to Persona 5 with action-based fight.
The similarities and variations between Persona 5 and Persona 5 Strikers are most aptly displayed by the solid of characters and the best way you work together with them. The vast majority of my early hours had been spent in dialogue with the Phantom Thieves. I beloved studying extra about what they have been as much as within the months for the reason that finish of Persona 5. The passage of time was significantly thrilling for characters like Makoto, who’s now in school and in a unique place in her life. In case you’re into the fashion facet of the title, practically all of the characters are sporting new appears as properly.
Nonetheless, whereas the characters and their voice actors return from the unique Persona 5 (sorry, Kasumi followers), the social components have been vastly scaled down from the mainline collection. As an alternative of social hyperlinks, you may develop bonds with characters in your workforce. Very similar to the dearly departed social hyperlinks, bonds open up new stat boosts and talents for characters. Not like Persona 5’s system, nonetheless, you do not earn factors towards upgrades by going to a ramen store, amusement park, or shrine with your mates, however reasonably by defeating enemies. I am somewhat disillusioned by the dearth of social choices since that is such an enormous a part of what made me fall in love with these characters and the collection as a complete within the first place, however this mission was by no means meant to be a social simulation like the unique launch.
Whereas the unique characters have already got robust hyperlinks to at least one one other, they welcome a brand new member to the Phantom Thieves’ ranks very early on within the story. Sophia is a synthetic intelligence character that Joker and Cranium discover throughout their first journey again into the Metaverse. She joins the workforce, contributing narrative steerage on high of her abilities in battle. Utilizing her yo-yos, she will assault a variety, whereas her blaster lets her hit enemies from afar.
In Persona 5, the workforce infiltrates a Palace by discovering a corrupt ruler, gathering info on them, and utilizing an app on their telephone to make the shift into the Metaverse. That course of stays the identical in Strikers; the workforce discovers that one thing unusual is going on involving Alice Hiiragi, a trend stylist and idol who has developed an oddly ardent following. Because it seems, the seemingly candy Alice has found out some method to seize the wishes of abnormal folks, turning them into obsessed followers who will do something for her, together with one man who drops to his knees and confesses his like to her in entrance of his personal fiancé. As soon as the Phantom Thieves determine this out and see Alice’s true nature, they know they cannot let it stand, so they start an investigation by speaking to and eavesdropping on followers scattered all through Shibuya.
As soon as the workforce has sufficient info, it is again to the Metaverse to infiltrate Alice’s dungeon, which turns the world surrounding Shibuya Crossing right into a jail. The dungeon I performed, whereas shorter than a Persona 5 Palace, performs out shockingly much like how they performed out within the authentic mainline RPG; you traverse the world, ambushing Shadows as you go. The most important distinction in all the recreation lies within the fight; reasonably than the turn-based fare of Persona 5, battles play out nearer to the high-paced motion of the Warriors collection. When you can hack and slash to your coronary heart’s content material, taking technique into consideration is essential. Not solely are you able to swap between your energetic social gathering utilizing the d-pad, however you may pause the motion to swap Personas and use their skills. Capitalizing on enemy weaknesses can knock them down, opening the door for a robust All-Out Assault. I used to be additionally caught off guard by how the battles are spaced out. Based mostly on my time with the Hyrule Warriors video games, I anticipated the battles to be extra fixed. As an alternative, the encounters extra serve to interrupt up the exploration.
Even once you’re not within the dungeon itself, Shibuya and the encircling areas really feel like a return dwelling should you’ve already performed both model of Persona 5. Shibuya and Yongen-Jaya are laid out precisely as they’re in Persona 5, and seeing the gang return to Leblanc or their hideout within the accessway introduced a smile to my face. I do know the workforce will ultimately transfer on from Shibuya and Tokyo as a complete through the course of the story, however these callbacks to the Phantom Thieves’ flagship journey are enjoyable.
If my early hours are any indication, Persona 5 Strikers serves as a compelling comply with as much as certainly one of my favourite role-playing video games of all time. Not solely am I enticed by the thought of carrying on with the lives of the assorted members of the workforce, however I am intrigued by the instructions the story goes. Persona 5 Strikers launches on PlayStation 4, Change, and PC on February 23. To see the preliminary announcement trailer of its Western localization, head here.