With Persona 5 finally out in the wild, I've decided to come out of reviewer retirement and give my thoughts. Without disclosing too much, the game begins with you being sent to Tokyo to live with a stranger for a year (Persona games always give you a year, in case you didn't know) to live out a probationary sentence following the main character getting mixed up in a scuffle that gives him a criminal record. Fast forward and you're the leader of a group of teenagers who are angry with societal corruption. At times, the game leaves you questioning the morality of your actions. Persona 5 is certainly the most political entry to date and it handles it exceptionally well. The pacing of the game in terms of plot feels perfect, though you may find yourself stressed by the time restrictions.
Gameplay is highly familiar yet refined in a way where you "Never See It Coming" (only bad joke, I promise). Enemies can be negotiated with now, Baton Passing adds another layer of strategy, and the menus during battle are seamless. What you're ultimately able to achieve in combat and how far you get in the game largely depends on the social links you've developed. For instance, if you're ambushed, you'd be unable to retreat normally, but by developing social links with a strategist, you can do so. Additionally, your social links will help you develop your other social links in some rather creative ways. The game really opens up and becomes the true successor to a beloved series once you have your strategies down and get creative with the use of your Personas.
The soundtrack is something I can rave about for a while. It's energetic, inspiring, and fun. You may get tired of hearing the battle theme after a while; I didn't, but if you do, feel free to throw on some Spotify as you play. Having cleared the game almost twice now, I have yet to hate any of the music I've heard ( but I guess I just don't care for the music while exploring Mementos).
Visuals in Persona 5 are broken into two areas: graphics and style. As a cross generation title, you shouldn't expect it to look like someone threw some cel shading on Unreal 4. Graphically, it's not fantastic, but it truly doesn't need to be. My enjoyment of the game is not hurt by that at all. What it lacks in visual fidelity it more than makes up for with style and presentation. The game features a swanky thief theme with cool French overtones. It's not 60fps on PS4, but it doesn't need to be.
To conclude, Persona 5 is endlessly stylish. The music, gameplay, interface, and themes work together seamlessly to create a blissful experience that takes you on a journey of morality, justice, and understanding the consequences associated with your pursuit of the truth. It was years in the making, but Persona 5 delivers a heartfelt love letter to JRPG fans everywhere. Japanese RPGs often do little to push the hardware they run on and Persona 5 is no exception. That said, you truly don't need it to and, in this regard, Atlus sets an incredibly high bar for themselves and others. By design, it's actually brilliant: short games that stress the hardware test a console's strength whereas Persona 5 does more to stress test its endurance. It's a lengthy game with plenty to do that can keep you hooked for extensive play periods at a time.