Persona 5 Strikers – Game Review


Persona 5 Strikers

(Available for PlayStation4, Nintendo Switch and PC )
(PlayStation 4 version played on a PlayStation 5 used for Calvin’s review)
(PC version used for Elliot’s review)

Persona 5 Strikers is the second spin off title from the Persona 5 after Persona 5 Dancing Star Night confounding a lot of predictions it would repeat the history Persona 4 had the dancing game then Arena. Strikers is a new avenue for publisher Atlus since it is a Musou game like Dynasty Warriors and Hyrule Warriors so expect it to be infiltrating environment and fighting large numbers of enemies with the Phantom Thieves and like Hyrule Warriors and Fire Emblem Warriors it’s not only been developed by Koei Techmo it also adds elements of Persona 5’s RPG mechanics to the Musou gameplay. It also is a new avenue for Atlus since this is a direct sequel to Persona 5 and could legitimately be considered Persona 5-2 (for those not in the know each persona game starts with a new setting a cast like the Final Fantasy Games). The game also announced with its western release that it would be coming to not only Nintendo Switch like it did in Japan (presumably part of the deal for getting Joker in Smash) but would also go to Steam which is good to see given that if feels like Atlus are starting to take the space seriously after the success of putting Persona 4 Golden on there.

Pros

  • Story: Doing a sequel to Persona 5 would be tough given how the end of that game pretty much wrapped up the storyline and every character arc (your perspective on that part would depend on which confidants you maxed out during your playthrough). Somehow however the developers pulled this off, the story takes place a few months after the events of Persona 5 with the Phantom Thieves reuniting for Summer Vacation which happens to coincide with a mysterious Girl named Sophia who says she is “Humanity’s Companion”a few new structures from the Metaverse appearing called Jails, whose monarchs are stealing the desires of the masses for their own personal gain thus requiring the Phantom Thieves to travel across Japan to stop the Monarchs by changing their hearts and returning the desires. It’s a decent excuse for why the group needs to get back together but the plot itself actually plays off the established group dynamic well and it’s also really interesting to see these characters travel across Japan to put them in settings other than Tokyo. The story this time has some genuinely great moments for fans of the original with the characters in both the actions and the times just winding down and enjoying Summer. The villains also bring a new dynamic to the series which I won’t spoil too much but believe me when I say while they won’t stick with you the same way that characters like Kamoshida did but trust me they are genuinely interesting. If I had any minor complaints on the story it’s that it occasionally rehashes quite a bit of the plot of Persona 5 at points but it’s not as if it’s not rehashing something good. Also this game is not 100 plus hours like a Persona game normally is and hovers more around the mid 30 hours mark for main story alone, which is a bit of a disappointment given how good the story is you kind of want it to go on a bit longer but it does use the time well
  • New characters: so I already talked a bit about the villains and there are quite a few new characters introduced but there’s really 2 new characters to talk about Sophia and Zenkichi. Zenkichi is the Public Sector investigator acting as an informant to the Phantom Theives and Sophia is the new playable character who is an AI that lives in Joker’s Phone outside of the Metaverse. Both are nice new additions to the group with their personalities meshing with the group well, particularly Sophia, whose bubbly demeanour feels like she was always meant to be a part of the group. She also gives you constant access to Bless Persona abilities from the start of the game which is excellent given how long it was to get that in the original Persona 5 making her one of the best parts of the game.
  • Combat: once again Koei Techmo’s developers have done an excellent job of taking another game and fusing its game mechanics well with the gameplay style of Dynasty Warriors. It doesn’t play exactly like those games and Hyrule warriors since while you will be fighting a lot of enemies it’ll never quite be to the same degree of numbers that those games had so that they could put in the stealth and ambush aspect of Persona 5 into the game. upon combat you will fight a lot of faceless shadows as well as the various Personas you fought in the previous games and you will have to use your own Persona’s abilities to target their weaknesses. This is achieved by in the middle of the fight holding the trigger to summon the Persona which will freeze time and allow you select from their abilities with varying range and power with can be levelled up with your character as time goes on which reminded me way more of FF7 Remake’s combat than it did a game like Hyrule Warriors. This was a great way to pull this off and with all the characters you want to try someone out since I really ended up likening trying out everyone’s combat style. That’s saying a lot given that I don’t think I’ve ever played Musou game where every character played extremely well to my style which is good because you really want to keep swapping your character to pull of chain attack to stun as many opponents as possible in order to pull off the signature all out attack. The combat was so much fun to do with myself rarely looking to avoid it and would even keep some party members in longer that I should of just to see their showtime moves which are just as flashy as you think they are. I’ve heard some people say it’s not as complex as a game like Hyrule Warriors Age of Calamity though I’d say both games are on a similar level but approach combat in different ways though both do an excellent job of making the most of the characters and prioritising targeting weaknesses to give the satisfaction of pulling off a cool combo and rewarding you with awesome showtime attacks. In short this might be my favourite action RPG mechanics though you still have to prioritise what equipment you’re using as well as what items your taking since SP for Persona abilities is limited and being able to heal and restore SP in boss fights could come down to stocking up on healing and SP recovery Items more so than in previous Persona games. But if you played Persona 5 but haven’t gone near Mosuo games you might surprise yourself on how easy you transition to this gameplay style with you prior knowledge of Persona 5’s gameplay which is a compliment to the developers in their respect for the original game.
  • Controls: the controls are great in this game and I got the hang of them quickly (except for the action button the PS4 version being O rather than X like in most Persona Games that took getting used to). They suit the combat excellently and allow for the flow of combat to feel excellent. They will however trip you up if you played the recent Hyrule Warriors since they play rather differently such as the lack of a guard command and a slightly different dodge mechanic. You also should really not use jumping to doge attacks which I learnt the hard way during the first boss fight against a Jail Monarch.
  • Graphics and performance: it does look excellent and runs well. obviously there is some stuff reused though and the models look a bit different but it still looks and feels like Persona 5 and brings back the excellent art style which really gave Persona 5 its character. the developers did an excellent job however since the game looks really good and it ran at a smooth 60 frames a second when I played the PlayStation 4 version on a PlayStation 5 with very few Frame rate drops. It took me a bit to get used to these character moving at 60 FPS since Persona 5 wasn’t at that frame rate but for the game that’s given it’s welcome that the performance is this good.
  • Boss fights: these are some of the best Boss fights in a Musou game ever. You really need to pick out your characters well, keep an eye on character interactions it often gives away at least one of the bosses weaknesses, this is where it’ll test you to use the environment well, exploit weaknesses and chain attacks to together to break down their shields and hit an all out attack to knock down serious amounts of health. The design of the bosses are great but the implement of the combat is so enjoyable in these moments that I was taking on the bosses again in rematches whenever I had the opportunity and even took on a couple of the optional bosses which I normally never do on a first playthrough. Btw on those option bosses plan ahead of time and stock up on SP recovery items they are really tough if you’re not prepared
  • Level design: while none of the Jails are as interesting as the palaces in the original Persona 5 I really did enjoy these open environments which really tested how I approach enemy encounters and they did a good job turning the various cities in Japan into these very imaginative environments such as turning the famous Shibuya District of Tokyo into an Alice in Wonderland inspired theme park. The layouts and designs are not quite as imaginative as Persona 5’s Palaces but they still are excellent places to explore
  • Soundtrack: it’s a Persona 5 soundtrack of course it’s gonna kick ass. While many songs are reused from the first games soundtrack verbatim like Tokyo daylight and Life Will Change, in keeping with the Dynasty Warriors vibe many songs have been given a rock remix such as Last Surprise. The remixes are excellent and fit well in the game I especially like the remix of Keeper of Lust. But the new songs are also great and fit well with the established soundtracks of the franchise. Daredevil in particular is a song I haven’t been able to get out of my head since playing.

Mixed

  • Compromises for the Switch Version: The Switch version had to compromise to 30 FPS and I did briefly try out the Switch version (mainly to automatically get the Sophia spirit in Smash Bros Ultimate by have Persona 5 Strikers save data on your Switch and complete my collection) and in both handheld and docked it ran fine but it was difficult going down to that framerate so on that basis I’d say the only reason to pick up on Switch is if you plan playing it away from home. The only impact these compromises had on the other 2 versions is that some cutscenes had to have lower framerates to be on the Switch
  • No higher frame rate for PC version: there’s not too much wrong with the PC version from what I’ve heard but it’s more of a quick port of the PS4 version rather than one that was made to take advantage of the benefits to PC gaming. Particularly I was hoping to play the game at either 120 or 144 FPS but the game is still locked at 60. Now this isn’t a deal breaker and it’s good to see Atlus working to put more Persona on Steam after the success of putting Persona 4 Golden on there but it does feel like a bit of a missed opportunity .

Cons

  • Making tougher Personas is more difficult: so like Persona 5 the main character has access to multiple Persona and can fuse them to make tougher Persona in the Velvet Room. In this game you don’t have to worry about them matching up to the Arcana types of the people you want to build on your relationship with so in that sense it’s been kind of streamlined and you only have to worry about getting the best Persona. The problem comes in the fact that a new edition of this game is that instead of just fusing together the correct combo of Persona like in the oringinal game you now require the Persona to be at a certain level for it to be successful which was not a change that I liked. This meant I often had to take a away some of the Persona points from levelling up and instead of giving them to the Persona I wanted to they went to some I was about to get rid of to get one I wanted. This just made things more difficult than need be but I would say if this is the worst aspect of the game it wasn’t a big deal since I never entered an environment feeling like I was screwed over in combat by bad Persona’s being in my party and there was rarely a moment I couldn’t fuse my Persona to get something better.
  • Persona 5 plotline spoilers are frequent for Steam and Switch users: Strikers really assumes you’ve played Persona 5 and gives tons of Spoilers to plot points in that game which is fine for PlayStation owners since they can do a playthrough of Persona 5 or Persona 5 The Royal to get context. But for Steam and Switch owners they are out of luck since neither of those games is on either format which I think is not incredibly accommodating to those fans however I do also think the only people getting this are big Persona 5 fans who likely know the story just be prepared to be lost otherwise since I will reiterate that in many ways this is a way more a sequel than it is a spin off.

Overall thoughts

Persona 5 Strikers is one of my favourite Musou games now and is easily a must buy for anyone who loved Persona 5.the story is excellent as well as engaging with every character getting time to shine, the gameplay is interesting, engaging and strategic in ways this genre has not quite ever really gone to, the soundtrack is amazing as to be expected and the Game had me hooked with doing side missions and optional boss fights which is not something I usually invest my time in on a first playthrough of any game and I would say it’s a game that makes me really want to grind experience to level up my characters since the gameplay is never really boring. It does feel a bit short for a Persona game coming in at around 35 hours for the main story alone though adds another 15 hours on for die hard completionists and you won’t be as involved with who you hang out with in your downtime as you would in a normal Persona game but with the fact that the game still has tons of cool character moments it didn’t bother me that much. I really hope this means that we will see Persona 5 or Persona 5 The Royal come to Switch and PC soon so people on that forum can enjoy the game fully and really appreciate it but as it stands I really thought this game was excellent though you should also consider that Persona 5 is one of my favourite games and the game is very geared to that audience.

Score: 9.6/10

I would seriously recommend it to people that have played Persona 5 and would recommend getting it quickly before spoilers are all over your YouTube recommendations. I would say though do at least one playthrough of Persona 5 before purchase which as I said is impossible if you don’t own a PlayStation 4 or 5 (I am aware the original Persona 5 released on PlayStation 3 but really who’s buying the PlayStation 3 version except to make YouTube videos about it). It currently is full price though I suspect this will hit second hand shops quicker than most other Persona games due to how quickly you can 100% the game. Switch and PC owners should not take this as a belief that any version of Persona 5 is coming to those platforms any time soon given Atlus’s speed at localisation
Calvin – Nerd Consultant

And now for Elliot’s review (the first part will makesense in context)

Ryuji “FOR REAL” count total: 20 

Pretty much anyone who knows me knows how much I adore Persona 5. From the story to the characters, from the gameplay to the music and the style of the game, those reasons and many more are what easily makes it my favourite game of all time, I absolutely love it. So, naturally, if anything Persona 5 related is announced, I’m gonna gorge myself on it all like No Face in Spirited Away. We previously got Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight, and now we’ve seen the release of Persona 5 Strikers, released on the 20th February 2020 in Japan and 23rd February 2021 worldwide for Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 and Steam.

The story takes place a few months after the events of Persona 5, where Joker, leader of the Phantom Thieves, and Morgana return to Tokyo to meet up with the rest of the Phantom Thieves and to spend the summer on the camping trip together. While in Shibuya, looking for supplies for the trip, Joker, Morgana and Ryuji wind up meeting an idol named Alice Hiiragi, who gives them and others in the crowd her keywords to a new app taking the world by storm called EMMA. After typing the keyword into the app they find themselves back in the Metaverse, in a new type of place called a Jail, which seems to be changing the hearts of anyone who enters. While there they meet Sophia, an AI who wound up in the Metaverse and self proclaimed humanity’s companion. Eventually, after meeting up with the rest of the Phantom Thieves, they find themselves meeting Zenkichi Hasegawa, member of public security, who explains to them that these incidents of changing of hearts are occurring all over Japan and that the Phantom Thieves are the primary suspects in the case. Deducing that the Jails have something to do with it, they set out on a trip across Japan to find out why they’re showing up and to clear their names. As to be expected, the story had my attention from beginning to end. It feels like a great extension to the first game’s story while never out staying its welcome and while it takes a lot of plot points that were in the first game, it does enough different so that it doesn’t feel like a rehash of the same story. 

Presentation wise, the game looks just as good as its inspiration. I played on the PC and it ran at a very consistent 60FPS, and I never noticed it dip once. Just like they did with Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, Koei Tecmo has done a really good job at mimicking the look of the original game, from environments to the menus the game carries on the stylish look that Persona 5 has. Battle animations are done really well as well, they did a really good job of taking their attack animations of the characters from Persona 5 and expanding on them while also ensuring that the moves were believable for the characters to do. The voice actors of the Phantom Thieves reprise their roles for this game, and all of them – from Cassandra Lee Morris as Morgana and Matthew Mercer as Yusuke Kitagawa (notice me senpai), as well as the actors for new character like Megan Taylor Harvey as Sophia and Tom Taylorson as Zenkichi Hasegawa – play their roles brilliantly adding a ton of life and personality to the characters and making them all for more likeable for it. The soundtrack of the first game was one of the main highlights for me, and this game is no different. The remixes of songs like Last Surprise and Rivers in a Desert, as well as new songs like Daredevil and Counter Strike really add an extra sense of flare to the game and gives some serious kick to the game to make it more fitting to the change in gameplay. That being said though, the audio mixing wasn’t that good, there were a couple of times where the dialogue was significantly quieter than the music, in fact there were a few moments where there should clearly have been spoken dialogue and there wasn’t, luckily these occurrences were very rare, and didn’t ruin the overall game. 

Speaking of gameplay, the game, as expected from Koei Tecmo, has the same style of gameplay seen in the Dynasty Warriors series, where you take on large crowds of enemies, though like with Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity this isn’t just a clone of those games. The game actually tries to be as reminiscent to Persona 5 as possible. For example, the crowds of enemies are treated as if they were encounters in an RPG. Just like in Persona 5 your main aim is to sneak up and ambush the enemies, known as shadows, to gain the advantage and be able to deal some decent early damage, however if you’re spotted by the shadows they’ll end up getting the advantage and you may end up taking some early damage because of it, or you can just attack them before they notice you and have a straight fight where no one has any advantage. During battles, there’ll be a chance that one of the enemies you’ve defeated will drop a mask, when one does you can pick it up and add it to Joker’s arsenal of Persona, which will give him access to more attacks and abilities. These Persona will be able to be levelled up and upgraded in the Velvet Room, where you’ll also be able to perform executions which will allow you to fuse together multiple Personas and create a more powerful one. 

Each of the enemies has their own elemental strengths and weaknesses that you’ll have to take advantage of, arranging your party so that you have the right characters to help deal the most amount of damage that you can. Though if you don’t have the specific weaknesses needed for the enemy and die because of it, you shouldn’t worry too much, because if it’s a scripted fight, you’ll be able to go back into the menu and swap party members before starting the fight again. While this is an element that was in Persona 5, it doesn’t really have the best fit in this game, it makes sense in that game for there to be specific elemental weaknesses because it was a turn based RPG, it just feels a little odd to have this kind of function in a game like this. 

As to be expected, all the characters play vastly different from one another. Though unlike other games of this nature while you will find your favourites (mine ended up being Joker, Yusuke and Sophia) and be exclusively playing as them, you’ll likely be swapping between each of them regularly, taking advantage of enemy weaknesses as well as utilising the baton pass, which will make your Showtime meter increase faster – your Showtime meter slowly builds up as you fight and defeat enemies, once full you’ll be able to launch an AOE attack that deals massive damage to the enemies around you. 

While exploring the Jails you’ll find checkpoints at certain spots. They act in the same way as the safe rooms did in Persona 5, where you’ll be able to save, wrap to other checkpoints, access the Velvet Room and return to the real world if you need to replenish your HP and SP. When back in the real world, you’ll mostly be able to explore the stores there for supplies to aid you in the Jails, like HP and SP restoring items as well as ones to help with status effects. You’ll also be able to buy ingredients that can be used for cooking meals, which will further aid you in Jails by affecting everyone in your party rather than just one person.

For side content, you have requests. You’ll receive requests as you progress through the game, though you can only accept eight at a time. These will require you to go into previously completed Jails to fulfil, the tasks vary from killing a certain amount of enemies using a particular attack or a particular character, finding a certain item or an amount of said item and reaching a specific point in the palace without alerting any of the shadows. The rewards for completing these includes weapons, items or money.

In place of confidants from the mainline Persona games, you instead get the Bond meter. The Bond meter increases as you do a variety of things in the game, from completing requests, fighting encounters or just progressing in the story. Each time your bond levels up you get a number of Bond points, the amount you get per level increases the more you level up, using these points you’re able to purchase quirks to aid you in the Jails like having your Showtime attacks deal more damage, having more ammo in your guns at the start of an battle or being able to regain some HP and SP after completing an encounter. 

One slight complaint about this game, when compared to other Dynasty Warriors like games, is that the game is pretty easy. Don’t get me wrong there is plenty of challenge to be had here and you’ll no doubt be coming out of some battles by the skin of your teeth. Though I played the game on hard mode and after a while, especially when you know the game more, the challenge lessened by a fair amount, and I didn’t feel as much struggle as I did before. Hell, in the last couple of Jails the only times I got a game over was because I failed to defend Futaba while she was trying to hack into one of the rooms. It’s just a slight shame that I wasn’t able to get more of a sense of brutality in this game, but I acknowledge that that’s just a personal taste of mine and it still doesn’t ruin the game at all.

I cannot simply express just how much I love this game. From the story to the combat to just being able to play as the Phantom Thieves again, I had an absolutely brilliant time with it. It has easily become my favorite Dynasty Warrior like game (I know there’s a name for them, but sadly I can’t remember what it is), and it’s a game that I think every Persona 5 fan should play, and if you’re not a Persona 5 fan, you should feel ashamed, play Persona 5 and then play this. I’m dead serious, if this doesn’t end up being my game of the year, I will be legitimately surprised.

9.6/10
Elliot Chapman
Anime Amigo and Nerd Consultant

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