In September of 2016 (April 2017 in western territories), on Playstation 3 and Playstation 4, a game which received critical acclaim and has been cited as being one of the greatest role-playing games of all time which fundamentally changed the role-playing game industry, much like its predecessor “Persona 4” did was released. What makes Persona 5 so good and why should you even care? Let’s take a little deeper dive and take a look!
What is Persona 5?
Don’t let the title of the game fool you, “Persona 5” technically isn’t the 5th installment of the game, rather it is chronologically the 6th game in the “Persona” series, part of the much larger “Shin Megami Tensei” franchise. But as the years have progressed, the “Persona” series has been getting overhaul over overhaul in the departments of not only graphics, but also music, and story.
Oh, god, the story. Which are some of the stand-out features of “Persona 5”, but we will get to those a little bit later. What I really want to touch on first, is the base and production of the title.
Persona 5 as a title started conceptualizing in 2008 after the release of Persona 4 which then turned into a full-swing production in 2011 following the release of “Catherine”. Initial concepts for the game were drastically different than what was released, however that doesn’t take away from the fact that Persona 5 is still one of the greatest games of all time.
Initial concepts had a story similar to that of Persona 3 and Persona 4 where the protagonists were tasked with “self-discovery” and “journey”. A stark contrast to the “Phantom Thieves of Hearts” which came to be.
The Lineage of Persona 5
Persona 5 (Main Game)
Persona 5 The Animation – The Day Breakers-
Persona 5 The Animation – The Day Breakers is set during the events of the main Persona 5 story but considered a sub-event from the main story. A manga adaptation of this by Hisato Murasaki was distributed online.
Persona 5 The Animation (P5A)
An anime based on the events of the game which retained the original voice cast from the game. The story is exactly the same as the game, this is a good thing for those of you which do not own or have access to a PlayStation 4. There are a handful of differences such as Joker having an actual name. In the game, technically you are Joker so there is no name for the main protagonist, but in the anime his name is Ren Amamiya. The anime ran a total of 26 episodes with 2 special episodes and 2 OVA episodes.
Persona 5 Dancing Star Night (P5D)
A rhythm game developed and published by Atlus for the Playstation 4 and the PS Vita. The game has a story based around the Velvet Room attendants from Persona 5, “Caroline” and “Justine” and the Persona 3 Velvet Room attendant “Elizabeth” becoming jealous of Persona 4’s Velvet Room attendant “Margaret” guest Yu Narukami defeated the Mikuratana-no-kami in Persona 4 Dancing All Night.
They end up challenging each other to a dance contest to show who has the better guest with the loser being sent to hell. Similar to how it plays out in Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, after the task is completed, everyone’s memories will be erased.
Persona 5 The Royal (P5R)
An expanded version of the main Persona 5 game with additional story elements as well as an additional character. This will be the definitive, expanded version of the main Persona 5 story. Developer Atlus has done this in the past with the titles “Persona 3: FES” and “Persona 4 The Golden”. Unlike the other versions where there were some minute changes and a few story elements changing.
The story elements in “The Royal” will be changed quite a bit with the addition of the new Phantom Thief, “Kasumi Yoshizawa”, a first-year transfer student to Shujin Academy.
There is also a new Confidant, “Takuto Maruki” who plays the role of a school counselor at Shujin Academy. Aside from additional characters joining the story, Joker now has the access to use a grappling hook as well.
Even more so, they expanded on the world that you can traverse by adding Kichijoji, a place wherein real-life Tokyo, is geared towards a younger demographic with places to eat, drink, and have fun.
They also have added a whole new semester to the school year, which might make it easier to do some of the events which need to be done within a certain time frame.
Persona 5 Scramble – The Phantom Strikers (P5S)
A hack and slash game for Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch developed by Omega Force and P-Studio. The game is a direct sequel to the events of Persona 5. The story follows Joker and the Phantom Thieves of Hearts through an alternate Tokyo.
The story kicks off with the Phantom Thieves of Hearts meeting up once again to go on a camping trip six months after the incidents which occurred in the first Persona 5 game. They make their plans for their trip through a popular app called EMMA. While they’re in Shibuya gathering belongings for their camping trip, they come across an upcoming idol by the name of Alice Hiiragi who gives them a card and requests them to input the keyword “wonderland” in the EMMA app.
Once they input the keyword into the app, Joker, Morgana, and Ryuji are transported to an alternate Tokyo which is called “jail.” Inside the alternate Tokyo, they encounter Alice’s shadow who is called King which is a sentient A.I. named Sophia who is also able to fight Shadows. Sophia joins the party and they later learn that EMMA is an app similar to the Metaverse app which allows them to enter Jails any time.
They learn that there is a tie to the real world and the alternate Tokyo world where people who have been attacked by shadows end up acting strangely in the real world. This calls for the reformation of the Phantom Thieves of Hearts to investigate what exactly is going on.
Characters of the Persona 5 World
The game, as you could imagine as an RPG game, has a vast array of characters, but I really want to touch on two. The first being Joker, the protagonist of the story. Joker, the main character of the game, is a silent protagonist, a common trend among the “Persona” series of games, is falsely charged with assault by a drunken man after defending a woman from being abused on the street and placed on probation.
This sets the tone for his story as he is sent to live with a family friend, Sojiro Sakura and go to school in Tokyo at Shujin Academy during his 1 year long probation.
Once he arrives, he is drawn into the Velvet Room where Igor tells him that he needs to “rehabilitate” to avoid future ruin and gives him access to the “metaverse” through a special app on his phone.
Upon entering the “metaverse”, Joker is greeted with an alternate reality of his school and its inhabitants. In the “metaverse”, Joker has the ability to summon his “Persona” by ripping the mask off of his face. Again, another stark contrast from previous “Persona” games where “Persona 3” had the students shoot themselves in the head with an “invoker” to summon their persona, and “Persona 4” had the students crush tarot cards in their hands to do so.
The next character I want to talk about, contrary to what the internet would like me to do, is Morgana. Morgana is a witty character who doesn’t like being called a cat, even though he has the appearance of one, swears he’s a human.
When you first meet him, he’s rude, arrogant and condescending. He’s a master of the “metaverse” and is far more of a confidant than Ann Takamaki would ever be. Sorry Reddit. What makes Morgana so useful is that he can morph into various things including a human and a van which the crew can use to drive around in the “metaverse”.
He is the first character in the series which maintains his role as a navigator while also being a party member.
The Music of Persona 5 and Its Soundtrack as a Whole
This is the section of this article where I really don’t have much to say. That’s not because it’s bad. It’s because it’s really just that damn good. Shoji Meguro, the sound director for pretty much every Persona title, if not every Persona title, really outdid himself for Persona 5.
The soundtrack to Persona 5 in contrast to its predecessor titles is much jazzier. It still has the pop and EDM style influences in its sound, but it overall is much more along the lines of Acid Jazz. The guitar riffs in the songs are much more intense and the lyrics for each song are portrayed from the eyes of our protagonists. Take for instance the battle theme for the game “Last Surprise.” The lyrics are essentially our protagonist telling the enemies that they have encountered that they have no idea what they’re getting themselves into and that they will be meeting their demise.
Obviously, all of the tracks don’t really have such a foreboding sound, Shoji Meguro did a fantastic job with making sure that the music that is used in each scene fits like a glove. This can also be easily noticed in the track which is used for the opening of the game “Wake Up, Get Up, Get out of There where the lyrics talking about having to get out of the Metaverse and find out who exactly is behind the attacks and why do they think that they’re better than the Phantom Thieves of Hearts.
You can listen to the soundtrack for yourself on Apple Music.
Where Can You Play Persona 5?
Unfortunately, Persona 5 is only available on the PlayStation 4 and no Switch or PC port has been announced at this time. But that doesn’t mean that the Persona 5 party stops at the PlayStation 4 as Persona 5 S is available on Switch as well as Joker being a playable character in Super Smash Brothers Ultimate on the Switch. If you ask me, it’s just a matter of time before we see Persona 5 Royal or a Persona 5 port on Switch. If games aren’t your interest, you can always check out the Persona 5 Animation, but you will only be getting the first part of the story that Persona 5 offers and none of the rest of the story from Persona 5 Scramble.