Game Commentary: Persona 5

I could start this review off with a grand explanation of the thematic foreshadowing of the image above when you start the game or I could go on about how video games nowadays fail to do what P5 accomplished but I won't. The reviews for Persona 5 are long enough as it is and they all say the same thing: It's the best in the series and a behemoth of a video game experience. I wholeheartedly agree. So, for this Game Commentary, I want to touch on the two most important aspects that I believe the previous entries lacked: dungeon design and a strong plot.

I finished Persona 5 recently at 98 hours. I intend on going for my second playthrough very soon too. The previous Persona entries featured auto-generating dungeons. You move floor to floor and aside from the thematic displays in P4, the entire structure feels the same. It's a polygonal floor with some treasure every so often and enemies you can't really escape unless you don't alert them (which is tricky in itself). In Persona 5, each dungeon is designed with its own set of rules in mind. The dungeon doesn't feel like fodder for combat. It feels alive. They call it Palaces in P5. It certainly feels that way. You do indeed feel like a thief invading the palace of some diabolical adult.

Each Palace comes with its own unique aesthetic, theme, puzzle elements and structure. I don't want to spoil anything so I'll just leave it at that. They don't play the same at all and while some may be more trying than others, they all definitely deliver. Don't want to fight an enemy? Stealth your way through. That has to be one of the best additions to the series. Stealth. Or rather, the option to avoid fighting if you so wish. Sure, you can't avoid some enemies but it certainly does make life easier. And more enjoyable.

There are still other aspects to Palaces like the Alert Meter or the various treasures you can swipe but the biggest hit here is the actual design and gameplay change. This is what Persona should play like and I have no doubt they can only improve on this concept from here on.

The other aspect that I mentioned earlier, probably to the annoyance of some of you, is the plot. Plot being the operative word here. Persona has always had amazing characters, sinfully addicting music, interesting themes and great execution. But a good plot was never part of it for me. I mean, I became a fan at Persona 3. In 3, you explore Tartarus (just because) and you eventually fight the God of Death and sacrifice yourself to save the world. Sad, great but you know, not particularly different. In 4, you embark on this murder mystery adventure and eventually stop the villain who did it just because. Then you fight a God. The God fighting is fine. I can fight Gods forever but the plot itself is quite straightforward especially when the theme is the truth. It was quite 'on the nose'.

In 5 though, everything changes. Even the storytelling method is ingenious. There are some mindblowing moments in the game so I won't spare any story details whatsoever. Even the opening. It's extremely unique and very well executed and because of that, Persona 5 gains from being one of the first to dive into this ocean of storytelling and emerge victorious.

Readers, I'm sure you've already heard. Persona 5 is being hailed as one of the greatest RPGs of all-time and there is nothing but truth in that statement. I waited 8 years for this game after I finished the original PS2 Persona 4. 8 years of hyping myself up. And my God did it pay off. This is no FFXV. This is Persona 5. Let us start the game!


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