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Review | Persona 5 Strikers

"A new adventure of stolen hearts, desires and combination of both. Although a spin-off, P5 Strikers is a title that will raise above many others and be proud about it. Do not miss it by any chance."

by Foggy, 10-03-2021, Edited by: Jim

I’m not sure where to start, but I’m sure once I start I won’t stop. It has been almost 4 years since the release of Persona 5 in our region. In those 4 years, I personally have not come across a better title, and every additional adventure in the world of this series means the possibility of returning to that beautiful world.

I don't know if you're a fan of Dynasty Warriors, I'm not from the 2nd sequel or so. I mentioned this series because I can briefly describe the new spin-off Persona as a cross-title between that style of fighting and Persona 5. Don't worry, the best is pulled from the last Persona, so here we have a mix from Omega Force studios (which is below Koei Tecmo) , and Atlus' internal P-Studio; nicely named because they develop all Persona games. You can get your copy for Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Microsoft Windows (Steam). I'm sorry, I'd say "you have to," instead of "you can."

Still not sure about buying? I will do my best to introduce you to the new-old Phantom Thievese in another adventure of stolen desires, alternative worlds and infinitely good music that I can absolutely rank among the very top musical expressions in video games.

First impressions

Welcome to the city.

It’s hard for me to embrace this whole spectrum of emotions and pleasures that the game has left in me. I am primarily grateful that they followed the winning recipe of the last game and presented an interesting title with a touch of change. I have to admit that this action part of the gameplay, after an extremely fun turn-based was a bit repulsive at the very beginning, but let me talk first about this wonderful story, how it all started and where it is going, so we can meet later at that part of this intersection.

If you're one of the lucky ones (I hope) who played Person 5, you know what it is about. For those who don’t know, it’s the story of a group of special high school students who get the opportunity to enter Metavers and palaces (worlds) created from the malice and corruption of the people. Phantom Thieves, the group of schoolchildren you manage, are also a fighter for justice through these alternative worlds. When you steal their “Treasure”, and that is nothing more than the root of the emotion that eventually created this whole dark world in an individual; then you destroy evil and all its iniquities. This act is reflected in the reality where injustice is corrected. And all this while living ordinary lives, eating a bunch of noodles with your friends, soaking your body in the sauna or something you normally do on a daily basis after school (eh yes, long time ago…). It’s that world they created and continued in the Strikers. Of course, entering the world of darkness is possible via a mobile application, so the game is also quite realistic.

There are a lot more details, but not to bother you further, I will just say that the story has moved on. School is over, the holidays are over, it's the period just before going to college. What else but to spend that time with a team on the road in a camper? A real road trip, you and a new mobile application - EMMA. The world has progressed, so it got a real application with artificial intelligence, popular like no other so far, and its purpose is similar to our social networks. Just insert an expression and the app will direct you further. Guess how we're going to Metaverse.

Well, I don't want to be rude, so Ryuji will take care of that. With a pinch of nostalgia towards the old locations, we leave them and travel towards new ones.

On the first quite ordinary trip gets its dark side; someone is getting wild with emotions, and a breath of darkness is present at the beginning of the adventure. You soon learn that the first encounter with the currently popular influencer was not ordinary. The lady has created that other world around her, and something seems to be happening to her fans as well, who have grown exponentially lately. Everything stinks of a new palace. Or not? Something on the lines, only now the palaces are the whole cities you go through on these holidays. The story will take you by the hand, don’t worry about anything, just indulge. That interaction that Strikers provides and how it balances emotions, holds intrigue and a lot of the time actually sounds like everyday life; it just fits as sweet and silly as it sometimes does. I really like the options that the game gives you in response to various situations in conversations, you really feel like part of the game even though the Joker (protagonist) doesn't speak at all, but because of the multitude of different answers you give you feel it all.

A little bit more on the story, how long is  the game and all the parallels

I would rate the whole adventure through numerous cities and their alternative versions as excellent. The amount of story, new characters, new teammates and news is enough to make this a game a standalone title. That's how long it lasts, a good 40-60 hours of fun. Of course, I’m 60h in and I don’t mean to stop, not yet.

Compared to the P5, I still see the story as something of a lower quality. It’s still a high level for me, but I missed a little more of those mind-blowing situations and upheavals. I’ve predicted a lot, but with such dear new characters, especially Zenkichi (the detective who follows Phantom Thieves, greatly presented), I can’t complain much. What was more important to me was the part where I connected with absolutely every character of the team and cared about their path, and less the one that is clearly not the category of its heavyweight brother. As another minus, maybe the side-content is also a bit weak.

News, options and balance

Everything starts with some Yakuza talk, culminates and escalates quickly.

What is different? The biggest emphasis in Persona 5 Strikers is the fight. Along with it there is a slightly more open, larger exploration part. The cities are a lot bigger than you’re used to, and sneaking around, stealing treasures of other people’s emotions is interesting enough to hold on until the very end. All the locations were ingenious to me, I adore that cartoonish style that Persona does for me, it's above average. Precisely because of that, everything is unique, as if hand-drawn - from fights, effects, conversations… Interactive comic, I'd say. That kept me going through both games.

Interestingly, the game comes with Performance and Cinematic mode, but I didn’t notice any issues in Cinematic mode on the PS5. Without a doubt, I chose this one and played most of the game like that. Zero problems, maximum enjoyment. I thought that due to the multitude of opponents it would still stutter a bit, but the only "problem" I found was when using special Show Time attacks where for a moment everything seemed to stop, but soon the animation started, everything was ok. The loading times were impressively short (I played on PS5), only the edges of the animated characters were sometimes not sharp enough, so it looks like, in our opinion - "sloppy". I think this is all normal, Persona 5 Strikers is a PS4 game after all.

Also, you can play on Easy difficulty and thus maximally absorb the part that the story provides, and a little less grind yourself and your Persons (physical manifestations of your inner psyche). All this with Japanese and English audio (almost all the scenes and numerous animations in the game have voice acting, still ingeniously good as in the last game. Yes, Morgana is still annoying).

That other dimension will offer you a unique experience, and how not to love all these beautiful colors? Boss fights are great.

Battles. Action-based or turn-based?

Of course, we are left with that action part of the game. It may start a little easy with a big emphasis on button-mash, but as everything develops, the fight takes on a certain complexity and some tactics. You’ll fight various versions of the Shadows - they’re something like a close Monarch bond (as they’re called here, leaders of the alternative world) in the form of Persons that you can gain by collecting their masks if they leave them. What used to bother me was the large amount of enemies on the screen. Sometimes it can be confusing.

You can invite all your characters from the last game (up to 4 active at the same time) to the fight, plus additional surprise guests. As you use others, you develop their basic range of attacks. You get to the level of combinations in the spectrum of up to 10 different combo attacks that combine with the Person you are "wearing". With turn-based mode stopping the fight as you choose from a list of magic or the rest of the buff, I had quite a bit of fun in the second part of the game where that is expressed more. You often have the opportunity to perform an All-Out-Attack, which is something like a finish move, and thtat opportunity is created when you break a guard of an opponent. You will use them often, they are short and cute, and finish the fight pretty quickly. Consider using a Persona of an element that is a weak point to the opponent, otherwise the fights will sometimes last.

Finally, there is the mentioned Showtime Attack, which is a special attack by an individual. Very useful to get rid of screens of enemies. The animations and special effects are really great, you will enjoy the range of different Persons (most of the same as in Persona 5) and their attacks. The only thing I don't understand is why you can't interrupt all these animations, it would be useful, even though they aren't extremely long.

Boss and mini-boss fights are sometimes tense. Fly in unprepared and you will serve as food for the beast. Makoto is in the picture because Makoto is the best.

Awaken your Persona and desire for side-content

While everyone except Joker has predefined Personas, Joker can have more, and can create them in the Velvet Room (a place that follows the development of Persona-users and changes the look depending on the current guest: here it also takes the form of a prison). Depending on what level you are, you can cross such strong Personas using some you already have. All the Personas you own remain recorded in the register, so you will be able to pay for the one you miss because you crossed it to get the stronger one. There is a bunch of Personas. Quite a lot, there are special ones that you can only get if you defeat mini-bosses related to request missions (which are, among other things, the additional content that you may or may not play).

When the mixing time is over, between the rest of the main story you are left to meet the various requirements that pop up through the app. You can skip all this, but for me that part was solid too. Various challenges like missions where you are not allowed to use teleports through the dungeon were fun. I think I was quite drawn to this fight, although I prefer this part from Persona 5. You can miss some of the challenges, so be sure to talk to everyone at all possible moments for a little extra story, various recipes (of course cooking takes place in your camper) and wise sayings. I love to research, so I loved all those side things as well. Especially because you will find better equipment, expand the Shop (available through the application in the camper) and, among other things - better absorb all these wonderful scenes while abnormally good music is playing.

Ante is a common name in Croatia. Ante doesn't have a chance.

(J)RPG part of the game

This is a somewhat simplified version of Persona 5. The progression is a bit simpler, so with the levels it is possible to unlock the additional boosters of the arsenal that you carry in battles. The so-called BOND leveling will open you some nice skills like unlocking treasure chests through worlds, stronger special attacks, basic stats boosts, etc. In battles you can also use objects on the field to perform Phantom Move attacks, so maybe that's something you want to boost.

In addition to weapons, there are also accessories and armors. Classic, nothing special but together it works well enough.

Like whipped cream, that foam on top, I would highlight the proud soundtrack. I enjoyed every second of the music while playing, some of the themes were already so ingrained in me that I sang them throughout the day. When I’m not playing, I listen to the soundtrack from the game. When I play, I can’t wait for the remastered boss fight version. It is the music that gives life to the whole game and makes all situations somehow memorable. All locations have "soul" because they are unique, and with good music it all makes even more sense.

Yes, I'm also into them <3

Keep in mind that this title is directly related to Person 5, so it would be wise to play that game first. The Royal version is out there, as such it is also the best you can find.

The depression that comes after a game like this...

Persona is the perfect school of all our lives and situations, interwoven with the perfect voice acting and soundtrack for that same life. There are few games that can present an everyday situation and present it as a game in which we experience all these emotions and situations in an interesting way (as a reflection of someone's desires and thoughts).

Persona 5 Strikers has its own note. For me personally, that very note is the beginning of a melody that develops into something I want to listen to the end. I don't fear about that part of what the game has to offer, it's just a matter of how much that note is ready to arouse your desire for this adventure.

I believe that Persona 5 Strikers may not be a game for everyone, but I also think that this series should definitely be given a chance. The depths of all the spheres we find inside clearly represent one mature, polished game that is hard to resist. Phantom Thieves tells a story I love.

"One of the best spin-offs that faithfully celebrates its predecessor and easily stands as a standalone title. If you loved Person 5, I see no reason why not to like this too."
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