Many long time Persona fans remember the constant shifting of the release dates for “Persona 5.” Originally announced in 2013 for a 2014 release, the game wound up being released in May 2017 after several delays to improve the game’s quality.
While I definitely enjoyed my playthrough of it despite not being the best and understand where the title of ‘one of the roleplaying games ever’ comes from to an extent, there are definitely some points that fall flat.
Let’s get the negative point out of the way first since I’d prefer to talk about what I really enjoyed. My biggest issue regards character treatment and the neglectful nature of its own message at parts. The game’s baseline message is that of rebellion; to rise against the societal order to make things fair. To have that message betrayed in a meta and in-universe sense harmed the game’s story.
One of the first major characters the player meets is Ann Takamaki, a model who has caught the eye of the lecherous teacher Kamoshida. Another future party member Ryuji Sakamoto also falls under this teacher’s treatment, having gotten a broken leg and a delinquent reputation after trying to fight him after being provoked.
The entire arc centers around stealing this man’s desire, to take away his lust and make him apologize and repent for all he’s done. To send a message that the sexual harassment cannot continue and that objectifying and harming young girls due to his position is unforgivable.
Yet the game seems to forget the message right after the arc. Ann manages to get objectified repeatedly throughout the remainder with Ryuji being the culprit despite hating the treatment of Ann by Kamoshida as well. It’s an entire 180 on his already established character and, seeing as he’s my favorite, it disappointed me and hurt its own message for old ATLUS game tropes.
The pacing also was a bit off after a certain portion. The final party member, Haru Okumura, gets very little screen-time in comparison to the other major characters. Her social link is also easier to get through, making it a bit obvious that ATLUS recognizes the poor pacing around her section of the story.
I also have a few complaints regarding end game, but I don’t want to spoil anything about the ending. Despite all of this, I really did enjoy Persona 5! I want people to at least watch a playthrough of it and form their own opinions on it without me spoiling the entire ending.
My main reason for originally purchasing the game was the aesthetic. Phantom Thieves? Extravagantly designed dungeons? Villains getting what they rightfully deserve? A lovable cast? Sign me up!
The game as a game itself is phenomenal. I loved every second I spent running around the environments and interacting with the rest of the cast. Developing friendships and exploring Mementos provided some good moments (especially with the little conversations that crop up when you’re driving through Mementos) while not feeling too boring. The side missions to increase certain attributes felt natural and even challenging at times while confidants outside of the main party helped expand the world.
To me, “Persona 5” is a game that I have several problems with while holding quite an affection for it all the same. The day I bought it on impulse because I had enough cash on me at that moment isn’t one I regret and I don’t think anyone looking for a game to play for a while would regret the purchase either.