First things first – fuck Atlus for their stupid policies about people live-streaming this game. It’s bullshit, and I guess they don’t like free publicity. Nintendo should tell them how well that is working out for them. That being said, hopefully this company’s asinine decision doesn’t ruin your drive to play this game, because this is one HELL of a JRPG. I haven’t played a JRPG this fun in years. With how this genre has scaled down to the point that it seems like it’s on life support, for a game this good to come out is truly a marvel. This is my first game in the Persona series, and hot shit. This game is nigh flawless. There is one major thing that just eats away at me, but we’ll get there when we do.
Never has the idea that delaying a game until they get it right hold more weight than it did here. I am so glad this game got delayed. The polish on this final product is fantastic. This game is incredible, and I cannot recommend it enough. Sony really is putting their best foot forward lately. Seems they are aware of how they are not doing so well, but they have come back swinging this year with two exclusives that are beyond the pale. And if this is a sign of things to come, I am so stoked for the other exclusives of theirs that I am waiting for.
This game has you playing as the Phantom Thieves, a little band of high school kids (of course they are) who are going into a parallel universe to steal the hearts of people twisted by their own desires. This game has a lot of REALLY dark themes, and not once do they shy away from it. In fact, the way this game tackles the dark subject matter head on is actually pretty impressive. I expected them to get kind of antsy about going this deep into the scary stuff. But nope! Not once do they shy away from the twisted shit that is in this game’s villains hearts. Not to mention some of the darker implications of what you are doing to these people stealing their heart’s treasure. The moral implications of some of what you do can get a little disturbing.
Which brings me to the acting. A game this twisted can only be sold with great performances. Every role in this game is fantastic. Your character is a silent protagonist, which admittedly isn’t as fun as I would like, but I can overlook that with a superb cast of supporting characters, all of which have their own personalities and quirks that they bring to the table. Not to mention the relationships that you build up over time and how your actions with each character can change all sorts of variables in the game.
So let’s talk about the visuals. Oh my Groj! This game looks amazing! The use of color is fantastic. The punk aesthetic that they were going for is all over this game, and bless it for that. I love every second of the visual candy that I see. The real world is even pretty nice, with every area having a lot of personality. But the Palaces are where the game shines the most. Each one is unique and has a design that will blow you away.
The thing which will make or break this game for a lot of people is the combat system. If you don’t like turn-based strategic combat, you are going to hate this game. It’s that simple. Fighting in this game took me back to Final Fantasy X. Every move is a carefully planned decision, paying attention to your enemies, your stats, and what Personas you have equipped. Which brings me to the primary way you will be fighting. Each of the side characters can only have one Persona, which is fine. The idea of micro-managing an entire team of interchangeable Personas gives me a headache just thinking about.
You have a TON of customization options in this game. Whether it be the skills you teach your Personas, the Persona crafting system which has some dark implications on its own, or the customization of your characters and the sheer amount of items there are to collect, you will never find yourself in a position where you don’t have options to play with. The sheer amount of stuff to do in this game is incredible. Which brings me to my one and only beef with it.
For coming so close to a perfect score and crashing on this, it is a little frustrating. This game has a time based system, and here’s the problem with it – the game will often fight with you about it. Instead of allowing you to make use of your time as you see fit, there are so many points where the game will fight you. Why can’t I spend a little time at the gym and a little time at the baseball cages? Why can’t I do a little studying and then catch a movie? This game’s limiting factor in what you can do is so frustrating. This is made all the worse because leveling up your personality traits is a HUGE part of this game, and you don’t get the time to really do a lot with it. I don’t like when this game fights me, and it does that a lot. To some this might seem nit-picky, but when I have the option to eat ramen and then chill at a bathhouse, I don’t want to have to choose between the two when I could so easily do both! It is so frustrating at times.
This is not a game for everyone. The pace is slow, and you will find yourself wishing you could get more side-tracked with stuff. It doesn’t help that leveling up your personality traits is so fucking inconsistent. If only I had more time to do the stuff necessary! But if you love JRPGs, then you owe it to yourself to play this game. It is a cut above its contemporaries, in every way.
9 out of 10