It’s not easy navigating high school, especially in the world of Persona. Homework, job, time with friends, and saving the world from demons are all part of the normal day-to-day. The series makes those teen years into one of the best JRPG franchises around, and we here at Fandom are hyped for the next iteration, Persona 5.
From the art direction and character design to the J-pop inspired soundtrack to the writing and story development, the Persona series has always rewarded the players with an amazing experience. Persona 5 looks to continue that trend and then some on both the PlayStation 3 & 4 early next year. After being in development for so long, it’s nearly here — and there are so many reasons for fans old and new to be excited.
New Setting and Theme
Similar to the other games in the series, Persona 5 takes place in modern-day Japan and focuses on a group of teenage heroes who overcome adversity in order to save the world. While it’s a very common trope in many RPG’s, the Persona series consistently pulls it off with a style all its own.
Each game of the modern Persona series has followed a distinct theme. Persona 3 dealt with the inevitability and acceptance of death as a part of life. In Persona 4, it was the theme of identity, by discovering and accepting your true self. With Persona 5, you will deal with the shackles we’ve placed on ourselves in modern society, with the heroes seeking to liberate those who are unhappy and discontent with their lives.
“I Am Thou, Thou Art I.”
You play the Protagonist, recently transferred to a new school where you quickly discover that things aren’t what they seem (you choose his name). A common start for the series, but there’s an added twist! In order to fix what’s wrong, you must break the law and become the greatest thief ever known. In order to accomplish that, you and your group of friends must tap into your inner power and call forth your true selves, your Personas.
For those new to the series, Personas are manifestations of the self you can call forth to battle your enemies. They usually take the form of well-known heroes, monsters, demons, or even gods. The Persona associated with the main characters are usually tied in with their personality and reflect their true nature. It’s with the Protagonist however that you are the “wild card”, one who can summon and control many Personas to aid you in your fight.
Outlaws as Heroes
In Persona 5, the “noble thief” theme flows through the character designs. Each character and their respective Persona takes inspiration from famous thieves and rogues in history and literature. Arséne Lupin, Zorro, Goemon, and Captain Kidd are just some of the Personas that you and your allies will call forth to help as you battle evil.
By becoming thieves, the lead characters seek to save society by stealing the corrupt hearts of adults. In doing so you slowly bring society back from the brink and help reform your targets. While you start with a small group in the beginning, throughout the story you’ll recruit other students from all walks of life to join in your quest. All will have their own reasons for helping, and some might even have ulterior motives for helping you succeed.
A Bit of Old, A Bit of New
Judging by the information we know so far, the presentation of the main quest will be similar to Persona 3. Your main objectives, or “heists”, will take place in different areas of a large singular location called “The Palace”. On top of that, you can also battle through Memento dungeons. These will be fully optional and randomly generated every time you enter. The types of quests and enemies will also be affected by factors within the game (progress, weather, day, etc.).
In a new twist, early gameplay footage shows that there will be more action-orientated elements involved as well. Stealth, platforming, and preparation of the heists ahead of time will be important factors in your success. On top of that, they’re bringing back the demonic negotiations from earlier Persona games that are more famous in the main Shin Megami Tensei series. In the past two games, you would receive more Personas as rewards from battle. Now, in order to successfully bring a Persona over to your side, you’ll need to strike a bargain with them. The bargain is typically agreed upon either through answering questions, having a certain item, or just being powerful enough.
New and Improved Social Links
It’s not all about battling evil creatures, though. As I mentioned above, the core gameplay of the Persona series blends day-to-day teenage life with RPG dungeon crawling over the course of the school year. Studying for tests, hanging out with friends and dating, even getting a job all factors in towards your character’s progress. You don’t just become more powerful by defeating enemies but through opening yourself up to relationships, both platonic and romantic.
These relationships are part of the biggest gameplay element of the series: Social Links. By meeting and interacting with specific people in the game world, you slowly develop links that correspond to parts of the Arcana. The more you develop these links, the stronger the Personas associated with those groups become.
Now called “Cooperation” in Persona 5, these links will also grant more bonuses to other elements in the game such as item crafting, map discovery, and improving attack bonuses for certain weapons. This is a major gameplay change and provides a lot more incentive to pursue these side quests throughout the game.
Take Your Heart
We’ll see more information on Persona 5 at Mid-September’s Tokyo Game Show, which also coincides with the Japanese launch of the title on 9/15. A lot of information is still being slowly doled out, but once it launches overseas we’ll know for sure how all the changes and updates will work in the greater context of the game. Yet, the rest of the world will have to wait just a bit longer to experience the North American version on Feb. 14th, 2017.