On the finish of Persona 5, we parted methods with a terrific solid of characters we grew to like over the course of a 100-hour story. Final yr’s Persona 5 Royal gave us an excuse to revisit that very same journey with further content material, however followers yearned for an all-new journey. Persona 5 Strikers reunites the solid from the unique recreation six months later for an all-new journey throughout Japan. Regardless that it drastically modifications just a few key components of the expertise, it nonetheless seems like a real, compelling continuation of the sport that stole RPG followers’ hearts almost 4 years in the past.
Many components of the Persona 5 expertise carry into Strikers; after listening to rumors of individuals abusing their energy, you management the Phantom Thieves as you examine the allegations earlier than leaping to the cognitive world of the Metaverse to infiltrate their dungeon (that are known as “jails” this time round) and alter their hearts. Alongside the best way, you struggle by way of tons of Shadows as you progress towards the chief of the dungeon for a climactic showdown. Whereas understanding the unique recreation’s story enhances the expertise, it’s not a requirement to take pleasure in Strikers. The familiarity of this system is sort of a heat homecoming for people who did play Persona 5, however when you begin beating up enemies, it’s evident this can be a completely different beast from the historically turn-based RPG collection.
When it’s time to battle, Persona 5 Strikers modifications from a methodical dungeon-crawler to an all-out motion recreation. The hack-and-slash model of fight from Musou video games like Dynasty Warriors is carried out in small-scale encounters; every Phantom Thief has mild and heavy assaults you employ in numerous combos to carry out particular assaults with standing results. I beloved the frenetic and intuitive motion that comes from slashing by way of hordes of enemies and watching them fly off the sting of Joker’s knife or Panther’s whip, however the fight provides further depth utilizing the characters’ Personas.
At any level in a battle, you’ll be able to summon a personality’s Persona; the motion pauses as you select a spell to solid and the realm it’ll have an effect on. Should you hit an enemy’s weak spot, you open them up for a follow-up assault. Should you hit them arduous sufficient, you provoke a strong All-Out Assault, the place the entire workforce pounces on the enemies without delay. The summoning system, when mixed with the fast-paced fight and completely different environmental interactions, delivers a clean expertise that empowers you to take down enemies in fashionable and environment friendly trend. My favourite battles had me swapping between characters, rattling off completely different combos, exploiting weaknesses with their Personas, detonating explosive units, dropping chandeliers, and delivering devastating ultimate blows to shut out the present. A continuing stream of this motion can be exhausting, however Persona 5 Strikers does a very good job of pacing the encounters out inside the jails.
Jails share many attributes with the palaces of Persona 5. They each exist within the Metaverse, have a ruler you’re attempting to defeat to alter their habits in the true world, and are stuffed with Shadows to take down. Nonetheless, jails don’t ship the creativity of the palace design. I appreciated the waypoint at all times telling me the place to go, however when almost each jail is a point-A-to-point-B enterprise, I ultimately felt like I used to be merely going by way of the motions to succeed in my vacation spot. One jail makes an attempt to combine up the system with a brief stealth part and paths with portals that dump you in different areas, however these modifications come throughout extra as half-hearted gimmicks that I used to be glad to see deserted after one look.
Every jail is dominated by a monarch, a strong particular person within the real-world who has discovered a method to steal the needs of on a regular basis folks to primarily enslave them. As a substitute of giving in to one of many seven lethal sins, monarchs have had their hearts corrupted by some type of private trauma. I generally struggled to sympathize with the characters when the time got here for his or her change of coronary heart, however when this narrative thread works, the story of Persona 5 Strikers delivers some really touching sequences about how trauma can change an individual. These moments are enhanced by what number of of them draw parallels to what a member of your workforce went by way of within the first recreation.
Catching up with numerous members of the Phantom Thieves was the component I used to be most excited for in Persona 5 Strikers, and it delivers for essentially the most half. I beloved studying what they’ve been as much as for the reason that first recreation and watching them develop much more by way of this journey. Nonetheless, I used to be disenchanted to have restricted social-simulation alternatives. The social-link mechanics are nowhere to be present in Strikers. As a substitute, you might have a bond system that allows you to improve the celebration. You possibly can speak to the characters across the metropolis and invite a companion of your selecting to do sure actions in the course of the story, however the conversations are sometimes inconsequential and underwhelming.
Whereas not each disparate component comes collectively in addition to it did in Persona 5, I used to be very happy to go on one other journey with the characters I developed such bonds with again in 2017. The motion could play out utterly in another way, however the coronary heart of the collection stays intact.