First Impressions on Persona 5 Strikers

in Steem Gaming11 months ago

First Impressions on Persona 5 Strikers

Persona 5 Strikers is an action RPG released in 2020. It was developed Omega Force and P-Studio and published by Atlus. Similar to how Hyrule Warriors is a 'Dynasty Warriors' spin on the Zelda franchise, Persona 5 Strikers is a 'Dynasty Warriors' spin on the Persona franchise. As of writing these first impressions, I've been playing the game for about 20 hours, so maybe it's a bit more than just first impressions. There will be spoilers for the first two dungeons, or 'Prisons' as they're called.

Expectations

In 2022, I finally got to sit down and play my way through Persona 5 Royal. I'd say the game is very much deserving of the praise it got, with its incredibly stylish presentation and highly entertaining RPG gameplay. It's also notable for its fun and recognizable cast of characters. The battle system offers quick ways to manouver through the One More and Baton Pass systems, which let you take another turn if you exploit an enemy's weakness and hand over your turn to another party member respectively. Since Persona 5 Strikers is a 'Warriors' type game with real-time combat, I was curious to see how many of these elements could be inherited and which would have to be dropped.

While I enjoyed Hyrule Warriors' story for the crazy crossover it was, I was especially excited by the prospect of Persona 5 Strikers because in terms of story, it's actually a sequel to Persona 5. I was particularly excited to see the characters again, since I had become really attached to the cast by the end of Persona 5.

So, what expectations has Persona 5 Strikers met so far, and which has it failed to meet?

Good Impressions - Presentation


From the moment you start the game, it's obvious that it's faithful to Persona 5's style. It has all the same flair and plenty of new artwork and music to enjoy that can easily match the original in quality. And the main cast all make a return, and they're just as charming as ever.

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The game starts you out in familiar territory, but you soon get to visit the new type of dungeon, the 'Prisons.' Each has a unique visual flair, just like the Palaces.

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As for audio, the sound effect get the job done, and the voice actors - just like in Persona 5 - do a great job portraying their characters. It'd be a sin to spoil you on all the amazing new music, but I'll share one of the combat themes that made an immediate impression on me:

I was so happy to hear Lyn came back to provide vocals for Strikers, since her performances in the Persona 5 soundtrack are legendary.

_All in all, I can't really argue with the presentation. It's top notch. _

Mostly Good Impressions - Story

The Metaverse, an alternate dimension formed by people's cognition, is a concept that leaves plenty to explore even after finishing Persona 5's story. We get to see that there aren't just Palaces formed by distorted desires, but Prisons where people's desires are stolen. And of course, it's up to the Phantom Thieves to put a stop to these tools of mass brainwashing once and for all - and find out who's truly behind their creation.

Like I mentioned under presentation, the main cast all made a return, but that doesn't go for a lot of the side characters. Tae Takumi (the doctor) and Munehisa Iwai (gun shop owner) are not present, and are instead replaced by shops in the town and a shop provided by a new character. It's not really fair of me to judge a game by what it doesn't have, but I was a little sad we don't get to see how many of the confidants are doing. If it turns out they appear much later in the game, I'll note that in my following article.

The new supporting characters are quite a success, though, in my opinion. Zenkichi, the detective working with the Phantom Thieves, is very witty and got a chuckle out of me several times. Sophia, the mysterious AI being helping out the Phantom Thieves is also endearing, has a good design and is the one now in charge of the shop.

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Whether you consider this something to criticize or praise is subjective, but most of the Palace Rulers in Persona 5 were deeply unsympathic people, very close to being purely evil (with two notable exceptions). Persona 5 Strikers, on the other hand, has put some amount of effort into making the Prison Monarchs more sympathetic. They're not painted as good people, but it's explained more clearly how they came to be this way. It's explored how they went from people with noble ambitions to becoming cruel and selfish, usually due to the way they were treated. I think this has led to some really interesting interactions with the cast, but I'll reserve my final thoughts for when I finish the game completely.

All in all, Persona 5 Strikers picks up where Persona 5 left off very nicely and further expands the world. Just don't expect every fun side character from Persona 5 to make a return, and instead, enjoy the very well implemented new characters and more interesting antagonists.

Mixed Impressions - Gameplay

Outside the dungeons, Persona 5 Strikers feels almost exactly like Persona 5. You walk around town, interact with characters and shops and so on. It's when you enter the Prisons that we start to see what could and couldn't be taken from the original Persona 5.

I will start by saying the game deserves praise for attempting to implement many of the systems present in Persona 5. Personas function the same, including the way they can be crafted and taught moves. Enemies can also be knocked down by exploiting their weaknesses, perform a follow-up similar to a 'One More', and knocking many enemies down allows you to perform an All-Out Attack. You can even 'Baton Pass,' although this mostly just boils down to taking control of another character. All in all, the systems that made Persona 5 into what it is are here in some way or another. However, in some cases that is purely symbolic. 'One More' is really just a follow up attack, rather than an extra 'turn,' since there are no turns to take. And switching characters can be important in the heat of battle, but the same kind of tactical planning ahead with the Baton Passes isn't possible in an action game like this. It was inevitable that these systems would be simplified for real-time combat, but it is worth pointing out either way.

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The combat itself is very flashy and satisfying, though especially on the hard difficulty, sometimes the game has trouble finding a sweet spot between enemies that just crumble in seconds and damage sponge encounters. The easy encounters are fine - Warriors type games are meant to make you feel powerful a lot of the time, after all - but it's the enemies with a lot of health that cause the most troubke. This leads to one of the biggest problems I have with the game: To knock down a boss or elite enemy (and thus do any kind of respectable damage), you need to exploit its weak spot many times, especially on the hard difficulty. Sometimes you're expected to hit the weakness more than a dozen times. This means that, if you happen to have brought the wrong characters or Personas for a given encounter, it can quickly turn into a 15-minute slog or a nearly unwinnable game of cat and mouse. This is mainly owed to the fact that enemies do damage your characters a lot with singular attacks and can easily inflict debilitating status effects and knockdowns on you while you chip away at their massive health bar and defenses with attack after attack after attack. This is further agitated by how hard it is to recover SP, which you need to cast spells. It just doesn't always feel as balanced as it should be.

I've only completed 2 Prisons so far, but they've already started feeling a little formulaic - you're tasked with retrieving 3 McGuffins to gain access to a miniboss, which will then unlock the boss proper. The Prisons definitely don't feel as complex or involved as the Palaces in that regard, which is a shame. Maybe future Prisons will change my mind on this, however.

To wrap this part up: The game tries to implement a lot of Persona 5's systems into 'Warriors' style gameplay, and it succeeds, if mostly in a shallow way. Balance issues and repetition hold the game back from greatness, however.

Conclusion so far

All in all, I fully embrace the great presentation and story, both the old and new parts. I'm a bit mixed on the gameplay due to repetition and balance issues, even if the game is very fun and satisfying when you bring the right team to the right battle.

I will stick with it just to enjoy what the game does really well, but I am secretly hoping some of the problems I've laid out will be ironed out in the third prison and beyond (if there is indeed a beyond).

Thanks for reading! Did you play Persona 5, and do you intend to try out Strikers? Or did you already play it? Let me know!

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