Persona 5 Strikers Review on PS4
Persona 5 Strikers is a sequel in an unfortunate position. Tasked not only with following up the breakout hit that was Persona 5 but also with bringing the Musou framework to the series, it wouldn’t be surprising for it to fall short of fans’ lofty expectations. And yet, despite these factors, Persona 5 Strikers stands as a worthy follow-up to the acclaimed RPG that came before it while also showing the potential the property has to expand to new genres.
Set six months after the events of the first game, Strikers sees Joker and Morgana return to Tokyo to reunite with the rest of the Phantom Thieves for a summer road trip. Everyone is eager to catch up after so much time apart, and quickly set out to gather what they’ll need for their trip.
It’s not long after this, though, that they learn all is not well with the Metaverse. Across the country, people’s desires are being stolen from them by mysterious individuals known as Monarchs, and gathered in new subconscious structures known as Jails. This results in them having sudden and potentially dangerous changes of heart, doing whatever the Monarchs wish in the real world.
As a result, The Phantom Thieves are under investigation by the police once again, with Joker square in their sights. To make matters worse, they’re fully prepared to use him as their fall guy should the true culprits remain hidden.
All is not lost though, as this new dilemma brings with it two new allies: Sophia, a sentient AI with no memory of where she came from and an unknown tie to the Jails; and Zenkichi, a police inspector with the Kyoto Prefecture who hopes to work together with the Phantom Thieves to find the real culprits behind the latest changes of heart.
Alongside these new allies, the Phantom Thieves set out to get to the bottom of this latest mystery, clear their names and restore the desires of all those impacted by its perpetrators.
Persona 5 Strikers’ story is slightly more streamlined compared to Persona 5’s, relying heavily on the pre-existing lore established in the previous game. Aspects like the Metaverse, who the Phantom Thieves are and so forth aren’t given a retread to catch people up, with the focus instead lying on exploring new facets of the series’ world.
This means it isn’t the best place to jump in for newcomers, but also serves to get players familiar with P5 right into the thick of it. From the get-go, a new plot unravels with revelations, surprise twists and payoffs that will keep one enthralled from beginning to end. Newly introduced characters add new layers to the moral dilemmas the cast faces, and getting to see the Phantom Thieves interacting with each other like old times is icing on the cake.
However, this wouldn’t mean much if the gameplay didn’t hold up as well. Luckily, Strikers proves that it’s more than possible to blend elements of Musou titles with Persona in a worthwhile way.
On one hand, there are definitely new elements added in to provide hack and slash gameplay aplenty and make it feel like a proper Musou title. Mobs of enemies the player can rip through make up a hefty portion of the game’s battles, and there are different combos players can execute as any of a number of different characters.
Likewise, elements have been removed to allow for these changes to hold the focus of the experience. There are no turn-based elements to the game, with combat occurring naturally after an encounter starts.
The life sim and time management elements from P5 have also been stripped out of the game almost entirely. There are still moments where you can interact with members of the Phantom Thieves, and moments where you can lock yourself out of minor content based on the choices you make, but otherwise the game is solely geared toward progressing the story and engaging in combat.
At the same time though, just as many gameplay mechanics are carried over from the Persona series that make Strikers feel more like an action RPG version of Persona 5 than anything else.
Combat encounters are still triggered by making contact with enemies which roam the map. Players can still ambush said enemies by ripping off their masks to daze them, and stun or topple them using magic spells which carry different elemental affinities. They can even take advantage of stunned enemies with All-Out Attacks or Showtime attacks, obliterating them in a flurry of blows or a stylish burst of elemental energy respectively.
Joker’s Personas can still be fused and swapped out at the player’s discretion as well. As with every Persona game, each one offers different abilities and techniques to uncover, and can help strengthen new Personas that the player creates using them.
This results in a blend of Persona 5 and Musou that feels appropriate for fans of either camp. Those who enjoy Musou will still have more than enough power-fantasy action to enjoy, while Persona fans will still have enough depth and challenge to keep them satisfied for the duration of the game.
About the only place the gameplay falls flat is in its side content. Whereas everything tied to the main story is varied and engaging, very few of the game’s side quests offer much aside from fetch quests, defeating a certain number of enemies or re-fighting bosses.
This can make them feel like a chore to complete, which is all the more unfortunate considering many of them are essential for getting better gear and progressing through the game without issue.
As for Persona 5 Strikers’ presentation, it’s still a cut above pretty much anything else out there. On the visual front, it’s a feast for the eyes thanks to eye-catching colors and aesthetics that bring the world to life. Dungeons like the Metaverse’s gaudy wonderland version of Shibuya, or the futuristic utopia that is Osaka’s Jail, provide a great contrast to the more grounded and bustling real-world cities they exist in tandem with.
Likewise, the UI is just as flashy and eye-catching as in Persona 5. Things like button prompts, word bubbles and the like still hold the same effect of grabbing the player’s attention while feeling exciting, making it so that they don’t feel obtrusive even dozens of hours into the game.
The music, meanwhile, is just as exceptional. Featuring a slew of tracks from Persona 5 as well as some new and reworked tracks made specifically for Strikers, it lends an energy to the title which holds from beginning to end.
Persona 5 Strikers is proof that change isn’t always a bad thing. While it may not hold onto everything that made its forebear a phenomenon, the new elements it brings to the table more than make up for it, and show that the series’ future lies in more than just straight-forward turn-based JRPGs. It’s an experience fans will find more than enough to love about, and that will give them plenty of hope for the series’ bright future.
- Great blend of Musou and Persona.
- Worthwhile story.
- Outstanding visuals and music.
- Not great for newcomers.
- Lackluster side content.
Feb. 23, 2021
Atlus, Omega Force, P Studio
PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC