Beat ’em up, Phantom Thieves
At this point, Atlus kind of can’t do wrong when it comes to the Persona series.
Now, everyone has their favorite recent Persona (3-5), and to create some suspense, I won’t tell you that 4 is mine. Wait, I think I messed up there.
Persona 5 slaps too. And it’s still fun as a beat ’em up.
Persona 5 Strikers (PC, PS4 [reviewed], Switch)
Developer: Omega Force, P-Studio
Released: February 20, 2020 (JP) | February 23, 2021
At this juncture, we haven’t fully made our way through Persona 5 Strikers yet, but suffice to say, we get the gist.
I’m gonna start with the good news on the options at first: you have English or Japanese audio available at the start. It’s great news for folks who prefer either cast, but there’s at least one gameplay concession that’s going to delight everyone involved. Yep, it’s none other than the modern “framerate” or “graphic” settings, which focus on performance or visuals respectively.
Wait. Hold the phone. “Framerate” setting in an Omega Force game? Have we arrived, as a civilization? As a culture? Maybe. But as far as this game is concerned, the framerate is rather stable, in my PS4 version tests on a PS5. We were unable to try out the PC and Switch editions, mind.
So digging right in with all the tablesetting aside, what is Persona 5 Strikers? Simply put, it’s a continuation of sorts that’s mere months after the events of the core game. The whole gang gets sucked into yet another adventure in a different reality/plane, and it’s off to the races. While it’s early yet in terms of judging the merit of the story itself, I am thoroughly intrigued, and appreciate that it’s not a hand-waved spinoff.
The game kind of assumes that you already have some sort of knowledge in regards to Persona 5‘s cast, but the gargantuan JRPG is not required reading, so to speak. You can get the basic gist (this is a beat ’em up ultimately) just by gleaning character traits and narratives in-game. Some of said narrative is displayed via text messages between the cast, which results in cute little sets of banter. But you also get fully voiced cutscenes with actual effort into them, all with the jazzy and bold Persona aesthetic. Oh, and a decent chunk of chilling between scenarios, walking around (albeit very limited and tunnel-y) portions of Tokyo, buying stuff, and engaging in tertiary RPG bits.
It feels like a real extension of the Persona 5 universe, which is a huge plus in terms of cutting down on some of the roteness of the Omega Force mechanical formula. You are still, ultimately, hitting a basic attack button and stringing in combos with a special attack button (and they are still Square and Triangle on PlayStation consoles). But you also add in the panache of Persona-centric supers that are larger than life anime explosions, as well as the fun of summoning in personas and firing off your gun at hapless spirits.
It’s early yet to tell whether or not that tried and true formula will overstay its welcome, but Persona 5 Strikers is looking real good so far, as an Omega Force brawler and as a Persona game. It’s a bold claim for sure, but it already grabbed me with the promise of more Persona. Stay tuned for our full review.
[This review is based on retail builds of the game provided by the publisher.]