Twenty minutes of Persona 5 was enough to convince me I need the hell out of it

The UI alone is a work of art

I love me some Persona. As such, I’ve been on a sort of media blackout, only seeing images of dope anime folk in masks on Twitter out of the corner of my eye. But when I saw that it was playable at PSX, I begged Atlus to let me skip the line and play it behind closed doors. I didn’t expect it to work, but hey, I’m cool, Atlus is cool, sometimes you just gotta have a cool party.

While I can’t say basically anything at all about the plot (the game has been released in Japan if you want to spoil the story for yourself, you miscreant), running around the starting dungeon and going through a few battles was enough for me to think “yep, this is awesome, back to media blackout after this.”

Running around the school and subways of Tokyo, I was immediately struck by how vibrant and stylish the presentation was. That sounds super obvious if you’ve played the previous games or watched any trailers for Persona 5, but got damn that user interface is hot. Menus and conversations are so flashy and in-your-face while somehow avoiding being completely obnoxious. While the critic part of me raised an eyebrow when the main character clipped through the denizens of Tokyo as if they weren’t there, I quickly realized that I just don’t care. I know that when I eventually play this and am trying to make new anime friends, I’m gonna wanna get from point A to point B as fast as possible and I don’t want to be tripping on everyone.

Speaking of making friends, the relationship-building mechanic formerly known as Social Links is now called the Confidante system, and it has more implications on your progression than earning new Personae or getting experience boosts with each characters’ Tarot Arcana. Wow, does this game sound insane if you’re new to the series. Let’s take a step back: the demons (or personae) that you collect and utilize in battle are each connected to a specific Arcana, as are the friends you make. Improve your relationship with that friend, and you’ll be better equipped to use demons of that type of Arcana.

Demon Negotiation (usually seen in Shin Megami Tensei, from which Persona is an off-shoot) is back in the form of hold-ups. You can only bring a finite amount of ammunition into dungeons, but you can use your gun to hold up demons and ask them for items, money, or allegiance. I’m happy to see these systems merge, as I always missed negotiating with demons in Persona. I only battled a few different enemies, but seeing the series’ iconic Pixie rendered on a current-gen system felt amazing. Before now, we had only seen these demons on the lower-poly PlayStation 2 or in the pixel-based 3DS games. I was assured that Mara, the dick-chariot, is in the game, veiny and in high definition.

Again, I can’t share any plot details, but know that Persona 5 starts with some serious shit, and you’re right in the thick of it. This won’t be like the last game, where multiple hours of exposition stood in the way of your first dungeon.

Persona 5 will be released on PS3 and PS4 on April 4, 2017. I know I’m supposed to be all impartial and stuff, but holy dang am I excited for this one.

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Zack Furniss
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