Now that my summer vacation is in full swing and provides nothing but heavenly free time, I’m also hopping on the bandwagon that sings praises to one of the most notable releases of this year. For some, Persona 5 is the zenith to the wait of almost a decade whereas I fell in love with this JRPG/teen life hybrid not until last year, courtesy of Persona 4 Golden. That one was hands down my Game of the Year 2016, so it took quite a bit of willpower to not jump into this latest entry until being able to gorge it pretty much 24/7.
The player is a small town teenager who gets into trouble merely by defending a helpless woman from the advances of a drunken boor. Unfortunately that schmuck not only gets hurt in the process but also carries enough influence to land the involuntary hero a criminal record, an expulsion from his school, and a year of probation to be spent somewhere else. Fair or not, the youngster is sent to Tokyo. There, at Shujin Academy, he’s supposed to start a new life, even if rumors of his supposed delinquency are already spreading like wildfire.
It’s not going to be dull, everyday life, though, as a mysterious mobile application leads our hero and his new classmates – the hot-headed troublemaker Ryuji Sakamoto and allegedly immoral beauty Ann Takamaki – into a strange parallel world full of demons known as personas. There, they are met by a talking cat, Morgana, who gets these understandably rather confused teens up to speed. These strange worlds are the dark manifestations of the subconsciousness’ of deranged individuals; playgrounds for their sick omnipotence, if you will. The only way to stop such narcissistic psychopaths in real life is to steal the hidden desires within their hearts. Thus, the three youngsters and one talking cat have no choice but to get absorbed in some genuine hands-down psychotherapy. Of course, kicking demon butt is one thing but there’s also the fleeting days of youth in a bustling metropolis that need to be enjoyed to the max.
As weird as that might sound, it should be more than a familiar premise for long-term fans of the series. Since my own journey has barely begun and will most certainly lead to multiple blog entries, I’ll wrap up this first one just stating the obvious: yes, it’s a glorious and utterly stylish game, yes, it feels like the best Persona ever made, and yes, it carries more than a hint of that elusive Game of the Year fragrance. Still, I think I need a few more hours to constitute a slightly more objective perspective into what makes it tick and what does not. Nevertheless, it sure is some damn good stuff!