Coming up on almost a year since the Japanese release of Persona 5 Scramble we're now a month away from Persona 5 Strikers getting its global release. Wanting to play more since the Japanese demo released almost a year ago the itch has finally been scratched, and it was worth the wait. Persona 5 Strikers lets the Phantom Thieves out of the box once more after their story was neatly wrapped up. With Atlus and Omega Force at the helm further refining their ability to adapt their Musou formula to external IP this might not be the Persona game that people had been expecting, but it's going to be one that they enjoy.
Continue the Story in Persona 5 Strikers
Joker is back in town for summer vacation, it's not long before he's caught up with his fellow Phantom Thieves. After shutting off the metaverse and literally killing a god, the plans for the summer are a road trip around Japan. It doesn't take too long for Joker and his entourage to stumble into a new kind of danger when the digital assistant app EMMA pulls the Phantom Thieves into a Jail, this game's dungeons. The Jail belongs to the Monarch Alice, who in the real world is an idol stealing the desires of her fans to grow her brand. To add to the mystery of the return of the Cognitive World, the function of Jails, and who could be the mastermind behind it all, Joker also comes across an AI called Sophia who has a desire to learn what it is to be human.
The story picks up immediately, and it picks up fast. The cast of characters is already assembled, players will likely already know what a Persona is and how the Velvet Room works, and even the core idea of a Jail isn't too different on paper from a Palace or any other dungeon in a Persona game. Unlike previous Persona titles where it might be an hour or so until your first proper battle, you'll be in a Jail sneaking up on Shadows in no time at all.
Persona 5 Strikers Shakes Up Combat
Returning Persona 5 fans will be familiar with sneaking around Jails, ambushing shadows, and searching for treasure. Once you encounter a Shadow instead of transitioning into a turn-based battle players launch immediately into ARPG combat. Combat here is reminiscent of Musou titles but also remains extremely faithful to the Persona. Alternate between fighting as each of the Phantom Thieves, each with their own unique style. Characters like Joker and Panther have a relatively basic set of moves chaining combos together, but fighting as Ryuji your focus will be on charging your attacks up, or Fox who is built around countering enemy attacks. Each character is extremely fun to play if you want to get technical with them, but mashing the attack button is also a pretty viable strategy.
Another large change is just how relaxed the game is outside of dungeons. Persona 5 Strikers has dropped the life simulation aspects, as well as relationship levels with the other members of the group, so you'll no longer need to be planning out your time as the days tick. You can explore the real world and go shopping, dive in and out of the Jail multiple times, and never have to worry about a cat telling you to go to bed. While I never hated the time crunch in standard Persona games the additional freedom Strikers gives is an amazing feeling.
The Personas Themselves are Mostly Left Alone in Strikers
The creation, fusion, and leveling of Personas are near identical to the original game. From the hideout, or checkpoints through the Jail, you can visit the Velvet Room and manage the Persona you have with you and fuse them into bigger and better creatures. There's been some fantastic quality of life changes too, like being able to fuse Persona you've previously obtained from the normal fusion screen, but with the summon cost added, resulting in less flipping between menus.
In every aspect, this feels like a fresh and fantastic Persona game. The way that Omega Force feels like they've kept so much of the formula the same as Persona 5 adding in their own specialty with fun, engaging combat just enhances the whole package. It's just enough of the old, with new added that no Persona fan will feel alienated or at odds with the shift in genre. While I know I've barely scratched Persona 5 Strikers so far it's managed to set up a compelling story and pair it with entertaining gameplay.
TechRaptor previewed Persona 5 Strikers on Nintendo Switch using a code provided by the publisher. It will be launching for PC, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch on February 20th, 2021.