Being a main character in a Persona game must be exhausting. Save the world and you still get trotted out every time there’s another catastrophic disaster. Case in point? Joker and the rest of the Phantom Thieves return in Persona 5 Tactica, the upcoming foray into the strategy RPG world for the popular Persona franchise. Recently, we had a chance to preview Persona 5 Tactica with Sega, so we’re here to share all the details.
First off, the game opens quoting Paradise Lost by John Milton, so that’s a pretty good indication of how things are going to go.
The Phantom Thieves are hanging out at LeBlanc when all of a sudden, the world stops. Our heroes are then yanked into what they think is the Metaverse but ends up being Marie’s Kingdom, a realm under the dictatorship of a crazy woman wearing a wedding dress and commanding an army of bicorn hats with bodies, who are all completely devoted to worshipping her and doing whatever she says.
First, Skull falls under her influence, then the rest of the Phantom Thieves are taken along for the ride - except Morgana and Joker. It’s a suitably bizarre premise, and as someone who hasn’t played Persona 5, it’s easy enough to figure out what’s going on, provided you know the basics of the Persona series itself, making it a decent standalone for those who aren’t fans of the turn-based original.
Skipping ahead a few chapters, Joker and Morgana meet up with new character Erina and we were given a preview of the basics of the strategy system. As with most strategy games, it works on a grid-based system, and you move the characters around within a certain range of boxes each turn.
Joker and Morgana still have command of their Personas, which they can use as a special skill ie. not every single turn. Fortunately, their slingshot and gun are still in fighting form and work perfectly against weird hat creatures, as does Erina’s gun. As Erina doesn’t have a Persona (presumably yet), she has a few magic commands that she can use instead, which also show up as choices on the menu when it's her turn, just like Personas and Attacks.
The game starts off with the introduction to the strategy tactics slowly, building up with things like covering behind boxes and other terrain, using One More to finish off enemies, and surrounding them for a devastating Triple Threat combo attack. It’s all pretty standard, but the game combines everything well and it feels well executed, not just random pieces of strategy games that were thrown together for some quick capitalization money.
What I was particularly impressed by was the Undo button, which I’ve found can make the difference between winning or losing completely, by virtue of - if you realize that you have royally screwed up, or have mixed up your tactics by accident, you can take a step back. There are also individual goals per mission that you can try to accomplish, including things like taking no damage, finishing in a specific number of turns, or use of specific tactics. These will net you additional reward money at the end of the missions.
The art style of Persona 5 Tactica must also be addressed. Even as someone who hasn’t played the original game, I know that it tends towards a more dark, anime-style of art, going along with the depth of the plot. Tactica, on the other hand, is a really cute chibi-style, with over-exaggerated facial expressions, bright colors, and enemies that just look a little bit too hard to take seriously, even when they’re shooting muskets at you and trying to kill you. It’s a brighter, lighter vibe in a weirder world and I’m personally here for it.
Persona 5 Tactica Preview | Final Verdict
For those craving more of the Phantom Thieves and the world of the original Persona 5, you’ve probably pre-ordered the game already. For those looking for a Persona 5 Tactica preview to answer some questions, we can tell you that it starts off solidly, with bright art and a premise that is fairly welcoming to newcomers and fans of the series alike, and solid strategy tactics. Our only question is - how soon can November 17 get here?
Persona 5 Tactica was previewed at a SEGA event in NYC attended by our previewer.