Not sure how many of you here are JRPG fans, but for those of you that are, I've decided to post my thoughts after completing the Japanese version of the game. Summary (TLDR): Overly verbose script, unsteady tone, uneven character development, and limited changes to core mechanics weigh down an otherwise lovable sequel Preface: I’m a huge Persona fan, and I like Persona 5. A lot. I’ve spent over 140 hours playing since the Japanese launch. That said, as much as I like Persona 5, I don’t love it to the degree that I expected to or wanted to. The uncritical praise with which the game has been showered with, left me feeling like I should speak out. As I’ll be focusing on what I didn’t like, I’d advise readers to think of this as a companion to, and not a replacement for, the many positive reviews out there. Music/Presentation/Combat Absolutely Excellent. Graphics: While the graphics are serviceable, and the beautiful art style helps to create a compelling world, the inability of the 3D models to convey convincing fascial expression is problematic. The 2D portrait art during dialog scenes is nice, but feels like a crutch. Such a distinctly limited range of facial expression feels dated, even on the PS3. Somehow the game actually looks worse than Atlus’s Catherine, whose expressive faces somehow manage to outshine of Persona 5’s half a decade later. Gameplay: As I have a lot to say here I’m going to utilize a bullet point format to highlight what I feel are the biggest problems. 1. Dialog choices in social links still amount to nothing more than a simple game of choosing the correct answer to get the most points, with no lasting impact. 2. Freedom is often restricted and it gets incredibly old being told to just “go to sleep” so you can listen to more dialog the next day, for days in a row. 3. No hidden characters, hard to access social links, colds, random events, and quite frankly, limited replay value as a result. 4. Poorly scaled difficulty with “normal” being easy, while hard is absolutely punishing. Oh, and no trophy for beating the game on hard. 5. You can still date all the girls with virtually no repercussions, totally breaking the immersion. If Atlus could do it in Persona 3, there’s no reason that they couldn’t at least create a rational risk/reward dynamic for dating more than one person a decade later. Story: It’s not that the story’s bad (I enjoyed it a lot), but that it feels undercooked, features uneven character development, and is held back tonally by its predecessors while featuring poor pacing. The Script: The first problem is that Persona’s 5 script is incredibly verbose to the point of excess. Dialog, the majority of which is still text based, often feels repetitive, like a dog chasing its own tail. With better editing, I feel like the same story could have been told with around 1/3 less text. While hardcore fans may not care, this makes the game tedious at times, and much less accessible to newcomers. Perhaps the most unfortunate casualty of the script is that Hifumi Togo, a social link who was supposed to be a playable character, but had to be cut because the game was already “too long.” Character Development: For a game about building relationships, the social links for half of the main cast leave a lot to be desired. While Yusuke, Futaba, and, to a lesser extent Haru all have interesting arcs, Ann and Makoto are both bland, while Ryuji comes off as marginal at best. Still the game has a large number of reasonably strong and memorable supporting social links, which help to make up for this, although I’d still say overall quality isn’t up to Persona 4 Tone: Persona 5 obviously struggles under the weight of the previous games. On the one hand, it wants to be dark and provocative like Persona 3, on the other, it wants to be fun and lighthearted like Persona 4. Unfortunately, by trying to have their cake and eat it too, the developers have created a game that is often (but not always) tonally flat. This is highlighted early on when a talking cat mascot joins your party (light hearted), followed by an extreme event resulting from abuse by an authority figure (dark), to which the characters react with a limited emotional range unbefitting of the situation (tonally flat). Pacing: A major reveal is made in what is literally the last 1-2 hours of the game. The story could, and IMO, should have continued for another 10+ hours, but instead just ends. Also, a certain someone’s research is hinted to be very important throughout the game, and yet by the time the credits role, the player still knows almost nothing about it. Conclusion: If you’ve made it this far, you might come away thinking I hated the game. I didn’t! I love the game in spite of its flaws, but have been annoyed by coverage which has just flat out glossed over them. I feel like with just a little more spit, polish, ingenuity, and time Persona 5 could’ve been one of the best games of this generation. Instead it ends up being a serviceable sequel to Persona 4, and a great game in its own right, but so much less than it could’ve been. Anyway, I'd still recommend the game, but I don't recommend go in expecting the second coming of JRPGs which some publications seem to be hailing.