When Atlus announced Persona 5 Strikers and I read about what it was going to be I was a bit skeptical of it. That skepticism came from the fact that Strikers was to be a joint developed by P-Studio and Omega Force who of course is the developer behind the Dynasty Warriors franchise. That franchise is one I’ve played but never loved and so I was worried that Persona 5 Strikers was just going to be another Musou game with a Persona flair to it. After sinking dozens of hours into it for this review I found that while there are some changes to the Persona formula, this is still very much a Persona game at its core and that should have fans excited.
While Persona 5 Strikers is a spin-off of sorts the story in it is a direct sequel to Persona 5 and when I say that I mean Persona 5 and not Persona 5 Royal. That’s because this game originally released in Japan before Persona 5 Royal did and so characters from that game such as Kasumi and events that took place in the third semester aren’t talked about in Strikers. That probably will be disappointing to players who only played Royal and it’s a valid criticism but I don’t think it hurts the story in this game that much. That story picks up a few months after the end of Persona 5 and sees our lovable Phantom Thieves such as Joker, Ryuji, Morgana, and the rest reuniting in Tokyo to head off on a summer road trip.
Things don’t go as well as you would want them to on a road trip as the group soon finds that a group called the Monarchs are stealing the desires from people and locking them away in Metaverse jails. To make matters worse, the Phantom Thieves end up finding themselves under investigation for the whole mess. It’s up to our group to show that they aren’t to blame while rescuing all of those in need. They’ll have some help along the way in the form of two new characters, Sophia and Zenkichi. Zenkichi works with the Kyoto Prefecture and doesn’t feel like the Phantom Thieves are behind the evil doings so he works with them to help get to the bottom of things. Sophia on the other hand is a sentient AI who the group meets in the Metaverse and who plays an important role in the story. Overall, I felt like the story in this game was what I would expect from a Persona game and it really is essential to experience all the way through for any fan of Persona 5. I’d also say that you can enjoy this perfectly fine if you’re a newcomer but of course you’ll get more out of it if you played the previous game.
The gameplay is where things are a bit different from a standard Persona title but it isn’t as much of a Musou game as I initially thought it would be either. The dungeons in this game are called jails and while exploring them you’ll do some platforming, puzzle solving and yes, a lot of fighting. When you get to the fighting parts, you’ll find that this game takes Musou elements and mixes them in rather well with the Persona formula to make for a different, but fun experience. Gone is the turn-based battle system in favor of a more real-time action heavy system. When in combat you can dish out attacks by mashing the Square and Triangle buttons to perform attacks and form combos to take down the hordes but that isn’t all there is to it. When enemies are weakened you can perform stylish finishing moves with the return of Showtime and All-Out attacks. You can also still summon your Personas and holding down the R1 button allows you to pause time to switch between them and select which ability you want your Personas to use.
A lot of the battles can be won with mindless tactics sure but you will be forced to put more thought into the battle system at times especially during some of the boss battles. Learning the identify the different elemental weaknesses is key to taking down some of the tougher foes in the game and that goes for strategically planning your moves as well. The only big issue I ran into at times was that because you can only have four party members with you at one time you could find yourself up against a foe whose weakness isn’t exploitable by any of your current party members. I wish the game let me switch out one of my party members at this time for one that I didn’t bring because these moments where I didn’t have an answer did suck. You also have to be mindful of your stock of SP which is used to execute your Persona and other special attacks.
Something else that makes this game different from Persona 5 is that you won’t be doing as much social life content in it. It really is mostly about the story and navigating the jails and fighting in them. That life aspect of Persona 5 and engaging with the characters on a deeper level was one of my favorite things about it so I did miss it in this game. You do get some interactions at times but it isn’t anywhere near the same level. One benefit of that however is that this game is a lot shorter than Persona 5 was which might make it a bit more approachable. Persona 5 required around at least 100 hours to see all the way through and many players just can’t commit that much time to a game (even though it was absolutely worth it.) Persona 5 Strikers on the other hand can be finished in around 35-40 hours which could be seen as much more appealing depending on the player.
As for the art style, Persona 5 Strikers is as flashy and stylish as one would expect. It’s got all the mouth watering colors while the team also does a great job once again of making things like the UI be nothing short of eye catching. On the downside though is that I think from a pure technical aspect the game does look a bit worse than Persona 5 did and that is likely due to the gameplay running at 60fps. I played the game on my PlayStation 5 and so I had the option of using two different modes. One runs at 1440p while the other is 1080p. Thanks to the PlayStation 5’s power though they both seemed to run at 60fps so there was no reason I found to play on the lower resolution. Fans of the music from Persona 5 will find just as much to enjoy in Strikers as it reworks some tracks from that game as well as brings some new jazzy tunes to the table.
Persona 5 Strikers shakes up the formula a bit but still manages to feel like a full-on sequel to one of this past generations best JRPGS. While it is missing some of the more in-depth social elements that fans of the series love, it still manages to make itself unmissable thanks to another captivating story starring the Phantom Thieves. The characters still get to shine, the combat system smartly borrows some Musou elements while still feeling like Persona, and it’s all just as visually stylish and pleasing to the ears as you would expect. If you call yourself a fan of Persona 5 then you’d be doing yourself a disservice by missing out on Persona 5 Strikers.
*Persona 5 Strikers it out on February 23 on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. PlayStation 4 version reviewed on a PlayStation 5. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
Persona 5 Strikers$59.99
- Fun, road trip story with our memorable Phantom Thieves
- Combat mixes some Musou elements with Persona to create a fun new system
- Art style is as stylish as ever and runs at a flawless 60fps
- The music is just too good
- Shorter length may make it more appealing
- Lacks the social gameplay elements from Persona 5
- Story is tied to Persona 5 and not Persona 5 Royal
- Visually looks a little worse than Persona 5