Persona 5 Tactica Preview: An Enchanting Adventure in the Sewer Circuit
Although I'm a loyal Persona fan (I even have a tattoo of the Phantom Thieves logo!), I wasn't initially too excited about Persona 5 Tactica. My only ...
Although I'm a loyal Persona fan (I even have a tattoo of the Phantom Thieves logo!), I wasn't initially too excited about Persona 5 Tactica. My only real encounter with TRPG games was Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, which represents a simpler version of the genre and isn't my favorite anyway.
However, I love the expressive cast of Persona 5 - perhaps even more than any other ragtag group of teenagers I've fought through dungeons with. I love cute chibi art, and I love having the opportunity to play with the Phantom Thieves once again. So, I was able to muster some excitement when I sat down for the Persona 5 Tactica demo at Sega's Summer Showcase last month, and I fell in love all over again.
As soon as I started the demo of Persona 5 Tactica, the stylized menu greeted me with adorable depictions of my favorite anime teenagers in a strange blend of novelty and nostalgia. The game began with Joker and his gang of goofy friends standing around a caricatured version of LeBlanc, and the atmosphere was warm from the very first faithful and groovy note of the background music.
We were talking about curry, plans, and the popular coffee master Sojiro when the world around us distorted and loud noises filled the unassuming café. Shortly after, we entered a playful world full of colors, cartoons, and relentless enemies rapidly approaching our location.
After putting on our Phantom Thief equipment for the first time since saving the world, we agreed to split up and conquer. My Joker ended up with Ryuji and Morgana for our very first attempt to take down the delightfully peculiar shadows that were approaching us.
Persona 5 Strikers divides you into teams of three instead of four, which means you have to be more selective when choosing your team members. I can't wait to experiment with different combinations of team members to discover what I can truly achieve.
A careful combination of physical attacks, stealth, planning, and Persona abilities will carry you through the introduction and reward your efforts in the end with an encounter with the new major villain of the game: Lady Marie.
A fuchsia-colored bride, whose followers sing praises of her everywhere, appears after you've fought and almost immediately starts inciting the Phantom Thieves against each other.
This was our introduction to combat objectives, milestones that offer additional points at the end of a level when achieved. These objectives change from battle to battle and include things like defeating every enemy within a certain number of rounds, using a specific type of damage, avoiding self-damage, and much more. You are free to experiment with your playstyle, but the game also provides you with some hints on how to fight most effectively.
After the battle, the demo transitioned to a later section of the game to introduce another new addition: Erina, a new Phantom Thief. I didn't get to see how we met her, but she was by my side with Morgana as we teleported to a later level to work together on an even more challenging fight.
Erina introduces the concept of utilizing Focus on your turn instead of immediately attacking. Each of the Phantom Thieves will have their own ability on their next turn after focusing, and Erina's ability allowed her to fire her impressive rifle through cover, hitting even the best-hidden shadows. If you're willing to wait a turn, you can deal a significant amount of additional damage next time.
With more enemies in this new area than before, we also had the opportunity to try out a Triple Threat attack. To execute such an attack, you have to carefully sneak your Phantom Thieves across the game field to form a triangle, and once you have the angles perfectly aligned, the three of you can unleash a hellfire that annihilates all shadows within that triangle. You cannot perform such an attack if one of your team members is afflicted with an ailment, but if you manage to execute it, the damage inflicted is colossal.
Just as I had gotten into the groove of commanding my group, utilizing Erina's cool new moves, and formulating combat strategies to achieve my goals, the demo was over. As skeptical as I was about giving the game a chance, I found it a little sad when my time had run out.
After trying out the game and having some time to reflect, I wonder if my initial hesitance was at least partially based on the feeling that we should be moving forward with the series now. I'm glad that the world has recognized Persona 5 as the massive JRPG it has become, and I'm genuinely excited to see how the series will grow and evolve from here—it just needs to evolve outwardly and not in circles around P5.
The essence of Persona 5 was to solve their problems, and then we did it all over again in Persona 5 Royal. We witnessed the faithful anime adaptation of the game, celebrated the return of the thieves in Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth, delved into real-time action in dungeons in Persona 5 Strikers. Hell, we even danced with them! So, what is truly left for the Phantom Thieves to do now?
Of course, it's somewhat appreciated to have the opportunity to sit back and spend a few extra minutes with my favorite band of outsiders, but it feels like the entire Persona series has been pressing the accelerator in recent years. Diving back into the familiar once again sparks initial interest, but as much as I'll always love the Phantom Thieves, I'm ready for a new group of teenagers with their own challenges and goals.
Furthermore, I always find spin-offs somewhat tricky because they often feel like pure money-making ventures. A game needs to have enough of the original character to thrill the fans, but at the same time, it should offer enough novelty and changes to stand on its own, especially when it references such a beloved franchise like Persona.
And without a doubt, Persona 5 Tactica meets all expectations. It has enough of the jazzy Persona 5 flair that we all know and love, while also offering enough differences in gameplay and art style to stand on its own. I entered the presentation with doubts about the game, but I left that afternoon as a convinced follower.