Review: Persona 5 Strikers
The Phantom Thieves are back in Persona 5 Strikers to steal the hearts of everyone outside of Japan. With a stylish combination of Persona and Musou gameplay, Strikers provides a refreshing glimpse into an otherwise monotonous genre. But has Strikers innovated enough for the game to excel? Two of our editors, Malvin and Rowdy, who are also big Persona fans, are eager to share, so let's go!
Persona 5 Strikers goes about 4 months after the end of the originalfurther. Yes, you read that right, the original. Unfortunately not on the story of Royal (sorry Akechi). Our swavé protagonist returns to well-known Tokyo for the summer holidays to spend time with his friends. The group soon decides they want to go on a camping trip across Japan, but unfortunately for them danger lurks again. To arrange things for the camping trip, our protagonist decides to download the mobile application called EMMA. EMMA can be used for literally anything. For example, the main character accidentally finds out that you can enter the shadow world with certain keywords, with all the consequences that entails. Fortunately, the Phantom Thieves still possess their rebellious will and therefore their personas. The palaces you know from the previous game have been replaced with a Jail this time.
A Jail is an area that looks a bit more open than a palace, but a jail lacks the unique feeling that the palaces have in the original. This is where one of the few musou aspects comes to the fore. The areas are open, but have that unique Persona twist, where you can go up with your grappling gun to discover new areas or attack enemies. In the combat many of those Persona scenes come to the fore, this makes for an experience that is quite unique within the genre.
The Musou making hack 'n slash
In Strikers they have opted for a Musou gameplay style, but what exactly does Musou mean? A Musou is a hack & slash game that takes place on large open fields where you fight against large numbers of enemies. That of course sounds very simple and unfortunately it is, most Musou games are monotonous. If you've played a Musou, you've actually played them all, it's a genre you really have to love. Where Musou titles normally take a franchise with all the fan favorites and throw it together into a monotonous game based on conquering areas and seeing minimal story elements, Strikers gets much more attention and eye for detail.
Strikers is perhaps a Musou game at heart, but with a good touch of Persona. It's not a simple hack & slash game where you can beat everything by button mashing. Just like in the original, enemies have specific weaknesses that you must exploit to deal significant damage. This is what you need the Personas for. If the player summons a persona during a fight, time stops and you can make a strategic choice to turn the fight in your favor. What sets Strikers apart even further is the ability to switch between your Phantom Thief members at any time. Each Phant has a unique play style and their own Master Crafts. Master Crafts are skills, or quality of life changes, that enhance a character's unique playstyle.You can therefore see Strikers as a kind of spin-off with other combat, or as a new standard for Musou titles.
The combat is more than amusing and at times quite challenging, especially in boss fights. There is more tactics in the combat of Strikers than in a Dynasty Warriors. You have to deal with status effects, weaknesses (1 More!) and All-Out-Attacks. This ensures a Personalized experience. However, are there enough Persona elements to be found in the game? In any case, the combat is well implemented, although we sometimes miss some weight in attacks.
I LOVE YOU ALICE
The story begins with a first villain, named Alice. She is a big star who steals their hearts for herself in the Metaverse. The story is once again told in a way that sets a new standard for the Musou genre. Compared to Persona 5 itself, it doesn't pick up the topics we are used to, but it does set up a strong spin-off story. Compare it to an OVA in anime series, which are usually of quality not as good as the main stories that are told, but bring you on a different note with the well-known characters. It also really feels like a vacation that got out of hand, which makes the game very cool and refined.
The new Phantom Thief that will be introduced quite soon is a well-written character. Unfortunately, in combat she is less fun to take control herself. Sofia, as she's called, is sort of a 'Hey Google', but with more personality. She lives in your phone and often gives you good deals on useful items. Alice is only the beginning, however, as each Jail has its own leader. This time the prisons are spread all over Japan. You can travel with your camper to places like Okinawa and Sendai. Each location is unique and has the same Persona vibe as downtown Tokyo, but with more variety, making you feel like you're on a journey with the Phantom Thieves.
Drawn in comparison
Despite the storyline being translated great, the game lacks a number of things that make Persona, Persona. There are no bonding events, which you might not expect. The whole confidance system has been simplified to passive and active bonuses for your team. You level up your team members and that's how you get Bond points. You can use this to make your team stronger and smarter. We didn't necessarily expect Strikers to fully extend this from the main game, but we do believe that it could have made something of the fairly repetitive gameplay more fun. For example, a number of shops and confidants from the main title are missing, these are pushed away as if they are on 'vacation'. Is this bad? No, not really, but a small loss. This is where the Musou genre secretly comes into play.
The mixing of Persona to get stronger creatures is fortunately present, being simplified, but present. Strikers is therefore not intended to take the deep systems out of Persona's turn-based, it should just bring an amusing experience. Fortunately, it works more than fine!
Strikers is also fine in terms of style. The user interfaces are very well made and can be compared to Persona 5 itself. What struck us was that the facial animations contain more detail when people speak. It seems as if the drawings have been renewed compared to before. The voices took a little getting used to in the beginning, Yusuke sounded a bit heavier in our opinion. This in itself is also something cool, given that the story takes a few months before Strikers starts.
Graphics and Performance
Apart from style and class, Strikers is also a great title that plays away. The game runs on my Playstation 5 at 60 frames per second, where I haven't noticed a single frame drop yet. This feels a lot smoother than Persona 5 and Royal, which are locked at 30fps.
Graphically, the game is fine, but especially because of the aesthetic entertainment called Persona. Are you looking a little further? Then the game has a lot of inconsistent moments, where the anti-aliasing can vary quite a bit from clean lines to jagged edges where you last expect it. It makes the game look less sharp at times, which is a shame. However, this is not a game breaker, because otherwise Strikers looks great and plays nice and smooth.
Persona 5 Strikers is less Musou than you might think, but can set a new standard for the genre. This with adding better story elements, more verticality in levels and more challenging and tactical combat. This is where Strikers really excels in its genre. Are you comparing it to Persona 5? Then it's still a cool spin-off. Perfect? No definitely not! Worth your full money? hell yes!
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