It took just 104 hours and Persona 5 is finished. I’m going to drop a couple of lines with my impressions of the game and these lines will be lavishly spiced with spoilers (so Graf, you shouldn’t read it ^_^)
This isn’t the first game of the series I’ve played. Back in the day, when PS2 was the most popular console in the world and I was young and innocent, I had tried to play Persona 2. That attempt was a complete failure. I had no idea what’s going on and I didn’t like the game at all. Several years later Persona 3 made more sense to me — the idea of committing a suicide to summon a persona was something fresh and unused, I got used to the battle system (although the inability to give direct orders to the party is a Bad Thing) and I spent 50 or 60 hours playing it until I stumbled upon an mini-boss my party was strongly underleveled for. It’s a shame but instead of doing a thing any JRPG fan would do (grind, you know) I simply dropped the game. Persona 4… I finished 3 or 4 castles and that’s it. But at least I’m familiar with the characters and the plot.
So — according to my vast (hehe) Persona experience I can say that Persona 5 is a good game even though, as usual, it has its ups and downs. It changed a lot comparing to previous installations and not all those changes were really necessary. Here comes a list of random thoughts and observations I have after my playthrough (and watching how Nastya was playing).
Characters are hit and miss. It’s really irritating that all people in the game call the main hero “The Leader”, “the smartest man on Earth”, “The Chosen One” and so on. Yeah, I’m exaggerating a little but the attitude is really something like “oh, I wish I could be as brave as you”. Morgana, with her (his) constant “Let’s not do it today, you’re tired, let’s sleep” also drove me nuts. Just show me the window “You can’t do anything today, want to save your game?” and continue on. But no! We have Atmosphere, which can’t be sacrificed even if that sacrifice would add some convenience. Ann and Ryuji are, let’s say, too simple. Mishima is annoying (I’m going to mention him one more time later). Yosuke is a kind of funny character, maybe I should’ve spent more time with him. I don’t have any opinion on Makoto, Haru, Futaba (although her answers sometimes are on money) and tons of supporting characters. Except for Hifumi.
As we all know the main part of any Persona game has nothing to do with finishing the game itself. The most important task is to find a girlfriend. I was pierced by Hifumi’s charm and, honestly, I think it was a damn good choice. Her character design is great, she is smart, she has an appealing story how her mother was going to make Hifumi a shogi star. And her shyness is so cute!
The antagonists are… too bad. I mean, Shido is a cartoon-ish bad guy, who’s laughing as a villain, hates all people around him as a villain and isn’t able to do even a single good thing. The protagonists aren’t really better. And all these remarks on “corrupted adults” and “reforming our rotten society” sound very naive and feignedly — “we’re good guys and all others just don’t understand that we’re doing good things.” The concept of changing others people’s hearts itself is questionable, although I must admit that in the game all Phantom Thieves’ targets I saw deserved a punishment.
Castles. They are not so monotonous as they were in previous Persona games. Partially that’s because of the visual design, partially because of the game design. Now you have to solve simple puzzles; run around the level turning switches on and off; eavesdropping to enemies’ conversations and so on. Sometimes this works amazingly, sometimes — not so much but this is definitely a step forward. Every castle is available only until its boss is defeated — not sure whether it’s a good thing or not. The combat mechanics is, broadly speaking, the same as it’s always been. Baton pass is a useful new addition; Hifumi also gives you an ability to switch party members during a battle, for me it was super useful. Negotiations with enemies felt a bit odd in the beginning but later on they started looking as a natural part of the gameplay.
Persona 5 doesn’t give you as much time for social interactions as I’d like to. Luckily, you can forget about part-time jobs very quickly. Mementos and castles provide you with decent amount of money, so jobs are needed only to increase some social stats (flower store is an indispensable source of kindness) or for getting some requests.
Once I developed a routine of playing Persona I foolishly started thinking about getting trophies. They are not incredibly difficult but turned out that I missed one of Mishima’s requests early in the game and one of the books, which in its turn opens a hanging spot, was the reward for that request. Mishima is to blame!
As a final word — Persona 5 is very addictive. I almost started a new game immediately after finishing the story and if Ni No Kuni 2 wasn’t going to be released tomorrow I might’ve been playing New Game+ already (and that time I wouldn’t miss that request!)
P.S. I wish Atlus hadn’t blocked the screenshot function for the game — the reason behind that decision is still not very clear to me.