Phantom Thieves are back, but maybe not in the way you might remember.
When Persona 5 first released in the West in 2017, it stole the hearts of countless gamers. The series has been slowly gaining popularity in the West since the release of Persona 3 on PS2, but Persona 5 has propelled it to stardom.
With success and popularity come inevitable fallout. Persona 5 is no stranger to this, having seen a dungeon crawler and rhythm game based on it before. Around the same time last year, however, the latest (and probably the last) Persona 5 spinoff released in Japan: Persona 5 Strikers.
Persona 5 Strikers sees the Phantom Thieves reunite four months after the original game ended to spend a summer vacation together. When they accidentally find themselves in the Metaverse, however, the team learns of a new threat: Monarchs steal peoples’ desires for their own gain.
Persona 5 Strikers is technically a cross between Persona 5 and the Dynasty Warriors series. Dynasty Warriors games have basically created their own action franchise (known colloquially as Musou) where a small number of powerful playable characters fight against huge armies of enemies.
These games can be a lot of fun, but usually lack depth. Whenever they cross paths with other series (such as Nintendos The Legend of Zelda or Square Enixs Dragon Quest), they usually feel like a Musou with a gloss coat of paint. More like a tribute to the series the game is based on and less like a real game from that series.
Persona 5 Strikers breaks this trend. The game blends Musou’s gameplay beautifully with a traditional Persona game, making the Strikers feel like a true follow-up to Persona 5.
For fans of Persona 5, the Strikers want to reunite with old friends. Revisiting the Phantom Thieves in a real sequel and seeing what they all did is incredibly enjoyable and will undoubtedly warm the hearts of any fan.
After the first few hours of Strikers, however, things start to open up. The Phantom Thieves leave the location of the first game and set off on a road trip through Japan, introducing new locations and characters.
Story-wise, everything fans would want from a Persona game is here: fantastic writing and incredible voice acting. Strikers doesn’t feel like a throwaway spin-off, it really does look like a brand new Persona game.
Unlike many games dubbed from Japanese to English, Persona 5 Strikers has exceptional English dubbing. All of the original cast from the original game return, along with a few new faces (Megan Taylor Harvey as Sophia and Tom Taylorson as Zenkichi Hasegawa, to name a few).
While Strikers’ ties to Persona 5 make it sweeter to fans, it almost alienates newcomers. While you could technically play Strikers and figure out what’s going on without having played the original game, you’d be missing out on tons of references and character moments.
Strikers doesn’t play anything like a traditional Persona game. Strikers replaces turn-based combat with button-smashing action, but still mixes it up with Persona’s ideals that make him feel right at home on the series.
Instead of facing off against hordes of enemies at the same time on a large battlefield, players explore open areas that look more like dungeons from a normal Persona game.
Battles are only started whenever the player chooses to engage enemies that roam the map, giving players the option of avoiding battles by sneaking up or getting a leg up on their enemies by sneaking up on them. ambushing.
Additionally, the Personas brand weakness system returns in Strikers. During battles, players can summon their Personas and use different elemental and physical skills to shake up the battle. By taking advantage of enemy weaknesses, players can gain the upper hand in battle and inflict devastating group attacks.
Small changes in typical Musou playstyle like these make the Strikers feel suited to Persona fans while still being a Musou. The fight is always different from what Persona fans may be used to, but these changes will help them feel at home incredibly quickly.
The fight of the strikers is incredibly addicting. Although it seems like a button game at first, players slowly unlock combos that make things a bit more complex. Upgrading Phantom Thieves and unlocking new skills and upgrades as you progress through the game is satisfying and leaves players with a real sense of growth and achievement.
The fights can start to repeat themselves at times and different dungeons (called prisons) all feel a bit too similar, although that’s pretty normal for Musous. If you don’t like Musous, you might not like Strikers fights. Fortunately, this pulls enough of Persona that it could probably be overlooked if one just wanted to uncover the history of the games.
It’s impossible to talk about a modern Persona game without winking at the music. The Strikers soundtrack features classic Persona 5 tracks, remixes, and all-new bops. All of the new music is grown for the action gameplay of the Strikers, which means everything is more upbeat.
While the new tracks don’t live up to the greatness of Persona 5 or Persona 5 Royal, they’re still great additions that will have your blood pumping as you work your way through the game.
Music presents one of the issues that keeps The Strikers from being a seamless experience, however. Many times the characters utter lines that can barely be heard on the soundtrack. While not a game-breaking experience, it still feels like something the games audio team members should have picked up on.
Persona 5 Strikers is a fantastic sequel to Persona 5. With an enjoyable storyline, great voice acting, addicting gameplay, and an amazing soundtrack, there’s not much that holds the Strikers back. Fans of the series won’t be disappointed with this spin-off / sequel, although new players might want to hold back.
Check the code provided by Sega. Game tested on a PlayStation 5.
4.5 / 5 torches