Earlier than we get began, let’s make one factor clear: Persona 5 Strikers is a direct sequel to Persona 5. It’s not the sort of motion sport spin-off that we have come to anticipate from Omega Power — the Koei Tecmo studio behind the Dynasty Warriors sequence and the various, many ‘musou’ diversifications which were launched in recent times. Strikers has way more in widespread with its JRPG predecessor than it does the hack and slashers that encompass it.
Having stated that, Strikers is a streamlined Persona expertise. By way of construction, it does away with the idea of free time and social hyperlinks — however the simplification of the Persona components works inside the context of the story. Certainly, that is all in regards to the return of the Phantom Thieves — the ragtag group of youngsters who solid unbreakable bonds with each other all through Persona 5. The gang get again collectively a number of months after the occasions of the earlier sport, with the promise of a calming summer time trip on their minds.
Naturally issues do not fairly go to plan, and it is not lengthy earlier than the Phantom Thieves discover themselves snarled in one other loopy conspiracy. The plot itself entails a smattering of contemporary faces, all of whom are properly written and positioned into the narrative with care. It is one other intriguing storyline that you will wish to see by to the tip, however finally, Strikers performs it secure. There was a possibility right here to strive one thing new or bizarre, however in numerous methods — thematically, particularly — Strikers walks a street already properly travelled by Persona 5.
As such, it goes with out saying that if you have not performed Persona 5, you are going to miss out on a lot of what makes Strikers’ story tick. There aren’t any prolonged character introductions right here; it is assumed that you just’re already aware of Joker and his friends, in addition to their previous exploits.
What’s extra, Strikers goes to stunning lengths with a purpose to additional develop its already established forged. Moments of thought of character improvement are dotted all throughout the journey, and it is nice to see these robust personalities turn into even higher realised because the journey progresses. And it truly is a journey; the Phantom Thieves get to journey all throughout Japan as they monitor down but extra disturbances within the nightmarish Metaverse. The sport’s bought a comfortable street journey vibe that basically helps set it aside from the intentional day-to-day repetition of Persona 5.
There’s a sameness to the primary few chapters of Strikers, nevertheless, earlier than the overarching plotlines actually begin to kick in. Go to a brand new metropolis, examine odd happenings, conquer the Metaverse, repeat. This moderately inflexible construction is damaged up by lengthy dialogue scenes and enjoyable social occasions the place the gang go to native points of interest, however once more, that is very a lot a streamlined model of Persona.
The one actual freedom that you’ve takes the type of exploration inside dungeons. Strikers’ ‘jails’ are basically the identical sort of twisted mindscapes that you just needed to navigate in Persona 5, besides they’re typically larger and extra dynamic. Some jails are higher designed than others, however total, there are a variety of cool ideas at play, with platforming sections and lightweight puzzle fixing including welcome variation every now and then.
However the actual draw of those jails is the fight — the motion fight. In case you do not already know, Strikers does away with Persona 5’s flip primarily based battle system in favour of real-time motion. It is clearly fairly the change, however by the tip of our playthrough, we completely cherished it. Now, we’re not saying that one is best than the opposite, however Strikers’ mix of fast-paced, acrobatic motion and obligatory tactical nuance provides it a definite identification. It is a fight system that works brilliantly when it is at its finest, and as an action-based adaptation of Persona 5’s rulebook, it is a formidable achievement.
And by that, we imply that you will nonetheless have to take advantage of enemy weaknesses and swap between social gathering members on the proper time if you wish to seize victory. In a means, it reminds us of the stop-start fight system in Final Fantasy VII Remake. It is constructed on a basis of fast combo assaults, dodging, and particular strikes, however you may pause the motion at any time, goal an opponent, after which choose a selected ability in a bid to deal huge injury. Similar to in Persona 5, hitting a weak point leaves your foe defenceless, which may result in each further assaults and all-out onslaughts.
There’s additionally depth to be present in the way in which that every Phantom Thief fights; everybody has their very own distinctive moveset and particular talents. Joker can, in fact, swap persona mid-fight with a purpose to cowl completely different weaknesses. In the meantime, Ryuji can brace himself, permitting him to cost straight by incoming blows, and Ann can set her whip ablaze, maximising her elemental injury. Having the ability to swap between characters everytime you like prevents the hacking and slashing from changing into stale, and as soon as all the things clicks — the combos, the ability utilization, the baton move — a very rewarding rhythm emerges from the chaos.
This rhythm is particularly prevalent throughout a number of the sport’s implausible boss fights, that are a particular spotlight. Our solely downside with the title’s more durable foes is that typically, you will not be packing the weather that you just want with a purpose to hit a weak point. You possibly can solely take 4 social gathering members into battle, and for those who do not occur to have the appropriate abilities for the job, then you definately’re in for a far tougher (and way more tedious) time.
With solely educated guesswork to go on earlier than an necessary encounter, it might really feel a bit unfair to stumble throughout a boss midway by a jail, solely to grasp you can’t strike at its weak spot since you’ve left nuclear specialist Makoto, or wind specialist Morgana on the bench. That is the place Joker’s capability to wield a variety of personas is meant to return into play — however counting on Joker alone will sap your already restricted SP (your ability useful resource) far too shortly. Though these conditions are fortunately uncommon, discovering your self stonewalled by the odd boss looks like an pointless annoyance. Having the ability to substitute an inactive social gathering member — as you may in Persona 5 — can be an immediate repair.
Different, extra minor niggles embody a little bit of a wonky digicam while you’re combating in smaller rooms, and the shortage of basic instructions in your AI-driven social gathering members. Once more, smaller points, however they’re sure to creep up sooner or later.
Now we all know what a few of you may be pondering: you are a fan of Persona 5, however you are not that into motion fight. Our recommendation is actually to not fear about it. Strikers is not the sort of button masher that wreaks havoc in your joints — and it is actually not the sort of hardcore motion sport that’ll tie your fingers in knots. As talked about, it’s quick, however the truth that you may pause time by summoning personas provides fight a manageable ebb and stream. Plus, there’s an ‘straightforward’ mode that may be enabled at any time. It makes the sport extra forgiving throughout the board, and it is the right place to begin if you wish to ease your self into the expertise.
Shifting on, Strikers inherits that immense sense of fashion that helped make Persona 5 so memorable. Menus and different components of the consumer interface are immaculately put collectively, and the sport simply oozes elegant design. It is a disgrace, then, that the in-game graphics can look decidedly tough. Strikers runs at a stable 60 frames-per-second, however the high quality of character fashions and environments has taken an apparent dive — presumably in order that the frame-rate does not dip throughout larger encounters. It isn’t a deal-breaker, however all the jagged edges and blurred property are very noticeable on a big TV.
Luckily, the title’s very good soundtrack is readily available to distract you from the uneven graphics. Strikers reuses quite a few songs from Persona 5, however a number of new music and quite a few beautiful rock remixes make all of it worthwhile. Iconic battle theme ‘Final Shock’ has been given a spectacular makeover, for instance. An immediate hit.