I will go so far to call this one of the best RPGs I've ever played and easily the best RPG of 2017. It's not Witcher 3 levels of good, but it's a serious contender despite being way different in tone and themes.
Allow me to go into detail as to just what makes this game so great, but still not quite perfect.
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Let's address the elephant of the room. Persona 5 is an extremely long game. When I completed the main story, I clocked in about 102 hours. However, I wasn't necessarily done with everything in the game. I didn't rank up all of my confidants or social stats. Additionally, there were still "side missions" that I never got to because I was so engrossed with other activities you could do in the game.
The side activities you could in the game include hanging out with your friends, working out, doing some eating challenges, part-time jobs, etc. All of these side activities do have an impact on the gameplay. What exactly do I mean? The relationship between you and your teammates.
Persona 5 is a character-driven game. I can say that there is no character in the game that I would consider genuinely bad. Every character in the game is interesting. Some of the them may have flaws due to how they were written, but it's great interacting with them. Remember how I mentioned the side activities affect the gameplay? Well, all of the characters do require you to have your social stats at certain levels as well as maxing out your relationship stats with them to unlock their combat abilities.
Believe me, this game can get damn right bullshit difficult. If you're not taking the time to improve the relationships with any of your teammates, then you're going to be in some serious trouble especially if you're playing on anything higher than Normal difficulty. Not much of a spoiler, but the game gets much harder towards the end.
Besides giving you an edge in combat, you start getting to learn more about your teammates. Each of your teammates is going through something and it's up to you to help see them through their own side stories. Some of them have some rather "rushed" side stories, but you still get to learn more about their true personality.
In case you're curious, you can romance every female confidant in the game besides one. Although there are unique cutscenes that occur with your romance partner, there really isn't that much of an impact on the story. The other characters don't acknowledge your relationship, nor is there any special perks you get for reaching a romantic relationship besides getting an item for your SP or HP.
Let's talk about the Palace levels. As a member of the Phantom Thieves, you're going to be in the metaverse. A lot.
Allow me to explain what a palace is in a way that stupid people like me can understand: a palace is created as a result of someone's distorted desires.
I don't know how I should say this, but I feel like the Palace levels can get really grindy at times. As a first time Persona player, I don't know if it has always been like this. Sure, they can be beaten in a single day, but do you have any idea how long that takes?
The game is not too hard if you know how to manage your items and SP. However, there are enemies that can one-shot you. It's your standard turned-bases combat system. What makes it special is the fact of how stylish the game is. Have you seen the all-out attack animation? You can argue that it may get old after a while, but it still makes Persona 5 stand out from other turn-based combat systems.
The main boss fights of the game are incredibly entertaining. If you've been following my material for a while, you will know that I'm a sucker for boss fights with multiple phases. I do recommend that you do play on the harder difficulties to really get an adrenaline rush when fighting a boss in the game. Because of how the save system works, that adrenaline rush is going to hit you hard.
Let me talk about the save system while we're on that. It can be downright bullshit at times. Save your game as often as you can and be mindful when saving. If you die at any point in a palace level, you're going to start over to your last save. I'm sure many of you can relate to how manual saving can really screw you over if you forget to save and lose hours of progress. It's more fair for boss fights, but if you didn't prepare properly for the fight then you might have to find yourself starting from a different save.
Don't even get me started on Mementos levels. Unless you're a trophy hunter, there really is no point in spending time in Mementos. However, it does become a requirement towards the end of the game. If you're jumping into Persona 5, don't take this as a spoiler, but I do strongly recommend that maybe halfway towards the game start developing a plan on how to progress through Mementos. As soon as you're able, just grind it out to save time later. You'll thank me for this.
One last compliment, the soundtrack. Consider that your last surprise. Okay, I'll stop. The soundtrack is just so funky and makes you want to get up and start dancing. There are a number of songs that stand out, but I don't want to spoil them. You need to play the game in order to get pumped when first hearing them.
Persona 5 is easily the best JRPG of 2017 in my opinion and easily one of the greatest JRPGs to ever grace the face of planet Earth. The story is just great, the characters are well-written, the soundtrack is superb, the animations are amazing, and the combat is so stylish.
The only negative I can think of is just how grindy the palaces can be. A majority of the gameplay stems from these palace levels. I think about more than half the story can be told without the palace level or at least abridged enough for us to understand what's going on.
However, it doesn't change the fact that Persona 5 is one damn good game.
Till Next Time!!