“Persona 5” was one of the biggest games in the world when it was globally released April 4, 2017. Earning several accolades and selling over a million of copies, the game inspired several other projects, including a dancing spin-off game, an anime adaptation and even an expansion in the form of 2020’s “Persona 5 Royal.”
To the surprise of many, the latest release under the “Persona 5” name, “Persona 5 Strikers,” decided to continue the original game’s story with a whole new twist in regards to its gameplay: hack-and-slash action. Luckily, game creators Atlus managed to hit another home run with this game.
Even though its approach to the genre is not flawless, “Persona 5 Strikers” infuses just as much charm in its gameplay and story as there was in the original game, making this entry just as essential for gamers’ enjoyment as the original game.
Taking place months after “Persona 5,” the game follows protagonist Joker as he reunites with his friends, the Phantom Thieves, during summer vacation. As the gang starts reconnecting with each other, psychotic incidents start arising all over Japan, with authorities suspecting the Phantom Thieves once again.
Discovering an alternate universe where evildoers hold the desires of innocent people hostage, it is up to Joker and the Phantom Thieves to figure out the mysteries of this new world while putting a stop to the tyrannical rulers, all while evading those who would wish them harm in their everyday lives.
While the original “Persona 5” was a mix between a turn-based RPG and a social simulator, “Strikers” focuses its efforts towards creating high-intensity action via siccing dozens of enemies onto you at once, all while you scour through each wave as quickly as possible. The initial shift in gameplay does prove jarring at first, but you will quickly adjust, as the controls and gameplay mechanics are easy to learn, yet difficult—and satisfying—to master.
There are occasional issues, such as when the camera moves into awkward positions during battle sequences, but veterans will find themselves enjoying the game nonetheless.
As for the story, it is just as enjoyable as the original game’s. Newcomers to “Persona 5” will most likely find themselves lost with the game’s narrative, but that is only because the game acts as a quasi-sequel to the original 2017 release.
In that regard, the game seamlessly weaves its story with the first game, with the dialogue and events being just as witty and charming as it was the first time around. This is only furthered by the stellar performances of the English voice actors, with each actor playing their respective roles with as much heart as possible.
Furthermore, arguably the best part of the game is its music. “Persona” games are well-known for how catchy their soundtracks usually are, and this game is no exception. Composers Atsushi Kitajoh, Gota Masuoka and Ayana Hira created a soundtrack chock-full of rhythmic songs that you will find yourself humming even when you stop playing. From the opening track “You Are Stronger” to battle tracks like “What you wish for,” the game will have you dancing around with glee, even as you fight your way through waves of enemies using the powers of the Phantom Thieves.
“Persona 5 Strikers” is the sequel to “Persona 5” that no one expected but everyone should want. There are issues with the way its gameplay translates from one format to its polar opposite, but it overall has just as much grace, wit and allure as the original game. It is a must-play for those familiar with the first game, and those who are unfamiliar with the Phantom Thieves’ antics will find themselves in love with them and their tricks before they know it.