There’s a sharp ambience when I’m loitering in a cafe or subway overpass with the crew of Persona 5. Whether it’s Ryuji’s lackadaisically cuffed jeans and likely Manic Panic bleached hair, Ann’s perky blonde pigtails, Yusuke’s ever-poised posture, Makoto’s perpetually stern expression, Futaba’s oversized spectacles and dorky exterior, Haru’s fluffy short hair and posh sweaters, or even the nameless Main Character with his hands permanently burrowed in the pockets of his slacks, as his feline(-ish) friend Morgana lightly peeks out of a school bag and rests his paws on the hero’s shoulder as he meows at the group. To a random passerby, these mews would be nothing other than the yodels of a cat. To this gathering of friends, they’re much more. Morgana’s always spewing human words of encouragement. Or comic relief, depending on the talkative cat-being’s mood.
In a recurring theme of the Persona series, the main character is the only member that has access to multiple personas, or masks in Persona 5’s case. In order to unlock new persona, that comes from one of two ways. The first is the most common, which is to negotiate with the enemy and convince them to join your fighting force. As one of the more drastic changes to the combat system over the fourth game, talks typically won’t happen until every enemy is knocked down (in what is referred to as a Hold Up) rather than engaging in some negotiations at the player’s discretion. From there, players can choose to bargain with the enemy to either have them join forces and become the main character’s usable persona or extort for a bit of extra cash or items.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to metaphorically unwrap a new Persona title and I can confidently say that it was worth the wait. There’s something special about the stylish role-playing game series that no other RPG maker can come close to emulating (although Mind-Zero certainly tried). While the battles take a backseat to the story in Persona 5, it’s that daring tale of phantom thieves that keeps drawing me back in. Now that I’ve finally ripped myself away from the PS4 long enough to pen the review, I can’t wait to put the mask back on and steal a few more hearts.