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Persona 5 Strikers review – hack-and-style

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The Phantom Thieves are finally about to hit PC, but not in the way none of us expected back in 2016 when Persona 5 launched on PlayStation 4. Persona 5 Strikers is a spin-off that offers a sense of familiarity to fans of the series, and a little taste of what Persona has to offer newcomers with just a few stumbles along the way.

The Persona series is known for its sleek menus, enchanting soundtracks, stories of high school students battling corrupt adults, and a commitment of at least 80 hours to bring them to fruition. Persona 5 Strikers ticks all of these boxes except the last one. Instead of a colossal JRPG with turn-based combat, this is a Musou hack-and-slash game in the Dynasty Warriors vein that can be beaten in under 40 hours.

The move to hack-and-slash suits the teenage chaos of the show and its charismatic heroes surprisingly well. The main series’ turn-based combat is replaced by an action-packed real-time combat system, though it still uses melee and ranged attacks, elemental damage, and status effects. Mixing light and heavy attacks provides the kind of punitive combos you’d expect from a hack-and-slash – don’t expect it to match the complexity of Devil May Cry.

Using your Personas (mostly spirit creatures) is always the keystone of the fight, even if it manifests in a special way. You can interrupt combat at any time to summon your Persona, choose an ability and target, and then unleash a powerful attack. There’s no punishment for taking a break from deciding how you want to use your most devastating attacks, and if at first it seems at odds with the anime game’s faster combat, it becomes essential later when the challenge intensifies.

Real-time combat system in action in Persona 5 Strikers

It’s a bold choice. Dodging attacks and dealing combos is really satisfying, and there are fights where you can just smash buttons until the area is cleared, but others go back to Persona’s roots, tasking you with choosing specific spells to exploit weaknesses, heal your party. and use the right buffs and debuffs to see you through the fight.

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Traversal also helps speed up the pace of Persona 5 Strikers combat by adding new dynamics to combat as you soar quickly between bends, double-jump to reach rooftops and streetlights, and move away from environmental hazards. It’s a great tool for exploring each level, but it really makes sense in combat, when you can use damaged vehicles to set traps for groups of enemies, jumping to safety just before a car explodes. .

Fight the shadows in Persona 5 Strikers

The biggest problem with the new combat system is that the camera can’t follow all of the chaos – it rarely follows the direction of your attacks, resulting in a lot of carnage offscreen. There is a lockout feature that works quite well, especially during boss fights, but will still fly everywhere when you face dozens of enemies in a narrow alley.

There is no penalty for taking a break from deciding how you want to use your most devastating attacks

Persona’s renowned emphasis on history and social mechanics has been streamlined a bit to accommodate the new structure. The events take place just a few months after Persona 5 (after the original ends, rather than Persona 5 Royal), when summer vacation for the Phantom Thieves suddenly turns into another reality-twisting mystery to be solved. . It’s more linear than what Persona fans will be used to, and jumps between smaller locations in Japan instead of letting you explore a metropolis complete with subway lines, suburbs, and secondary locations.

Fortunately, there is still a lot of downtime in the real world where you can stock up on supplies and talk to characters in your party before heading to the Metaverse, where you battle demons in a disturbed version of these. same vacation destinations, but with many more nooks and crannies to explore.

Persona 5 Strikers characters talking during some downtime

The absence of the main series calendar system, which had meticulously planned for you every day of the year, leads to a simpler experience: you are free to return from dungeons using checkpoints without penalty, recovering HP. and SP (Spirit Points) for the whole part in the process. And while there are activities like cooking and optional side quests, which range from returning to past dungeons to hunt down certain enemies or helping someone get tickets for a rare ramen, the objective main is hack-and-slash combat.

Despite the many changes, Persona 5 Strikers retains the charm of the original. Hanging out with this cast of characters again is a thrill, and conversations boast the same familiar mix of thoughtful introspection and goofy dialogue the series is known for. Sometimes Persona 5 Strikers feels like a sequel rather than a spin-off. Of course, veterans of the series may miss some of its fundamentals, such as building one-on-one bond with people instead of having a shared level of bonding with the whole party, but Persona 5 Strikers is still a journey of the past. summer worth taking.

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