Persona 5 Strikers is the sequel to 2017’s Persona 5 developed by Koei Tecmo’s Omega Force team in collaboration with Atlus’s P-Studio featuring Musou/Dynasty Warriors-style gameplay mixed with the traditional Persona gameplay in a mix that works surprisingly well.
Persona 5 Strikers takes place about four months after the end of the original game. The protagonist, Joker, finds himself back in Tokyo on his summer vacation. Him and his friends quickly get wrapped up in another huge conspiracy. This time taking them all across Japan.
The game starts off in a conference room at a police station. The police are trying to find out who is behind these weird obsession cases that have been plaguing the country for the last few months. Some higher-up members of the police want to pin it on the thieves. So officer Hasegawa Zenkichi is tasked to try and track down the Phantom Thieves and figure out just what’s going on.
Through the use of the brand new EMMA AI assistance app developed by a company called Madicce, they discover a brand new Metaverse. This time accessed through keywords given out by certain celebrities who have the power to brainwash anyone who befriends them on the app. With the thieves, however, entering this keyword into the app brings them into different dungeons, known as “Jails”.
They find out these mysterious new Jails is what is causing the public’s obsession with these people. So the Phantom Thieves have to yet again infiltrate these Jails to return the cognition of these people back to normal.
This takes the Phantom Thieves all across Japan, from Okinawa to Hokkaido in a rental RV that serves as their hideout away from Tokyo.
The gameplay is a slightly watered down version of the usual Persona gameplay, a daily life simulator mixed with dungeon crawling, due to it having a lot of “Warriors” DNA, the closest comparison for the combat is probably some of the more recent real-time combat Final Fantasy games, though I think this game handles combat better than any of those do with its faster paced and flashier combat and special attacks such as the “Showtime” attacks as well as All-Out Attacks, it’s seriously a joy to play. With that said, it’s not perfect and it can get pretty hard if you don’t touch the side content which usually isn’t that fun. Luckily the weaker parts are few and far between, and usually not too long.
I think they blended together the “Warriors”-type gameplay very well with the gameplay fans of the series are used to, it still feels more like Persona than a Warriors game. The Jails were all quite nice in their designs, nothing all too complex, but still sometimes requiring you to think a little to figure out how to progress through some puzzles.
The Jail in Kyoto was by far my favorite aesthetically, but all the other ones look quite nice too. Each Jail also has optional requests similar to the ones found in “Mementos” in the original game. These add extra replay value as you can travel back to Jails you have previously completed and get rewards for finishing the requests. Sadly, they are much more tedious than those in Mementos, as you don’t really feel a sense of progression when backtracking into Jails you’ve already completed. These are almost mandatory to do on higher difficulties or you will end up underleveled, and you will be struggling with some of the tougher battles later on. A shame when they’re easily the least fun part of the game.
The game feels great to play on PC and PS4 at 60 frames per second, there were a couple of hitches here and there, but nothing that detracted from the experience substantially, sadly this doesn’t extend to the Switch version, which runs at a capped 30fps, this is also an option on PC, but I can’t imagine many people using it, as the game isn’t too demanding.
Persona 5 Strikers takes you to several well-known Japanese cities besides Tokyo, such as Sendai, Sapporo, Osaka, and Kyoto among others.
Each of the explorable cities has two iconic district for the player to explore as they wish, like Osaka’s Dotonbori and Shinsekai districts, Sendai’s Aobayama Park and Station Square, and Sapporo’s Odori Park and Susukino.
These places all feature shops to buy items and other stuff that will come in handy while dungeon crawling, though when you reach a new city you’re usually tasked with doing a quick investigation of the city to find out who the ruler of the Jail is, these aren’t that fun and left me thinking “couldn’t they have thought of something a bit more fun?”, luckily they’re all quite short and shouldn’t take more than 5-10 minutes to do.
You are also able to cook meals in the RV’s kitchen with recipes you get throughout the game, as well as buy and sell items with “Sophia’s Shop” which acts as an all-in-one pharmacy and weapons shop.
In each city you will have the option to hang out with some of your party members. Similar to the confidants from the original title, but quite watered down, though I can see why they wouldn’t want to implement fully in a smaller title like this.
Persona 5 Strikers features much of the cast from Persona 5 that you likely already know and love, so I’m going to focus on the new inclusions in Strikers. First off is Hasegawa Zenkichi, a cop working for the Kyoto Prefectural Police, who you are introduced to just as you start the game, he’s been tasked with looking into the Phantom Thieves. They stumble into each other quite early into the game. At first the thieves are understandably skeptical of him, but as they start to get to know him better they find out he’s actually quite trustworthy and not just your regular cop out to get them, even if that is his task. He’s by far my favorite new character in the game, he has a daughter named Akane as well who plays a fairly big part later on in the story.
Another major new character, and the first one you’re introduced to is Sophie, an ultra-advanced AI who talks to the party through Joker’s phone, trying to learn how humans feel emotions, in the Metaverse she takes on a physical form and joins the party as a playable party member She’s a very cute character and her interactions with everyone else are similarly cute. Most of her character development happens quite late in the game, so I won’t go in-depth as that’s entering spoiler territory, though she’s a very good character as well.
The game has some pretty good side characters as well, such as Ichinose Kuon, Miyako Kaburagi, and the previously mentioned Hasegawa Akane. However, most of the characters really don’t stand out all that much, especially a lot of the rulers of the Jails. Most of them are really not very memorable and only a couple of them are very interesting. Right before you go fight them in a boss battle you have to go and figure out what’s driven them to end up the ruler of a Jail, their “Trauma” so to say. You go and explore their past. Which does help build them up a bit, though I do suppose the same was also true about the original Persona 5.
Persona 5 Strikers’ soundtrack is composed by both ATLUS and Koei’s Sound Teams. Featuring reworked versions of songs from the original, some reused songs from the original, as well as brand new songs with Lyn once again returning for the vocal tracks.
These tracks are great, though I feel like the soundtrack overall doesn’t quite live up to the quality of the original P5’s soundtrack, one of my all-time favorite soundtracks. Standout songs for me are: Blooming Villain -Scramble-, Counter Strike, Daredevil, and the Kyoto Jail Theme.
The graphics aren’t quite up to the standard you’d hope, with a lot of jaggies of aliased edges, this applies to all platforms, while I played the PC version with max settings at 1080p for this review, I also did play the game on base PS4 when it came out in the beginning of 2020 in Japan, and checked it on PS5 as well as the demo that was released in Japan on Switch. Where this all applies as well, especially on Switch, which suffers from incredibly long load times on top of having a lower resolution and framerate as we discussed before. Luckily, the games art style and presentation more than makes up for the less than stellar graphics, it is a sequel to Persona 5 after all, and the style that game had does thankfully carry over.
All in all, Persona 5 Strikers is an incredibly fun game that I can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who’s played the original. I’m not sure if I would recommend it to those who haven’t had the chance to play it, as the game does spoil a decent bit of the original’s key plot points. I would go as far as to say this game tops the original games story in some regards even. I definitely think the strongest thing this game has going for it are the characters, I’m seriously impressed with how good these new characters are. The transition to an action-RPG was handled exceptionally as well, with very little to complain about, definitely better than how the move to a turn-based RPG in Yakuza: Like A Dragon turned out, something I’m sure most fans were not expecting. The game is, however, quite short compared to Persona 5, an average playthrough takes about 25-30 hours, so it’s still longer than most other big releases today, but nothing compared to the 100+ hour behemoth that is the original. If you liked Persona 5, definitely check out this great followup, it’s seriously a shame that they haven’t marketed this game as a sequel because that’s what it is, and a damn good one at that.
Played on PC. A review code was provided to us by SEGA.
Persona 5 Strikers
Persona 5 Strikers is an incredibly fun game that I enjoyed the entire way through. It even manages to outperform the original from time to time as well. It was a joy to play and a game I can definitely recommend to anyone that liked the original.