Persona 5: TGS hands-on preview

This will come as no surprise to anyone who played and loved Persona 4, but Persona 5 positively oozes style.

P5 is visually stunning and eminently playable. In some ways, it comes across as a typical JRPG, yet in others it is quite unique. Minor, yet important touches mark it out as different from the rest of the pack, making it relevant within a genre that has largely stagnated as the generations have marched on.

The outlandishly brash HUD, the stylish transitions between combat and exploration, and the striking use of shadow and light should make for an unreadable mess. Instead, they add to a unique sense of cool that defines P5.

Fans of Persona 4 will be familiar with many aspects of P5’s battle system, though there are many new editions. Battles may end in any number of ways: you can shake enemies down for items or money, continue the fight to gain XP, or try to convince your foe to join your team as one of your Persona. Making them your ally isn’t as simple as selecting an option. Instead, you have to navigate your way through Mass Effect-esque dialogue options in which you have to appeal to that enemy’s personality. It’s a neat idea, though whether it’ll prove to be entertaining over the course of a 50 plus hour game remains to be seen.

The battle rewards screen is impressive as any we’ve ever seen in a JRPG. Party members pose, preen and stumble as the main character strides purposefully past them. A wonderfully satisfying end to any battle, and a reflection of the attention to detail and stylistic charm of Atlus’ latest. There really is nothing quite like it.

However, in certain areas, P5 struggles to distance itself from the JRPG pack. The camera felt a little off, a second or two behind the action. This is hardly a deal breaker, but disappointing nonetheless. In the scenario we played, set in an art museum, there was a pseudo stealth element in which enemies could be avoided through timing and skilled button presses, but the erratic camera made it difficult to establish the direction from which enemies were emerging. This was compounded by the lack of reliable HUD, leaving us clueless as to where we might be discovered.

Camera gripes aside, Persona 5 looks stunning. Smooth and effortlessly stylish, we expect it to reinvigorate a genre that has grown stale over the last gen or two.

Roll on February.

With contributions from Matt Masters

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Written by Stevie L.

Stevie Lim is a man in Japan.

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