Persona 5: What We Know So Far
Persona fans flocked toward TGS, or at least online streams of it for those who couldn’t go in person. They went in hoping for a release date, ideally within the year. Yet as they watched the third promotional video’s end, the terrifying words “Summer 2016” reared its ugly head from the deep dark abyss of the screen. Why, Atlus? Why?
Although we are disheartened at the news of the delay, I think it’s for the better that we accept it and move on.
“But guys, they’re gonna steal back our future right?”
Those hopes ended with TGS, I’m afraid. It’d be best for everyone to just move on. If there’s one thing Persona has taught us, it’s that we must accept and move on. Since TGS is the last major gaming event we’re expecting Persona 5 to make an appearance in for quite some time, I think it’s a good time to look back at what we know so far. It’ll give us an idea of what to look forward to and maybe pick up the broken pieces of our hype. And most importantly, to remind us that the game we’re waiting for is progressing and that at least it’s not being KH 2.8’d.
Gathered from various sources here and there (and here too), the Persona Team has stated that it envisions Persona 5 as a tale of freedom and individuality. This is seen in the early teasers for the game where we see a line of chairs with chains on them and with the words, “You are a slave. Want emancipation?” shown on the screen.
Katsura Hashino, Persona Team’s director, said that he wanted the player to feel a sense of cathartic freedom from playing the game. He comments that in Japan (maybe even the rest of the world), people live very passively, and says that, “People have to be on their toes, thinking about and engaging with what’s happening around them.” And this is why they chose a picaresque type theme. A picaresque novel is a genre of prose fiction which tells a story of adventures of rogue heroes and is derived from the Spanish word picaresca which means ‘rogue’ or ‘rascal’. This fits in with the being free from the passivity of daily life that they want to convey.
Persona 5’s setting is a first for the Persona series as it is set in a real world location, Tokyo. Most of what we see in the trailers and PVs are set in Shibuya, but the game will also feature other parts of the Greater Tokyo area. Persona 5 follows the story of a band of misfits. Our protagonist attends Shujin High School (TL note: Shujin means Prison; nice and subtle, Atlus) with Ann Takamaki and Ryuji Sakamoto. Together with Morgana, a mysterious shape-shifting cat, and Yusuke Kitagawa, an art student from Kousei Public High School, they form a group of “Phantom Thieves”. They use a phone app to travel from the real world to The Palace, a world formed from warped desires. With the help of their Personae, they steal the hearts of the corrupt to change a corrupt world (god knows we need them in the Philippines).
The protagonist, voiced by Jun Fukuyama (Lelouch Lamperouge from Code Geass), is the leader of the group. He’s a 16 year-old boy who is a recent transferee at Shujin High School. He’s a mild-mannered student by day, phantom thief by night. He bums around at a coffee shop owned by family friends. It is unknown why he transferred. His persona is the gentleman thief, Arsene. Might I add that he’s probably one of the most badass mofos in series? I mean, look at that one scene in PV03 where he gets beat up and tortured and still manages to flash that smug ass grin of his.
Ryuji Sakamoto, voiced by Mamoru Miyano (Tamaki Suoh, from Ouran High School Host Club), is also a 16 year-old boy attending Shujin High School. He’s got a reputation for being a trouble maker and a “problem child” though he wasn’t always like this. His Persona is, the pirate, Captain Kidd. He’s said to be a bad influence on our protagonist and his backstory indicates that something happened to him to cause him to act out. Seeing how this will play out will undoubtedly be interesting once the game comes out.
Ann Takamaki, voiced by Nana Mizuki (Fate Testarossa, from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha), is a 16 year-old girl attending Shujin High School. She’s ¾ Japanese with American blood and because of her foreign features, she finds it hard to fit in add to that being the subject of a rumor circulating the school. Her Persona is Carmen. No, not Sandiego. This Carmen is Carmen the gypsy from the play, Carmen. Also, Lisa 2.0 anyone? Anyone who has played Persona 2 would find her background similar to Lisa Silverman. It’d be interesting to see how they will differentiate Ann from her.
Morgana, voiced by Ikue Ohtani (Pikachu, from Pokémon), is a mysterious cat-like creature, no taller than a child. She seems to be the mentor of the group when it comes to Persona and The Palace. Her Persona is Zoro. Not much to talk about with Morgana, really. Unless we wanna talk about how adowabul da widdle kitty is.
Atlus is probably hush-hush about Morgana’s nature as it’ll probably be important to the plot.
Yusuke Kitagawa, voiced by Tomokazu Sugita (Sakata Gintoki, from Gintama), is an art student at Kousei Public High School. He is a live-in disciple of a well-known painter, Madarame. His Persona is legendary outlaw, Goemon. For those who played Persona 2 he might look familiar which is understandable since he looks like Jun. It is also worth noting his voice actor is Tomokazu Sugita. He’s a big shot voice actor and a personal favorite of mine for voicing Gintoki and Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou‘s Hidenori Tabata. Also worth mentioning that he’s a big Persona fan and voiced Daisuke in Persona 4 and was seen holding a Persona 1 manga. Plus dressing up as Yukiko Amagi in an interview.
Congrats to you, Mr. Sugita, for landing a leading role this time around.
Justine and Caroline, both voiced by Aki Toyosaki (Yui Hirasawa from K-On!), are twins who take the appearance of young girls and are the Velvet Room’s new attendants. Justine has long braids while Caroline wears her hair in twin buns. They fit the theme the last games had with the attendants’ names as reference to Frankenstein characters. Justine is calm while Caroline is more aggressive. This is probably a reference to good cop, bad cop.
From what we know, the gameplay remains fairly the same as the last two major releases. It’s still a turn based RPG with dungeon crawling elements along with the “daily life” elements. From the third PV we can speculate that the morning commute to school might be free roam unlike the last two where you are transported directly to the school. The third PV also suggests there are places the player can go to, most likely after school, where you can do mini-games. It is unknown at this point whether they have anything to do with other aspects of gameplay. The texting system from Catherine is also implemented in some way as the third PV also showed messages between characters being relayed through texts. Whether or not social links are to be retained is still somewhat of a mystery although fans speculate that the “Co-operation” menu we saw in PV 01 had something to do with the social link system of P5.
With regards to the dungeon crawling aspect of the game, the most notable difference is the addition of climbing, jumping, and sneaking. There will be a number of random generated areas as well as areas that are intentionally designed. How this will differentiate P5 from prior titles will be an interesting thing to look out for. In the battle system, P5 will be retaining the all-out attack system, as seen in Famitsu’s feature of the game. P5 will be bringing back something from the older titles, namely, Persona 1 and Persona 2 Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment, the ability to equip a gun and a melee weapon. Think of it as a shout out to the OG Persona fans. Another shout out to the OGs is the switching of the enemies back from shadows to demons. Whether or not they’re bringing back negotiations into the game is still questionable though.
Pictured above: Shadow (left) Demons (right)
Persona Team seem to be hard at work to make this game something to truly look forward to. The Shin Megami Tensei universe has stayed fairly quiet these past few years. “But all the Persona 4 spin-offs and Devil Survivor remake-” Shh, shhh. No.
And I think if Persona 5 succeeds, it will bode well to games tied to the SMT universe. We’ve seen that Persona 5 has been incorporating old school aspects into the new, which may mean that they’re trying to market not only the Persona series but the entire SMT universe and that the best way to do this is on their best selling series, Persona. It is in my hopes that this game will not only revitalize Persona but the whole SMT universe as well. Maybe it will generate enough interest to merit a new Devil Summoner Raidou Kuzunoha or Shin Megami Tensei V in a next gen console. Who knows?
Back to Persona 5 itself, Hashino said in an interview after announcing the delay that most of Persona 5 is already finished. The reason for the delay is that they want Persona 5 to be the most voluminous, most complete entry to the series to live up to the huge hype it has built up for itself. Besides, since next year marks the 20th anniversary of Persona, it’d be a shame for the Persona series if we got a mediocre, rushed game. So don’t be discouraged for the delay, and instead look forward to the thought of Hashino’s promises being fulfilled. We should look at the thought that Hashino cares enough about the game to make sure that it turns out great, even if it means delaying its release. Regarding delays, Shigeru Miyamoto of Nintendo once said, “A delayed game is eventually good, a rushed game is bad forever.”