Persona 5 Tactica Impression
Persona 5 Tactica not only takes the Phantom Thieves to a bizarre version of the Metaverse, it includes a magnificent grid-based battle system that brilliantly adapts all the staples of the series.
The Phantom Thieves’ adventure continues, with a new game joining the Persona 5 universe. Persona 5 Tactica features the main cast, plus new allies and foes, in a brand-new storyline that comes in the form of a strategy RPG. Although visuals have been reworked using chibi drawings that look adorable, Atlus managed to maintain the essence that makes Persona 5 so unique. With only a few hours in, the well-executed combat and the intriguing writing promise a great game that will please fans of strategy games and the Persona series.
The game takes place shortly before the ending of Persona 5, when Joker is planning to go away for some time. One day, the Phantom Thieves are hanging out at Leblanc Café when they suddenly find themselves trapped inside a bizarre iteration of the Metaverse they are not familiar with. After being caught by surprise, the Phantom Thieves need to regroup to fight against a tyrannic foe that has the upper hand. Luckily, a new ally called Erina, leader of the Rebel Corps, rescues them and convinces the gang to join her cause since they have a common enemy. A sketchy man called Toshiro who was imprisoned in this kingdom joins the revolution as well, despite apparently not knowing what is happening.
This initial setting seems promising and has enough intrigue to keep players interested so far. Prior knowledge is not necessary since previous events are satisfactorily explained. Nevertheless, the hearts of those who played the original game will surely ignite after watching their heroes back in action. This new unknown kingdom is a great setting and appears to be somehow linked to the shady politicians that the Phantom Thieves are trying to stop in the original game. The evil ruler called Marie, who is obsessed with getting married, stands out among the other new additions to a cast of memorable characters.
Persona 5 Tactica brings some new features to the table, with gameplay being drastically different from previous games. At least in the beginning of the game, there is no exploration. Players progress by completing missions then regroup back at their new hideout. In this new safe spot, our heroes find everything they need to prepare for their next moves, including the Velvet Room, a shop, and the possibility to upgrade skills. The gang can also embark on optional quests, which are fun battles with very specific winning conditions, or simply hang out, with captivating interactions that reward players with points to upgrade their skills. Recruiting demons and the Velvet Room have been changed as well. New personas are obtained as rewards for completing battles and fusing them is notably simpler than in the other games, with only two-demon fusion available. All Phantom Thieves can equip a secondary persona in this new entry, motivating players to have a wide set of strong demons. All these tweaks are definitely refreshing and match perfectly with the star of the show that is the strategic battle system.
The grid-based battle system manages to adapt all the staples of the franchise brilliantly. Obstacles play an important role during combat, with combatants managing to block attacks while taking cover behind some assets. Besides moving, players have elemental attacks linked to each persona, melee strikes, and guns for ranged attacks. The iconic Once-More system in which players obtain more turns by exploiting weaknesses has been masterfully adapted here. Instead of using elemental weaknesses, the idea is to have enemies in spots where they cannot defend. For instance, hitting an enemy twice in a spot where they cannot take cover can knock them down, allowing players to act again. When an enemy is down, players can also use all-out-attacks if they position their party wisely to create a triangle where downed enemies are in the middle. Elemental attacks are not crucial for exploiting weaknesses, but they have status ailments or other effects that can prove helpful to defeat an enemy. Thinking carefully about each movement is crucial, especially in battles with very specific win conditions. Obstacles, range, and even height are factors to take into account when choosing each move. Battles don’t feel repetitive and definitely invite players to put on their thinking hats to win some combats.
The visual style sets Persona 5 Tactica apart from the previous games. This simpler approach works great with this type of game, with characters looking great during combat and extremely cute during cutscenes. Red and black continue as the main theme colors of the user interface, which uses many stylish designs from the previous games. Voice acting is highly convincing, and exhilarating jazzy tunes with distorted guitars and female vocals make combat very exciting. Cutscenes are also a treat for both the eyes and the ears.
Persona 5 Tactica not only takes the Phantom Thieves to a bizarre version of the Metaverse, it includes a magnificent grid-based battle system that brilliantly adapts all the staples of the series. The game is simpler in many ways, but this simplicity works perfectly. Persona 5 Tactica will be released for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam on November 17, 2023, and promises to be another memorable tale for the Phantom Thieves.
Disclosure: This article is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher.