Persona 5 Strikers – 9.5/10
After finishing Persona 5 Royal, I was happy learn that there was a sequel to that amazing game. Now, before I get started with this review, there are a few things I want to note. First off, Persona 5 Strikers, also know as Persona 5 Scramble, is a direct sequel to the original Persona 5, not Persona 5 Royal.
Because of this, the whole third semester added in Persona 5 Royal, and the unique characters like Maruki and Yoshizawa aren’t present in Persona 5 Strikers. In fact, any mention of the third semester doesn’t exist. Now, the second thing I want to note is that this review will contain spoilers for both Persona 5 Strikers, and its prequel¸ Persona 5. If you haven’t played any of these games, I highly recommend playing them. Honestly, these two are some of the best games I have ever played. So, with that out of the way, let’s get started.
Persona 5 Strikers has my seal of approval and is a definite must play after completing Persona 5. With a familiar main cast, wonderful new characters, an intriguing story about trauma, and an interesting combat style, Persona 5 Strikers is a wonderful game. Although the gameplay may take some time to adjust to, as soon as you are comfortable with the mechanics, the game is amazing.
So, as I mentioned before, Persona 5 Strikers features the same core cast from Persona 5, the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. Now, this cast only contains those found in the base game, and not the additions from the Royal expansion.
Persona 5 Strikers pretty much picks up a few months after the end of Persona 5, during the summertime. This whole game takes place within the summer break. Fans of Persona 5 will remember that the based game operated off of a calendar system, where the plot took place over the course of a year. In Persona 5 Strikers, the story is condensed to one summer.
How Long Does It Take to Beat Persona 5 Strikers?
Compared to Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal, which took more than 100 hours to complete, Persona 5 Strikers takes around 40-50 hours, depending on how much side content you complete and the difficulty setting. Now, due to the pacing of the game, many of the core mechanics of Persona 5 were changed around. The biggest change is that the confidant system is completely removed. In this game, you won’t get the opportunity to spend time with the other Phantom Thieves besides speaking to them on the world map.
Another big change is how the calendar system works. In the base game, you traversed the days and spent free time doing many different tasks. In Persona 5 Strikers, this system is instead changed so that each day something specific happens. You won’t be able to progress the day until the plot objectives are complete. The final big change is how the Velvet Room works. In previous titles, the Velvet Room is the way you level up, fuse, and summon new personas. In this game, the options are more limited, and the fusing process is more streamlined.
Let’s get into the core gameplay now, which is really fun once you get the hang of it. Contrary to the base game, which featured a turn based RPG, Persona 5 Strikers opted for an action based RPG, where your characters fight in real time, similar to a Dynasty Warriors game. Think, Age of Calamity, or Fire Emblem Warriors.
Now, this game isn’t exactly like those games I just mentioned, which is probably why I took a bit of time to adjust. Instead of just hacking and slashing, you also have to manage elemental weaknesses and casting spells through your personas. I think this is the part that I had the most difficulty adjusting to. At the beginning of the game, the Phantom Thieves are quite weak, and they lack a lot of SP to cast spells.
This lack of juice is what made the early fights difficult, since it was hard to target elemental weaknesses with such a low amount of SP. Another difficult thing was that the healing items in the game are quite weak. I remember the first few items only healed 10 HP, which isn’t that much. After getting used to the system, the game did become quite fun.
My favourite mechanic to promote using more characters has to be the Master Arts system. Each character has 4 unique Master Arts they can unlock, which unlock as you play with the character. This was great since you got to experiment with everyone and find which characters you liked playing with the most. I personally liked Yusuke and Haru. The latter was quite ironic, since I barely used Haru in my playthrough of Persona 5 Royal.
Besides the combat, another aspect I loved was the music. In my review of Persona 5 Royal, I mentioned that most of those songs are amazing, and that I listened to them while writing that review. In this case, I have added some songs from Persona 5 Strikers. Not only does the game have amazing original themes, like Mori no Miyako, You Are Stronger, or Daredevil, this game also has remixes of the previous battle themes from Persona 5. I especially liked the Last Surprise, Rivers in the Desert, and Blooming Villain remixes. Great in the base game, and even better in Persona 5 Strikers. I can honestly listen to that soundtrack all the time and never get tired of it.
With music covered, the next area I want to discuss are the characters, but more specifically, the characters unique to this game. The new characters that were added to this game were Sophia and Zenkichi. Sophia is an AI that Joker and Skull first meet when they enter a Jail. Jails are this game’s dungeon, which are slightly different from the Palaces in Persona 5.
Like Morgana, Sophia has no recollection of her past, and she travels with the Phantom Thieves to discover how she can be “humanity’s companion”. In the Jails, she sports a physical body and wields yo-yos as her weapons. In the real world, she resides inside Joker’s phone and is pretty much Siri on steroids.
Zenkichi, on the other hand, is a member of Public Security. At first, he uses the Phantom Thieves in order to solve a case, but he eventually befriends them and joins the group. I think the best part of the characters in this game is how fast you come to love them. Besides the original members, I found myself enjoying Sophia and Zekichi’s characters, even though we don’t see them as much. They fit naturally with the group, and I loved their dynamic together. All in all, a great addition to the main cast whose integration felt natural and fluid.
Before I get into the story, I do have some minor complaints that I want to address. First off, this game has a lot of loading screens. And I mean a lot. Almost every time a menu is loaded, or a scene changes, there is a loading screen. Now, Persona 5 Royal did have its fair share of loading screens, but the ones in Persona 5 Strikers seemed to take a bit longer to load.
It was annoying, but not a gamebreaker. The other big thing that bugged me were the infrequent, but annoying, lag spikes that occurred. Now, I did play this game on the Nintendo Switch, so it could be a console issue. Either way, those lag spikes, mainly during heavy combat portions of the game, did throw my timing off a few times, which resulted in taking a lot of damage. Just like the loading screen issue, not a deal breaker, but it was annoying.
The final aspect I want to discuss about Persona 5 Strikers was the plot. Now, compared to Persona 5 Royal, it wasn’t as complex or deep. However, the plot was still enjoyable and featured many great moments. With a shorter game, I appreciated the angle they took with the story. When you boil it down, the story revolves around one theme: trauma.
Every single Monarch, Jail, and villain only exists due to the trauma they experienced. As the game put it, it does not excuse their crimes, but it does put everything in a grey area, which made things interesting.
Major spoilers ahead, but my two favourite moments in this game has to be the persona awakenings for Wolf and Sophie. When it comes to Wolf, I loved that he finally decided to step up and face his obstacles head on. He was done running, and it was great character development.
In the case of Sophie, I loved her awakening since it’s the build up for the whole game. Sophie finally finds out what “heart” is, and due to this realization, she awakens her persona. I got chills when that happened, and I was hyped to use her in combat. Overall, solid story that had perfect pacing, strong and emotional moments, and interesting themes.
If you’ve gotten to this point, what I’m about to conclude should come as no surprise. If you enjoyed Persona 5 or Persona 5 Royal, then I 100% recommend playing the sequel Persona 5 Strikers. Not only do you get another adventure with the loveable cast from the main game, but you get exposed to a heartfelt story and wonderful characters. Now, if you are one of those crazy people who want to play this game before Persona 5 or Persona 5 Royal, then I won’t stop you. You don’t have to experience the first game in order to enjoy this one. However, major plot points are revealed in this game that spoil everything for Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal. Either way, you’ll have to play this game eventually. It will be worth the ride.