Persona 5 Strikers preview: A new way to play with the Phantom Thieves

Atlus /
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Persona 5 Strikers
Atlus /

A Whole New Way to Play

Persona 5 (and specifically Persona 5 Royal ) was the perfection of turn-based combat, making the mundane, slow, and often boring gameplay style and making it feel like alive and active. The “One More” system, the “Baton Pass”, the “Hold Up” and “All Out Attack”, everything worked together so well to make every battle an extremely exciting endeavor. Atlus put a permanent stamp on the genre that they have worked in for decades that no one may ever top, so it was only appropriate for the series to attempt to perfect a second gameplay style.

Persona 5 Strikers exchanges the strategic, turn-based combat of its predecessor for a high speed, high intensity, “warrior’s” style action RPG. Developed in partnership with the iconic and great Koei Techmo, this gameplay combines the best parts of “warrior’s” style combat with the best parts of action RPGs: the giant enemy crowds, a plethora of playable characters with extremely unique play styles and feel, huge special attacks that require build-up, and huge arenas of “warriors” games, with the flashy animations, near an uncountable number of abilities and magic, action commands, and endless customization of an action RPG. Add in some of Persona 5’s iconic systems (All out attacks, One More, Follow Up) and of course, the gorgeous visuals of P5, and this is the game that other action RPGs and “warriors” games wish they were.

However, despite marrying two of the notoriously easiest genres in gaming, Persona 5 Strikers manages to be somewhat difficult, requiring actual preparation, strategy, and practice to be successful. You can not just run up to a group of enemies and slam square until you win, or else you will get killed by even the simplest of enemies. You can not just spam your favorite persona skills, because SP is much more limited and SP recovery items are much harder to come by. You can not just use your favorite character the whole time, because certain characters handle certain enemy types better. You have to be balanced in the game if you want to be successful, which is an amazing change for these genres.

If the base enemy gameplay is elite and in a tier of its own, the boss gameplay is beyond ranking. The bosses take the need for balance and ramp it up tenfold, forcing you to strategize and think quickly on your feet. You have to figure out when to move in and out, when to attack and when to heal, when to use stage hazards and when to use special attacks. Sure, bosses can be weakened and hit with an all-out attack, but that only does so much damage and requires using a ton of SP, so do you go for the damage, our conserve SP for healing and support? Meanwhile, while your brain is making these decisions and weighing your choices, you are having to dodge in and out of the bosses huge attacks that hit hard.

These boss battles are fast, intense, challenging, and really highlight how great action RPG bosses can be. It especially helps that the remix of “Blooming Villain” is a banger.