Persona 5 is the upcoming entry to Atlus’ renowned Persona series. First announced in 2013 then expounded upon at 2015’s Tokyo Game Show, this single-player, turn-based combat RPG will be available for both the PS4 and PS3. Due out summer 2016 after a minor delay from February 2, 2016, Persona 5 will mark the third entry to the main series by developer P Studio, the team behind the lauded Persona 3 and Persona 4.
The Persona series is a spin-off of Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei series that sees its protagonists attend high school. Gameplay consists of playing through an in-game calendar year, making time to attend school, after-school clubs, and sports teams, take on part-time jobs, prepare for exams, and more, all while moving forward through a central story. Primary characters are able to collect and summon guardians called Personas to help them combat Shadows – creatures of obfuscated origin that ring familiar to the series’ Jung-inspired underpinnings.
In Persona 5, players will take on the roll of a young, acrobatic thief enrolled in an academy for delinquents. The silent protagonist, typical of Persona and Shin Megami Tensei, will be surrounded by a cast of memorable, colorful characters, each of which comes armed with a unique Persona. Combat strategy makes players manage party and enemy elemental strengths and weaknesses through use of magical and physical attacks. While Atlus has yet to reveal details regarding its plot, it may be safe to assume that the game’s story will be highly character-driven and, as implied by its first trailer, focus on stealth and criminal themes. It’s also unclear as to how these themes may fit into and day-to-day activities.
Gameplay footage reveals a highly-stylized, semi-cel shaded aesthetic that may help mesh the game’s animated cutscenes with gameplay more seamlessly than previous entries. The third trailer shows off well-lit, highly populated downtown and school environments with much more detail than the previous PS2 entries were able to achieve. The trailer also shows off brand new, beautifully sculpted Personas and Shadows that clearly take advantage of the PS3 and PS4 hardware. Composer and guitarist Shoji Meguro returns once again to provide his signature jazzy, fusion-meets-pop soundtrack. If the trailer music is anything to go off, we can expect a few touches of late-60’s, secret agent movie-inspired orchestrations to drive home the game’s tone.
With Atlus and P Studio’s strong history of works behind them, it’s hard to doubt the potential quality of Persona 5. But in what ways can developers innovate and expand the world beyond those of previous entries? How will it appeal to gamers who’ve never played a Persona or Shin Megami Tensei? We’ll have to find out summer 2016 and, sadly, no activity will make our calendar roll by any faster.