Persona 5 was inarguably the breakout moment for the long-running demon fighting, Japan school sim series. Persona 5 has received an extended version in the form of P5 Royal, a dancing game called Persona 5 Dancing in Starflight, and most recently a Musou spin-off from Omega Force in 2020 called Persona 5 Strikers. Persona 5 Tactica is the next game in the continued story of the Phantom Thieves and is developed in-house at Persona Studios. After our brief hands-on glimpse, it seems almost like somewhat of a coda for these young teens.
The game takes place after the Summer holiday road trip of P5 Strikers, as Ren enters their final year in Shujin Academy, and some of his friends have even started life after education. It was an interesting juxtaposition seeing these cute chibi-esque redesigned characters ruminate on moving on with their lives and getting older in LeBlanc.
However, there are obviously bigger problems afoot than what college modules to pick, as a cold open in the office of a National Diet member made clear. Before we knew it, the team was being forcibly transported to the Metaverse for another caper, with Futaba even bemoaning that the crew really could have done with “a DLC” being added on the end of their adventure.
Once dropped into the Metaverse, things are noticeably different again, with some form of revolution going on in the Shadows’ society and references to French aristocracy and music. P5T seems very interested in the 17th and 18th centuries, as our demo opened with a quote from Paradise Lost of all things.
New Style, Same Panache
After having the game's combat explained we were dropped into a later game encounter that included a new Phantom Thief in the form of Erina. She’s the leader of the rebels in the Metaverse, whom the demo erroneously misgendered as “he” in audio and text despite Team Persona having already confirmed her gender.
The combat takes the form of a hybrid between XCOM’s cover and shooting, Mario + Rabbids free-ish movement on a grid map, and Persona 5’s One More and Persona summoning to chain combos together. Each encounter felt more like a puzzle to be figured out than a fight to be won. This was thanks to the game’s focus on positioning the three characters you can control at one time, usually, so you can set up Triple Threat moves, which resemble All Out Attacks from the main game. It will be interesting to see what synergies you can develop between characters, as each one will have a unique special ability available to them if you chose not to move them for a turn.
Despite shifting genres, art style, and gameplay, Persona 5 Tactica still very much feels like it's continuing the lineage of Persona 5. These characters are still a joy to be around, and the animation and tone exude coolness even when you are just pausing the game. It’s hard to tell if this combat will stay interesting over the course of a full campaign when the game releases November 17th, but it's nice to be back in this world, seeing these characters grow and change, just like the very series they are in is evolving.
These impressions are based on an on-site demo from Gamescom 2023. It may not be representative of the final product.
Lexi Luddy posted a new article, Persona 5 Tactica is the chibi XCOM you didn't know you wanted
interesting. I have to see more.
This sounds intriguing