Persona 5 Tactica Review – Steal Hearts in Style

Persona 5 Tactica on Xbox

Persona 5 Tactical will be released in November on all imaginable platforms. This means no player will miss out on this stylish tactical adventure. As a spin-off title, P5T takes place after the events of Persona 5. We start in the café until we are catapulted into another dimension by strange phenomena. Soon the Phantom Thieves must find out what happened to the world as they know it. What exactly are these evil enemies that seem to attack them from every corner? And who is the mysterious Elina?

I came to this game as a newbie and had no expectations (high or low) for Persona 5 Tactica. However, I knew I was in for something special when a quote from John Milton popped up at the store. “The mind is its own place and can in itself make heaven out of hell and hell out of heaven.” Maybe this isn’t the basic tactical anime game I imagined?

As a newbie, I could have been confused about the plot and characters of P5T, but luckily that wasn’t the case. The first scenes in the café introduce each of the thieves and provide clues about their personalities through delightful banter. It becomes clear that this little gang has been through some difficult times in the past. Obviously they want to enjoy some peace and quiet, but of course that peace doesn’t last long.

Persona 5 Tactical Promo Image 5
Photo credit: SEGA

The first thing I noticed about Persona 5 Tactica’s general style was the bold graphics. It’s like being transported straight into a comic book. As the game begins, it’s clear that P5T has an intelligent and engaging script. The conversations can be quite long at times, but thanks to the camp and dramatic anime style, they don’t get boring. If you can’t stand long cutscenes and want to get straight into the action, you have the option to fast forward in the bottom right corner. However, I honestly recommend not skipping them or you will miss out on the wonderful plot and funny jokes. However, this skip option is particularly useful if you accidentally restart a conversation.

The story itself doesn’t seem to be all that connected to previous games. If there is a connection, I don’t feel like I’m missing any context. The characters’ backstories are linked to previous titles, but you’ll get subtle contextual clues as you play. So there is no urgent need to play any Persona games before starting this game. One great thing about playing P5T is that if you enjoy getting to know the thieves and their abilities, you’ll almost certainly feel like you’re immersed in previous titles. It was a pleasure to meet the original Phantom Thieves of Hearts. Each of them is characterized by their own personality, abilities and a supernatural power called “Persona”, which we learn more about as we progress through the early stages.

As we set up the story somewhat, we see how the Phantom Thieves are somehow transported to another world full of “kingdoms” that are taken over by a tyrannical leader. Here we meet the Legionnaires, a group of brainwashed enemies who follow the orders of the main antagonist Marie. The Phantom Thieves must fight the mysterious Legionnaires in this new world using their weapons and scrolls.

After a small battle with the Legionnaires, I quickly realized that these “personas” are a kind of manifestation of each character’s soul. They can use their inherent power to repel the enemy at the cost of their skill points (SP). Since this whole concept is completely new to me, it seemed surprisingly spiritual for a fun tactics game!

The fighting game is a lot of fun. You navigate a grid with the three characters at your disposal, using crates to protect yourself from attacks while firing ranged weapons. As mentioned above, Personas consume skill points (SP), so they should be used wisely. This is all part of using the strategy to your advantage! If you weaken the Legionnaire with the right attack, you can use the “1 More” action, which gives you an additional blow against the opposing player. One of my favorite features in combat is when you can get your characters into a triangle formation and perform the “Triple Threat” move, which has devastating consequences for the enemy.

The skill tree is not overly complicated and uses Game Points (GP) as an upgrade currency. These are obtained by completing quests and passing stages with full stars. This basically means that the better you do, the higher ranked skills you can acquire. Best of all, you can regain GP by swapping skills if you want to try something different. Each character has their own game points to spend on their skill tree, so you don’t have to worry about which character you want to level up first either.

The Phantom Thieves personas are fun to play around with, and the further you progress, the more you discover what they can do. It’s also useful to slowly introduce the members available to your group so that you have time to learn how to use each one properly. As a strategy newbie, I’m new to grid-based maps and turn-based battles, but found them very entertaining. It doesn’t take long to learn, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy! There was one fight where my beginner skills only got me so far and I just couldn’t clear the stage. I was relieved to find out that you can switch between difficulty levels when faced with a tough round of opponents. The developers clearly want fun to be the main focus.

Persona 5 Tactics Promo 3
Photo credit: SEGA

Part of the strategy involves choosing the top three allies to go into battle in each phase and equipping them with the best weapons and characters you have. Deciding who to take with you is very important as everyone has their own skills. Some prefer close combat, while others can use longer-range powers. The goal of each stage is to eliminate enemies as quickly as possible to get three stars and the best rewards. If you plan and strategize properly, every battle can be truly satisfying. Switching between using a weapon or a Persona is fun and really adds to the strategy element. I’m not the best strategy gamer, but I don’t think that matters in Persona 5 Tactica. Each early stage is designed to subtly teach you how to play and give you the opportunity to see how each attack works.

Each stage is interspersed with interactive scenes in the gang’s base. Here you will meet all the new characters and take some time to improve weapons and skills. The introduction of each new character is done in a way that is neither disruptive nor confusing. When we meet Erina, the leader of another vigilante group, the Rebel Corps, she fits right into our little group. Since each character has the same goal of justice and freedom, the group soon feels like they have always worked together. They encourage each other and of course the Phantom Thieves are ready to help Erina take back what’s hers!

The addition of the Velvet Room, where players can create sub-personas, is another great break from the hustle and bustle. It’s also pretty fun to see what new skills you can develop. The game never feels monotonous or boring and there is plenty of variety between gameplay and cutscenes.

I won’t reveal much about the story here because it’s best to enjoy it as it unfolds. Let’s just say it’s a camp, surprising and so much fun! It’s clear that Persona 5 Tactica is designed for both old and new players, and for that I’m grateful. I’m excited to see what else the Persona series has to offer.

Persona 5 Tactical

Reviewer: Rowan Jones

Forgive: Editor’s Choice