Warning: Spoilers Ahead
With the majority of the world being a large sum of weeks into the quarantine, many of us are turning to the video games we have lying around to pass the time. As a now furloughed worker, I have revisited my PS4, which I have had little to no time to play, prior to the lockdown.
While I was sifting through the games I had lying around, I took my time to consider what would be the best to play. Red Dead Redemption 2 and Skyrim were amongst the contenders. However, as soon as I laid eyes upon Persona 5, it came to me like an epiphany just how ideal this game was for times like these.
While many people are considering the likes of Animal Crossing or Sims as the perfect way to eat up the coming weeks, in my mind Persona 5 absolutely trumps them all. In this article, I will go ahead and give my reasons behind why this game is the cream of the crop when it comes to quarantine games, right after going through what this game actually is…
About Persona 5
I honestly wouldn’t be too surprised if this is the first you may have heard of this game. However, this fifth instalment of the Persona series is positively the most well-known instalment amongst western audiences. While the first Persona game was released as far back as far back as 1996, this series was a sort of branch-off from the Shin Negami Tensei franchise, whose first game was release way back in 1987. This franchise also saw the creation of other series, but Persona was truly the magnum opus for the franchise. One thing that every Shin Negami Tensei game shares is a relatively post-apocalyptic setting in one form or another, a plethora of creatures and deities from myths and legends around the world, and a heavily anime-like aesthetic.
Persona 5 itself was released worldwide in 2017, and is a PlayStation exclusive (so basically the japanese RPG equivalent to Bloodborne). It also won the Game Award for Best Role Playing Game.
A short synopsis of the game puts you in the shoes of an exchange student who makes friends whilst “changing the hearts” of truly resentful characters by battling their inner demons. It sounds like a pretty artsy concept already, but I will get into more detail about why these games are so good, by listing my reasons why this game is a must if you have time to kill.
1: The Game’s Story is Very, Very Long
Indeed, this game is quite the graft, but also one that feels very rewarding and also never really feels boring at any point. To put it into perspective just how extensive the story of this game is, if you were to play a small chunk of this game every day, as I have been doing, I’d wager that it would take you at the very least a week to reach the first boss. But once you do get there, it sure is a satisfying feeling (which is something I will elaborate on at another point).
Not only does the length of the game allow the story to flesh out just as much as a fantasy novel would, but makes it a perfect time-eater when it comes to counting down the days until the end of quarantine. I can safely say that I will 100% not be able to complete this story before we are allowed back out, and that should quite honestly speak the appropriate volumes as to just how rich the story is.
2: The Incredible Character Arcs
The character building in this game is absolutely second-to-none. The characters that you befriend along the way are integral to the story. By building friendships with each of these characters in the game, you allow your team to grow stronger.
This is a perfect attribute for the game to have at times like these, as each of the characters personalities are extremely convincing, and you are sure to have at least one friend in your life who reminds you vividly of these characters.
In contrast to this, the villainous characters in this game (which make up a majority of the games bosses) have enough screen-time to allow the player to truly despise them. Every kind of detestable characteristic is shared amongst these characters. The earliest example of this would be a PE teacher who physically abuses his students, and even sexually assaults a few others, leading one of the secondary characters to attempt suicide, and this is only really scratching the surface.
All of the events that occur in relation to these awful characters lead up to the point where after infiltrating the cognitive lairs of each villainous character, you steal their cognitive treasure in order to force them to have a change of heart in the real world. And all of the horrible deeds each of them commit, really gives the player a passion towards defeating them.
3: Its Nostalgia and Relatability
An accurate way to describe this game, in terms of mechanics, would be that its basically Pokemon for adults. Instead of partnering up with cute animal-like creatures, you battle by using visualisations of your rebellious soul, which are mostly mythological creatures, religious figures, or even..ahem..a penis monster riding a flying chariot.
But the fact that you are a school student in the more real-life segments of the game definitely bring back the feels for being a student and hanging out with friends after school.
However, us quarantined individuals now have more to relate with the main protagonist (other than just nostalgia). Due to a run-in with a corrupt politician, you were forced to move to a new school and be under probation, which comes with its own set of rules that feel strikingly similar to lockdown rules in the earlier segment of the game. These rules are expertly weaved into the game, and you need to make as good use of time as possible, which may also help out with time-keeping in real life while on lockdown.
4: It’s Incredibly Imaginative
I mean what other game allows you to partner up with a cat that can transform into a bus, or let you rob money from a unicorn? This game is essentially a living, breathing, surrealist masterpiece, and is heavily tied with a near philosophical projection of the cognitive world, and how peoples desires can warp and manifest.
Persona 5 ingeniously balances out real life activities with colourful cognitive palaces where you use elemental moves to fight and employ demons and other creatures. But the long story allows for enough explanation for each part of the game, that the cognitive worlds nearly become believable.
The level of imagination behind this game makes it a perfect play for people who are creatively uninspired. I too felt a similar way before revisiting this game, and now I am fully fired up by the surreal creativity this game offers in spade-loads.
5: It Will Radicalise You
As the story in this game progresses, you will gradually build a small organisation of thieves, who take down one detestable adult at a time. And while the idea of politics is scarcely brushed upon at the beginning of the game, the story seemingly drops more and more political undertones the further you progress in the story, until you eventually face off against the very politician that put the main protagonist in their situation at the very beginning of the story.
With the way the story flows, along with the way the characters are built, this game arguably serves as a rallying cry for any kind of teen or young adult suffering discrimination or tyranny. Persona 5 feels like a truly inspirational force on this front.
There are other elements that make the game enjoyable, such as the gorgeous art style, or the amazing soundtrack, but oddly enough this time of quarantine has allowed me to appreciate this game on a level I never though possible to reach.
Below is a video of the first boss battle, just to give you a taste of just how bonkers this game is.
In conclusion, if you happen to have a PS4 lying around, I would highly recommend this game to anybody looking for a full, imaginative and memorable experience.