I believe there’s 2 main camps with Persona 5. One is “JRPGS are bad besides Final Fantasy 7 and Persona 5.”. Two is “This game is actually not that great. The games story is boiler plate. Also it’s still really problematic.” The right camp here number 2. The problem is I still find myself sometimes sneaking over to the other camp. Which I know is wrong. Its just I really like this game even though its not that great.
I’ve was waiting for this game for years. I remember 4 years ago staying up to 3 a.m for that first trailer. The one that started with a nice old lady speaking in Japanese with no subtitles. That went on for what felt like days before the 50 second teaser started. But that first teaser it promised a lot. It shows a bunch of chairs from school with chains attached to them. Then the words “You are Slave. Want Emancipation?” I was sold.
It’s so good. It promises a game about rebelling. Rebelling against the chains that hold us down in everyday life. Not literally imprisoned but the systems that hold us down that we have become so comfortable with we haven’t noticed. It’s an idea that I have only grown to love even more as I’ve grown older and the chains became more apparent. Does Persona 5 deliver on this promise? Eh.
The bosses in Persona 5 include a teacher who sexually harass students and a CEO. The game realizes it has a message but it doesn’t push it enough. The reason the characters take down these adults are because they personally spite them. The game also never fully addresses it’s a system that’s oppressing them along with individual people. We have a principal trying to cover up for the gym teacher but it never gets into how the system enables him. It’s a nice first step buts that’s all it is. The game starts out really promising. Then just becomes another Persona game.
The game is still filled with shitty shit that you except from the most boring anime. It’s homophobic at times. It still leers after every female character. It still won’t let you date whomever you want. Like for fucks sake you can view Persona 2 Innocent Sin as a gay love story. That was PS1 game. Persona 5 is about the oppressed but it won’t give voices to oppressed people. Even though that’s what the whole game should be about. I understand anyone who criticizes this game at any turn for these reasons. Personally though I can overlook this. That’s because I feel trapped by the Persona franchise. Persona is not GTA. I’m never going to play another GTA game because of all the crappy shit that game has in it. Also because I can get what I like about those games from dozens of other games without the shitter aspects. Not with Persona. Its one of a kind.
This is something I do and you too all the time. Wrestle with something we love that’s maybe not that great or just problematic. It’s ok to have media like that. As long as we realize that. The thing that annoys me about Persona 5 is that it’s being universally praised. It was nominated for multiple game of the year awards. Which I get because a part of me still loves this game. It’s everyone’s problematic fave but people don’t realize that.
Like I said though I love parts of this game. The structure of the Persona 3-5 are my favorite in video games. The day to day structure makes those story’s feel more personal. The ability to be in a new city and learn throughout the year where everything is. Helps you feel at home. Persona is really two great games in one. It’s a 40 dungeon crawler with a 40 hour visual novel. That I can swap between when I get bored of one.
The dungeons in P5 are my favorite in the series. The escalation in each dungeon is great. Each Dungeon has a gimmick that never frustrated me. Also this game is dripping with style. The game is just never not a pleasure to look at. It does has the weakest soundtrack in the series. I can’t pinpoint why but those are facts.
This game has the highest quality social links in the series. Which I should point out are written by different people then the main writer. Not my favorite in the series. But as a whole they are collectively stronger then P3/P4. Some social links in other games are so much fluff. With maybe 3 or 4 scenes matter. Persona 5 does a good job of pacing the arcs of its characters. I was always excited to continue seeing what was going on with the failed Diet member or Futabas anxiety. What I love about Persona is still here.
Still though I interrogate myself daily about this game. It has elements that bug me every day. The way the main story unfolds is weak. How the game forgets its promise of rebelling. And of course how it excludes some players. I still love 90% of the characters. SMTs battle system favorite JRPG combat system. Even if it doesn’t work the game tries to tell a story of rebelling. I know it’s shitty to write this game a free pass, but I think I’ll continue to still like this game. Even though I know it’s not that great.