(Featured image taken by and used with permission from Chris Chitty)
This is Part Two of my Persona 5 review/thoughts! There’s about to be some quite major spoilers on the confidant stories, but I have marked where the spoilers end.
My absolute favourite confidants were your guardian Sojiro, the doctor Takemi and your teacher Kawakami. And out of these Sojiro’s confidant probably comes out on top, since it mostly focuses on his efforts to be a good fatherly figure to Futaba and deal with his grief regarding the death of Futaba’s mother, creating a really heart-warming storyline.
Mishima’s was definitely interesting too, mainly because it focuses on his efforts as the creator of the ‘Phan-Site’. Although personally I didn’t mind Mishima, some find him annoying. He can easily be interpreted as simply wanting to ride the coattails (literally, just look at Joker’s outfit) of his more popular friend.
The party confidants were variable in their quality. Morgana (who seems to be a cat, but is convinced he is not) ranks up automatically and has one of the better plots, essentially dealing with his confusion over where he came from, since his memories are lost. Some of the scenes in Yusuke’s confidant, particularly the church and the rowing boat, were extremely funny and I was really invested in seeing how his storyline would turn out, so much so that I was quite anxious in the final days of the game that I wouldn’t have enough time to finish his confidant. Haru’s confidant was reasonably easy to finish despite it becoming available quite late (and having a stat barrier): I enjoyed seeing her decide to follow her own path. If I’m discussing the best confidants I should also discuss the weaker ones, and unfortunately Makoto’s was just not that compelling, largely because it mostly focused on a tangential character instead of Makoto. As a result Makoto seems very 2D to me. (Maybe I’m just missing something – I got quite far along Makoto’s confidant but didn’t get to finish it, so it might have had a drastic improvement at the end that I’m not aware of).
There are a few other confidants I haven’t discussed in too much detail, mainly because I didn’t end up finishing them. I didn’t finish Iwai’s, Shinya’s, Ohya’s or Yoshida’s: I only got halfway through Yoshida’s, and I couldn’t start Iwai’s soon enough to manage to complete it. I either got to rank 9 or completed Chihaya’s confidant, and it didn’t really stand out to me – it wasn’t bad, just not really memorable. Hifumi’s, again, was similar, though I did complete that one.
The romance side of the confidants wasn’t something I got into in my playthrough, but I’ll briefly say that you can choose to date the girls in the Phantom Thieves, and all of your other female confidants (bar one). Disappointingly, there’s an instance of negative gay stereotyping at one point, and this points to where Persona 5 falls down – there are some glaring issues with the writing, and aspects of representation. You might argue that it isn’t the game’s job to represent everyone, but part of that depends on how you see the protagonist. Is he his own character? Or a blank slate? You choose what dialogue he says, and it’s up to you whether he’s nice, sarcastic (there’s a lot of that) or just mean, which might suggest he is indeed a blank slate. In which case, why not have the male Phantom Thieves included as romance options, too? And, really, what was the point of the negative stereotyping? Atlus could have done much better here.
So I’ve covered my issues with the game. One thing I have to talk about, because it’s really what I think of next when I think of Persona 5, is the game’s soundtrack. It’s incredible. All the Persona games have a very unique feel and sound, and Persona 5’s is pretty much acid jazz, with some songs having vocals by Lyn (who is mind-blowingly talented). Beneath the Mask is a highlight, a track that mostly plays when you’re exploring Shibuya or you’re in Cafe LeBlanc. Last Surprise, apart from having become a massive meme, plays during battles and it is EXCELLENT. However, my favourite of all, to the extent that it’s become one of my favourite songs out of anything, is Aria of the Soul, or the music that plays in the Velvet Room. It has featured in every Persona game (in its current iteration since Persona 3 and with a few variations of the song existing prior to that), and since the Velvet Room is iconic to the series, the song is iconic too.
Life Will Change has two versions, an instrumental and a version with vocals, and when the vocals version plays, that’s when you know things are getting serious. Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There is the intro song (and also shares a lot of similarities with Life Will Change, including similar lyrics). It sets up the game’s tone nicely.
Before I wrap this up, a few words on Persona 5: The Royal. The base game released in 2017, so unsurprisingly, this is the remake / expanded edition of the game, which came out at the end of October in Japan, and is coming some time next year in the west, according to Atlus USA’s website. So far we can see that it’s adding several new characters, songs, features and events. (The new songs are particularly something to look forward to: Take Over is the new battle theme for ambushes and it sounds amazing). I’m dodging spoilers but trailers have suggested that a certain character (who won’t be named here for story reasons) is getting an expanded and improved confidant, so that’s another thing to be excited about.
So, that was my review of Persona 5. I found that there was a lot to discuss, which reflects the game’s length and just how jam-packed it is with content. I only have one thing left to say and it is to recommend this game, along with the entire Persona series (or Persona 3 onwards, if you really like the social sim stuff). If you like JRPGs, it’s a must-try, and if you don’t, well, I think the story is engrossing enough to make it worthwhile. It’s visually gorgeous, so much fun, and although it unfortunately misses the mark in some ways, it’s a very good example of a well-executed JRPG which gets a lot of things right.