Skip to main content

Persona 5 Strikers preview: A mixed spinoff for fans

Persona 5 Strikers needs to do one of two things. It either needs to appeal to newcomers of the Persona franchise that have been turned off by the tedious nature of the mainline entry, or it needs to serve as a worthy sequel to die-hard fans of Persona 5 who will revere it just as much. In a perfect world, it obtains a balance of both ideas.

After playing the opening hours of the game, I’ve found that Strikers retains a lot of the style of Persona 5, but lacks the main hooks that made the initial game so compelling to its audience. On top of that, it feels extremely long in the tooth so far. Even though the first dungeon of the game moves at a faster clip than the opening of Persona 5, it is nevertheless a dialogue- and tutorial-heavy introduction.

This is still a game aimed at Persona fans

Persona 5 was the first Persona game that I ever attempted to play. While I fell in love with its style and music, its laborious pacing prevented me from getting hooked. I’m not the only one. In talking with friends and peers that are fans of the series, it seems that unless Persona 5 completely draws you in and becomes an obsessionthe only game you want to play — then it’s not for you. It’s incredible that some people, after finishing Persona 5 with 150-plus hours logged, immediately want to jump in again. That’s an incredibly powerful feeling to inspire in someone.

Persona 5 Strikers Dialogue
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Persona 5 Strikers is going to be a significantly shorter experience than Persona 5. According to a representative for the game, it should take the average player around 30 hours to complete. I was also told that the preview portion with the opening dungeon would take around two hours if mainlined, and up to five hours with extra elements. I tried to complete this initial dungeon as quickly as possible, and I blew past the two-hour mark, ending up closer to five.

Like Persona 5, the majority of my time spent in Persona 5 Strikers so far has been dominated by its dialogue. The Phantom Thieves, a ragtag group of high school and college students that attempt to purify the souls of society’s cruelest, are on summer vacation. The nameless protagonist, code-named Joker, has returned to Shibuya for the break to hang out with his friends.

Persona 5 Strikers Locations
Image used with permission by copyright holder

While the dialogue the group shares is well-written, clearly defining their individual personality traits, it simply goes on and on and on. Just when you think they’ve discussed everything that needs to be talked about, someone else finds something to say. The conversations, as interesting as they are, feel like you’re cycling through an endless menu, which is exacerbated by the static shots that frame the encounters.

The way in which Persona 5 condenses its time is by switching out the turn-based mechanic of its predecessor for Musou gameplay, seen in games such as The Legend of Zelda: Age of Calamity, where players fight a horde of enemies in real time, dealing large and devastating attacks. The mechanic fits the theme of Persona, and really opens up when the game allows you to play as Phantom Thieves other than Joker.

It lacks what made Persona 5 great

While Musou grafts well to the style of Persona, it’s not nearly as compelling as the tactical turn-based gameplay in Persona 5, which is one of the few things that did keep me engaged when I played it. The turn-based system also provided more room for all the different gameplay elements to breath: Using items, dealing damage with Personas, choosing which character to attack with, etc. The frantic pace of the battles in Strikers makes for far less elegant gameplay.

Persona 5 Strikers Combat
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The opening dungeon is much easier than what I’ve come to expect from Persona 5 , with frequent checkpoints that allow you to leave the dungeon, resupply, and return to exactly where you left off. While I felt like one wrong move could spelled doom in the first dungeon of Persona 5, the initial area in Strikers proved no such challenge. Hopefully, future dungeons increase the difficulty. The rest of the gameplay feels a bit watered down due to that lack of difficulty, making who you fight with and how you use them relatively unimportant, just as long as you’re in a constant state of attack.

Outside of combat, there’s certainly enough dialogue to please Persona fans, but the lack of the school framing and social structure makes the interactions all feel relatively empty. Joker was a character that evolved over time and made an impact on the characters around him in Persona 5 a protagonist that propelled the story forward. So far, he’s nothing more than a fly on the wall in Strikers.

The game also extends the plot of Persona 5 rather than Persona 5 Royal, the rerelease of the game that added new stories and characters, and the title that most fans agree is better than the original. Players of Royal will likely be disappointed that the elements introduced in that game may has well never have existed in Strikers.

Persona 5 Strikers Joker
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Persona 5 Strikers, even though it’s a smaller game than Persona 5, still feels like a big game compared to most. There’s a lot more to see and do, and I feel there’s a chance that the trepidation the initial dungeon made me feel will subside the more time I spend with it. I am compelled by its story, which smartly explains why the gameplay is different in the first place. Thanks to the intriguing plot, and the quality of dialogue, I expect die-hard Persona fans to still ultimately enjoy their time with it. I do not expect them, however, to become as enamored by it as they were with Persona 5.

Tom Caswell
Professional video producer and writer, gaming enthusiast, and streamer! twitch.tv/greatbritom
These three Persona classics are headed to Xbox and PC
Joker from Persona 5 Royal.

The Persona series is finally headed to Xbox for the first time ever, as announced during the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase 2022. The games include Persona 3 Portable, Persona 4 Golden, and Persona 5 Royal -- all of which will be available on Xbox Game Pass for consoles and PC.

You'll be able to play Persona 5 Royal on Xbox starting on October 21. The rest of the games will come at a later date. Check out the announcement trailer from Microsoft's big show.

Read more
Soul Hackers 2 splits the difference between Persona 5 and Shin Megami Tensei V
Ringo, Arrow, and other party members stare at something in the distance in Soul Hackers 2.

Atlus has perfected the JRPG and is now reveling in it. Persona 5 is one of the best games of the 2010s, thanks to its endearing cast of characters and impeccably stylish presentation. Meanwhile, Shin Megami Tensei V was no slouch in 2021 as it provided a dark and hardcore demon-driven RPG experience. After demoing the game at Summer Game Fest Play Days, t’s clear that Atlus has found a clear sci-fi middle ground with Soul Hackers 2.
Souls Hackers 2 is a tried-and-true Atlus JRPG with dungeon crawling, casual friend hangouts and conversations, and polished weakness-driven JRPG combat. It hits many of the same notes as Persona 5 and Shin Megami Tensei V, so it won’t change what you think about the genre. Still, if Persona 5 or Shin Megami Tensei V had won you over to this new era of Atlus JRPGs, then Souls Hackers 2 will give you dozens of more hours of JRPG enjoyment.

What’s here for Persona fans?
My demo of Soul Hackers 2 began in the Hangout, where protagonist Ringo and her party can hang out and heal between dungeon-crawling escapades. Then, I proceeded to go into the futuristic sci-fi city, buy some weapons, gear, and healing items from eccentric shopkeepers, and get a drink with my party members named Arrow.
After Ringo and Arrow got to know each other better by discussing what they liked to drink, they gained Soul Levels to make them stronger. Right off the bat, this was all very reminiscent of Persona with the expectation of the futuristic sci-fi setting. The UI in and out of battles takes a cue from Persona 5 by trying to look very stylish, though Soul Hackers 2 leans more into a digitized style than Persona 5’s luscious anime-style menus.
I didn’t spend enough time with this part of the game or the small character moments within it to get a feeling of whether or not its narrative will come together as well as Persona 5. Still, that game got me to fall in love with an eccentric cast of high-school cliche characters, so Soul Hackers 2 has the potential to do the same with a cast that leans into sci-fi stereotypes.

Read more
Persona 5 is the first game to leave the PS Plus Collection
Joker in Persona 5 holding a knife.

PlayStation Plus subscribers have been treated to a few free games every month. That won't change in April, but instead of just getting games, users will also lose access to one title. In what may be the first of many game removals, Sony is removing Persona 5 from the PlayStation Plus Collection.

For anyone who is already playing the game through PlayStation Plus or has previously claimed it, Persona 5's removal from the PlayStation Plus Collection isn't an issue. Users who have already added the game to their library will still be able to access the massive JRPG. Likewise, anyone who adds the game to their library before April 5 will be able to access it as long as they have a PlayStation Plus subscription.

Read more