Ever since Persona 5 Strikers was initially revealed as Persona 5 Scramble: The Phantom Strikers in Japan, it has looked super stylish and had me intrigued with every new bit of information and gameplay shown. It was also obvious that this isn’t a traditional Warriors or Musou game with a Persona skin and that Omega Force and Atlus have done a lot more. Persona 5 Strikers is a Persona game first and foremost but one with hack and slash combat that brings in many familiar mechanics while adding its own resulting in a stylish game that looks and feels like everything a Persona 5 fan would want in a spin-off. Persona 5 Strikers blends in Omega Force’s tried and tested combat with a Persona RPG really well and Persona 5 Strikers has ended up being worth the long wait for localisation.
Persona 5 Strikers is set months after the events of Persona 5 when Joker (the protagonist) returns to Tokyo to spend the summer vacation with the Phantom Thieves. After installing an app called EMMA to plan the trip, one thing leads to another, and you find yourselves in the metaverse in what Persona 5 Strikers refers to as a Jail. A Jail is Persona 5 Strikers’ dungeons or the equivalent of a Palace in Persona 5. Alice Hiiragi, a pop icon, has been using the metaverse to gain people’s desires and the Phantom Thieves set out to stop her. This is where the story begins and as always, the police are ever watchful, with Zenkichi Hasegawa even getting directly involved with the Phantom Thieves this time.
Without getting into any real spoilers, Persona 5 Strikers’ story is much better than your average Persona spin-off but it still feels just like that. Think of Persona 5 Strikers as more an OVA for a long-running anime which in this case is Persona 5’s main story. It gets the job done and has some real highlights but doesn’t hold a candle to the original story.
Persona 5 Strikers is not a Warriors game or a Warriors-style game. I’ve played and enjoyed almost every Warriors game in recent years and even enjoyed the ones developed by Tamsoft despite them being simplified. Persona 5 Strikers doesn’t have you liberating outposts, capturing bases, and the like. It very much plays out like a Persona RPG but instead of engaging in turn-based battles, you have Warriors-lite sections when you ambush or encounter a shadow. Persona 5 Strikers also has some excellent boss fights that test your skills rather well instead of being just a button mashing exercise.
Structurally, Persona 5 Strikers feels like a less restrictive Persona 5. You don’t need to worry about the passage of time, making the most of your schedule with part-time jobs, and mini-games. This plays into the summer vacation setting very well as being more relaxing despite the involved combat. You are free to move in and out of dungeons at checkpoints for free full heals or to buy and upgrade weapons and equipment. After literally hundreds of hours into Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal, this definitely felt like a nice change of pace letting me spend as much or as little time on things without worrying about any deadlines or missing out on anything.
Outside Jails, you can explore small portions of different cities, interact with NPCs, buy items, spend time with the Phantom Thieves, cook, and a lot more. Persona 5 Strikers nails the feel of the Persona 5 experience really well. There’s never a shortage of things to do despite you needing to basically spend a lot of time in Jails in Persona 5 Strikers. Jails are very well designed as well with a plethora of hidden items, secrets, points of interest in the environment, gimmicks, and more. Expect to use Joker’s Third Eye ability often not just to find weaknesses in combat but also to make sure you aren’t missing a hidden area.
Visually, I came away more than impressed with Persona 5 Strikers. Not only does it look and feel like a true Persona 5 experience, the new animations and designs across the board are gorgeous. Having played both Persona 5 Strikers and Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity for more than a 100 hours over the last few weeks, Persona 5 Strikers is on a whole other level when it comes to animations and effects. The new locations are well designed and even smaller scale battles look superb as you take down groups of shadows with flashy skills being accompanied by Lyn’s voice and the brilliant new music.
On PS4 Pro and PS5 through backward compatibility, Persona 5 Strikers loads really quickly and doesn’t have any slowdown during combat and I didn’t notice anything major in my time spent on the aforementioned platforms. Persona 5 Strikers holds the 60fps target really well and is basically perfect when it comes to the technical aspects on PS4 Pro and PS5. The animations and transitions are all well done at 60fps and there’s a good amount of both anime cut-scenes and newer seemingly in-engine ones that look great.
One aspect of the visuals in Persona 5 Strikers that deserves a special mention is the interface. There have been games co-developed or developed by Omega Force that treat the source material well and incorporate aspects of it well but Persona 5 Strikers’ menus feel literally like a true Persona 5 game with slick transitions and animations even for the smallest things. This definitely feels like the biggest production game involving Omega Force yet.
Persona 5 Strikers has dual audio support. I’ve played it with both Japanese and English voice options and the English voice over option only has some issues with levels. Ryuji’s English voice in particular sometimes felt softer than it should be but suddenly it became loud. The actual voice acting in both languages is exactly what it should be and I would still recommend playing with English if you enjoyed that option for Persona 5 or Persona 5 Royal because having the full gang back is great and I’m glad the delay allowed Atlus West to add a full English dub once again.
The music in Persona 5 Strikers is miles above what I expected. It doesn’t just use arrangements of Persona 5 songs and call it a day like you’d expect but it has some of the best music ever for a Persona game. This includes every single new battle theme. I didn’t even bother using the Persona 5 or Persona 5 Royal battle music from the save data bonus here because every new battle song is that good. Even the opening video and song fit Persona 5 perfectly.
Persona 5 Strikers’ biggest problem is that it keeps bombarding you with new tutorials and information for the early parts of the game instead of spacing things out better. I get that this is also a game that can be played by newcomers to the franchise so everything needs to be explained but I definitely feel like there could’ve been better spacing between encounters to teach you new mechanics or for when you explore around locations. Barring that, the only real problem I can see people have here is with the combat. Despite all the Persona-related additions, those who don’t enjoy the Musou-style combat might be turned off by the combat here initially as you are limited in skills and abilities and only get more freedom as you progress following the first big dungeon.
Overall, Persona 5 Strikers is a must play for all Persona 5 fans not just for the story content but to see how well Omega Force’s signature combat can be adapted into other games. Persona 5 Strikers definitely makes me hope for more collaborations with Omega Force like this. I’m glad Persona 5 Strikers isn’t just a typical hack and slash Warriors game that is light on story like most collaboration games including the original Hyrule Warriors and One Piece Pirate Warriors. If you don’t enjoy the Warriors style combat, there’s a good chance Persona 5 Strikers will convert you in how seamlessly it blends in the mechanics you likely know and love from modern Persona games. While this isn’t the sequel some might’ve hoped, it definitely is a great addition to Persona 5 and one that any fan needs to play.