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Som Pourfarzaneh : Three Things We Want from Persona 5

By Som Pourfarzaneh on June 05, 2015 | Columns | Comments

Three Things We Want from Persona 5

The Persona games comprise an exclusive type of club, in that if you haven’t spent any time with them, you likely won’t have any idea what they’re about.  Truly, even if you have played some of them, you might still feel confused about why they’ve engendered such a huge cult following and a number of anime and film offshoots.  I really can’t imagine what a person must think if their initial point of entry into the series is a non-canonical game like Persona 4: Dancing All Night or Persona 4 Arena.  The main games are weird enough!

If you’ve been on the fence about trying out the Persona series, or have given it a shot and found it wasn’t for you, I’d recommend giving Persona 4: Golden a go and sticking with it, as there can be no doubt that there’s a bit of a learning curve before you “get it.”  Once you do, the series’ charm and depth become readily apparent, and it’s likely that you’ll be hooked.

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What’s more, Persona 5 is slated to be released later this year, and while there’s no guarantee that it will be any less impenetrable than the previous games, there’s a good chance that it will be a stellar addition for fans of the series.  Here are three things we’d like to see from it!

More Persona Craziness

Persona may not be as ludicrous as, say, games like Disgaea, but one of the most impactful aspects of Atlus’ flagship series is that of its zany characters and themes.  That doesn’t mean Persona 5 has to re-introduce heroes from previous titles or recycle jokes.  Rather, Persona 5 should harness the essence of what makes the series quirky and memorable, and run with it.

For my money, a Persona game should include equal parts charm and kookiness, a balance rarely achieved outside of action-adventure series like Katamari Damacy and Ape Escape.  Persona 5’s success will depend upon how well Atlus can reimagine the series’ hallmark eccentric ethos within a new game world and context.

Engaging Combat

It must be said that in a game like Persona 4: Golden, which relies so heavily on dialogue and NPC interaction, the combat can feel repetitive and almost unrelated to the core gameplay.  The actual act of turn-based combat, insofar as it follows tried-and-true RPG conventions (see every Final Fantasy game ever for reference), is ok, but the design decision of housing battles within interminable levels of dungeons leaves a lot to be desired.

This may be a radical or seditious viewpoint, and unrealistic besides, but I’d love to see Persona 5 incorporate a more exciting - even real-time - combat system that makes me as excited to engage in battle as I am talking to NPCs and forwarding the story.  It’s crazy to suggest that Atlus should take a nod from Arc System Works’ development of Persona 4: Arena’s fighting system, but if they have, I’d be instantly sold.

Decisions That Matter

Persona 5 doesn’t have to be the next Tactics Ogre or Mass Effect, but it would be amazing to have some decisions that feel like they matter in Atlus’ next installment.  Give us some dialogue paths that require us to put down the controller for several hours while leaving the game running so we can make a well-thought out choice (don’t pretend like you don’t do this).  Allow us to feel more invested in the game universe by helping determine its direction, more than just requiring us to decide with which characters we want to spend our time.  Make us think that regardless of however many other people are playing Persona 5, there’s something special about our particular playthrough(s) that is unique and memorable.

I’m confident that the developers know what they’re doing with Persona 5, and we’ll soon have another exciting and quirky RPG on our hands with distinctive characters, hilarious scenarios, and stellar storytelling.  If Atlus can step up their game with pushing the genre’s crazy themes forward, an engaging combat system, and some decisions that affect the gameplay, they’ll have an instant winner.

What are some things you’d like to see from Persona 5?

Som Pourfarzaneh / Som is a Staff Writer at MMORPG.com and a Lecturer in Media, Anthropology, and Religious Studies. He’s a former Community Manager for Neverwinter, the free-to-play Dungeons & Dragons MMORPG from Cryptic Studios and Perfect World Entertainment, and is unreasonably good at Maze Craze for the Atari 2600. You can exchange puns and chat (European) football with him on Twitter @sominator.