Preview: Persona 5 Strikers
It’s official: Persona 5 Strikers is finally coming to the West, with full English (as well as French, German, Italian, and Spanish) voice acting, on Switch, PS4, and PC. Last week, the good folks at Five Star Games and Atlus were kind enough to invite us to a virtual preview session, where we were able to get a good look at an English build of the game.
Quick note before we get started, the build shown to us during the preview session was unfortunately for the PS4 version of the game, not Switch. As such, we’ll be focusing mainly on the look and feel of the game, and not so much on the technical aspects. If you’re interested in how it runs on Switch, our friends at GameXplain have videos for the Japanese version of the game, with a graphics and load times comparison between PS4 and Switch here, and a general impressions of the game here. If you’re strapped for time, the TL;DR is that the Switch and PS4 versions look fairly similar, but the former has longer load times and a frame rate of a fairly consistent 30fps, compared to the PS4’s 60fps. Keep in mind, however, that the Japanese version released back in February, a year before the English version will launch, so it’s possible there’s been some improvements since then.
With that aside, let’s dig in.
The preview we were presented with opens on a scene of Shibuya, with Joker (in his street clothes, naturally), wandering around the city. There’s a minimap on the right of the screen, a stylish display of the date and time in the top-left-hand corner, and dozens of people scattered through the streets of Tokyo. It’s a scene that will be very familiar to those who’ve played Persona 5, a near-indistinguishable facsimile of the original game’s environments and visual style. This might be a Warriors game, but it’s also a canon sequel to Persona 5, and from these scenes you’d be hard-pressed to guess that it comes packaged as an entirely different genre of game.
After a few stylish menus and a brief cutscene — of course, very much in that same identical Persona 5 style — we jump into a “castle,” this game’s equivalent of P5’s palaces. Here, we see a darkened sky, a twisted world of evil, inspired by the inner turmoil of pop star Alice’s true self. We also get a very brief glimpse at the newest member of the Phantom Thieves, Sophia — called Sophie by Futaba for reasons not yet known — who’s on her inaugural heist. This is an early part of the game, but the whole team is here nonetheless, and you can choose up to four members of the Phantom Thieves to join your party for each given dip into a castle.
Persona 5 Strikers takes further inspiration from its predecessor by showing groups of enemies as a singular Shadow on the overworld. If you get spotted, or manage to sneak up on one and pull its mask off, the true battle begins, spawning a dozen or more phantoms of various shapes and sizes. Here, we see how the gameplay differs from Persona 5; it’s Warriors gameplay, like Hyrule Warriors or Dynasty Warriors, but with a huge Persona inspiration. Sure, you’ll whack enemies in pure hack-and-slash goodness, but you can also cast spells and abilities seen in Persona 5, and each enemy has a weakness or resistance to these spells. There’s also all-out attacks (which focus your group onto a single enemy), baton passes (which allow you to swap to other characters in your chosen party), and plenty of Persona flair. And naturally, Joker has access to a wide range of different Personas, just like in the original game — but we don’t get to see much of that on display here. All we know on that front is that not every Persona will be available for Joker to use, but a large variety will be.
One thing that stands out in Strikers is how much more open the maps are compared to P5. It’s a necessity, given combat takes place in the environment itself and not in a separate battle screen, but it’s allowed the team at Koei Tecmo to play around a little bit with environmental traversal. In the preview, we saw Joker jump, climb, and zipline across huge maps, and there was even what looked like a bit of a sidescrolling platformer section. It’s still all very Persona, just… Persona+ — all the things you love about Persona, with a little extra thrown in. It looks very stylish, very slick, and of course, the music absolutely slaps.
The other thing worth noting is that all of the crew’s voice actors from Persona 5 are back, and in fine form. Atlus tells us that almost the entirety of the voice acting was recorded remotely, a necessity in 2020 for obvious reasons, but there’s nothing to worry about. Every line of spoken dialogue, battle cries, and the like all sound fantastic, natural, and well-performed and directed. It’s a testament to the voice actors, the localisation team, and the VA directors that it’s turned out as incredible as it has.
Persona 5 Strikers is set to launch in the West on the 23rd February, just a few short months from now, and it’s already looking to be an incredible experience. As always, we’ll have all the coverage right here on Vooks, including a bargain guide and a review, as we get a little closer to the release date. But for now, have a listen to the incredible live performance of Persona 5 Striker’s Last Surprise, as shown at The Game Awards yesterday. It’s a total banger.