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Persona 5 Tactica Review

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I’m a big fan of the Persona games that have so far graced Microsoft’s Xbox consoles – Persona 3 Portable, Persona 4 Golden and Persona 5 Royal. But now it is time for a new challenge with the release of Persona 5 Tactica; a new game in the universe that has been created by ATLUS and SEGA. Those of you old enough to remember the great Final Fantasy Tactics will feel right at home here, as instead of being a traditional RPG, Persona 5 Tactica promises to bring a dose of turn-based tactical action to the table. 

Is this a good move or should Joker et al have stayed in their respective games? Well, let’s grab a mask and find out, shall we?

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The Persona gang in Tactica form

I’m going to talk about the presentation of Persona 5 Tactica and here the news is excellent, as is always the case in the Persona games. This one comes with a very strong art style, with the usual kind of Persona over-the-top action mixing with that of a super deformed, cutesy style of graphics. It all comes together to create something that is very impressive. The animation of the characters and enemies in the main game screen is very good indeed, whilst the cutscenes that play out between missions are all nicely put together, right down to the expressions of the individual heroes. 

Each level that we take on is designed in a similar way, with the traditional kind of layout of squares over the area, depicting where you can move to and the range you can attack. The heroes from the other Persona games, such as Joker, Morgana and Skull look great, and the way that they move in attacking is something to behold. The enemies are a varied lot as well, again with a strong style attached to them, especially the weird little soldiers that we will be ploughing through. 

I’ve been equally impressed with the voice work in the cutscenes and when you tie that in with the battle sounds, right down to the shouts of “Persona!”, the whole presentation side of the game can hardly have a complaint. 

In terms of the story and Persona 5 Tactica is just about as bonkers as we have come to expect from these Persona games. Due to an unexplained event, Joker and the team have ended up in a dimension that they have no experience of, and even worse, it is a dimension where the power of their respective Persona seems to be diminished. Even the inhabitants of the Velvet Room have to work in different ways. 

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The art style is stunning

When the team arrive in the new town, they are immediately accosted by the ruler of the place, a woman who goes by the name of Marie (pronounced Mariay); obsessing with planning her perfect wedding. So much so, she seems to be wandering about the place in a wedding dress! However, she does have a secret weapon, and this comes in the shape of being able to control the minds of her enemies, bending them to her will.

Before you say “Holy plot point, Batman!”, only Joker and Morgana are still in their right mind, and if it wasn’t for the leader of the local resistance, Erina, coming to their rescue, the future would have been grim. With most of the Phantom Thieves captured and brainwashed, can we free our friends and bring down Marie? Well, we’d best hope so, hadn’t we?

Onto the action of the game, and as usual, this is very much a game of two halves. The first half of Persona 5 Tactica takes place in this world’s representation of the LeBlanc coffee shop, a counterpoint of the coffee shop our heroes hang out in at home. This acts as the hub area where we can talk to our teammates, equip new weapons that we find or buy, and even go shopping to find new weapons. Talking with our compatriots not only provides exposition of the story, but it also gives a quantity of GP; the skill points in Persona 5 Tactica. These can be used to unlock nodes on each character’s skill tree. These skill trees are very large, and provide not only new powers, but can also power up existing powers to make them more effective. You’ll be spending a lot of time here in between combat missions, however that time is never wasted as the interaction between the characters is endlessly fascinating. 

The other side of the coin focuses on the combat missions and quests that we can take on. The action on display is straight out of the classic tactical world; if you have played a game from Fire Emblem to any of the others of this genre, you’ll feel right at home. 

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Straight out of the tactical world

As your turn starts, you have two options – you can move your chosen character (there are a maximum of three available at any one time on screen), and then attack. Alternatively, you can attack and then move. Moving is pretty straightforward, as you can imagine, as the range of the character is displayed as a highlighted area; just pick any square in that range to move to. There are various cover options to take advantage of too though, as well as other squares that give you an advantage, such as those that glow green and heal any character stood on them.. But there’s more, and that comes in the form of the three dimensional area to take advantage of, with your characters able to jump up to higher levels, and attack from a vantage point. If you manage to take the high ground, not only are your characters better able to resist attacks, but they also gain an attack boost as well, making this a good tactic to utilise. 

When it comes to the time to actually attack, there are, again, two options – you can use your guns or you can use your Persona (or if Erina is in your team, she has an option called “arts”, as she can’t have a Persona of her own). The same rules apply to these encounters as they have in the main Persona games – if you hit an enemy with a critical attack, you will knock them down, and then gain a “One More Time” attack, which basically allows you to attack again for free, without needing to use another turn. 

Hitting foes with their elemental weakness is another way to do extra damage, and trying to remember what enemy is weak to what turns into almost a full time job. Add to this a Voltage gauge that fills as you perform actions, allowing a single character to perform a more powerful attack in conjunction with their Persona, and the action is never less than interesting; it’ll certainly keep you on your toes. 

Each encounter comes with a set of three conditions as well. Meet these and you’ll be rewarded well. They usually sit along the lines of no one getting downed, completing the encounter in a certain number of turns, and so on and so forth. It’s just another level of complexity to take into account, as if there wasn’t enough already!

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There is hardly a thing to dislike with Persona 5 Tactica

There’s no doubt – Persona 5 Tactica is just as good as the other games in the series, despite being wildly different. Neatly, that does mean you won’t have to have played the main series events in order to enjoy this one, yet if you have, it’s nice to have an idea of who is who. The difficulty of Persona 5 Tactica is perfectly judged, the action is pretty non-stop, and the strong art style really helps to make this a game that you’ll want to keep going back to, losing an evening or a week in the process. 

No matter how you look at it, Persona 5 Tactica is super rewarding and there’s not a thing to moan about. As a bold new direction for the Persona franchise, I have to applaud the bravery.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Great art style
  • Proper tactical action that offers a challenge
  • Good story keeps you playing
Cons:
  • Literally none, I loved every second
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, SEGA
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC
  • Release date and price - 17 November 2023 | £54.99
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Great art style</li> <li>Proper tactical action that offers a challenge</li> <li>Good story keeps you playing</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Literally none, I loved every second</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, SEGA</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC <li>Release date and price - 17 November 2023 | £54.99</li> </ul>Persona 5 Tactica Review
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