Persona 5 Tactica Review
Persona 5 Tactica is yet another Persona 5 spin-off developed by ATLUS and published by SEGA, going into yet another new genre: a tactical RPG not too dissimilar toXCOM: Enemy Unknown. I love the Persona series, but is this going to help tide over the wait until the announcement of Persona 6, or am I going to wish they just did a kart racer?
Taking place after the climax of Persona 5, but before the protagonist moves back home, the Phantom Thieves of Hearts find themselves being transported to another world similar to the Metaverse. And like the Metaverse, there are Kingdoms in need of rebellious heroes and Rulers to overthrow. With a new ally, the Rebel Corps leader Erina, the Phantom Thieves must overthrow the rulers in order to make it back home, with all of it connected to a young politician lost in this other world too. I found the story to be pretty fine. It’s well-acted and it does have some really good moments, but it kinda hits the same beats as some other Persona spin-offs, with an entire adventure being centred around a person with a mysterious past that is slowly but surely uncovered over the course of the game. However, a chance to spend more time with the Phantom Thieves is a good thing. There are some fun interactions throughout the main story and in optional talks, and I’ve definitely laughed at some parts.
As for the presentation, I found the art style to be really good. It’s similar to the style they used for the Persona Q games: It's really cute and cartoony. While I can see it not appealing to everyone, it shouldn't be that big of a dealbreaker. It's all well-animated and just because it's cutesy doesn't mean it doesn’t include some really nasty scenes. However, it’s the music that people love, and listening to more tracks sung by Lyn Inaizumi definitely hyped me up for important battles or helped me focus on my strategies. Really looking forward to listening to the soundtrack in my own time. Oh, and that’s not to mention the menus and UI. Damn, if it isn’t stylish.
But enough of that, let’s launch a mission. Battles play out in a tactical turn-based affair where all you have to do to beat the level is fulfil the victory condition. Some objectives aren't simply just killing every enemy in sight. Some victory conditions include getting the party from one point to another, eliminating enemies in as few turns as possible, or escorting a vulnerable unit (don't worry, you can control where they go). I found these missions fun overall, they have some really interesting objectives and are just forgiving enough to allow some freedom in your choices. I didn’t feel all that stressed over the objective, and I often did all the bonus objectives without even realising it.
But let’s get into how actual fights work. You’ll be moving your units around the battlefield in order into advantageous spots and executing attacks and skills to win the day. You can shoot enemies from a distance, use melee attacks to knock away enemies, execute a Persona skill, or use a Voltage skill, which is a special skill that can only be used once the Voltage gauge is full. They often turn the tide of battle, so it’s best for the most desperate of situations or to press your advantage. First off, I really liked that moving isn't a commitment. You can freely run around and set up your units to your heart's desire without taking up a turn, and I’ve used this setup for Follow-Up attacks or just to get units in cover. You only lock your position once you take an action or end your turn.
And since this is a Persona game, attacking an enemy when they're vulnerable earns you a One More, allowing you to take your turn again. Be warned, though, as the same thing can happen to you. One wrong move, and you might be facing a full team wipe. However, if you surround a downed enemy, you can execute a Triple Threat Takedown, which heavily damages everything in the triangle. It really makes you consider your moves and seriously regret having a character not in cover, getting taken down, and being continuously shot while they’re lying on the ground.
I was actually sort of shocked to discover that there are no strengths and weaknesses like any other SMT game. Nope, instead, every attack skill has a secondary effect outside of damage. For example, Psio spells pull enemies towards the user, while Garu spells blow them away. It feels kind of weird not keeping track of weaknesses, but the game is better for it. It gives everyone a special role that doesn’t just boil down to the flavour of damage they deal, and since you can only have three party members to work with at any given time, your squads better be well thought out for the mission ahead.
And why not improve your chances with additional Personas at your disposal? Persona 5 Tactica uses the Sub-Persona system from Persona Q: Shadows of the Labyrinth. Unlike the main game, the protagonist can't switch Personas on the fly. Instead, everyone can equip a second Persona, which adds HP, SP, more attack power, and additional abilities for them to use, such as additional passive skills or new attacks. You can fuse Personas as well, making stronger ones. They only have two skills, though, which I feel is a little restrictive. It does really make you think about the skills you inherit from the fusion material since you only get one, but the fun of fusing Personas is seeing the majorly increased power you have at your disposal. At least the fusion accident cutscene is amusing. Poor Lavenza…
Overall, I found the battle system really well done. For someone who hasn’t played many tactical games and thoroughly crashed and burned in XCOM, I found myself getting really into the gameplay, thinking a few turns ahead and adapting when things go horribly wrong. It’s really fun, and it made me determined to achieve everything in one go.
Now, onto technical performance. The game ran great on my mid-tier PC, running on High at a constant 60 FPS, and the load times weren’t all that bad, only a few seconds at most. As for my general problems, I think the audio mixing could use a little work. Some characters were too quiet or too loud in cutscenes, and those little rebel mascot guys can be a little grating to the ears.
At the end of the day, Persona 5 Tactica is really well done, just like any of the other myriad of spin-offs. It’s another fun time to hang out with the Phantom Thieves before the inevitable Persona 6 (or, God forbid, another spin-off). It’s a fun tactics game, a fun Persona game, and a fun time.
Persona 5 Tactica (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Persona 5 Tactica is just as stylish and fun as any of the main series. While it does hit the same beats as other stories in the franchise, it’s still a great time if you give it a try.