Atlus’ Persona series has steadily increased in popularity over the past few years. Complex characters, engaging narratives and an interesting RPG system have thrilled fans around the world for many years. The Persona series doesn’t just live off its big main release, but – similar to Final Fantasy, for example – from countless side projects, spin-offs and offshoots. Just for the success of Persona 5, there were already two spin-offs with their own unique gameplay systems: Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight and Persona 5: Strikers. Now SEGA and Atlus are sending the Phantom Thieves on their next big adventure with Persona 5 Tactica. The strategy branch proves in testing to be a successful implementation of the well-known game mechanics, but it also presents difficulties in one or two lengths.
A rebellion with style
Persona 5 Tactica begins in the last third of Persona 5’s narrative. The Phantom Thieves have gathered at their favorite cafe, Leblanc, to have a hot drink in the cold season. While the news is still reporting the disappearance of a rising politician, our heroes are suddenly transported to a parallel universe where they are confronted with a new threat. Instead of the palaces of the metauniverse and its rulers, they are faced with the tyrant Marie in the new world, which is described as a land of kingdoms. She enslaves the kingdom’s inhabitants with the help of her army and her ability to control minds. With the exception of Joker and Morgana, the Phantom Thieves themselves are also caught early in the story and captivated by Marie’s magic. At the last second, resistance fighter Erina rushes to Joker and Morgana’s aid, which allows the two phantom thieves to escape. Without further ado, Joker, Morgana, and Erina reach an agreement: the rebels will help free the Phantom Thieves and, in return, support Erina in her plan to free the country from Marie’s tyranny.
Your Persona gives you a strategic advantage in combat
From this point on, the plot of Persona 5 Tactica revolves around the rebel resistance struggle, the personal relationships between party members, and the overarching mystery surrounding the existence of the parallel world. As is typical of Persona, well-written dialogue plays a particularly important role. Much of the narrative is advanced through operational briefings at headquarters. However, a small warning for newcomers is that prior knowledge of the Persona 5 universe is assumed. While you can read information about important events and characters in memos, this is only really recommended for those who are primarily interested in the gameplay. of game strategy. Persona 5 Tactica only reveals its full potential when you are familiar with the game’s characters.
Overall, this is a good opportunity to describe Tactica’s gameplay in more detail. Basically, it’s a strategy RPG comparable to titles in the Fire Emblem series, for example. In combat, you take control of three characters, which you control from an isometric perspective on the respective level’s map. You can then select orders for each unit on a shift basis. These include melee and ranged attacks, as well as special Persona abilities that give each unit its own specialization. A big strength of Persona 5 Tactica is that it deftly transfers familiar mechanics from the main game into strategy gameplay. For example, individual personality abilities not only affect the damage type, but also the effect of the attack. Wind attacks catapult opponents back a few fields, while electric attacks can paralyze your opponents.
In combat you have to use the terrain to your advantage
The well-known 1-Up system is also part of Persona 5 Tactica. If you score a critical hit, you can take another turn with your character. This opens up some tactical options for you. The more effectively you use the system, the more actions you can perform in one turn. This is important, among other things, if you only have a limited number of moves available as part of a mission or if you first have to lure opponents out of safe cover. Tactica’s level design is fundamentally compelling, but could have been a little more varied throughout the game. Many of the basic patterns are introduced at the beginning of the game and then varied as the game progresses. In general, Persona 5 Tactica takes a lot of time at the beginning to explain the basic mechanics to you. This is great for beginners to the genre, but it can also be a little boring for experienced players.
Even outside of the actual battles, the gameplay will feel familiar to Persona veterans. At your headquarters you can buy new weapons for your units, accept side missions to obtain rewards and recruit new personas. However, ghosts cannot be added to your main character’s team, but can be added to each member of the Phantom Thieves as a secondary power. This allows you to expand your units’ arsenal with additional elemental attacks or passive upgrades. The skill system, with which you unlock new abilities for your squad of heroes, also has a similar effect. Compared to the main game Persona 5, its customization options are comparatively moderate. The well-known system of personal relationships can only be found here indirectly. For example, you can unlock additional skill points through optional conversations.
The hideout serves as a base for your missions
The original Persona 5 is considered a prime example of successful UI/UX design and a chic, modern anime look. Persona 5 Tactica successfully inherited the sleek menu design of its original, but this time Atlus has tried something new when it comes to the graphical style, which will certainly not please all fans. The characters appear in stylized deformed chibi form, with the proportions of the arms and legs being longer to better represent movement. The game also uses a more colorful and bright color palette than Persona 5, making the overall look more similar to Persona Q.
Whether you like the style or not is certainly a matter of taste. Overall, you can quickly get used to the style and even enjoy the rather fun interpretation of the Persona world, to a certain extent. The simple shapes definitely help keep the gameplay understandable and clear, something that could have been lost with more detailed graphics. Additionally, it benefits the older Nintendo Switch hardware. Not only does the game look beautiful on the hybrid console, but it also runs smoothly for the most part. The only annoying things are the slightly longer loading times and the resulting image crashes.
As is typical of the series, Persona 5 Tactica’s soundtrack contains some cool pieces that you’ll want to tune into. The new songs sung by series icon Lyn are undoubtedly particularly noteworthy. Her voice still makes up a big part of Persona 5’s identity. Overall, though, it doesn’t reach the heights of previous soundtracks. Speaking of voices: Of course, the well-known Phantom Thieves voice actors are back, and as a fan, you might be very happy to spend more time with this loving cast. This is probably what the game aims for.