Well, after roughly 117 hours, I have finally conquered Persona 5. My initial impression still stands: this is one of the most thematically rich video games I have ever encountered. Everything you do—everything—revolves around some variation on the idea of “changing hearts,” from supernaturally forcing corrupt authority figures to confess their crimes to swaying the opinion of the fickle/indifferent/apathetic public to inspiring a handful of downtrodden souls to seize control of their destinies.
Despite the inherent darkness of its setting—in which people either become sadistic oppressors or surrender their free will entirely in order to escape the crushing expectations of society—Persona 5 remains staunchly optimistic. No matter how dire their situation becomes, the Phantom Thieves continue to fight against injustice and adversity. After all, each of them managed to change his or her own heart; the very fact that they overcame their fear and self-doubt gives them the power to change the world. And that’s a power they share with every human being on Earth. Including you, the player. Especially you.
Add a dash of truly addictive gameplay (proving that turn-based combat is still alive and well) and a few pinches of blood-pumping music to this delectable narrative stew, and you’ve got one of the finest RPGs currently available on the PS4—or any console, ever, for that matter.
[Originally written May 16, 2017.]