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Review: Persona 5 (Initial Impressions)

Started playing Persona 5 on the PS4. I’m only a few hours deep, but I’m digging it so far. In terms of gameplay, it follows the classic JRPG formula, from the turn-based battle system to the linear world design. Where it really shines, though, is in its story and themes.

The plot begins with your young protagonist’s attempt to prevent a sexual assault; unfortunately, the perpetrator was an influential man, and so you find yourself arrested, branded a criminal, and transferred to a new school for the duration of your parole. There, you encounter numerous “respectable” members of society who are also secretly abusing their authority. Since the adults that inhabit this version of Tokyo are all utterly useless, either because they don’t trust someone with a police record or because they’d simply rather not get involved, it’s up to you and a ragtag band of fellow delinquents, misfits, and outcasts to expose these injustices—aided, of course, by the spirits of various literary and historical rebels, thieves, and outlaws, including Zorro and Arsene Lupin (it’s Persona; there are always supernatural shenanigans). The implicit call to action—stand up to tyranny, even if you’re condemned for it, even if your peers are willing to blindly obey or look the other way—reminds me of the antiestablishment samurai films of the ‘60s and ‘70s (Samurai Rebellion, Sword of the Beast). I can’t wait to see how the narrative continues to unfold.

Hopefully the enemies won’t get too tough. Honestly, I’m terrible at video games.

[Originally written April 24, 2017.]

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