Earlier today, the review embargo for Atlus' Persona 5 was crossed and the floodgates opened! Fans who had been waiting a long time for the latest Persona - maybe the skipped the Persona-lite Tokyo Mirage Sessions - had their first chance to see if their hype was worth it. So how did critics take to the story of the Phantom Thieves?
Pretty damn well. Across the board, Persona 5's reviews have been on the high-end, continuing 2017's streak of some truly great gaming across multiple platforms. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Yakuza 0, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Nier: Automata, and more have offered players endless enjoyment and Persona 5 seems to be another one for the pile.
Our own Caty McCarthy called Persona 5 "the most bewitching tale the series has ever told", which is high praise in a series that includes the fan-favorite Persona 4.
"There's a feeling I get only after I finish a really great RPG. An emotion that's a strange mixture of freedom, happiness, survival, and relief. Where upon completion, I feel as if I've been given a new lease on existence; I've done all I can with that past life," Caty wrote. "After 102 hours and 45 minutes, my long, tumultuous journey with Persona 5 was over. And I felt all of those things, but mostly I found myself feeling sad. Sad that it was over, that is."
"I often joke that everyone's favorite Persona game is the one they play first," she explained. "But after time spent with the phantom thievin' teens of tomorrow, Persona 5 might stand alone as the exception to this silently-acknowledged truth. It expertly weaves everything great about its predecessors into one slick adventure, plopping a tidy crimson bow on top as it gears up to steals everyone's hearts. Consider this your official calling card."
You can read the entire review at the link above, but what about the other critics? For our Review Round-Up, we'll be offering interesting snippets from other reviews. We won't cover every other outlet under the sun, because you have MetaCritic and OpenCritic for that, but we want to give you a feel of the critical consensus and touch on different aspects of a game. We'll also lean on highlighting some outlets you may not normally read.
"Persona 5 is beautiful. It abandons the more cartoon-like proportions of Persona 3 and Persona 4 and adopts the style that looks just a bit more mature while retaining that anime look. Despite being turn-based, battles are bursting with energy. Things that are usually dull or utilitarian, like the battle menus, pop with flashy designs and animations. Even the battle report screen at the end of each fight looks great with its pop art-like graphics."
"It also sports another phenomenal Persona soundtrack. It mixes Japanese pop with jazz and other unusual genres, creating a unique voice that sets perfect moods for walking around a rainy shopping district or fighting some giant monster."
The Guardian (5/5)
"Persona 5 is a vast proposition. Each case, of which there are many, will take around 10 hours to clear, so it's a game best approached like a multi-season TV series. The comparison is apt too, as your emotional bond with the characters and their daily struggles and hang-ups matures as with a soap opera. Like many soap operas, it's a game that could, at times, have used some hard editing. Exposition is thorough and dialogue lengthy, although it is mercifully possible to speed through conversations. But there's an authenticity to all the writing that proves memorable and affecting. The protagonists speak and text like school children. They make misinformed or sexist remarks. They fumble social interactions. They are, in short, teenagers. At its core this is a spectacular work of contemporary young adult fiction, one with a strong moral core, angled yet never didactic, expansive yet always focused."
Paste Games (9.5/10)
"Developer Atlus leans into all its strengths full tilt, creating not just a game with a strong central vision, but what is almost certainly the most polished and stylish JRPG I've ever played."
"Persona 5's Tokyo is lovingly rendered with verisimilitude, many of its locations closely modeled on their real-world counterparts. Even the fictional locations feel real, lived-in, and it's extremely difficult not to become attached to them. Persona games sometimes get lumped in with other 80-hour epics like The Witcher or Fallout or The Elder Scrolls, but the scope of Persona is altogether different-those games are all large, broad, with enormous worlds to explore. Persona 5 isn't large at all-it's relatively tiny. Persona 5 is long. There are very few story-heavy games that plant you in a location and ask you to call it home for a year, and in that regard Persona games are much closer to Stardew Valley than to The Witcher. They're games about cultivation, only in Persona you're cultivating relationships instead of crops."
Ars Technica (No Score)
"Just as Persona 5 wastes no time revealing its supernatural elements, it also doesn't hesitate to dive headlong into treatments of sexual assault, suicide, murder, and human trafficking. This kind of serious subject matter could have easily descended into mere exploitation on Persona 5's part."
"Instead, Persona 5 smartly chooses to linger. When one of Joker's fellow students is driven to harm herself early in the game, one of the primary Confidant stories pivots to focus on how that action impacts her life and the life of her best friend. Frank descriptions of physical therapy, a forced change of schools, and her changing relationship to her peers all take center stage, without ever feeling gruesome or voyeuristic. Recovery, as much as the instigating harm, is also core to the story."
RPG Site (10/10)
"As we talk about characters, it's only right to touch on the localization. Dedicated fans might've caught on social media that, yes, there are some bum pronunciations in the game, but these little blips mislead; this is a fantastic localization effort."
"The voice cast is likeable, and the translation seems to hit all the right beats with confidence. It can be funny, or profound, or deliberately silly. Harrowing and easy-to-miscue moments, such as an attempted suicide, are handled deftly. The small adjustment of dropping the Japanese honorifics from the English-language dialogue also makes a world of difference to make every line sound a little more organic and natural to Western ears."