The big draw in Persona 5 is the palace system. The major dungeons in the game are palaces that have definite routes and puzzles, forcing you to really think and sneak your way through them. These are finite locations that disappear once cleared, but that doesn’t mean you have no option for dungeon-crawling between these major events. Mementos is there to keep you at your best.
Mementos is a throwback dungeon with a design similar to Persona 3’s Tartarus. It’s a massive dungeon divided up into different areas. Each section could be made up of multiple floors, with rest areas in between that you can use for saving and fast travel purposes. Completing Mementos is essential for people who want to get every secret out of Persona 5, which means going through the 67 areas of the main area, 58 of which are randomized. (This isn’t counting what happens in Mementos’ lower depths.) This area is heavily influenced by real-world conditions, such as pollen or rain, offers an opportunity fulfill requests, and brings back a reaper who’ll show up to hunt you down when you dawdle on floors. Think of it as your default place for grinding for cash and levels.
It’s also a way to take on requests to better the Phantom Thieves’ name. After Mishima sets up the Phan-site, he’ll start coming to you with quests to take in Mementos. The majority of these require you to visit a certain floor and beat an enemy, getting some sort of item and nice sum of cash as a reward. You can hold off and stack requests, waiting until you have a cluster of them to go in and complete at once. Conveniently, a new section of Mementos opens up after completing each palace, giving you access to an area filled with stronger monsters and better treasures as rewards.
Exploring Mementos is also a necessity for people who want to connect. Many of Persona 5’s Confidants have side quests tied to them. You can’t rank up the relationships unless you head in to resolve things for them. This makes so much sense for the sake of the story. After all, we keep seeing how our influence can change people’s hearts and make others’ lives better. It only makes sense that you’d need to take on some sort of task for the people you interact with on a daily basis, as each of them is undergoing some sort of personal trial. Sojiro, Futaba, Chihaya, Iwai, Tae, Kawakami, Ohya, Shinya, and Hifumi all need your help with things. (In the case of Chihaya, you’ll need to take two Mementos quests to build up the bond.) Even working in the bar, convenience store, and ramen shop is a necessity to unlock things.
This is also a chance to improve your team in ways that don’t involve level grinding or cash flow. The monsters in Mementos are all ones you’ve seen in palaces. If you missed recruiting one then, you can catch up and collect one there. This is especially good for rare critters who appear more often during pollen season, heat waves, and rainy weather. It is also a good source of dirty clothing, which you can take to the laundromat to clean and actually use. Better yet, have Kawakami wash them for you, after you get four, so you don’t waste an evening. Of course, best of all is maxing out Kawakami’s social link as soon as possible, so you could go to Mementos, and have her give you a Special Massage afterward so you could still do something at night and be ahead of the game.
Mementos is there to keep you caught up. Whether it is with the past, since its a reminder of the randomly generated dungeons we’d explore in Persona 3, the requests of people around you, or with your own expectations for characters, it is there to offer you a way to pull things together. Persona 5 gives you opportunities to ensure your allies, Personas, and relationships are at their best. It even gives you Kawakami’s Special Massage so you can dungeon-crawl and enjoy the city’s nightlife. You could even call Mementos the “freshmaker,” as it mixes things up during stretches between palaces. You can always rely on it to add a little action to your life.
Persona 5 is available for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.