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Preview: Persona 5 Strikers Combat is Familiar but Still New

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persona 5 strikers preview

Persona 5 Strikers heads to PS5, Switch and PC in the West in February 2020. You might have seen it coming? We’ve spent some time with the game’s first act, and we can already tell that the development team knew what it was doing when it mashed these ingredients together.

Developed by Omega Force and published by Atlus, Persona 5 Strikers (known as Persona 5 Scramble in Japan) is pretty much what you’d think it’d be. It’s Persona 5 mashed up with Warriors combat! But it’s distinctly not Persona Warriors. Its structure is more instanced and dungeon-like. Its narrative is more, well, narrative. In these ways, it plays a lot more like Persona 5 itself. Menus, conversations, and simply navigating the world retain that feel rather than find themselves converted to their Musou equivalents. And doing these Persona things builds bonds with your friends that unlock combat abilities.

persona 5 strikers preview

It’s in battle that you’re reminded of Omega Force’s other work. Not entirely, though! The dev team has put in a lot of effort to give you slick maneuvers and in-battle skills and spells. In this way, it makes the moment-to-moment action more strategic and varied. Jumping around and attacking from above boils down to what are essentially quick-time events: specific button presses from predetermined locations to pull off special attacks.

The same is true for casting Bufu on some fools. If you know the elemental strengths and weaknesses of Shin Megami Tensei’s core crew of demons, you’ll feel right at home here. Type-matching your spells (and switching Personas on the fly) can let you hit enemies harder before they can get in your way. Persona 5 Strikers encourages you to use both of these techniques by rewarding you with “all-out attacks.” These do massive damage to enemies newly stunned by your flashy antics. In many ways, these attacks feel like the game saying “good job on this one, pal” and wrapping things up for you.

This tactical variety is good, because individual battles are self-contained rather than part of a larger, fluid map. Omega Force specifically crafted many of these fights for particular locations, so you’ll need to put in more thought to each. It’s not about thinking where you should be in an area, borrowing only the basic combat scheme and enemy hordes of Warriors and little beyond that.

persona 5 strikers preview

Between battles, the game definitely leans into the heist feel. The game lets you skillfully pick which battles to fight! You do this by maneuvering around the environment and darting from one hiding place to another with quick button presses. If you can, it’s always best to ambush foes from above or behind. This gives you a free burst of damage on foes and generally helps you get away unscathed. There are also unexpected side-scrolling segments! They’re largely fleeting and not particularly involved, but it’s still peculiar to see. They’re fine? Mostly they’re there to keep you guessing and moving through ideas before you become bored of them.

Technically, Persona 5 Strikers is… okay? There’s a well-established history of Omega Force throwing a bunch of enemies on the screen and losing a lot of frames or resolution in the process, but P5S could be a lot worse. (That said, we’ve been playing the PlayStation 4 build on a PS5. Take our assessment within that context.) The slick Persona aesthetic really drives the look here, and it works well. The resolution can sometimes hold the look back a bit, though, as slick interfaces bleed into jagged enemy models.

persona 5 strikers preview

Persona 5 Strikers will release February 23, 2021 on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC. It’s out now in Japan as Persona 5 Scramble: The Phantom Strikers. Stay tuned to Siliconera for our full review!

Graham Russell
Graham Russell, Siliconera's Managing Editor, has been writing about games for various sites and publications since 2007. He’s a fan of streamlined strategy games, local multiplayer and upbeat aesthetics. He joined Siliconera in February 2020. When he’s not writing about games, he’s a graphic designer, web developer, card/board game designer and editor.