A popular tagline often used with Persona 5 is “you’ll never see it coming,” a line taken from the in-game song “Last Surprise.” Well, Persona 5 Strikers is a game we certainly saw coming. We watched the Musou-style sequel, developed by Koei Tecmo’s Omega Force, launch in Japan early in 2020. We saw it appear in a financial report and an official teaser ahead of the localization announcement, then a The Game Awards 2020 performance by Lyn Inaizumi. But even so, people might not know exactly what it is or how it might work.
Persona 5 Strikers is actually a sequel to the original game, so people will pick up with an established group of Phantom Thieves. While they changed a lot of people’s hearts in Persona 5, there’s a whole new situation this time. Across Japan, Jails are popping up. The Phantom Thieves will have to head into these unique Metaverse dungeons in cities like Kyoto and Osaka, rather than just Tokyo. And once you’re in this distorted area, it’s like you’re actually seeing a part of the city in a whole new way while trying to take bosses like Monarchs and their sources of power.
During my preview experience, for example, I saw the whole gang working with Joker to handle an issue with a Monarch called Alice. (She’s a starlet in the real world.) In the situation at hand, the Phantom Thieves were trying to get into her stronghold, but spotlights were preventing them from sneaking in. So the group would have to find Prison Keeps, which held power sources, to unlock the way.
In the gameplay demonstration, this meant a little bit of backtracking. Futaba helped the group navigate back to another part of town to find the Prison Keep, which meant actually going through otherworldly parts of the town. While there are shades of traditional Musou experiences, so those familiar with Dynasty Warriors or Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity will find the somewhat open areas familiar and the changing objectives that will send you to different spots, the gameplay segment also showed how Persona elements make it unique.
For example, the fact that the people in this group are the Phantom Thieves is maintained. You can use Joker’s grappling hook to get to higher places. Instead of hordes of enemies roaming about as in a typical Musou game, you’ll see a few Shadows. Interacting with them, preferably by catching them unaware to get the upper hand, will cause a slew of iconic Shin Megami Tensei creatures to appear. You still have All Out attacks where the group fights.
Other staples return too. You also can still summon your Persona to perform a special move that acts as an AOE attack or uses a specific element. There are treasure chests, which can require low observation levels. Also, in the segment shown, we saw fast travel points that allowed for quicker movement between spaces. Also, all of the English voice actors return and Atlus confirmed that remote recording was used, just as it was for 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim.
From what the first look suggests, Persona 5 Strikers appears to be yet another one of the more detailed and custom takes on the Musou formula that Omega Force’s become well-versed in over the years. Like Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, it pays tribute to the original series. Only in the gameplay previews I saw, there were more references to using subterfuge to infiltrate dungeons, surprising enemies to catch large groups off guard, and the sort of camaraderie and banter that people saw between the crew when they were invading Palaces in Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal.
Persona 5 Strikers will head westward on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC on February 23, 2021. It is immediately available in Japan as Persona 5 Scramble.