Recently I just beat Persona 5 Strikers. I’m not done with the post-game stuff yet, but I’ve finished the main story. After experiencing the combat of both Persona 5/5R and Persona 5S I wanted to discuss my thoughts. Both combat systems are fun to play but they are a very different experience. I’m not going to go into detail about the nitty, gritty details of game mechanics. If you want that my suggestion would be YouTube gameplay videos. Instead, I’ll be discussing my thoughts about the games combat and dungeon exploration in general.
One of my favorite parts of Strikers is that all of the Phantom Thieves are now playable characters in combat and dungeon exploration. (Except Futaba) Each character has their own unique playstyle and mechanics. Which I thought was a nice touch. It adds variety that is greatly appreciated. I was so happy to finally be able to play as Yusuke! Love him.
If you accidentally die as Joker you just switch to a different character instead of getting an immediate “Game Over”. That makes things so much easier. It was always frustrating that when Joker died in Persona 5/5R everyone else immediately lost no matter what condition they were in. Gameplay-wise it makes sense, but logically it never did. I was very happy that this wasn’t the case in Strikers.
So far, Persona 5S is the only Dynasty Warriors-type game I’ve played. This gameplay is characterized by hack and slash combat and facing huge mobs of enemies. It worked surprisingly well with a Persona setting. Now with real-time combat having skill is important. In Persona 5S learning attack patterns and dodging attacks becomes vital to defeat stronger enemies. It was a nice change having to get good at the game in that way. I do like the occasional challenge. In Persona 5/5R skill isn’t an issue in combat. Instead, the turn-based combat system prioritizes strategy and SP management. With the fast pace and jazzy music, it’s the best turn-based combat I’ve experienced in a video game. It’s a different experience from real-time combat. When done well I like it just as much. It’s a mental and a resource/time-managing challenge.
Bosses are still pretty OP. In Persona 5/5R they have a massive amount of hit points. This is still true in Strikers. Bosses have huge health bars and a set of shields that the player destroys by exploiting weaknesses or getting critical hits. All in all, the boss fights from Persona 5S are equal to the ones from Persona 5/5R. They were challenging with epic music and story importance. They were just as much fun as the original. It was nice to be able to face off against bosses multiple times in Strikers. Due to the plot, you couldn’t do that in the original Persona 5/5R.
One thing that Persona 5S lacked was the time crunch of Persona 5/5R. You had to consider what you wanted to do with the time you have. Balancing the Palace exploration, Mementos exploration, confidants, and improving your stats. The entire game had a sense of purpose. There was always the pressure to “take your time” and do the most with what you currently had available. This is not the case in Persona 5S. You have all the time in the world to grind in the Metaverse and prance around in the real world. It made sense for how the game was structured. However, it was a real loss of that urgency of time being a limited resource. The pressure was non-existent because you always had time to spare.
The dungeons themselves are easier to explore in Persona 5S. Not necessarily because of the enemies. The difficulty level you encounter in combat is comparable to Persona 5/5R. The Jails have less puzzle-solving than the Palaces. Puzzles can be frustrating at times but in all, they added to the challenge of exploration. Not only did you have to worry about enemies, but you also had to solve the puzzles built into the environment to progress. Strikers missed that opportunity. It reflects the shift of focus in Persona 5S, by making combat the star of dungeon crawling instead of the overall experience. However, I was impressed how it incorporated Futaba into the game with her hacking segments in the Jail. I thought it was a good way to get a non-combatant character involved directly.
By necessity, Persona 5S changed how Joker acquires Personas. Instead of negotiating with shadows, now after every battle, there is a chance for a mask to appear which is collected and turned into a persona for Joker. It helps keep up the pace while dungeon crawling, but honestly, the original did it way better. The shadow negotiation in Persona 5/5R is quirky and interesting, sometimes frustrating. Yet it added character to the game and added depth to the enemies. I was honestly disappointed Persona 5S got rid of it.
Honestly, the fact that Strikers is so different from the original games is a good thing. It was fun to play something that was simultaneously very different and familiar. The developers made a good decision about changing up the gameplay for the sequel to the story. If I were to only consider combat alone, I think I had more fun with Strikers’ real-time combat system. It’s a personal preference. Because I do think the original had a great turn-based system. I had fun with that too. They’re just so different it’s hard to compare. In the end, I think that Persona 5 Strikers lived up to all the hype and is just as good as Persona 5/5R.
*Image does not belong to me. It is from the Persona 5S game and belongs to Atlus.