Over the last few months, an increasing amount of details have come out about Persona 5, the latest installment in Atlus’ popular RPG series, Persona. We’ve learned about party members, an upcoming animated special, and fans have dissected four trailers so far. Recently, the biggest announcement of all dropped: the release date.
Persona 5 will be released in Japan on September 15th, 2016.
Unfortunately for North American fans, our release comes a little later. The exact date hasn’t been announced, but the game is expected to hit shelves in 2017—and with any luck, during Q1.
The Wait Begins
The wait is a bummer (and as a Persona fan, I’m in the same sad boat as everyone else). It is unusual for American fans to experience a delayed release. Generally speaking, we see AAA releases earlier than, or at least at the same time as, our international counterparts. Atlus is going to cater to their fans at home in Japan first, and they should.
Still, there’s going to be new material to tide us over. If you’re like me, eager to collect any scrap of trivia, E3 this June (the 14th through the 16th) is going to be a goldmine. Rumor has it that the first gameplay demo will be shown at E3, and that makes sense: with no demo out yet, in terms of timing, what better venue is there to debut one?
If you’re lucky enough to attend in person in Los Angeles, I’m sure the experience will be singular. The rest of us will have to sit at home and wait impatiently for details, and any footage, to roll in.
Also recently announced is a 20th Anniversary Special Edition of the game, which includes an art book, “special collaboration” DLCs, and five discs worth of soundtracks—one for each game. So far, no news on whether the special edition will be released in America, but I already know a lot of American gamers who will buy it just for the art book.
And, in case you missed it, check out the newest trailer (which Atlus has yet to release with English subtitles, alas):
If You’re New to the Series
For those of you who haven’t played any Persona games, I imagine Persona 5 is probably a great place to start. The last major release was Persona 4, back in 2008, and so 5 will be the first time in a while we’ll have seen what the designers can do with the newest technology.
Persona is an odd duck of a series, but it’s a lot of fun. Each installment follows a group of high school students (and I can hear some of you groaning, but I promise the characters are always a blast) who find themselves battling demons, monsters, and generally creepy, weird ambiance—and often engaging in bigger themes related to growing up, alienation, rumors, and desire. The game plays a lot with the idea of what’s real—what’s reality—and what’s not.
I know that description is maddeningly vague, but I don’t know how else to explain it. For example, in Persona 4, you travel to an alternate world via television sets to battle demons alongside a giant talking teddy bear. It’s weird, but that’s the fun of it. The strangeness adds dimension to the social simulation aspects of the RPG, which also features a turn-based combat system and a lot of dungeon crawling.
The most iconic and constant element in the games are Personas, which are manifestations of the characters’ psyches. You can use them for special physical and magical attacks, and in many of the games, interaction with other characters will increase the link between Character (in this case, a silent protagonist) and Persona. In 4, the personas were based off dozens of mythological figures including Loki, Jinn, and Jack Frost. No word yet on the basis of personas in Persona 5.
I can’t overemphasize how fun it is to pull out a huge, beautiful (or frightening) persona in the middle of a battle to unleash an epic attack. These tiny high school students are much more than they seem on the surface, and the personas reflect that.
Persona 5‘s plot revolves around a group of—you guessed it—high schoolers who become masked vigilantes out to steal ill intent from adults. The cast of main characters is made up of three boys, four girls, and one black cat named Morgana. Persona 5 seems just as delightfully symbolic and odd as ever. It should be as memorable an experience for players as the other games in the series were.