Sanity’s Other Side: Impressions and Speculations on Persona 5

In before Persona 4: The Platinum

P5 poster

After waiting more than a year with nothing but a few chairs in a stylish red/black color scheme to go off of, we finally have our first trailer for Persona 5. What could be waiting for us in this long anticipated RPG? The Inverseman speculates.

First off is some context. It’s been seven years since the release of Persona 4 and it’s safe to say by now it’s worn its welcome. Not to knock the game, I loved it, but after many spin-offs, it’s time for a change of pace to this oddly optimistic and unusually jolly MegaTen title. From the get-go of the trailer, we do indeed get that change of pace.

P5 The Hideout

Instead of our goody-goody Yu Narukami/Souji Seta or our solemn and dutiful Minato Arisato, we have a protagonist with a lot more attitude and a lot less well-behaved. Taking place in real-life Tokyo, our “hero” is no hero, but instead the Phantom, a gentlemanly masked thief with huge Lupin the 3rd inspirations. In the interviews, the developers at Atlus have said that they did want new characters with their own sense of justice breaking free, and this setup surely reflects that. A graffiti-filled Tokyo, a hideout to plan the next heist, and plenty of targets who seem too well-off for their own good to plunder. It’s a very welcome fresh take.

P5 open menus

It’s become quite trendy to dislike Persona 3 and 4 because they were so unlike Persona 1 and 2 in an attempt to gain street cred, but nostalgia posers and crotchety old goats beware, Persona 5 might just surprise you. If you pay attention to the trailer, you’ll see numerous critical details in the menus. First off, the Social Link option has disappeared from the main menu and has been replaced with “Cooperation”, which is likely the new version of S. Links.

P5 Battle initial screens

Deeper still, in the shop menu, you’ll see guns are back in the game, so the game mechanics may be a throwback to Persona 1 and 2. Already in the battle scenes we see the party use the new version of the All-Out Attack on a Sandman. This possibly means that we will be fighting demons again, just like Persona 1 and 2 in addition or in place of Shadows. If this is true, could all the old mainstays of demon negotiation be returning to Persona?

P5 store menus

But wait, there’s even more! The huge reveal though is in one of the equipment shops where when the cursor highlights the protagonist, we see “Joker – The Fool” in addition to the protagonist’s other vital stats. It appears to be that the protagonist’s Persona could be called “Joker” and is, logically, of the Fool Arcana. This is perhaps the craziest part of the trailer. Could this “Joker” be connected with JOKER from Persona 2? Atlus is not dumb by any means, even if it’s not overt, there will be implications to this debonair-looking Persona.

P5 protagonist's first summoning

At the end of the trailer, we see the protagonist badly beaten, but with a dastardly smile on his face, he becomes enveloped in blue flames and begins what seems to be a transformation complete with the Persona shattering noise. Could the characters actually turn into their Personas in this game? Is this the smile of a lawful hero? Or perhaps someone more wild and chaotic? The new protagonist oozes a more sinister personality unlike the previous five, and I sure hope it makes its way into the game’s critical choices.

UPDATE: Main character’s Persona is known as Arsene, like the legendary thief. So while this debunks the idea of his name being Joker, the appearance of such a name entails perhaps a different connection.

P5 All-Out Attack

Persona 5 looks to be a return to form for SMT: Persona but without alienating the new fanbase garnered from Persona 3 and 4. I, for one, am greatly anticipating this game and what it has in store. Join me next time when I set myself on fire.

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Inverseman

The Inverseman is an evil overlord from an alternate dimension representing humanity's anti-existence who wound up becoming a modest civil servant.

Inverseman

The Inverseman is an evil overlord from an alternate dimension representing humanity's anti-existence who wound up becoming a modest civil servant.

2 Comments:

  1. VERY excited from what I’ve seen in the trailer! (PLUS cats cats cats and crazy leg kicks)

    🙂 As you mentioned, I’m also hyped about the idea of a protag who is a bit more chaotic, a bit more “wild”–it definitely lends itself to a whole new set of possibilities. Plus I can get behind the style. Also the Fool is a pretty telling theme…

    • We got more details, including the Persona’s name, Arsene. Looks like from more details that the protagonist has his own issues and that his docile-Potter-esque appearance is completely a ruse. His party members also have their own issues too. So I suppose their issues will be “darker” in comparison to more recent characters and probably be more in line with the hardships the Persona 2 cast faced rather than the Persona 4 or 3 cast faced. Seems the protagonist has mental “prisons”, issues, and dilemmas too, making for a much richer character.

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