The Destination on the Long Road to Persona 5

They really did a good job making the cities feel lively.
They really did a good job making the cities feel lively.

Despite how much of it we’ve seen, it’s amazing how every piece of footage Atlus releases for Persona 5 still feels precious. Blame this on the long wait, as the game will arrive over eight years after Persona 4’s PS2 release. It was clear this would take a while early on, thanks to the Persona development team adjusting themselves to HD development with 2011’s Catherine before undertaking this game. But even the internet’s biggest pessimists didn’t estimate this long a wait, which apparently happened thanks to Atlus running into the same HD production adjustment issues as many others.

Of course, each piece of footage is bound to feel precious when Atlus takes steps to delete nearly anything they don’t upload themselves or haven’t sanctioned, like gameplay from Monday’s Sega stream. Worse, as of this writing, they still haven’t uploaded it. Some Japanese companies never change.

Fortunately, they did upload the latest footage, and details shown within them have enough to provide a solacing feeling that Persona 5 is indeed a real game coming soon. With the last big info dump from May, we learned its Japanese release date of September 15th — under two months from now. Coming with that will be the Persona 5 the Animation: The Day Breakers anime special (download link; the official version is blocked from overseas viewers) that will air on Japanese TV, and a manga that will debut on the web and a special comic app the day the game releases. No one who plays video games in Japan will be able to say they aren’t aware of this game’s existence.

Some of the most discussed info from yesterday’s barrage was the confirmation of the Social Link system, this time known as “Cooperation” — a name that could be changed with Atlus USA’s localization. Once again, the protagonist can improve his relationship with certain characters represented by major Arcana. I saw plenty of fans worried that this system, popularized in Persona 3 and 4, would be so significantly altered that it would be unrecognizable; but discarding that wouldn’t have made sense considering this key element assisted in making the previous games successful, to the chagrin of some longtime Megaten fans.

Nothing wrong with a high school student inviting his homeroom teacher to his place in a maid outfit, right?
Nothing wrong with a high school student inviting his homeroom teacher to his place in a maid outfit, right?

Cooperation will be possible with all the playable characters, and previously introduced faces like Munehisa Iwai, Sojiro Sakura (who might be related to Futaba Sakura), and Tae Takemi. But you’ll have plenty of other characters to hook up with, including Fortune Teller Chihaya Mifune, homeroom teacher Sadayo Kawakami (who’s also shown wearing a maid outfit in the protagonist’s room — That’s his fetish, huh?), camerawoman Ichiko Oya, high schooler Hifumi Togo (who the protagonist meets at a church), classmate Yuki Mishima, elementary school kid Shinya Oda, and orator Toranosuke Yoshida. Videos of each can be seen on the official website, and while there, you’ll notice the number of choices that have yet to be revealed.

With so many, I’d be surprised if it was possible to complete all these in one playthrough. Also, given the number of female characters here, have a drink alongside you and take a shot for how many times the word “waifu” is used in conversations around the internet.

Outside of that, a good portion of the stream was dedicated to showing gameplay, all of which was subsequently uploaded to Atlus’ YouTube channel. See? They’re not so stingy with every piece of footage. This involved the first TV commercial, of which there will be many. The gameplay overview posted showed how Morgana is capable of transforming into the Mystery Machine Morgana Car, which can transport the Phantom Thieves around the worlds they visit. The footage shown is from a special free-roaming dungeon, which contains automatically-generated floors, unlike the regular dungeons. Basically, they’re similar to those from the previous two Persona titles. You’re also free to spoil yourself on the opening movie, which features a performance by Lyn, and foretells the acid jazz theme the game’s music will have.

Lastly, Atlus uploaded the game’s opening moments well before the Japanese press or players and importers could when they received their copies. The video is nearly eighteen minutes long, and shows some early character interactions, battles, and the trouble the protagonist gets into early on. With the amount of early gameplay, anyone who couldn’t take Persona 4’s slow-paced opening hours could be satisfied. It also provides yet another look into how slick and stylish its presentation is, which even extends to the loading screens.

This Phantom needs no ring.
This Phantom needs no ring.

The footage they apparently don’t want anyone to see (if they didn’t miss one) was dedicated to showing activities the player, as the protagonist with Morgana, can engage in. They include far more than what was included in previous Persona games, including fishing, visiting maid cafes (presumably where he runs into his aforementioned homeroom teacher), completing crossword puzzles, and, uh, playing Famicom games!? Some of these have been shown in previous trailers, but there’s a nice peek at some new ones here. These segments are divided into small clips, which seem like the kind that will be uploaded to the official website intermittently as we inch closer to the release date. Showing them on a stream and subsequently hiding them remains a silly idea, though.

This is a lot of Persona 5 footage and info to dodge if you’re on a media blackout. But keep in mind that if you’re having trouble dodging this, good luck doing so when it releases in Japan, unless you know the language. Despite Atlus USA releasing some games close to their Japanese dates, we’ll have to wait until February 14th in America. That date, however, works well given the “waifu” talk around the Cooperation characters, since that’s also Valentine’s Day. The wait will be even worse for Europe, because while Deep Silver is publishing it (along with Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse and 7th Dragon III: Code VFD), they don’t even have a release timeframe. At least we’ll have plenty of games to keep us occupied — including some mentioned in this very post.

P.S. For instance, you can occupy yourself with SMTIV Apocalypse, which will release in America on September 20th. It would take too long to list every other option here, though.

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