Also On: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Persona 5 Tactica is yet another example of Atlus knocking it out of the park with this franchise. For fans of Persona 5, Persona 5 Royal, and/or Persona 5 Strikers, I can gladly say that Tactica is yet another smash hit from Atlus featuring our beloved Phantom Thieves. Everything ranging from the music, the new and reworked battle mechanics, and the introduction of Sub-Personas has me absolutely enamored with the experience in this spin-off.
First things first, I know a lot of fans are wondering if Lyn has come back to make music for the game, as she was an incredible part of the previous entries’ soundtrack. Yes, she has! Not only is she back, but she has made some downright fantastic tracks for P5T, but I think that’s something we all have come to know and love from her. The music really hits like you’d expect and want from this iteration of Persona, and I don’t think anybody will be disappointed. The battle tracks are rather hype and really get you in the mood for battle like never before!
I mentioned a change in mechanics, so let’s go over those. Fusing Personas to make newer and better Personas as you level up and acquire more is still in the game, so no worries there. However, due to some change in the world we find ourselves in, Joker no longer has access to his Wildcard ability! To replace Joker’s near-infinite potential with every Persona, Atlus has introduced a “Sub-Persona” system. This allows us to equip every party member with a single additional Persona. This enables your party members to use 2 skills from the assigned Persona they couldn’t have had access to before! Do you wish Yusuke could use Dia? Do you wish Makoto could use Zio? Probably not before, but you will now! Trust me, you will definitely want to tinker with this to make the best use of your team.
With the introduction of Sub-Personas, you may wonder how acquiring skills works now. I wasn’t super certain myself, but I am very, very happy with the new skill system. Persona 5 Tactica gives us a skill tree to play with, and it might genuinely be the best implementation of a skill tree I’ve gotten to play with. If I’ve played another game that does this, I don’t remember, but whenever you unlock a skill, you can freely de-unlock it (that’s a thing, right?) and freely allocate points to other skills as you desire! You are never locked into any of your skill unlocks if you think something you picked isn’t as helpful in a fight as you thought it was going to be. It is an incredible addition to anything with a skill tree and I am shocked Atlus was the first group I’ve played a game by to use this! (That I remember, anyways). If you’re wondering what kind of things you can unlock in a skill tree, think of Persona level-up skills in the regular games. You can unlock better versions of skills, like Arsene going from Eiha to Eiga to Eigaon, unlocking Maeiha, getting new party bonuses, etc. I won’t go too into detail so you can play around with the skills yourself and find out what you want to do!
Before I forget, Baton Pass is also different in this game. If you’ve played Persona 5, you know it’s used to swap another party member in for a boosted attack. In P5T, you use it to replace a fallen party member. Since you only have a party of 3 in this game, you may wind up using this somewhat frequently. Let’s say you make a bad play and Morgana gets overrun. In the event he gets knocked out, you can burn a Baton Pass point (3 on Easy/Normal, 2 on Hard, 1 on Merciless) to tag in a new party member in the stead of Morgana.
I touched on this before in my preview article from a couple of weeks ago, but I’ll touch on it again here. The All-Out Attack is back, albeit in a different manner. I mean, we all figured as much, since this plays quite differently, right? It is now the Triple Threat Attack, and boy is it nice. When you down an enemy, as long as your party members are positioned in any semblance of a triangle around it, you will get a flaming marker showing you the range of your attack. You can freely adjust this with your party members before triggering it, enabling you to catch enemies that you haven’t even downed yet in it! I like to see it as an opportunity to clear out a group of enemies that are all converged, which can be very helpful on harder difficulties to save on SP for using Persona skills.
Speaking of higher difficulties, I’d like to touch on the difficulty of Persona 5 Tactica. I played my first run on Normal and replayed missions on harder difficulties to get a sense of how it feels. I’ve had a pretty simple time going through on Normal difficulty, but you still have to be careful not to throw yourself into situations where you’re outnumbered. Even if you’re confident in your play, getting stuck in front of 3 enemies at once could be devastating for your HP, and to a greater extent, your attempt at a mission. Higher difficulties place a bigger emphasis on strategically picking off enemies and making use of the cover system/down mechanics to most effectively avoid getting picked off from bad positioning.
Now that we’ve touched on the mechanical side, difficulty, and music, I’d like to talk about the story. I won’t be going into specifics to avoid spoilers, so don’t worry, we won’t go beyond anything outside of the intro bits. It is just as engaging as Persona 5’s, and the new character(s) are fantastic. Replacing Palaces are new domains called “Kingdoms”, each of which still offers a unique ruler to battle against and unique themes per kingdom. Basically, don’t worry, you’re in for a good time with the typical Persona cast hijinks you’ve come to know and love.
To wrap everything up, Persona 5 Tactica is a genuinely fantastic experience from start to finish, and I couldn’t be more excited to have gotten to play a Persona game in this genre. I cannot recommend this game enough to fans of tactical RPGs or Persona games, and I think it has something for everyone. I sincerely hope anyone who reads this gives Persona 5 Tactica a chance when it launches on November 17th. I think it’ll sneak on by a lot of people here at the end of the year as a genuinely fantastic title in a year so full of industry wins.
Note: Atlus provided us with a Persona 5 Tactica Steam code for review purposes.