After an early delay threatened to derail some of the good will Persona 5 had earned among western JRPG fans, Atlus' fifth official instalment in the Persona series has finally made its way to North American and European shores. According to early reports - and, of course, the reviews from Japanese publications that have had access to the game for half a year now - Persona 5 lives up to and surpasses its predecessors, offering the same stylish, charming take on teenagers exploring relationships and adulthood while battling demonic creatures threatening to end the world. As a cascade of favorable reviews continues to rain down upon the game, it seems safe to say that Persona 5 will likely be the most-played game in the series when all is said and done.
That's great, because the Persona series has always had a flair for the dramatic, and the game's broader reach thanks to some stellar marketing should see a number of Final Fantasy 15 and Fallout 4 fans simultaneously baffled and enamored with Atlus' bizzare storytelling. That being said, however, Persona 5 remains much like its predecessors in the sense that it is unapologetic about its complexity, and for those unfamiliar with the series, that decision can sometimes make the game difficult to wrestle with during its opening hours.
To put it bluntly, there's a lot of stuff in Persona games that is easy to miss, and some of it can even be detrimental to the overall storyline. Nobody wants to realize they've been doing something wrong or missing a key gameplay element hours into a save file, so we've compiled a list of helpful spoiler-free tips that will ensure gamers make the most of the Persona 5 experience.
Manage Time Efficiently
This is the number one rule of any Persona game, and it applies here as well. Players will only be given a set amount of time each day to explore the many different functionalities available to the protagonist, and it is on gamers to decide how best to spend that time. Have a plan, play conservatively if you are particularly nervous about the time restraints placed on key narrative moments, and don't sweat it if you miss something that you didn't know about - without a full-on guide mapping every single day of playtime, it is virtually impossible to see everything in Persona 5 and max out social links.
Spend Time With Your Teammates
This one is a no-brainer for anyone who has played a Persona game before, but it is such a crucial element of the gameplay that it bears repeating every time there's a chance someone new might be looking for advice. The protagonist can't do everything on his own, despite having access to the game's most powerful spells and demons eventually, and Persona 5's motley crew of thieves will have to save him many times. Spending time with teammates outside of dungeons boosts social links, which in turn, if enough time has been devoted to them, makes teammates stronger and gives them special abilities. The social element of Persona 5 might seem frivolous, but it is arguably more important than grinding for levels in dungeons. Don't slack on it.
Make Time for Confidants, Too
Persona 5 is a game based around the social link system, which will see players navigate the protagonist's busy high school life and juggle a number of important relationships. Outside of his team, the protagonist also has access to a whole roster of confidants who also unlock bonuses as their relationships with the protagonist progress. Of these confidants, without spoiling anything, some of the best bonuses available come from the doctor, Futaba, and Yoshida. Pay special attention to them whenever the chance arises - they offer abilities or bonuses that are lifesavers as the game begins to get more difficult.
Don't Sweat the Clock
Persona 5's dungeons each have a specific window of time in which they must be completed. If gamers fail to beat them in the allotted time, it will be game over. Persona 5 is pretty generous with how long it gives players to beat each dungeon, though, and as long as players stay on top of their experience - whether by grinding floors of dungeons repeatedly when they do choose to go there or by exploring the bonus dungeon whenever it unlocks new floors - it shouldn't be too difficult to outrace doom.
Save and Save Often
This is really an addendum to the last point, but it's so important we've given it its own section. Save. Save whenever things appear to be a little dicey, and save even when things are calm. There are so many different elements at play in Persona 5, and creating multiple save files and alternating between them is a good way to ensure players get to experience the game the way they want to. Even better, having multiple save files that track back through a number of days is great insurance to avoid getting stuck having to play through a dungeon under-leveled because it was left to the last minute.
Trust us, these are important. The best items in the game are locked away in treasure chests that have locks that need to be picked, and it is heartbreaking to have to pass on something because the protagonist went into a dungeon a little under-prepared.
Always Start Fights By Ambushing
Charging an enemy from behind and pressing "X" to attack will always give players a huge edge in combat, often allowing the protagonist and the rest of the party to chain together multiple attacks while exploiting enemy weaknesses. While Persona 5 is a lot more forgiving than, say, its cousin in Shin Megami Tensei 4, there are still enemy abilities that can seriously mess up a dungeon run out of nowhere - don't give them more opportunities to do so than is strictly necessary.
Pick Party Members Based on the Dungeon
As much fun as it is to roll with favorites in games like Mass Effect: Andromeda regardless of the situation, in Persona 5, gamers are strongly encouraged to plan ahead and make sure to bring appropriate party members. Each party member usually favors a specific elemental spell, and as such has a corresponding weakness as well - make sure you aren't bringing a group that will get chain-attacked down thanks to one person's weakness getting exploited by most enemies.
Regen SP Any Way You Can
Mid-way through the game, players will likely get access to items that, once equipped, regenerate SP each turn in combat. These are incredibly valuable, as SP is a precious resource that allows characters to unleash their most powerful attacks and exploit enemy weaknesses. Often, when players run out of SP, they'll have to flee the dungeon and return another day, which can waste valuable time. Another useful trick that has been carried over from other Persona games is to leave the weakest enemy in a group alive, and to have each party member block over and over again. Each block action restores a small amount of SP.
Use the Velvet Room Whenever Possible
The Velvet Room is the difference between having an average line-up of whatever demons are available in the current dungeon and having an unstoppable, dungeon-slaying machine. The Velvet Room lets players combine, destroy, or recreate demons, and getting familiar with all of its features will ensure that your Persona 5 team doesn't get stonewalled by a particularly troublesome enemy. As a bonus tip, make sure to find a demon that can use Bufu and Agi spells as soon as possible - these are the glaring weaknesses of the earliest parties in Persona 5, and it will make the early grind much easier.
A game like Persona 5 is incredibly deep, so don't be afraid to eschew some of this advice and pursue a different playstyle. These tips are certainly helpful, but ultimately, Persona 5 is whatever a gamer makes out of it. Happy treasure hunting!
Persona 5 is out now on PS4 and PS3.