Look them up, Phantom Thieves
Omega Force, as a studio, has carved out a nice little niche for itself. Some will not say it’s nice! “Repeated” is the word anyone can use. But despite their reputation for similar beat-em ups, hardcore Omega Force fans know they are not afraid to innovate, even in small, gradual ways.
Persona 5 Strikers is a little more obvious with their progress.
Persona 5 Strikers (PC, PS4 [reviewed], Switch)
Developer: Omega Force, P-Studio
Released: February 20, 2020 (JP) | February 23, 2021
Guide Price: $ 59.99
As I suggested in the ongoing review, Persona 5 Strikers really feels like one Person the game first in many ways. It’s a very smart thing for Omega Force to focus on, even with the latest Royal release, people are always thirsty for more of this series.
I’m actually a little surprised at how deep the thematic flow goes. Everything from the menus, to the sequences between the matches, to the shops, to the music. If someone walked in on you and played Persona 5 Strikers outside of a match sequence, you can probably trick them into thinking you are playing Person 5 proper. It’s very cool.
In part, P-Studio does this, as they helped Omega Force with the project (as IP owners tend to do for things like Hyrule Warriors). In any case, the collaboration paid off in spades, because Strikers oozes style even as you rotate around the equipment system. Now the story is a bit touch and go at times, but it’s about half the length of a big one Person games, which can be a big plus for anyone who does not have the schedule to dump into what appears to be a huge time warp.
But while the overall narrative is not as exciting as a main entrance, the small moments have something. The splash between the characters, which already has a pretty strong bond at this point (both in English or Japanese sound), is authentic Person. The cut scenes, the voice acting in general, even the minor characters, are all there. Although not 100% required, and you can get quite a bit from the exhibition dialogue, you really should play Person 5 first (Royal does not really have an impact here) to get the most out of it.
Real-time combat system will also help many people who are not so JRPG-inclined. Yes, it has the very famous combination system “basic special”, “basic basic special”, “basic basic basic special”, but Strikers gives you the opportunity to develop beyond that. If you get in trouble, things get more interesting right away. The weakness, the persona, the shooting game and the all-out attack systems all come back from Person; which gives combat a bit of an edge both stylistically and strategically. It’s fun to show off abilities and know that you have broken down an entire group, because you have remembered what they are vulnerable to. Having a giant persona summons come up and signify that it is the payout.
One of the game’s main sins, and many beat ’em ups are not immune to this, is repetitiveness at the moment. Persona 5 Strikers does a great job of throwing new concepts your way, and with the modified dungeon system, present them in unique ways. But so-called “trash” mobs (enemies) can be a job to remove sometimes, when you finally get to the more exciting skirmishes that are worthy of using your power on.
It’s nice, because you do not really have to always fight against it all the time if you do not want to. By and large, the game pushes you into dungeon settings, allowing you to move around the maze of your choice and avoid battles if you wish. It has its advantages and disadvantages. Arenas generally don’t feel as sweeping or as epic as some of the maps from previous Omega Force titles (Age of Calamity did a fantastic job with this) but it feels like Person, which is going to be the most important thing for many people.
The inter-game parts of Japan also rule, giving you a nice break that knocks the hell out of the “menu selection” level transition pin from earlier Musou experiences. On the whole, it’s just a little more chill Person 5. An abbreviated story (in Person conditions), reduced requirements for dungeons and party improvement. But within the framework of this new subgenre, it works. After all, Person 5 (and Royal) still exists.
Persona 5 Strikers suffers from some of the same errors as others Musou games, but this collaboration benefits greatly from the strength of the source material. Even if you are not interested in the genre, if you like it Person Somehow this is worth picking up at some point while you patiently wait for the next big entry.
[This review is based on retail builds of the game provided by the publisher.]
Persona 5 Strikers reviewed by Chris Carter
Impressive effort with some noticeable issues that hold it back. Will not amaze everyone but is worth the time and cash.
How we score: Destructoid reviews guide