I noticed this game after being released back in 2016 and quickly receiving very good reviews, eventually being called the best JRPG of all time, a masterpiece hailed as the second coming of the game equivalent of Jesus. I usually tend not to pay too much attention to all the hype, having realized that much of what is being spread on the internet is usually BS but the review and gameplay videos looked good and I took advantage of a 50% off sale to get my hands on it. I had heard of the Persona series before, as a part of the Megami Tensei franchise and I was vaguely familiar with the overall concept of the games. Having played only the last one in the series, I can’t compare it to the prior ones, so I will instead treat it like a standalone game. I’m also not going to go into detailed explanations of the game mechanics, the progression system or the story. The subject has been extensively tackled by many others and doing it here would be overkill. I would rather tell you why I liked it and why I think this is a game definitely worth buying. The funny thing about it is that despite all the stellar reviews and positive reactions this game has received, this installment being the most successful out of the whole series with over 2 million copies sold by the end of 2017, the sales have been far from phenomenal compared to other AAA games. I liked the game from the get-go, from the cutscene at the beginning showing the teenage main characters gracefully gliding through a stylized Tokio to the sound of an elegant yet modern tune. The Japanese singer muddles the English words but that is part of the charm. The whole scene serves to implement the mood and the theme that the whole game is centered on: the gentleman thief. The closest motif to it in western culture would be Robin Hood. These thieves call themselves “The Phantom Thieves of Hearts” and are on a mission to steal the distorted desires of influential people (and regular people as well) who have escaped the law, thus turning their twisted hearts and minds back to normal which mostly results in the “victims” of the thieves openly admitting their wrongdoings and paying for their crimes. I know it sounds weird but the game developers have managed to put this information into a solid world, full of context, strong fleshed out characters and a good story keep things interesting and fresh all the way to the end. The game takes place in Tokio and starts with an anime-quality sequence of the main character jumping on top of the fixtures of a casino trying to escape pursuit. Through a sequence of events and an alleged betrayal he is captured by the police and brought in for questioning in a special facility that allows the police detectives to get a little rough with the high school student/thief. The first part of the story is told by the main character as an account of the events leading up to the capture, to the main investigator, Sae Niijima, as an interrogation with flashbacks. During these flashbacks, the player is in control and can choose how to strengthen the main character. The game is divided into two main segments: the real world, where you control a teenager who has to go to school, make friends, work if you want to, date and help friends out, in order to develop many stats that are useful in the second segment, the Metaverse/subconscious world. The main character gains access to the subconscious world of Tokio’s residents, akin to Carl Jung’s collective unconscious theories, where the distorted desires of the people, take physical shape and are called Shadows. The main character, together with an increasing roster of friends, has to battle these creatures to rid the people of their twisted methods of thinking. The fights are most interesting in so-called Palaces, where the Shadow version of people with exceptionally distorted desires guard the source of said desires in the form of Treasures (usually small, personal items related to the beginning of the mental corruption in the real world). The thieves eventually steal the treasure and end the corruption it exerts on people’s hearts and minds. I like this game because it is multi-faceted. On one side, you have a high school teenager simulation complete with drama, romance, friendship, and suspense. The tasks required to upgrade the character feel integrated into the world and seamlessly merge in the gameplay and story. There is not enough time to max out the character upgrades by the end of the game meaning that some relatively important stats have to be sacrificed for others, more suited to your play style. Romance is an option in this game but it is not compulsory. On the other side, you have the Metaverse: a series of labyrinths that have taken the form of Tokio’s subway system that increases in size as the game progresses, populated by creatures as diverse as the ones in the Pokemon series. In a way, the two games align in the sense that you can catch some of these creatures and use them in battle. There are also Palaces, situated in the Metaverse but separated from the subway system. Each Palace has a unique theme based on the core element of the corruption like a castle, casino or art gallery. It can take from a couple of hours, to significantly longer to complete one Palace but it feels so rewarding to defeat the final boss, take the treasure and advance the story. There is also a period of downtime afterward where you can focus on the social aspects of the game/upgrading your character. Another reason I like Persona 5 is the story. Although typical for Japanese culture, involving high school students with superpowers, the story is very refined and engaging, progressively adding twists that keep it fresh even in the later stages. The teenage thieves face a criminal organization that is also aware of the Metaverse and uses it for nefarious reasons, making things interesting and adding the sense of danger and urgency to the plot. There are questions raised in the game related to the moral legitimacy of the quest undertaken by the group of friends. The members themselves ask whether meddling with the psyche of others in what is clearly an invasive method is just or not. I liked that. This is a solid game with great visuals, probably the most original I have seen in a long time, a good story set in an interesting world, excellent game mechanics and varying tasks that keep the player engaged all the way through. This is by no means a perfect game but the quality and level of polish are undeniable. The characters are likable and you as the player have the option to spend more time with and use the ones you find most interesting, personalizing the game in the process. If you haven’t played a JRPG yet for whatever reasons, this is the perfect game to introduce you to the genre.