How Does Persona 5 Strikers Actually Play?

Persona 5 Strikers is an excellent game, but don’t take my word for it, take the word of TheGamer’s own Cian Maher, who reviewed P5S and called it “a perfect sequel.” That’s high praise indeed, and I’ll confess that I doubted him at first, but after playing Persona 5 Strikers, I think he’s right.

To make things clear, I am a man who has played a lot of musou (or “Warriors”) games. The musou series started with Dynasty Warriors, and thanks to dozens of spin-offs and even more mainline games, almost everyone has experienced musou at least once, whether it’s with Hyrule Warriors, One Piece: Pirate Warriors, Berserk and the Band of the Hawk, Dragon Quest Heroes, or any of the others – the list goes on and on. If you’re a fan of Japanese franchises, you’ve probably played a musou game, just as I have played many.

With that amount of musou experience comes a list of expectations. When I hear about a new musou game, I feel like I know what to expect. Capturing bases on a large map, defeating throngs of enemies, taking down boss monsters, etc. But Persona 5 Strikers is actually very, very different. Yes, this is still technically a musou game, but it’s unlike any I have ever played before, and here I will break down exactly what you can expect from this, the most unique musou yet.

Dungeons, or field battles?

This is the big question. Musou games are defined by their field battles, where you take on literally thousands of enemies, rack up massive combos, and capture specific points to overwhelm your foes. This is traditionally how musou has always played, and how it continues to play in the vast majority of mainline games and spin-offs. But field battles are basically gone from P5S.

Here you will instead navigate actual dungeons – called Jails in P5S, moving on from the Palaces of Persona 5. These dungeons will have you searching for switches and items to collect, just as Persona 5 had you do.

The only real difference is that while you will still be sneaking up on and ambushing shadows to do battle, here all of the combat is action-packed and real-time, like a musou game. Ambushing a shadow will summon a bunch of minor demons – and perhaps a couple of particularly strong ones – and you will take these down with simplistic musou-style combos while dodging attacks. This is practically the only aspect of musou that makes it into Persona 5 Strikers.

Special moves?

In musou games your special moves are activated by combos – you tap a light attack button a bunch of times, and then tap your special attack button, and the outcome depends on how many light attacks you doled out first. This is true for Persona 5 Strikers too, with bigger combos unlocking with experience, but you also have proper special moves that use your SP.

Holding the R button gives you a proper Persona attack menu, just as from the mainline Persona games. All attacks will use your SP or HP, and their range will depend on the type of move – Mabufu hits a greater range than Bufu, for example. Attacks have been switched to AoE moves instead of affecting one enemy at a time, because that gels more with the musou action combat. But it’s surprisingly authentic to what you would expect from a Persona game.

Are there relationships and social links?

Relationships and social links are one of the most engaging parts of any Persona game, honestly. If will put off having to go into a dungeon just to hang out with my favourite waifus and husbandos, because saving the world can wait. But Persona 5 Strikers does things a little differently.

You won’t be building social links in this game, instead you will be building your Bond with your team and others. Building the Bond gives you Bond points – BP – which you can then invest in certain buffs, like finding more items in dungeons, earning new Personas more easily, and more.

While you do not get proper relationships, you do get moments in the story where you can choose and interact with a select member of your party – though these are not really romantic. Keep in mind that any character you did romance in Persona 5 or Persona 5 Royal will not react to you in a romantic fashion in this game.

Huge story mode?

Musou games usually keep you playing for a long time, but only because some of those huge field battles can take a very, very long time to complete. That’s not the case in Persona 5 Strikers of course, but the game is still huge, and will still take you dozens of hours to complete, even if you’re skipping over things.

That’s because Persona 5 Strikers has a huge story mode, and yes, it’s canon, and follows on directly from the end of Persona 5. If you want to find out what happens to the Phantom Thieves of Hearts next, then Persona 5 Strikers is the place you should do it. It’s also nice that you begin the game with the Phantom Thieves assembled, and you won’t be spending time attempting to get the team on your side for one more mission or anything like that, instead you get stuck straight into 50+ hours of action, and loads of dialogue.

Persona, or Musou?

So the big question is this: is Persona 5 Strikers more of a musou game, or a Persona game? And honestly, it’s more of a Persona game. Yes the musou combat is here, but it takes a back seat for so much of the game. The combat is easy to forget about while you’re busy navigating dungeons, setting up your team’s equipment, and chatting with the rest of the Phantom Thieves.

The combat here is musou, yes, but I could be easily led to believe that this is a game built from the ground-up by Atlus, and not an external studio creating a spin-off. This is the true sequel to Persona 5 in all but name, and if you want to see more of Joker and the Phantom Thieves, this is where you should do it.

Next: Persona 5 Strikers Complete Guide And Walkthrough

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TheGamer Guides Editor.
Am I supposed to write this in the third-person? Do you know how awkward it is talking about yourself like you’re someone else? No one would ever believe someone else has this many nice things to say about me.

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