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Persona 5 Tactica

Persona 5 Tactica

We've seen a lot of spin-offs from Persona 5, but how does Atlus handle a tactical action game?

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I haven't been a big fan of how much Atlus has milked their Persona 5 series, even though some games have been good. We've had the dungeon crawler Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth where the big draw was the new Persona 5 characters, we've seen hack-and-slash with Persona 5 Strikers, we've danced in Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight, and we've been able to revisit the main story in Persona 5 Royal. But when they announced a tactical, turn-based role-playing game, it still piqued my interest. A genre that nowadays is mostly kept alive by regular releases of Fire Emblem, more obscure games like Disgaea, and a few others. However, it has been a great sideline for big Japanese role-playing games in the past, like Final Fantasy Tactics and Suikoden Tactics.

Persona 5 Tactica

I was also expecting Persona 5 Tactica to be like these two games. Somewhat slow on a large grid pattern with a lot of choices. However, it turned out that this instead goes in the same spirit as XCOM and Mario + Rabbids. If you've played either of those before, you'll instantly recognise the formula here. You can move freely around the board as far as your character can go. There is only a certain area it can move in each round, but it can run freely. So if you feel that a hiding place is not good enough, just go somewhere else. The only thing that prevents further movement is when the character attacks. After that, it is locked in that location until the next round. You have to plan where each round ends. If you are not hidden but instead are standing in the middle of nowhere, you will be given more holes than Swiss cheese. Instead, you should end each round behind a wall or next to an obstruction. Cover, which can be anything from boxes to tables, comes in half-sized or full-sized versions. If you are hidden behind a full-sized stone, for example, incoming shots will be completely blocked (shots from behind still do reduced damage). Half-sized obstacles do not block the shots, but lead to reduced damage.

The set-up is quite simple, but the developers have done a good job of including different characteristics from the main game for extra spice in the battles. Personas have to be included, of course, because that's the whole point of the game series. The Velvet Room is back, in a different form because of what happens in the story, with Lavenza leading the way. Here you can merge two or three personas into a new one that can then be used by a character. Each character can have a persona assigned and in Tactica it leads to a boost in HP, SP, and various attacks, plus specific attacks that come with that particular persona. A bit into the game you can also create new weapons by merging personas. But that's not all. The Baton Pass feature is in the main game a feature that allows you to pass an attack to another character. In Tactica, it is instead something of a lifeline. If one of the three characters that can be used in battle loses all their HP, they can be replaced with a spare by using a Baton Pass. There are usually three available per battle. The phrases used with the Baton Pass in Persona 5, "Downing" and then "One More" are also available in Tactica. Remember how I said you have to hide? If you or an enemy is not hiding and is attacked, that character will be "down" and the attacker gets "one more". That is, the attacker gets one more attack to use. This can happen several times in a row if you can manage to hit other open enemies.

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Persona 5 Tactica

The enemies are unfortunately one of the weaker aspects of the game. For much of the game there are only three different enemies available. There's a long, narrow sniper, a hefty beefcake who likes close combat, and a small drummer who boosts his comrades. They are exactly the same in all worlds except that they wear different clothes. On a few levels, some special enemies sneak in, like a sumo wrestler who throws his mates (?) or a ninja who can teleport, but almost the entire game is played against the same three types of enemies. The bosses, on the other hand, are high quality and memorable. I won't spoil them here, of course, but each one is distinctive and has a major impact on the story. Not to mention the boss music. Yum. Persona 5 already had excellent music and Atlus has upped the ante here. In fact, the entire game has great music with both old classics and new, upcoming classics.

Persona 5 Tactica

The story will not be remembered as a classic. I personally like it, but it's not more than good. It is a sort of sequel to the original game and the Phantom Thieves gang has gathered at Leblanc to remember the good times. The final year students in the group are about to move to other parts of the country and the discussion is that it's boring, but they will still see each other sometimes. But there are still things to do for Joker, Morgana, and the others, who in this game are cute chibi versions. Visually, there is nothing to complain about in the game. The graphical style they have chosen really fits and the cutscenes are very well done. Also, the voice actors once again do a really good job. Anyway, back to the story. A quiet day at the café takes a sudden turn when a hell of a lot of light and sound comes outside the door. A door that also changes shape. Outside waits something that can be described as 19th century Paris. Just like in all the kingdoms in the game, Palace has been replaced by Kingdoms, there is a tyrant and a people who want to revolutionise, but for some reason cannot. Here we find Marie, who is completely obsessed with weddings and finding the right one. This is also where we are introduced to the playable newcomer Erina. She is the only person in a country of hat people. Yes, they all have hats for heads. She cannot use personas, but can use other kinds of attacks. She leads the rebel group in the first kingdom and then becomes an important part of the story. There is also a man named Toshiro Kasukabe. During a mission to free prisoners, the masked heroes find him in a cell, which is strange because he has disappeared in the real world. This is shortly before he is expected to become the next Prime Minister. Not surprisingly, he is the main character in this story.

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An approximately 30 hour long story that is dark, but with the usual Persona humour. The longer the game goes, the darker it gets. And while I perhaps should have expected that from a game in this series, the new charming style made me expect something lighter. One of the problems I have is perhaps not in the content of the story, but how it unfolds. This series, for me, has relied at least as much on exploration and various side activities as fighting. In Persona 5 Tactica there is no exploration at all. Everything follows the same pattern. Prepare for Leblanc by buying new weapons, upgrading the characters' trait trees, having dialogues. Then press to get to the next battle. Pass it, read a shitload of text and repeat. What can save you from this repetitive roundabout are the very well-designed challenges. These are gradually unlocked and act as very small side stories where a level is like a puzzle. A level needs to be completed in the first round by using "one more", pushing enemies to the right position, and more. Some of these challenges really require you to think through everything very carefully.

Persona 5 Tactica

Persona 5 Tactica is a good game in the genre of tactical role-playing games, but it does not reach the same heights as other similar games. It also pales in comparison to a game like Baldur's Gate 3 when it comes to tactics, if you want to compare them. But what it does have is a wealth of charm and that tendency to mix very dark stories with humour. It also manages to mix in things from Persona 5 that might not normally fit in this type of game. Persona 5 Tactica isn't a masterpiece, but it's worth playing, especially if you have Game Pass as it's releasing right there on Friday.

07 Gamereactor UK
7 / 10
+
The music is phenomenal, great choice of graphic style, good bosses, the story is perfectly fine
-
Very poor enemy variation, no exploration at all
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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Persona 5 Tactica

REVIEW. Written by Johan Vahlström

We've seen a lot of spin-offs from Persona 5, but how does Atlus handle a tactical action game?



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