Returning as a Phantom Thief with the old gang to conquer a palace was the last thing I thought would happen when jumping into the groovy little world of Persona 5 Tactica. The action-packed RPG proves that Persona 5 spin-offs can carry their weight with engaging stories while throwing a warm blanket of nostalgia on players once again. With some familiar faces returning to the team as well as some new ones, there’s ample motivation to take on the role of a Phantom Thief once more. Persona 5 Tactica wasted no time, swiftly diving into the action, signaling the moment to wake up, get up, and get out there!
The adventure starts in the cozy Cafe LeBlanc where the team is hanging out, and watching TV. The warm coffee shop vibes are still in the same place they were left in Persona 5. The sense that something urgent will happen hangs in the air when suddenly, the TV goes static and the room goes bright. The Phantom Thieves get transported to a new and unfamiliar world called Kingdoms with a tyrannical ruler named Marie (pronounced in the Japanese dialect, “MAH-ree-ay). The world spirals into tyranny as the ring leader, Marie controls everyone, forcing them all to attend her wedding.
Walking out of the warm embrace of Cafe LeBlanc, the team became cloaked in their Phantom Thieves attire and rippled with confusion within the new world. Not wasting time to get to the action, guards are sent out to deal with the intrusion. This is where the battles ensue. Joker (the player), Morgana, and Skull team up against Marie’s soldiers in a grid-based tactical combat setting. The combat is similar to that of XCOM, sprinkled with Mario + Rabbids style cover-based, waiting behind cover for a turn and taking the best place possible for the next move.
The highly strategic battle system has the team relying on each other and their unique combat abilities to take on some of the most hostile enemies. Persona 5 Tactica’s new refreshing layer of grid-based strategic combat allows for three active players on the battlefield ready to exploit the enemy’s weaknesses. Mixing and matching is up to the player and the game gives the chance to learn each fighting style as all characters will not be available to play at once. That’s right, the tyrannical bride, Marie has stolen all of your team and it is your job to save them from her enchanting embrace.
So, if the team has been confiscated, who is helping out Joker and Morgana? Persona 5 Tactica introduces a new member, Erina. She’s the brave leader of the Rebel Corps who aids you in your troubles to save your teammates. Erina absolutely despises Marie and is determined to overthrow her and her rule. The Phantom Thieves agree to help Erina and the Rebel Corps to liberate the Kingdom in turn for their help in freeing the rest of the team from Marie’s enchantment.
As you play with Erina, you free your teammates, get the group back together, forming bonds, spending time with each one outside of battle, and diving deeper into their individual stories. The bonding system takes straight from Persona 5 as it gives players further care for the characters and makes the story all the more interesting.
Carefully considering team composition was something to get the hang of. As the game is solid and easy to learn, mastering it was a whole different challenge. Each character holds different abilities that are advantageous to every unique battlefield and in order to succeed, players must choose the right combination of three to overcome tough battles ahead. From formidable enemies to persistent bosses, the fights will test your skills and question your strategy. Personally, I always wanted to complete each match with the mini-challenges checked off. Whether it was completing the match in six moves or keeping all of my party alive, getting those extra challenges in was an easy tell that I was getting a hang of the strategic battle system.
Persona 5 Tactica introduces a grid-cover-based tactical combat style where players will hide behind structures to keep themselves safe from enemy fire. Peaking from behind boxes, tables, and other objects to gain an advantage over the enemy is key. The closer you are to an enemy, the more damage you do. From melee weapons, guns, slingshots, and of course your persona, each combat tactic holds its own unique use on the battlefield. Wielding a combination of each is where it becomes important against enemy ranks. Wondering out from behind cover will knock you down and enemies will take extra hits against you and vice versa. Knocking down an enemy opens up a new combat ability called a Triple Threat, a sort of All-Out attack that severely damages all enemies caught within it. It was the most fun and rewarding part of the battle for me.
The story and art of the game are absolutely fantastic. Dipping into a Kingdom, reminiscent of mid-1800s Japan with another tyrannical ruler, wanting all of his followers to be ‘happy’, harshly rules the world. Yoshiki, the moral and loving ruler is not what he seems to be under the mask. Civilians are forced to constant surveillance and that plays a part in the battles too as activating the surveillance camera warrants a specific reaction that can either benefit or risk the victory. Again, everything is super strategic and players are advised to use every mechanic to their advantage to win the game.
Yoshiki is a harsh ruler, subjecting all of his followers to camera surveillance and any signs of rebelliousness will have citizens taken away to perform harsh and forced labor. His manipulating nature is how he keeps everyone under control as he spews that it is all for love, however, it is just another mask he wears. This is just another tyrannical hold on a Kingdom that the Phantom Thieves and Rebel Corps are determined to see liberated.
With the new style and sudden transfer to mid-1800s Japan, comes new Phantom Thief outfits. Yes, we are getting a fresh new coat of paint on the gang. They need to blend in with the historical setting of the new Kingdom without Yoshike snuffing them out which in turn, gets the team an amazing set of attire.
The art direction of the game is beautiful, sporting hand-drawn art, gaudy character designs, and saturated colors. The stylish art of Persona 5 Tactica is a visual feast and stays true to the series’ unique aesthetic. With the dynamic, action-packed, 2D animated scenes, the story of this new Kingdom becomes engaging with its compelling style and groovy music. I almost forgot that these were the same Phantom Thieves who were all in high school together just a while ago. The new story lives up to the hype and captures all of the nostalgia within the cute chibi-art style and energetic soundtrack.
I really could not get enough of the design though as it did well to complement the story’s engaging elements. With a number of challenging bosses that tested my skills and forced me to think with a strategic mind, I found it to be super rewarding. The story, again was just as thrilling as they come, packed with twists and turns and making me relive these characters over again through a new adventure in the Metaverse.
With the story being told through a combination of cutscenes, dialogue, and battle scenes, it kept my attention. The catchy pop tunes and orchestral pipes made for all the more exciting playthrough. Fans of the franchise will definitely be pleased with this new adaptation as they meet up with beloved characters and learn about new ones. However, for new players who do not mind RPG factors, this game will capture your heart as well. The art and music are not the only things holding the game together as the story is strong and engaging and promises a great adventure. It’s time to suit up as the Phantom Thieves in Persona 5 Tactica and liberate the captivating realm of the Metaverse once more.
Persona 5 Tactica will be available on Switch, PC, PlayStation, and Xbox on November 17th, 2023.
Dominique' McClain is an enthusiastic content writer and enjoys all things video games. She's highly obsessed with Lord of the Rings and loves dragons. You can chat with her on Twitter @Dommy_Bomb.
Persona 5 Tactica
In summary, Persona 5 Tactica offers a great story with engaging factors, vibrant colors, dynamic art styles, new characters, and music. It masters a compelling story while also presenting older and nostalgic characteristics of Persona 5. With a fresh new coat of paint, Persona 5 Tactica is worth it to suit up as a Phantom Thief and liberate the worlds of the Metaverse.