Gaming

Persona 5 review: Can style override substance?

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Persona 5, the biggest JRPG release of 2017, has been out for weeks. Clear of the game’s launch hype, is it deserving of stealing the public’s heart or is it merely a bombastic masked pretender that needs exposing?

Art design is aces

Bold red, black, and white serve as its visual foundation. This arresting palette kip-ups to life and sweeps you off your feet with the gentleman thief/punk rock/latex fetish design of the main cast. It bumps and bounces in the menus, shaking up the UI when you button through. All-out attacks culminate in wallpaper-worthy graphics, and it’s never not satisfying.

There’s elegance to every transition. From winning battles to navigating between areas, the colors slink and slide across the screen, and you can’t help but smile at every context-sensitive swipe of the display.


 

Smooth-grooving audio

Pressing O or X to cancel or confirm actions gives a satisfying squee. That precision glass shatter of a critical hit jolts of excitement. Every gunshot crackles staccato.

Series composer Shoji Meguro matches the rebel imagery with a super-slick soundtrack. The music effortlessly switches from sweeping jazzy strings and keys to grinding hard guitar riffs, all the while riding funky bass licks and finger-snapping percussion.

Criminally good opening animation:

Rebellious spirit restricted 

It’s technically not part of Persona 5’s overall design, and I wrote about it in an earlier article, but the irrationality of Atlus in restricting capturing footage of the game bears repeating. I enjoy archiving my playthroughs on the PS4 with screenshots and videos. Atlus denies me and millions of other players that simple pleasure of keeping our own memories of an enjoyable experience. It’s harsh and petty, and I pray that future installments aren’t shackled by this backwards mentality.

Atlus has softened its stance on streaming since the game’s release, but the restrictions on the sharing features of the PS4 still stand.

Regressive representation

Persona 4 took on the issue of gender identity head on with two of its main characters, shining a light on the struggles teens go through when reconciling their sexuality with society’s expectations on masculinity and femininity. It wasn’t perfect, but at least it had some nuance.

Persona 5’s “contribution” to the issue? A homophobic scene showing an age old stereotype of gay men as predatory pedophiles played solely for laughs. It’s one moment in a 100+ hour journey, and that might make it easy for some to wave off, but it only stands out even more to me as an inexcusable stain on an otherwise inspiring epic adventure of resistance.

Heavy topics done halfway right

While previous titles focused on personal turmoil, this latest entry serves up larger social issues like institutionalized abuse, labor exploitation, and political corruption for the good guys to take down.

It’s admirable and reflective of the large-scale “wokeness” we’re seeing in the youth now, but the shonen anime trappings, which Persona 5 indulges a little too much in, hamper the serious messages with long-winded exposition and, at times, clunky English translations from the original Japanese text. The always impressive voice acting performances do manage to carry most scenes, but not all of them.

The old-school, turn-based battles are now layered with shooting, enemy negotiation, and more team synergy that allow you to combo more attacks for quicker ends to fights. The year-long slice of high school life where you bond with schoolmates and strangers is as rewarding as ever with its weird, wacky, and intimate tales, while also being more exploratory as you can hang out with your friends all over Tokyo, too.

The most significant improvement is in the dungeons, or as the game calls them, the Palaces, that your gang of Phantom Thieves have to infiltrate and steal the treasures within to overcome the main antagonists. Each one is a fantastical psychological tableau that comes alive through unique puzzles and ways of navigation. What felt like a chore in the earlier Personas plays like a dream in Persona 5.

That is until you hit the last couple of areas that feel like they just go on forever for no reason other than to pad length and difficulty, which is especially egregious in the last couple of dungeons.

Supreme style and stunted substance

If you’re up for committing around 70 to 120 hours to complete one game, I do think Persona 5 is worth the time for its cool creativity, thematic ambitions, and irresistible gameplay hooks. Just steel your heart for the obnoxious narrative failings, and don’t expect to have much of a shared experience with your friends.

SEE ALSO: Persona 5’s developer doesn’t want you doing this — it’s nonsense

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Gaming

Gran Turismo 7 might get a PC port

According to the creator

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Between last year’s Forza Horizon 5 and the upcoming Need for Speed Unbound, it’s a great time to be a racing gamer. Now, if you prefer playing on the PC, you’re likely getting another title to fuel your racing ambitions. According to the creator himself, Gran Turismo 7 might make a pitstop for PC.

Speaking to GTPlanet, Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi is “looking into” a PC port for the latest entry to the series. Released back in March, Gran Turismo 7 became the quintessential racing simulator for the PlayStation 5 (and the PlayStation 4, too).

That’s no surprise, though. If the “7” in the name of its latest entry hasn’t given it away, the Gran Turismo series has (usually) wowed gamers for years using the top-of-the-line hardware packed inside the most recent PlayStation console. It highlights and underlines the “simulator” in the car simulator genre.

However, amid all the hype, the series had a major flaw: You need a PlayStation. Now, as more former exclusives are making their way to the PC, the racing simulator might join in, adding another playable title for PC gamers. If the title makes the jump, it will join illustrious names like God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Days Gone, and Uncharted. In fact, more are likely on the way. Sony is now fine with exclusive titles making the jump.

SEE ALSO: Gran Turismo 7: For car enthusiasts

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Gaming

Genshin Impact v. 3.3 to arrive on December 7

First trading card game also announced

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Genshin Impact v. 3.3

Version 3.3 of global gaming sensation Genshin Impact, called All Sense Clear, All Existence Void will finally be available on December 7.

There will be a new season of events, and two new playable allies in the powerful Wanderer and Faruzan to surprise players with more stories, fun, and challenges.

The trailer for version 3.3 may be viewed here:

Trading card game announced

Genshin Impact v. 3.3

On top of this, HoYoverse announced its first trading card game — Genius Invokation TCG. With it,  players will soon be able to duel NPCs, friends, and others online.

This combines the fun of Genshin Impact’s element-based combat system with strategy development, as players compete against each other with their collection of cards.

More wins here equal more redeemable cards and Dynamic Skins from the Card Shop.

Wander in the Archon Quest interlude chapter

After being defeated in the Archon Quest main story, Scaramouche is now the Wanderer in the interlude chapter called Inversion of Genesis.

Here, players will head to Irminsul with the Wanderer to discover how the story unfolds. The character is playable as a five-star Anemo catalyst wielder, and can hover and attack in mid-air.

The other character, Faruzan, will be a four-star Anemo archer. She’s an ageless Akademiya genius in mechanics. The character also wields a bow as a weapon and supports teammates with Anemo DMG Bonus effects.

There will also be more challenges as the new seasonal special “Akitsu Kimodameshi” is set to arrive. Players will meet with Arataki Itto to master a series of “brick-breaker” mini-games.

Another special event, “Across the Wilderness” will require players to collect Wilderness Balloons.

Windtrace and Misty Dungeon shall likewise return with new updates.

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Gaming

Bardock backstory revealed in Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot DLC trailer

More from Goku’s father

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Bardock

The trailer for Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot’s upcoming DLC, “Bardock- Alone Against Fate”, has been released by Bandai Namco.

The gameplay video features a first glimpse of Bardock in action in the game, as well as thrilling battles in the planet of Kanassa.

The scene also shows more details into the adventures of Goku’s father, who serves as a member of Frieza’s planetary invasion force. His journey to Planet Vegeta was also teased.

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is currently available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S versions to be released on January 12 and 13, 2023, respectively.

Speaking of which, pre-orders for the physical editions for PS5 and Xbox Series are now available here.

There will also be a Special Edition which comes with additional DLC episodes currently available on other platforms, including “New Power Awakens – Part 1 & Part 2” and “-Trunks- Warrior of Hope”.

Meanwhile, players who already own the game for previous consoles may upgrade for an additional fee to enjoy better graphics and smoother gameplay.

SEE ALSO: Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot review: Super fan service

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