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

Computers

Montecrypto: Be the first to beat it and earn a Bitcoin!

A race to beat it first for around US$ 11,500!

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Montecrypto: The Bitcoin Enigma is a puzzle game on Steam that has blatantly promised to give the first person to beat the game a bitcoin. It’s as seemingly simple as it is. Players have to solve a grueling 24 different puzzles and the first player to finish all of the puzzles will receive one Bitcoin. Don’t think it’s worth a try? One Bitcoin is currently worth about US$ 11,537.30.

In the game, you can either work alone or together to leave hints or slow others down by lying to them. The developers, Gem Rose Accent, wrote:

MontecryptoThe Bitcoin Enigma is an experiment in player choice and cooperation like no other, with a prize that translates not only to bragging rights but to real world recognition. How much will players be willing to share, how much will they be able to compromise, and who will claim access to the final vault of Montecrypto?

The developers, Gem Rose Accent, will launch Montecrypto: The Bitcoin Enigma for US$ 2 on Steam on February 20!

SEE ALSO: This Filipino nearly doubled his profits from Bitcoin trading

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Gaming

Mario is getting his own encyclopedia!

Anyone else hoping to find a gold cartridge?

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After unquestionable success with three of The Legend of Zelda reference books, Dark Horse Comics sets its sights on the Mushroom KingdomThey’re releasing a Super Mario Encyclopedia!

The Super Mario Encyclopedia digs deep into three decades of Nintendo gaming into the Super Mario Encyclopedia. It takes a terrifyingly detailed look at nearly every Super Mario game Nintendo has made — from Super Mario Bros. in 1985 to Super Mario 3D World three years ago. It lays out details of level layouts, enemies, glitches, and tricks. It has 256 pages dedicated to Mario including an interview with producer, Takashi Tezuka, on tips to find every star, coin, sun, and mushroom!

Unfortunately, it won’t include Super Mario Odyssey.

Nintendo previously teamed up with Dark Horse Comics to create three The Legend of Zelda books. They then released a deluxe version of The Legend of Zelda encyclopedia which comes with a gold cartridge. Is it enough to have a valid sneaking suspicion that they’ll be releasing something similar for the Mario encyclopedia? I personally think so.

The standard edition of the book will be released with a retail price of US$ 40 on October 23 this year.

SEE ALSO: Nintendo announces Mario Kart for mobile

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Gaming

Dragon Ball FighterZ has two confirmed DLC characters!

Hold on to your character wishlists!

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Our jaws dropped in harmony to the first trailer and release of Dragon Ball FighterZ. Despite 24 playable characters already available in the game, Bandai Namco decided to add eight characters to the roster as DLC. While everything has been mostly quiet about who these will be, a Japanese magazine V-Jump revealed two of them.

Dragon Ball FighterZ’s next two characters are the Legendary Super Saiyan Broly and Goku’s father, Bardock. We had Broly in our character wishlist even before the game was released. The two characters will be available as premium DLC, although their availability date and price have not yet been announced.

“Kakarot!”

Broly’s special is Gigantic Meteor which is an enormous energy ball that uses three Ki gauges. Bardock’s special attack is called Revenger Assault. When activated, he goes Super Saiyan and delivers a furious rush attack.

Dragon Ball FighterZ is available now on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Broly and Bardock are included in the game’s season pass, along with the six other unrevealed DLC characters. Bandai Namco hasn’t announced individual pricing for the two additions, but the season pass costs US$ 35.

SEE ALSO: Dragon Ball FighterZ character wish list

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