It was about 3pm on a Saturday, in the middle of a record hot summer, when I decided to play Persona 5. Recently unemployed and beaten down by the scorching heat, I was unsure what to do with the seemingly ever-growing amount of free time ahead of me, I needed to find something to do. I found myself staring at my game collection, much like one stares into a refrigerator when bored, realizing that not one of those 1000 games I own would save me from the anxiousness caused by unemployment that was slowly consuming me. I had heard good things about Persona 5 from every video game podcast I listened to, so I decided to tackle it. The one good thing about losing your job is that you find yourself schedule-free and without the need to report to anyone, your 9 to 5 time frame becomes free, and you start to experience the part of the world that you had been missing because you were stuck in a cubicle, slowly banging your head against thumbtacks wondering what you’re going to do with your life. In a way, my new found freedom mimicked the main story in Persona 5.
In this installment of Altus' Shin Megami Tensei series, you find yourself in the role of a high schooler accused of committing assault against an affluent member of society. In reality, your character was trying to stop that unknown person from drunkenly forcing themselves onto another person. You take the wrap, because as Rza says "cash rules everything around me", and find yourself uprooted from your hometown and transplanted into Tokyo with your court-appointed guardian, Sojiro. While in Tokyo, you try to do your best to live your life as a typical high school student at Shujin Academy. But soon enough, strange things start happening and your find yourself in another world. These two different worlds, the normal and the abnormal, is where Persona 5 really shines. Part life-sim, part dungeon explorer, Persona allows you to change something in one world and see how it affects the other. Many of your influential acts in Persona 5 are acts of rebellion, and through these acts of rebellions, you help people find freedom. You free them from their bonds.
This breaking of chains, is so integral to this game, that it resonates in every single aspect of this game. The art style is bold, unabashed in themes of thievery and righting injustices, strong uses of red and black, and beautiful jazz music, Persona 5 sells you on its version of freedom and self-acceptance. The unabashed style of Atlus' magnum opus looks you dead in the eye and tells you “I'm cool”, and as you find yourself exploring the world that it builds, you believe it. Play time is spent watching your teammates grow, bettering yourself, and developing relationships with characters. Before you long, you will find yourself immersed in a richly detailed world, trying to improve the world around you, and finding ways to better yourself. It was sort of a surreal experience, as I sent my days playing Persona 5 and my nights looking over my manuscripts, trying to better myself and find some kind of direction in life, while playing a game that focused on helping people be honest with themselves.
I fully believe that Persona 5 is the best game that Atlus has ever developed and one of the best games of 2017. I guess you can say, Persona 5 and the cast of characters stole my heart.