Atlus is a master of strange spin-offs. In the past, the developer has transformed its Persona RPG series into dungeon crawlers, brawlers and rhythm games. Heroes have traveled through space and time for fanfiction-worthy team-ups, all to give players a reason to see their favorite characters again. Persona 5 Strikers takes it one step further, transforming an action-packed adventure into a road trip that’s completely in keeping with the original game.
Persona 5 Strikers is a direct sequel to Persona 5 and takes place months after the Phantom Thieves hung up their masks. The Phantom Thieves reunite for a long-deserved vacation, which however is interrupted by the appearance of Jails – distorted versions of reality in which one person rules, similar to the palaces they encountered in the original game. In order to solve the mystery of these jails, the Phantom Thieves are given a motor home and travel across Japan with their investigation.
Strikers is an action-RPG in the vein of Omega Force’s other spin-offs of popular series, such as Hyrule Warriors. The cautious turn-based strategy of the original is traded in for slashing through mobs with buttons. Players are no longer limited to the game’s hero, Joker, and can switch between party members like Makoto or Ann at will. In addition to basic abilities specific to their personas, such as nuclear or wind attacks, each has special physical attacks to help you through combat. Characters I barely used in the original Persona 5, like Ryuji, became my favorite combat partner for mobs I wanted to mêle; Morgana’s magic I rarely needed, but I loved his ability to turn into a car and mow down shadows.
It’s a welcome change, a twist that makes the cruelty of humans more interesting. Persona 5’s examination of people at their darkest sometimes encountered the cartoonish villainy of it all. The rulers you faced were so overly evil that you didn’t have to justify them. But Strikers offers a more complex alternative: that hurt people hurt people. Monarchs have manipulated and cheated, but they are still a path to learn from their mistakes and grow.
As a sequel, Persona 5 Strikers doesn’t offer many big revelations – but it doesn’t have to. As in the many other spin-offs of the series, the appeal is the opportunity to play in their world a little longer. Cleaning up a prison is fun, but still doesn’t compare to a night out with your friends.
Persona 5 Strikers is a great excuse to get back together with the Phantom Thieves