When the world just can’t get enough of Persona games, Atlus is the GOAT that just keeps on giving. Coming in hot as yet another entry to their spectacular Persona 5 series is an adorable little side story sporting its own cute art style as well as fresh and highly intuitive gameplay. Despite the fact that it’s a spin-off game, Persona 5 Tactica actually does an incredible job of standing out as its own standalone title.
Table of Contents
- SERIES OVERVIEW
- MUSIC & VISUALS
- CHARACTERS & PERSONAS
- UNLOCKABLES & DLCS
The Persona series is a spin-off of the beloved Megami Tensei franchise by Atlus. It features a high school setting with a group of students as the main cast and combat using Personas. The series has been around since 1996 with the release of its very first game, Revelations: Persona.
Although the succeeding games were able to attain a strong fanbase, it wasn’t until the release of Persona 5 that the series achieved mainstream status. And as if to adhere to the Persona tradition, an enhanced version of the game was released just 3 years after launch, and because of the massive success of Persona 5, 6 games based on it have been made with another mobile Gacha game in development. The game was, in fact, so successful that it even got adapted into an anime.
So far, the Persona 5 game series has the original, Persona 5 Royal, Persona 5 Dancing in Starlight, Persona 5 Strikers, Persona Q2. And the latest spin-off game of the Persona 5 series and also the subject of this video, Persona 5 Tactica.
It isn’t exactly clear when the events of Persona 5 Tactica play out in the main Persona 5 timeline, but for the most part, it shouldn’t really matter, considering the game takes place in an isolated cognitive world. But for those who care, Persona 5 Tactica seems to take place around winter, sometime before the seniors’ graduation.
The game starts with the members of the Phantom Thieves gathered inside Cafe Le Blanc, experiencing a supernatural phenomenon. Followed by unexplained tremors and a sudden mysterious glow through the cafe’s door. When the group tries to investigate the peculiar glow, they are suddenly transported to an unfamiliar world. Which the group then suspects to be a part of the metaverse.
Before the party even realizes what’s going on, they are immediately interrupted by enemies only known as Legionaries. After beating up the small fries, they are greeted by the world’s big bad. Due to a weird phenomenon, their Persona powers seem not to work properly. Because of this, most of the group is taken captive through mind control. This leaves Joker and Morgana to be the last ones standing. Fortunately, they are saved by a mysterious character which allows them to regroup to a surprisingly familiar place.
The story is mainly presented through visual novel-style dialogues. However, significant events in the game are presented in many other views and styles like cutscenes, 3D cinematics, and 2D Animations. The visual novel aspect of the game also offers intuitive functionalities standard to high-quality visual novels. Because of this, players can have the dialogues run automatically or even skip through the dialogues entirely.
Persona 5 Tactica features a story that is akin to a movie spin-off of an anime. The game can be considered canon for those who care a lot about continuities. However, it doesn’t really touch upon the main Persona 5 storyline for it to even matter to the bigger picture. But despite that, the game still manages to present a satisfying narrative that’s consistent with Persona 5’s theme of justice and friendship.
Music & Visuals
I shouldn’t be making a review of this game if I weren’t talking about its music and art style. Persona 5, during its release, was the epitome of style. Continuing the trend, Persona 5 Tactica also showcases awesome groovy music that perfectly encapsulates the atmosphere of every scene. This adds so much depth to even the most frivolous parts of the game.
Of course, the music accompanies the visual style of Persona 5 Tactica. Despite going for the more stylized cartoony visuals with chibi characters, the game still stays true to the core Persona 5 aesthetics. The color palette of Persona 5 was already quite poppy, but Tactica’s art style is even more vibrant. The decision to opt for the chibi characters and the more vibrant cartoony visuals certainly helps it stand out as its own game rather than a remodeled copy of Persona 5. Even so, the oh-so-important stylishness of Persona 5 still stands out in Tactica.
Characters & Personas
The Phantom Thieves make a return for yet another life-changing adventure featuring most of the group. Save for Crow and Violet, who are DLC-only characters.
Aside from the main cast, the game also introduces new characters into the fray. Marie, the crazy ruler of Marie Kingdom, obsessed with orchestrating the perfect wedding and a major antagonist in the game. Erina, the mysterious leader of the rebellion who saves Joker and Mona from being taken captive by Marie. And Toshiro Kasukabe, a young member of the National Diet who is expected to be Japan’s next prime minister.
Just like in Persona 5, every playable character in the game is unique in their own way. From a gameplay perspective, each character still features their own weapons, personas, and distinct playstyles. Although they’re not really that far from each other in terms of the game’s core gameplay mechanics. However, each character has their very own skill trees where players can strengthen each character’s combat abilities.
Progression in Persona 5 Tactica is as streamlined as it can be. Instead of each character having individual levels, the game instead chooses to have the levels shared by the entire party. That way, you won’t need to level up each character individually by replaying past missions, making the overall gameplay experience flow naturally with the story.
As for character equipment, the game really only touches upon the guns, which you can buy shortly after the introductory stages.
Different Persona Mechanics
Personas, on the other hand work slightly differently. Personas in Persona 5 Tactica aren’t obtained through capture, instead, they are obtained by completing missions. Another thing to note is that, aside from each character’s exclusive persona, other personas in this game can no longer be summoned by Joker. Instead, each character can now equip a sub-persona. This gives them the ability to use that persona’s active and passive skills while also boosting the character’s stats.
With Personas still an existing mechanic in Tactica, so is the Velvet Room. It’s attendant, Lavenza. If you’re unaware as to who that is, I suggest you play through Persona 5 Royal to avoid getting spoiled. Anyway, the Velvet Room in Tactica has a few core functionalities. Here, you can fuse personas to create a new one, summon personas with money, and dismantle unused weapons for some extra cash. Tactica still features over a hundred personas, so despite not going deep into the creature-collecting mechanic that the Persona games are known for, there are still quite a lot of personas to play around with.
I cannot stress enough how intuitive the controls in Persona 5 Tactica are. It’s like they took every bit of knowledge they have about fluid control schemes and then shoved it into the game. The controls are dynamic, fluid, and intuitive, giving players the ability to get right into it instantly. Introductory levels with some tutorials still exist throughout the game. This means people who are just getting into video games are still treated to some level of handholding.
The movement in this game is an example of how exemplary the game displays its ingenuity. Normally for TRPGs, movement is performed by selecting the move action button and selecting a tile for the character to move to. In Persona 5 Tactica, the player’s character is moved in a manner similar to that of action games. This simulates a dynamic effect that aids the fast-paced flow of the game to an outstanding degree.
The game also features a dynamic control scheme that automatically changes depending on what controller type you’re using. It allows players to switch up controllers on the fly. For myself, I switch around between my 8-bitdo controller and my keyboard. Both control schemes are absolutely intuitive to the point that it felt like I’d been playing the game for a long time despite it being my first time trying it out.
Quality of Life
It’s also worth noting the various quality-of-life features this game offers. Over the years, TRPGs have been known to be the Dark Souls of Strategy RPGS, but Persona 5 Tactica throws that idea completely out the window. Instead, the game gives its players every tool that they may need to actually have fun in the game—completely messed up a mission? Restart it without any repercussions. Messed up a turn but don’t want to restart the entire thing, the game also features an Undo button that lets you roll back just an entire turn as opposed to the entire mission.
Aside from that, the game also does a great job of telegraphing actions that players can do, greatly preventing misinputs. Developers making their own TRPGs should look toward Persona 5 Tactica for reference in how to execute a game with fast-paced tactics gameplay.
What I really love about Persona 5 Tactica is its focus on intuitive controls and streamlined game mechanics. The game features a turn-based tactics gameplay where positioning and attack sequences are key to victory. Tactics games add additional mechanics to JRPGs that tend to make them tedious and convoluted. However, Persona 5 Tactica is able to simplify the tactics formula into a fun and satisfying, fast-paced game without sacrificing too much depth that TRPG players have known and loved.
Persona 5 Tactica repurposes mechanics from the Persona series and switches it up to fit its tactics gameplay. Mechanics such as downing, one-mores, and baton passes are all present with some changes. The main modes of engagement in the game are Melee Attacks, Ranged Gun Attacks, and Skills. All of them are equally important, and players will constantly use any of them in every scenario. Furthermore, only three characters can be on the field at any given time. Having one of the active members KO’ed will prompt a Baton Pass, letting players switch out to a healthier character.
Melee attacks mainly serve the purpose of knocking enemies back with the addition of dealing damage. Ranged attacks let characters engage an enemy from a distance, with each character having varying range and aoe effects. Skills are powerful attacks with varying ranges and AOEs that inflict massive damage and apply ailments to the target.
Aside from normal skills, there are specialized skills called unique skills that vary between party members. You can use a unique skill in battle once the Voltage gauge is full. The Voltage gauge raises whenever you attack or receive damage, and using a unique skill will expend the gauge completely.
Tactica also features a unique tactics mechanic called “Triple Threat.” Surrounding a downed enemy in a triangle prompts an all-out attack. Activating a Triple Threat attack needs all three party members to surround a downed enemy. Only the party member affected with a One More can activate the attack. The Triple Threat’s all-out-attack not only deals massive damage to the downed target, but also everything inside the triangle.
With the addition of a cover mechanic, inflicting Downing and performing One Mores now go hand in hand as one of the core gameplay features of Tactica. Covered units will gain the “Resistance” status effect. Resistance gives units protection against being downed by enemy attacks. While a unit is outside cover, they will be vulnerable to any attacks, causing them to instantly be downed when receiving a hit.
To down an enemy in cover, first, players have to use a melee attack or any skill against the enemy that will get rid of their resistance status. Hitting the enemy with any attack will cause them to be downed. Downing an enemy also activates One Mores, allowing that character to perform an additional move, and a single character can keep chaining One Mores by downing multiple enemies in sequence.
The cover mechanic also affects ranged attacks depending on the type of cover, and Tactica has three cover types: Half-Cover, Full-Cover, and High Ground. Half-covers will protect a unit from being downed and reduce ranged damage taken. On the other hand, Full-Covers will completely negate any ranged attack, and High Grounds are similar to Half-Covers but don’t require a cover object between the attacker and the receiver.
Persona 5 Tactica challenges players with various enemy types and intrinsic level design that is well-paced enough not to feel stale or repetitive throughout the playthrough. In addition to the main story missions, there are limited quests that have very specific clear conditions akin to that of puzzles. Completing any mission may reward players with money and personas.
When playing on higher difficulties, it is unavoidable that players will encounter missions that can’t be beaten without leveling up the characters a little bit more. With that, the game allows players to replay previous missions for additional rewards like exp for leveling, personas, and money for buying weapons and summoning. Personas also automatically gain exp when receiving duplicates.
Dynamic Fast-Paced Gameplay
With how the game is designed, the gameplay loop of Persona 5 Tactica is pretty streamlined. It doesn’t have as much depth as other TRPGs but it has enough to keep players entertained as they challenge through the dozens of missions that the game has to offer. The game stays fresh for hours on end with the help of the diverse level design and the continuous progression aided by the game’s persona system.
The game’s simplicity and its difficulty options let casual players enjoy the game. However, selecting harder difficulties gives hardcore players the option to experience the grueling TRPG challenge. The simplicity of the game’s mechanics and its difficulty options lets casual players enjoy the game while still giving hardcore players the option to experience the grueling challenge that the genre is known for.
Unlockables and DLCs
In Persona 5 Tactica, you can track your progress in the Report Menu. The Memo presents information about the People, Places, and other details in Persona 5 and Persona 5 Tactica. The Image tab showcases the different art pieces presented throughout the story. The Movie Tab lets you rewatch all the cinematics and animation that plays throughout the game. Players can unlock the Report Menu’s contents simply by playing through the game.
Repaint Your Heart Challenge Pack DLC
As for the DLCs, Persona 5 Tactica features one major DLC and two additional content DLCs. The major DLC, titled “Repaint Your Heart Challenge Pack,” adds Crow and Violet as two additional playable characters, new mechanics, new battles with dynamic stages, new content in the Report Menu, and Brutal Challenge Stages
Weapon Pack and Picaro Summoning Pack DLCs
The two additional content DLCs are the “Weapon Pack” and the “Picaro Summoning Pack.” The Weapon Pack adds additional guns with weapon skins with Persona 5 aesthetics. The Picaro Summoning Pack adds 11 additional Personas to give your team that slight edge in battles.
Are The DLC’s Worth It?
To be honest, not having the DLCs doesn’t really change much of the game. If you want additional content, then the Repaint Your Heart DLC can be a great addition to your Persona 5 Tactica experience, however, the meager 3-hour campaign, new yet gimmicky game mechanics, and the two DLC characters that should’ve been part of the main game are a hard bargain for an additional 20 dollars. So it is understandable that not all players will be too keen on getting the DLCs. But even with just the base game, it’s still a solid experience overall.
Persona 5 Tactica further expands the world of Persona 5 in an inconsequential bite-sized adventure that lets fans enjoy some fresh new gameplay experiences with their beloved characters. Despite being a spin-off title of the massively successful Persona 5, Persona 5 Tactica finds a way to stand out as its own game by showcasing a different art style that still somehow completely showcases the visual style and music that made Persona 5 such a beloved game.
With an extreme focus on fast-paced, dynamic gameplay, mind-blowing intuitive controls, and amazing quality-of-life features, the game may as well define itself as the epitome of accessibility. Persona 5 Tactica is an awesome TRPG addition to the Persona 5 games and I highly recommend it to any Persona and TRPG fans.