Review: The Phantom Thieves strike back in the latest entry of the series ‘Persona 5 Strikers’

By Rachel Patel, Staff Reporter

Screenshot of ‘Persona 5 Strikers’ game.

While 2017’s role playing game of the year “Persona 5” offered a strategically turn-based combat system, “Persona 5 Strikers” allows players to jump right in with its hack-and-slash play style.

“Persona 5 Strikers” follows the plot of its predecessor, “Persona 5,” where players rejoin the the Phantom Thieves, a group of high school students who aim to change corrupt adults by “stealing away” the dark parts of their hearts and reforming society. The game is playable on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Windows.

The story focuses on the main protagonist, Ren Amamiya—who in the metaverse realm goes by Jokerduring his summer vacation. To change the hearts of corrupt individuals, players will have to reverse the effects of a person’s trauma. “Persona 5 Strikers” was released in Japan in February 2020 and on Feb. 23 of this year in the U.S.

Much like the “treasures” present in “Persona 5,” “Persona 5 Strikers” offers the new concept of “desires,” which manifest into jewels for the player to take back from the corrupted individual, allowing them to come to their senses and change their behavior.

“Persona 5 Strikers” introduces new, interesting characters and different power-enhancing mechanics, while still keeping its theme of interlacing Jungian psychology concepts with the Major Arcana, the 22 trump cards in a tarot deck.

Despite some sequels not always continuing to show the relationships between characters, I really enjoyed how this one still took time to convey the deep friendships within the Phantom Thieves.

The references to “Persona 5” sprinkled throughout could make any fan feel a sense of nostalgia. While I do miss the ability to freely roam around throughout the timeline, the game’s constantly moving plot helped me stay engaged.

Throughout the story, the game has players on a road trip, allowing them to visit different captivating cities and travel, which is a nice change compared to its prequel mostly taking place in Tokyo.

I would not suggest “Persona 5 Strikers” for newcomers to jump into. Its predecessor, “Persona 5” references the cast’s backstories, which can help bring the player up to speed. The new game begins immediately with all eight of the original Phantom Thieves and introduces two new characters: Sophia and Zenkichi Hasegawa.

Sophia, an artificial intelligence program that started as a failed experiment, joins you on a journey to find out more about her past. While she is playable fighter in the metaverse, in the real world she appears only on the player’s phone, offering travel routes and exclusive items. These items can only be purchased through her and often go on sale at discounted prices as well, which I’ve found to be very convenient, especially toward the end of the game.

Zenkichi is a public security officer who works closely with the Phantom Thieves after discovering they have the same goal—finding out who is responsible for the “change of heart” epidemic that has caused people to confess their wrongdoings and change their behavior. Later, he joins the team as arguably one of the strongest playable Phantom Thieves members.

“Strikers” combat is tons of fun, as fights are broken into more discreet encounters triggered by “ambushing” a lone enemy. Once you do, they explode into a cluster of shadows, the most commonly fought demons in the game, and it’s a complete free-for-all. You can just go in swinging, while also exploiting certain weaknesses through the use of your persona’s powers.

The “baton pass” function is also seen in this game, offering players the chance to see the gang’s teamwork dynamic once again and switch between characters.

Overall, the combination of both new and old elements from its predecessor definitely makes “Persona 5 Strikers” worth playing for any fan of the series.