Persona 5 had undoubtedly stolen the hearts of many, mine included. There’s this certain charm and style that drew me in, and what made me stay was the satisfying gameplay loop. Fast forward to the release of Persona 5 Tactica, a spin-off that brings in Tactical RPG elements, I just had to try it out.
Revolution in Your Heart
Persona 5 is well known for its stylish presentation and Tactica is certainly no different. Just from the opening scene tied in with the stellar OST, and considering ATLUS brought back Lyn for the vocals, you’ll know you’ll be in for a treat.
The immediate thing you’d notice that’s different in Persona 5 Tactica with its original title would be the more “Chibi-like” portrayal of the characters, which closely resembles the style of the “Q” series, but with longer body proportions.
I’m personally a big fan of the artstyle they went for, which gives off a cuter and cartoonish vibe which fits in considerably well with a spin-off title. The 2D portraits of the characters translates well to their 3D counterpart model in game. Despite the difference in artstyle, Persona 5 Tactica still retains some of the stylised UI elements like the dialogue boxes and combat menus, albeit simpler.
Without going into spoiler territory, I would say that the story is set up nicely and it’s tied up neatly too. The pacing is pretty good and every different kingdom has its own little story arc, complete with the Three-Act structure. However, I do feel like the story dragged out a bit more than it needed at the end of the game.
There’s one particular emotional scene towards the end of the game where it would’ve been a nice stopping point to end off the story, but this current one ending works too.
While Persona 5 Tactica is a spin-off title, and carries over some mechanics and elements from the original, they’ve made enough changes to make this title fit better into a tactical game. Like most turn-based strategy game, your movement and attack range is indicated from the grid on the floor, but you’re able to move your characters freely in any direction you’d want.
Persona 5 Tactica puts in a lot of emphasis strategy aspect considering it’s a tactical RPG. There’s a lot of elements that you need to take into account throughout the game to fully take advantage during battles.
The way you position your characters and the environment are key parts to the success in your battles. Players are required to find cover in order to survive where hiding behind them would essentially either completely block out damage or reduces damage taken depending on the cover you’re hiding behind, but this also goes both ways as enemies can also take advantage of them.
There’s also Triple Threat, which is Tactica’s spin on All-Out Attacks where can only be triggered downing your enemy and have your three party members be positioned in a way that forms the shape of a triangle.
Persona 5 Tactica also introduces a new mechanic in the form of Voltage, which is essentially the ultimate skill for the characters, with each of them having different effects. From Joker’s ability to down enemies even if they’re still behind cover, to Erina’s ability to render cover useless for enemies, on top of providing healing, which is very useful since healing is scarce.
Combat in Persona 5 Tactica requires players to plan ahead and strategise to set up combos in future turns, which is a nice breather compared to the original Persona 5 games which focused more the rock-paper-scissors aspect of taking advantage of enemy weaknesses. Don’t get me wrong, I love the combat in the mainline Persona games but Tactica feels fresh and fires off my neurons more when you see your meticulous planning come to fruition.
Persona 5 Tactica also slowly introduces more and more gimmicks to the maps as you progress through the game, making it feel like one whole big puzzle that you have to solve, and the process of solving these puzzles makes it feel rewarding, especially when it comes to some of the maps that sets restrictions where you have to complete a map with specific requirements.
The enemy variety in the game is understandably less diverse with only six different enemy types. Although, each of the enemy types still bring in their own gimmicks which you have to pay attention too.
When it comes to the boss fights in Tactica, it was relatively enjoyable for me, aside from that one boss where you have to run to it and attack three times.
One of the bosses I’d like to highlight was in the first kingdom, where the fight featured different phases where she does different things, which makes the fight a lot more fun and engaging. From hiding behind fallen debris, kicking explosive flower bouquets to her, running away from a car as you scramble to find cover, it makes the fight exciting and memorable. Pair those up with the boss themes is just *chef kiss*.
The role-play elements in Persona 5 Tactica isn’t as expansive as I had hoped for unfortunately. The skill tree is relatively plain and leans towards the numbers game, with your usual culprits of “Attack increase”, “Movement increase”, and the like. While there’s specific skills that are unique to each characters, it’s nothing too out of the ordinary.
As for equipment, the only thing you can do is change your gun. Much like with the skill tree, different guns have different attack stats and range, and you can fuse your Persona to a weapon to add an ailment, but at the end of the day, it’s still a numbers game.
However, the game puts more emphasis on the Personas. In Tactica, Joker can no longer change between Personas, but in return, everyone in the Phantom Thieves can equip a sub-Persona, which gives them more tools to deal with different situations.
This makes the game a lot more interesting, where characters can have different types of Persona skills to utilise. Like Ann who mainly have Burn abilities, can now equip Sleep or Freeze skills to give her crowd control.
The Velvet Room make its return where you can fuse Personas, forge and sell weapons. It’s essentially the same with Persona 5 too, so nothing much to say about it.
Persona 5 Tactica holds up to be a strong strategy RPG. The game includes lots of elements from the original Persona 5, while also adding in new mechanics that has players take note of tactical positioning without being too out of place for a Persona game. The gameplay design meshes well together, creating an intuitive gameplay that can also be challenging from time to time.
A few gripes I have with the game is how the story, in my opinion, drags out a bit too much, as well as the lackluster skill tree and equipment system.
Overall, Persona 5 Tactica is a very well-made game that I think both tactical game fans and Persona fans would enjoy, and I definitely would recommend picking up if you’re looking to start a revolution.
Persona 5 Tactica was reviewed on PC via Steam, review code provided by the Publishers.
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- Good music and art style
- Different mechanics that meshes together well
- Add in new elements but still feels like Persona
- While the story is good, it felt dragged out
- Lackluster skill tree and equipment system