During our time at Tokyo Game Show 2023, we had the golden opportunity to speak with Atsushi Nomura, the Business Producer for ATLUS’ upcoming title – Persona 5 Tactica in an interview.
For those who might not be familiar with the title, Persona 5 Tactica is a tactical RPG featuring the cast of Persona 5 and has the player control a party of three characters on a grid base map.
Choosing The Style of Persona 5 Tactica
Considering how Persona 5 Tactica has a strong visual style, one thing that stood out to us was that the characters were featured in a chibi style. We asked Nomura what was the decision behind choosing that specific style in representing how Persona 5 Tactica would look like.
Nomura replied by saying that when it came to designing Persona 5 Tactica and choosing a design angle for the character designs, they first discussed what tactical games usually have in their gameplay, and how most of that game genre would either have a bird’s eye view perspective, a top down view or a side angle view.
He continued by saying that if they were to maintain the style of the previous Persona series games, they would have to maintain a ratio that would be very difficult to simulate within a tactical game. Hence, there were a lot of debates on deciding which style they would settle on, but eventually went with the Chibi Style which allowed for a more immersive and lighter touch on the game.
Nomura brought up that the team wanted to use the models that were used in the Persona Q 2 but after testing, they noticed that certain elements such as the head to arm and leg ratios were a bit off, and that they had to create brand-new data for Persona 5 Tactica to make it look like the way they wanted.
Biggest Challenge With Developing Persona 5 Tactica
The next question we asked Nomura was whether there were any particular challenges the team had faced during the development of Persona 5 Tactica.
“So in terms of challenges, there were an overwhelming number of cases where we felt like it was really challenging. This was primarily due to the fact that the strategic and tactical genre is so new to the team. However, if I were to delve into one of the biggest challenges that I faced was the actual title of Persona 5 Tactica. There was a lot of process behind coming up with that title and a challenge that was surrounding the time, what we should call this game as well at the time.” he replied.
Nomura mentioned that the team felt like they were split up into two sides. With one side saying that starting off with the strategy element on the title of the game would be a hard sell for users to understand and latch onto the concept. While the other side wanted to put the genre at the forefront of the game and provide what the game would be like when users start playing.
He continued by saying that the team eventually decided to stick with the Tactics idea that would reflect what the gameplay would look like.
“The reason why we chose the word Tactica specifically was that it had a bit more of a lighter image than what we would expect when you hear the word tactics, especially in Japanese, this is the case still. It has a lighter and friendlier sound in the Japanese language.”
“However, we just didn’t leave it at that. We also shared the idea and the concept of the product title to our offices around the world. So SEGA America, SEGA Europe and our international staff as well, to see what their impressions would be like, and the overall impressions were also very positive.” said Nomura.
Nomura wanted to reflect that same lighthearted and friendly tone, while still maintaining the Persona 5 personality, thus eventually deciding and landing on the title Tactica.
Deciding On The Game’s Setting
Through the existing information we have on the game, there’s a stark contrast in the game where players can explore a Kingdom with a French Revolution vibe to the one that’s reminiscent of mid-1800s Japan. We asked Nomura how much of this change in setting would progress the narrative and gameplay aspect of Tactica.
“When it comes to designing the stage art of the game, we’ve really looked into what were the key revolutions that happened throughout the world for “Revolution” is the keyword of this title. For example, the French setting is from the French revolution and it’s known throughout the world as a very significant historical point in time. And then the other one here in Japan, we noticed that in the mid 1800s there was a giant shift in Japan that you could potentially call a revolution.” he said.
Nomura mentioned that when it comes to include new gameplay elements into the game, they wanted to bring in more diversity in terms of the game’s combat system as constantly doing the same motions within the same kind of setting would get boring. As a result, thanks to the setting of stages that derive from historical points of key revolutions, the team were able to create and feature a variety of mechanics and enemies.
Nomura related the jump in different settings in Tacita was similar to the different palaces players would go to in Persona 5 series.
“At the moment within Persona 5 Tactica, we have been presented with two main worlds. There are some more we are looking to introduce in the future announcements. So please be sure to keep an eye on those and hope you enjoy it.” said Nomura.
Erina, The New Character
In Persona 5 Tactica, on top of the Persona 5 cast that fans have known and loved, the game also introduces new characters, one of which was Erina who has been getting a lot of love from fans. We asked Nomura what the thought process was when designing a new companion for the Phantom Thieves.
For those who might be wondering, Erina is a brand new character that fights alongside the rest of the Phantom Thieves. She takes on the role of a leader of a revolution who also helped the Phantom Thieves out when they got transported into the world of Tactica.
“In Persona 5 Tactica, the word revolution plays a very strong role in the theming of the strategic game for the Persona 5 series. And as Erina is a brand new character, we want her to kind of bring forward the idea of revolution in a Persona 5 version of that word. So we tried to make her be very strong, independent, and very serious at times, giving her the ability to represent what revolution might look like.” he said.
However, Nomura mentioned that the team felt that if her characterisation was too overwhelming, it might not mix well with Phantom Thieves or what they represent. As such, they wanted to have her in a position where it’s a balanced take through giving her a more comical spin.
“Outside of the actual character design and her personality design, we wanted to introduce her as playable party members of game as quickly as possible, so that users can get accustomed to her while fighting and growing with her within the game. We kind of fear that there might be a tendency where the players really just focus on the Phantom Thieves and the characters they’ve come to love from the past Persona 5 titles, so it’s a relief to know that she is well-received by fans.” he continued.
The next question we asked Nomura was whether there had been elements that the team took from the Persona 5 games and implemented them in Tactica.
“First of all, Persona 5 Tactica is made in a way that emphasises teamwork and the cooperation among the characters from the Persona 5 series. The setting and the main plan for the title was made in a way to kind of emphasise the teamwork and how the characters intermingled with each other.”
In order to accomplish this core message of bringing the teamwork aspect of the Persona 5 series characters and how they intermingle, Nomura had worked on the core elements and vision of what Persona 5 actually is. He mentioned that they had used the core elements that represent the series throughout Persona 5 Tactica, including the typical excitement of disguising as phantom thieves, the 3D-style expression of movement, the Red theme-colour, the iconic UI design that incorporates the personality of each character, in order to strengthen the combination of tactical team play, along with what Persona 5 really is.
“Another aspect that we try to kind of bring from the, what you would say like the mainline series, the Persona 5 Royal and Persona 5 was the combat and battle aspect of it. So elements like 1 more and Baton Pass were reshaped in a way to fit more of a strategic gameplay scene” Nomura continued.
The team had emphasised on making the attack movements more strategy based and put focus on the fact that players were playing as The Phantom Thieves which is a small group of individuals rather than an entire battalion of units. With that in mind, Nomura mentioned that it allowed the team to really focus and give personality to each character in the group and highlight their personality.
As a result, Nomura mentioned that the tempo and pacing of Persona 5 Tactica is much faster than standard strategic games, which gives this title the Persona 5 feel.
Fusing personas is a core gameplay mechanic in the Persona series. We asked Nomura if he could share more details about the Fusion mechanic in Tactica.
Nomura mentioned that if he were to really dive into the different elements of the Fusion mechanic in Tactica, it would take a lot of time to go through. To simplify it, Nomura mentioned that one of the new elements in Tactica was that players could assign personas to their allies which allows them to do different things depending on which Persona that had been attached to them.
An example Nomura brought up was that characters who initially had no access to healing skills are able to bypass that restriction and get healing skills depending on the Persona that character has assigned to them.
“Another new element to the fusion system is that you can create weapons. In Persona 5 Tactica, there is a possibility where you hide behind objects at a long range and use weapons to attack at long range. There are obviously weapons they can purchase within shops, but you can use personas as a kind of resource and combine them together to obtain weapons that are stronger than the ones that you can purchase.” Nomura continued.
Previously mentioning the Fusion mechanic, Social Links were also another core aspect of the Persona series. We asked Nomura if players could see said mechanic make a return in Tactica.
To which Nomura replied by saying that the Social Link system won’t be present in Persona 5 Tactica. He mentioned that Social Links was a system that was used to further progress the relationship between the members of the Phantom Thieves group. However, in Tactica, it was difficult for the team to further process their relationship with one another for it may cause discrepancy between the original Persona 5 if they try to expand further in this particular title.
However, Nomura did mention that there will be side quests where players could interact with the characters and find out more about the story that you wouldn’t normally get just by playing the mainline story.
The last question we asked Nomura was more of a fun one. We asked him if he could share with us what his favourite features in Persona 5 Tactica were.
“When it comes to my favourite features, since it’s a new genre, there really is quite a lot that I really like. However, if I were to pick two, the first one is the skill tree.”
“I think this is the very first time that we actually have a skill tree in the Persona series, but I really feel like it kind of reflects what persona really is, choosing your own direction and making that decision for yourself on how the characters develop. I think it also allows the users to choose the growth path of their characters, and you can change and adjust the trait as you want without too much difficulty as you progress throughout the game” he replied.
The second thing Nomura enjoyed about the game was its soundtrack. Nomura mentioned that the team brought back the vocalist Lyn who provides the vocals for Persona 5 series, and welcomed Toshiki Konishi from the ATLUS Sound Team as the composer. He mentioned that throughout the soundtrack, the team kept that strong theme of Revolution with Rock music and guitar as main music elements. Upon considering how to highlight the personality of Persona 5 Tactica , such as the Chibi style and the tactical taste, almost all soundtracks are newly created for this title, instead of arranging or mixing those from previous instalments, and hope that players could be immersed in the world the team had created.
Nomura ended off the interview by saying that he was happy to know that the Persona series is well loved and appreciated by fans around the world, and in Southeast Asia in particular.
“We had a lot of spin off games for the persona series in the past where we have Action RPG, dungeon crawling games, rhythm action games and such. The main reason behind why we like developing these quote-unquote spin off titles is that we really do enjoy a good challenge at the ATLUS Studio and this time was very much the same.”
“We decided to delve into the strategy game genre because we wanted to a good challenge again, but we wanted to give it the proper persona feel and we didn’t wanna kind of put our foot in half way and just leave it at that we wanted to perfect the Persona feel of a strategy game and present it to the fans.”
“The release of Persona 5 Tactica is not that far off now and we hope that you’ll be able to look forward to it, keep an eye on the latest announcements and we hope you’ll be able to enjoy it at launch as well.” said Nomura.
We would like to thank Atsushi Nomura for taking the time to answer our questions in regards to Persona 5 Tactica. We would also like to give our thanks to SEGA and ATLUS for making this interview possible.
Persona 5 Tactica launches on 17th November 2023 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC.