Ever since Persona 3, Atlus never fully says goodbye to each mainline Persona game by turning each to its own sub-franchise. Each one gets an enhanced and expanded re-release, spin-offs, anime adaptations and more. Persona 5 is getting another spin-off game in the form of Persona 5 Tactica, a game I had the chance to demo at Tokyo Game Show 2023.
Persona 5 Tactica is the first tactical role-playing game in the Persona series. Atlus does have some experience in the genre from developing Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor. Where does P5 Tactica fit in the story and world of Persona 5? It takes place during Persona 5, but somewhat in parallel to. Our main protagonists, the Phantom Thieves, get transported into another world (yes, it’s an isekai) where they help Erina and her band of rebels fight tyranny.
My hands-on demo promptly dropped me into a battle, but starting with a short step-by-step tutorial. If you’ve ever played a tactical RPG before, Tactica’s battle gameplay shouldn’t be foreign to you. When it’s your character’s turn, you have the ability to first move the character within a permissible range. After settling on a new position for the character, you can select an action such as summoning a Persona or a regular attack, if you’re within range and clear sight of an enemy. Your party’s characters and enemies take turns like this until one side’s characters are eliminated.
Even though the map in battle is set up on a grid, you can move your character freely during the turn as you figure out where to position them. The free movement feels great and helps keep the pacing up (much faster than moving grid-like). It also reminded me of my days with Valkyria Chronicles, Sega’s tactical RPG series.
When trying to position for an attack, you can be limited by being within line of sight of the enemy. That’s due to the map being filled with different structures that offer various degrees of cover. Although a position allows you to attack, it may leave you open to be attacked upon during an enemy’s turn. Another strategy with positioning is surrounding downed enemies with your party members so you can pull off a powerful all-out attack called Tribangle.
Persona 5 Tactica dance performance on the stage at the SEGA / ATLUS TGS 2023 booth.
Like Persona 5 itself, the menu system is snappy and stylish, and the battles themselves are fast-paced with plenty of flair. The art style is striking with high contrast colors and strong linework. The renditions of the characters take on a stylized, somewhat chibi-like look, reminiscent of the Persona Q spin-off games.
From my brief time, I found the game to be fun overall, albeit with combat that’s uncomplicated and straightforward. I do hope more depth is added as you progres, whether that be through additional abilities, characters, enemies, or more complex maps. My demo demonstrated Persona 5 Tactica has a solid foundation. All that’s needed is enough built upon that foundation, and it could end up being a terrific tactical RPG adventure.
For now, Persona 5 Tactica looks to be a good tactical RPG for newcomers or those that don’t dabble in the genre frequently, thanks to the relatively simple battle system and fast pace.
You can watch my hands-on gameplay demo below (text and audio are in Japanese):