Persona 5 Tactica Review (PS5) – Marking another outing for the iconic Phantom Thieves, Persona 5 Tactica marks a jump into a new genre for the storied Persona franchise, moving from a turn-based battle system to a traditional strategy RPG.
This departure for the series is both approachable for newcomers as well as full of depth for those who are strategy enthusiasts.
While Persona 5 Tactica does little to light the strategy-RPG genre on fire, it stands as a formidable title and yet another jewel in the overall Persona 5 anthology of games, with a unique flair that I couldn’t help but enjoy all the way through, even if it stumbles here and there.
Persona 5 Tactica Review (PS5) – A Solid If Safe Tactical Adventure
Raising the Flag of Rebellion
Persona 5 Tactica takes place during the winter period of the base game – we join the Phantom Thieves towards the tail end of the original game’s story as they are sucked into a brand new adventure in the metaverse.
This original Persona story follows the new characters Toshiro and Erina as the Phantom Thieves try to help them and themselves escape from this new threat they face.
The story on show here was a generally pleasant romp through various set-pieces that delivers on some interesting mysteries as it develops. I won’t spoil anything, but watching the mystery unfold was enough to keep me going through to the end.
If anything, seeing more of this memorable cast of characters is always a treat.
Newcomers Toshiro and Erina add a nice new element to this game but are unlikely to dethrone my favourite characters from throughout the series’ history.
Toshiro in particular was a refreshing change of pace in a franchise that is normally full of quite morose and serious adult characters, as a fun foil to the normal group dynamic.
It stands as a good (if slightly redundant) self-contained story that echoes a lot of the themes from the original game.
Layers of Strategy
This story sets the stage and context for the various battle scenarios you come across throughout the narrative of Persona 5 Tactica.
The battle system has been carefully designed and considered to cater to both Persona and strategy RPG fans to result in a formula that feels slick and stylish – as well as very fun – in execution.
Each member of the team brings their own approaches to combat and each fills a particular role that you can mix and match as you wish.
Joker stands as a solid all-around option with good mobility and fantastic offensive options that enable a varied approach. Morgana is a master of movement and manipulating enemy positions. Haru is the equivalent of mobile artillery – heavy-hitting but slow-moving.
Designing your own effective loadouts based on map layout and even your own enjoyment is heavily encouraged and I found reason to use every character during certain scenarios.
A relatively small pool of playable characters means that every character is used very well throughout the campaign. While missions start out simple, they quickly evolve into multi-layered conflicts that can present enticing challenges.
Every mission presents a unique scenario to take part in and not all of these are focused on simply defeating all the enemies in a map.
Some will task you with defeating specific targets or getting to a specific point in a set amount of turns by making use of “1-more” actions.
These challenges were some of my favourites as I figured out the perfect way to knock down enemy after enemy to get another turn, in classic Persona style.
While I never found myself too challenged by each individual mission, executing strategies was fun regardless. Higher difficulty options promise friendly fire and other new obstacles to worry about, though I played through the game on the default difficulty.
Cavalcades Of Customisation
While Persona 5 Tactica doesn’t have as much freedom in customisation as other Persona 5 entries on the surface – with Joker being unable to change his Persona at will – bubbling underneath the simple foundations of Persona 5 Tactica is a title with a great amount of depth.
The Velvet Room makes its return in this entry as a way to offer smaller-scale buffs to each party member, rather than completely reworking their foundations.
Equipping a sub-persona allows for some extra coverage in a party of typically only 3 members. This can take the form of a utility skill or a stat buffing skill.
This added layer helps to specialise specific members of your team into particular roles. Someone with high mobility may particularly appreciate stat buffing skills that they can spread out easily, whereas someone with less mobility may enjoy another elemental skill.
These are all left in the hands of the player and are great fun to mess around with throughout.
There are also special weapons that can only be acquired through a system of collecting and fusing personas together. These special weapons offer special advantages and cannot be purchased normally.
Steadily working towards these larger unlocks was a fun challenge for me but never felt absolutely vital.
Strategy Filled Side Quests
As well as the main campaign missions, Persona 5 Tactica is filled with bite-size missions to take on called “quests”. These are enjoyable distractions that hide some unique scenarios that might not fit in larger-scale conflicts.
These missions hide some creative puzzle-solving opportunities that really force you to play with the mechanics offered to you.
From being tasked with defeating a squad of enemies in one turn, to having to cross an entire map by repositioning enemies with your other party members, each one offered a new wrinkle and was a great way to cut through the longer main missions if I felt a bit tired of the longer length of some of them.
These smaller side missions reward you with skill points to make use of to help you tailor your characters to your specific needs and are the primary way of gaining skill points.
The skill tree system on showcase here is commendable as you are able to redistribute points as you see fit. If you feel like an upcoming mission might need some stronger spells, you can remove some other skills to make room for the new ones.
This freedom to experiment with new builds and potential new strategies is vital for a game like this and so I’m glad that Atlus haven’t gone and punished players for wanting to try new things that might go against the grain.
I look forward to working out some stronger strategies down the road for levels that I found myself struggling with.
Strategising in Style
Persona as a franchise is well known for its unique and exceptionally strong sense of style and Persona 5 Tactica brings a whole new dimension to this well-renowned series.
While this new style helps it to stand out, I feel like this new art direction could divide opinions due to how hard it pivots into a more chibi style.
Persona 5 Tactica is still amongst the most stylish strategy RPGs that I’ve ever played – but it never reaches the heights of what Persona 5 and other spin-offs achieved, which speaks more to how phenomenal those titles are.
I found some aspects came across as quite flat and lacking the punch of other titles.
The visuals in this game make a big departure for the franchise, drawing on the visual style of Persona Q2, a handheld exclusive title released in 2021.
While this style is most definitely a striking one that helps it stand out amongst the crowd, I feel like it somewhat lessens the impact of emotional scenes when I’m looking at such disproportionate characters.
I salute Atlus for tackling a new style – much of the game’s menus and even the opening look ripped straight from a rebellion poster but I feel like this chibi style somewhat undoes some of the serious moments scattered throughout as the aesthetic never truly feels well-utilised.
Atlus have done so before in previous titles so it’s a shame that so much is played for comedic effect with the design of various NPCs feeling cartoony even for Persona standards.
Retreading Old Ground
While the game offers a decent amount of variety in terms of its actual objectives, I found myself growing tired of reused and recycled environments throughout my time with Persona 5 Tactica.
Each Kingdom you go to is visually distinct but each only offers a handful of environments each for their battles to take place in. This goes for the enemy variety as well, which desperately needs a few more grunts to add to the mix.
This led to me growing fairly tired of mission after mission that felt quite visually similar, despite new layouts. I would have loved to have seen a few more ideas be thrown at the wall here for the sake of a bit of extra variety.
The soundtrack also stumbles here too, with a pretty low-key offering from Atlus on the whole here.
Persona 5 veteran Lyn returns for this outing (a consistent part of Persona 5 in general now) and as always she puts on a great performance here.
Yet I feel like the music in Persona 5 Tactica again falls slightly shy of the high pedigree of the other Persona 5 titles. None of the songs particularly stuck in my head after finishing a session which is a real shame!
This only does so much to take away from Persona 5 Tactica overall, but I did find myself wanting a slight bit more from my experience as I approached the end, there are some fantastic tracks sprinkled throughout but it takes a while for those to appear.
That sentiment rings through the entire game for me – Persona 5 Tactica is another quality game from Atlus that falls just shy of being great in a few areas. The base here is great, I want to see just a bit more.
Persona 5 Tactica is now available on PS5 and PS4.
Review code generously provided by the publisher.