I’ve always been intrigued by the worlds, characters, and stories that are brought to the table when it comes to Japanese role-playing games, or JPRGs, but the genre is often placed in tandem with turn-based combat, which I’ve very rarely been a fan of. I don’t really see the skill or appeal in battling mindlessly to raise your stats enough to beat the boss and proceed through the story. JRPGs like Kingdom Hearts and The World Ends With You have been among my favorite games ever, given that they have the narrative elements that interest me in the genre, but the combat is much more action-heavy and feels involved and skill-based. The one game series that has subverted everything I’ve said up to this point is Pokemon. I am very indifferent towards the stories of Pokemon games, but there’s something exciting, beyond the nostalgia and hype, about collecting a myriad of interesting creatures that evolve and have elemental strengths and weaknesses. Somehow, it took me until the fifth entry in the Persona series to find a game with a good story and engaging turn-based gameplay.
What I love most about Persona 5 is hard to pin down, but one thing I admire greatly is how well the game makes its complexity approachable. The game is roughly 100 hours, and there’s so much to do that it would be easy to consider it daunting in any other game. When you consider that it takes elements of dating sims, Stardew Valley, Pokemon, and many other titles and mashes them together, it’s understandable that so many are taken aback. However, I think Persona 5 is a fantastic place to jump into both the Persona series and JRPGs as a whole, if you have the time to spare.