Gaming

You need to play 2021's most underrated action game on PS Plus ASAP

A brilliant adaption of a familiar formula.

Few JRPG series are as popular as Persona these days, and there’s nothing out there that does as good a job at blending social and school simulation and classic turn-based combat. While Persona is known as a more traditional JRPG, it splintered out into something wildly new earlier this year with Persona 5 Strikers.

Developed by Omega Force, the studio behind Dynasty Warriors, Strikers is a phenomenal adaption that pushes Persona in a new direction while retaining everything fans love about the series. PlayStation Plus users have access to the game as part of their monthly subscription starting January 4, 2022. Even if you have no experience with the series, it’s worth checking out.

Strikers is a direct sequel to Persona 5, taking place four months after the original game, as Joker heads back to Tokyo to visit the rest of the Phantom Thieves. Since the game is a sequel you’ll obviously get more out of Strikers if you’ve played the first game, but you can get a decent feel for each of the Phantom Thieves and the group regardless.

While fast-paced action is the order of the day, Strikers also puts a heavy emphasis on story. Narratively, Strikers isn’t quite as long or intermittently dark as Persona 5, but it still weaves in some interesting themes of rebellion and morality. While Strikers doesn’t have the social simulation of the mainline games, it still has explorable cities, side activities, an exhilarating road-trip mood, and plenty of bonding moments for the party. It also introduces one of the series’ best characters yet, a police officer named Zenkichi Hasegawa, who starts to embrace the vigilante justice of the Phantom Thieves.

The newest party member, Zenkichi, is a highlight of Strikers.Sega/Atlus

While the story is a strong point, Strikers really shines with its combat — a perfect fusion between the hack-and-slash of Dynasty Warriors and the turn-based systems of Persona. Each character has light attack combos that can be mixed up with a heavy attack, and the speed of combat feels blisteringly fast.

Strikers really mixes things up with the actual Personas, which let you stop time at any given point and select a magic attack to use. These attacks take up SP but always have an area-of-effect, providing a bit of tactical complexity to all of the action. As your Personas and characters level up you’ll unlock more options, and just like in the original Joker has the ability to equip a wide selection of different Personas.

Strikers also lets you interact with a variety of different objects for different attacks — like swinging around a pole or dropping a light fixture for an electric attack. There are so many options to choose from, on top of each character playing completely differently. It helps battles feel dynamic, even when you’re 30 or 40 hours in. To help diversify gameplay even more each boss battle uses unique mechanics, and they all feel like proper spectacles.

Strikers’ combat is as flashy as it is satisfying.Sega/Atlus

I can’t talk about a Persona game without mentioning the visual style and soundtrack, both of which are stellar in Strikers. The game uses the same arresting visual style as Persona 5, but the action combat really lets visual effects from attacks flourish. Each battle feels like a dazzling presentation of different colors and effects, all backed up by the jazzy soundtrack. Strikers puts a bit of a Dynasty Warriors-rock spin on the soundtrack of Persona 5, which in this case really works. Just listening to the song “Counter Strike” shows how well the musical fusion works.

Persona 5 Strikers is undoubtedly the best Dynasty Warriors adaption of any series out there, coming down to how well the game fuses elements of both series. It’s an adrenaline-filled road trip through an anime version of Japan, and one you won’t soon forget.

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