Arguably the one game this year that has a chance to break out into mainstream consciousness like nothing else is Atlus’ upcoming Persona 5 for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, the long awaited next entry in the Persona series, and the first since 2008’s highly beloved Persona 4. A month ago, Atlus finally took the wraps off their newest game after two years of incessant teasing, and the response was overwhelmingly positive- so positive, in fact, that Atlus themselves were a bit taken aback.
“It’s been a massive outpouring and we’re really happy to see people are into it as much as they are,” said Persona series director Katsura Hashino. “It’s a huge relief to all of us on the team to have things turn out that way. Still, it’s also indicative that the anticipation is running really high among people who have enjoyed our work up until now, so it’s not without some pressure coming our way, too.”
Persona 5 is undoubtedly a stylish game- just look at the trailer above. It might just be the most stylish debut we have had for a game yet. But according to Atlus, they never meant to consciously evoke a sense of so much style. They were just trying to pick up where Persona 4 (itself a very stylish game) left off.
“We’ve gotten a lot of kind people saying that the game’s even more stylish than what we’ve done before,” said series art designer Shigenori Soejima. That was kind of unintentional on our end, though; we weren’t trying to go out of our way to make people “explicitly feel our game is stylish so much as just show that aesthetically, it’s picking up where Persona 4 left off, in a sense. A lot of time has passed since that game originally came out and the hurdles we’ve had to clear have only gotten higher since then, so this style is ultimately a reflection of those efforts on our end.”
They also discussed the themes in the upcoming game a bit more, elaborating on the topic of restraint and freedom that the game will be going for.
“If there’s one thing that lies at the center of our themes in the game, it’s the notion people have that there are things that they want to do with their lives but can’t actually realize for one reason or another,” said Hashino. “They’ve got something circumstantial holding them back or maybe it’s even just the rational half of their brain. Something along those lines. I feel as though people like that often tend to take well to thief and heist stories because they get a certain thrill from them that resonates with them in ways they can’t necessarily get out of other stuff. One of the goals in making Persona 5, then, is to give those people an outlet to explore those thrills and experience that sense of freedom that the protagonists themselves have within the context of a game. Although that being said, I won’t deny that a lot of us were also just way into stories about good-natured thieves like Lupin III growing up, too.”
Soejima also discussed the concept of personas and masks, and how they would tie into Persona 5 and its story.
“Of course, the word “persona” inherently has the connotation of things being masked. In a broad sense, it’s true in how the cast leads a double-life. They go to school during the day and then at night, they’re out on the prowl to steal. But it’s also true that the plotline more overtly plays up the mask motif in a very literal sense compared to the previous games, so I wanted to ensure that such visual elements of the game were similarly straightforward, too.”
Personally, all of this sounds absolutely great to me. it is clear that these guys know what they are doing, and Persona 5 might just end up being one of the greatest games ever made, topping even Persona 3 and Persona 4 in the process- which is no mean feat.
Persona 5 will be launching exclusively on PlayStation 3 later this year. Stay tuned for mo0re coverage and information.