Character 5 Strikers is a pared-down model of what I performed in Character 5 and Character Five Royal, and it lacks one of the vital intensity had to lift it to the standard of the mainline sequence. However I nonetheless walked into the overall stumble upon loving Strikers. As it’s each Strikers’ similarities and variations to the Character Five saga that recontextualizes what I really like in regards to the sequence.
However the actual great thing about Character Five Strikers is the way it melds the familial bonding with pals with the metaphysical fight free of charge will and justice.
When the sport starts, the Phantom Thieves — school-age children with the metaphysical energy to delve into the darker needs of villains, converting their hearts for the easier — haven’t observed every different shortly. Joker and Morgana packed up and headed again to Joker’s fatherland on the finish of Character 5, and the 2 senior ladies, Makoto and Haru, went off to university. When the Thieves sign up for up, they discuss tenting out round Japan. However a brand new venture sends them again into the Metaverse and to a number of Eastern towns — a reasonably large departure from Character 5’s Tokyo-centric tale.
As we’re rolling down the highways of Japan — in our beat-up, borrowed RV/headquarters — the drivers to the left and the fitting don’t know we’re the famed Phantom Thieves. To them, we’re highschool and school scholars making our manner around the nation for a summer season street go back and forth. However apart from a go back and forth to the seaside right here or a hunt for ramen there, the Phantom Thieves are on a brand new venture.
Character Five Strikers is an immediate stick to as much as Character 5 — Character Five Royal turns out to happen in any other measurement, so no Kasumi right here — set six months after the Phantom Thieves’ ultimate heist. It seems and sounds identical to Character 5, however as a substitute of the turn-based JRPG fight of its supply subject matter, Strikers gives a Musou taste of fight — combo-based motion fight in opposition to a military of enemies, just like the Dynasty Warriors sequence or Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. However the fight is handiest part of what makes Strikers a laugh.
Maximum of my time in Character Five Strikers is composed of strolling round a brand new the town as Joker, the anonymous protagonist and chief of the Phantom Thieves. We’re all touring across the nation to switch extra hearts — the Phantom Thieves’ distinctive manner of constructing wrongdoers confess their crimes — over the summer season, assisted by means of a brand new AI good friend named Sophia, and Zenkichi, a 40-year-old public safety investigator. But it surely’s additionally an opportunity for me, the participant, to hang around with my digital pals as soon as once more — characters that I really like dearly, who I believed I noticed the final of in Character Five Royal.
After I land in a brand new the town, I’ll get an purpose to research a metaphysical anomaly. However now not earlier than all of us snatch some dinner in combination and goof off at an area landmark. Like Character 5, a just right bite of those interactions are in-engine cutscenes with friends, with the occasional interjection of a discussion selection. However I additionally get to engage with the sport’s model of Japan by means of strolling Joker round the town, visiting some stores, or talking to my pals status in the street. Every now and then they offer me pieces or a brand new recipe to prepare dinner in our RV.
In every of those locales, we sooner or later come throughout a Prison — a quite altered model of the Metaverse “Palaces” from Character 5 — and the Phantom Thieves dive into what truly makes Strikers distinctive.
Character Five Strikers isn’t a turn-based RPG, however its motion fight is a great facsimile
Strikers seems like a real Character recreation whilst belonging to another style altogether.
Once we all dive into a brand new Prison — themed after a draconian fort, a carnival, and extra — we nonetheless transfer in the course of the shadows. This can be a Musou recreation, however we’re nonetheless Phantom Thieves. Similar to the RPG, I sneak up on enemies and start up fight with stealth assaults. But if the fight erupts, I’m relieved of my menus and thrown right into a most commonly real-time brawl.
A dozen Shadows erupt from the enemy I simply attacked, and a small area bureaucracy round the place I initiated fight. As an alternative of issuing instructions, I’m mashing buttons or inputting combinations to make Joker slash via enemies along with his knife. At any time, I will switch to one of the crucial different 3 Phantom Thieves in my birthday celebration. Ryuji can execute tough price assaults, or Makoto can journey her motorbike Character via a bunch of enemies — a Character being a manifestation of every Phantom Thief’s inside being, generally in response to a ancient or literary persona. Makoto’s Character, the motorbike Johanna, is in response to Pope Joan, whilst Joker’s personality is in response to Arsène Lupin, the gentleman thief.
I will summon my Character mid-combo or dangle a button to choose quite a few strikes to strike my foes. And that’s when the motion stops. Those battles could also be large and rapid, however that is nonetheless a Character recreation. Other Personas and Shadows have other elemental weaknesses, and I will freeze time at any level to drag a formidable Wind assault out of Zorro, Morgana’s Character. Via placing an enemy’s weak spot, my group and I will execute a formidable All Out Assault, harmful all enemies within reach.
That is the overall waft of Character Five Strikers’ fight. The Phantom Thieves and I fight in fast moving brawls after which pause to strike an enemy’s weak spot. And Strikers truly nails the sensation of Character 5’s fight, for being a unique style altogether. I’m occupied with the way to stability my SP (mana) with how a lot injury I will inflict with my common assaults all over each fight.
Strikers does this kind of just right interpretation of Character 5’s fight that it even will get tedious in the similar manner towards the tip of the sport, when enemies are continuously causing me with diseases and battles take just a little longer than I’d need. However like the primary sequence, the moments spent rolling my eyes at Strikers’ fight are uncommon in comparison to my extra triumphant achievements.
Character Five Strikers and its fight saved me engaged for the sport’s complete runtime — about 50 hours.
Striker’s juxtaposition of recent and acquainted stay it sudden
Strikers is each a Musou recreation and Character 5 follow-up. It’s a really perfect manner for lovers who love the manner of Character however aren’t involved in slow-moving, turn-based JRPGs to leap in and revel in those characters. But it surely additionally provides diehard lovers an excellent sequel to one thing they already love. Since the fight is just right, however the Character is healthier.
Prior to now 4 years, I’ve spent about 250 hours taking part in Character 5 and Character Five Royal. They’re each video games I really like, however that’s a very long time to spend doing the rest. So Strikers’ inventions did precisely what I wished: They introduced me again to the sector I really like, with the characters I like, and confirmed me the similar global from a unique attitude.
There are issues that Strikers omits that I truly do omit from Character 5. I really like Character’s time control — the concept I’ve a day to myself, and it’s as much as me if I need to consume with a pal or learn about for a check. The ones selections have genuine affect within the Character sequence, however Strikers has no time element. I will’t building up my Appeal or my Wisdom, and particular person relationships with my friends don’t develop. However there are already two very lengthy Character 5 video games the place I will develop my relationships with those characters. Strikers opts for one thing other, and it succeeds.
I at all times liked Character 5 as a control recreation, one thing that allow me min-max my lifestyles and friendships. However that’s just one facet of the Character 5 saga. As a result of Strikers is so pared down, I spent extra time specializing in the sport outdoor of its programs. The tale of the Phantom Thieves is in the end one about converting the hearts of evildoers — staring at an evil persona get their second of self-clarity that so hardly ever occurs in genuine lifestyles.
Ganondorf at all times dies an unrepentant asshole with a lust for energy, and that’s suitable for The Legend of Zelda sequence. However Character 5, Character Five Royal, and Character Five Strikers happen in our global — or one thing very equivalent, with a bit hidden magic tucked away. Once we defeat “dangerous guys” in our global, we watch them kick and scream as we drag them to a prison mobile, or see their dead frame at the information. We’ve got rid of a disadvantage, now not reformed a center. The Character 5 saga provides us that pride of a personality understanding what their movements have finished to others. They don’t get absolved in their sins, and so they’re rightfully punished for the hurt they’ve led to, however the Thieves lend a hand those villains see their failings.
This “taking of center” is found in all 3 video games. However Strikers shakes up the components in an enchanting manner. With out spoiling an excessive amount of, Strikers’ villains aren’t the similar creeps from Character 5 — the first villain in that recreation is an Olympian, pedophilic, abusive gymnasium instructor that drives a scholar to aim suicide.
As an alternative, Strikers’ villains are most commonly customary, hurting people who find themselves proceeding the cycle of abuse by means of hurting others. A part of their tale is seeing what previous trauma of their lives made them at risk of their very own insecurities, permitting their very own darkish needs to change into them right into a monster within the metaphysical global. The crimes aren’t as arcane, however the smaller standpoint fosters attention-grabbing discussions in regards to the nature of justice and what makes the Phantom Thieves heroes — one thing Strikers in truth takes the time to discover.
Delving into justice is essential to the Character sequence, however Character 5 has such a lot happening that it’s now not the very first thing I recall to mind after I have in mind my time taking part in them. As an alternative, I recall to mind consuming ramen with Ryuji whilst he pours his center out to me, or serving to Haru lawn whilst we discuss her overdue father.
Strikers misses those small, intimate moments, however that absence leaves a welcome hollow: In a more effective recreation, it’s more straightforward to look the topics at play. And in my playthrough of Strikers, I believed again to these moments of trade for Character 5 villains like Kamoshida and Madarame. Strikers didn’t open my eyes to a few new intensity within the Character sequence, however it presented me an opportunity to revisit and contemplate the wonderful thing about repentance — one thing I sorely omit in our less-magical global.
Now after I stay up for Character 6 or the following journey of the Phantom Thieves, Strikers will strike a cord in me that the velocity of the fight doesn’t topic, so long as there’s a brand new center to scouse borrow.
Character Five Strikers shall be launched Feb. 23 on Nintendo Transfer, PlayStation 4, and Home windows PC. The sport used to be reviewed on PS4 the usage of a pre-release obtain code supplied by means of Atlus and Omega Power. Vox Media has associate partnerships. Those don’t affect editorial content material, although Vox Media might earn commissions for merchandise bought by the use of associate hyperlinks. You’ll in finding further details about Polygon’s ethics coverage right here.