|Series||Megami Tensei (main)
|Genre(s)||Role-playing, social simulation|
Persona 5 (Japanese: ペルソナ5 Hepburn: Perusona Faibu) is a role-playing video game developed by Atlus for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 video game consoles. Persona 5 is chronologically the sixth installment in the Persona series, which is part of the larger Megami Tensei franchise. Published by Atlus in Japan and North America and by Deep Silver in Europe and Australia, the game was released first in Japan in September 2016, and worldwide in April 2017.
Persona 5 takes place in Tokyo, and follows the player-named protagonist after his transfer to the fictional Shujin Academy after being put on probation for an assault of which he was falsely accused. During the course of a school year, he and other students awaken to their Persona powers, become masked vigilantes dubbed the "Phantom Thieves of Hearts", and explore the supernatural Metaverse realm to steal ill intent from the hearts of adults. As with previous titles in the series, the party does battle with supernatural enemies using manifestations of their psyche called Personas. The game incorporates role-playing elements and dungeon exploration alongside social simulation scenarios.
Preparatory work began around the same time as the development of Persona 4, with full development beginning after the release of Catherine in 2011. Returning prominent staff from previous games included director and producer Katsura Hashino, character designer Shigenori Soejima, and composer Shoji Meguro. The game's themes revolved around attaining freedom from the limitations of modern society; the story was strongly inspired by picaresque fiction, and the party's initial Personas were based around the theme of outlaws. First announced in 2013, the game was delayed from its original late 2014 release date so its quality could be further improved. Persona 5 was met with critical acclaim, with many calling it one of the greatest role-playing games of all time.
Persona 5 is a role-playing video game where the player takes on the role of a high school student who lives out a single year while attending high school in Tokyo: the game is governed by a day-night cycle and weather systems that determine general behavior similar to a social simulation. The year is punctuated by both scripted and random events — the protagonist attends school, can go to part-time jobs within Tokyo, and pursue leisure activities or create items for use in other areas of the game. These various activities raise character attributes, which in turn grant passive buffing effects during battle. When in the real world, the main protagonist can develop character relationships dubbed Confidant; an evolution of the Social Link system from Persona 3 and 4. With this system, the main protagonist can converse with and improve his relationship with other characters he meets, with some leading to possible romances. Each relationship is symbolized by one of the major arcana, and each Confidant link grants different boosts to the character: all party members character eventually learn Baton Pass, which allows the player to change to another character after a critical hit while granting a temporary stat boost, while others improve Negotiation abilities, XP gain, or give access to new items and equipment.
Alongside the normal school life is dungeon exploration of two different dungeon types within a realm called the Metaverse: story-specific dungeons called Palaces and randomly-generated Memento dungeons both populated by Shadows, manifestations of suppressed psyches. Within Memento dungeons, the party can fulfill requests from non-playable characters (NPCs) received from a Confidant links. While navigating, the party uses stealth to avoid the sight of enemy Shadows, and some areas hold puzzles that can be solved using an insight ability dubbed "Third Eye", which highlights interactable objects and enemy strength, When exploring story-centered Palaces, an "Alertness Meter" is present, where the party being spotted or fleeing combat results in security being raised. If security becomes too high, the party is forced to leave the Palace. The Alertness level can be lowered by launching surprise attacks on and eliminating enemies.
As with previous entries in the series, the game uses a turn-based combat system: battles can be initiated when the party runs into an enemy, or they can launch a surprise attack and gain an advantage in battle. In battle, the party has access to long-range and short-range weapons, in addition to being able to summon Personas. Personas, the manifestations of the main characters' inner psyche, are summoned through the mask each character wears. Beginning with an initial Persona, the party uses elemental, physical and magical attacks: most enemies have a particular weakness. If a character strikes an enemy's weak point, they are awarded an additional turn and knock down the enemy. When all enemies are knocked down, a "Hold Up" session is triggered. During Hold Up, the party can launch a devastating All-Out Attack, demand money or items, or enter Negotiation. Negotiation allows the protagonist to win the selected Shadow over to their side to become a new Persona: they can only be persuaded if the protagonist is of the right level and has sufficient room in their roster. If a party member is knocked out, they can be captured by the enemy Shadows, and will be unable to return to the party if the resultant Negotiation fails. Similar to previous entries, party members can be knocked out, and if the main character is knocked out, the player immediately loses.
New Personas are gained from battle through successful Negotiation, and different Persona types are represented through different arcana linked to Confidant links. Personas can in be combined, or "fused," and further manipulated within the Velvet Room, a realm the protagonist visits as part of his journey through the story where he can also accept side quests. Within the Velvet Room, Personas can be fused with "Guillotine" fusion processes, with the resultant Persona inheriting skills and stats from its parents. The more skills a Persona has, the more are passed on to the fused Persona. How powerful Personas are through fusion depends on how advanced its associated Confidant link is. In addition, Personas can be sacrificed in various ways, also styled after styles of capital punishment: "Hanging" grants a sacrificed Persona's experience points to another chosen Persona, and "Electric Chair" sacrifices one to create a high-end item. A Persona can also be sent into "Solitary Confinement", where they undergo intensive training and gain additional skills quicker than normal. The number of days a Persona must remain to gain strength lessens based on its arcana strength.
Minor multiplayer elements are incorporated into the game through the "Thieves Guild" network. Similar to the "Vox Populi" system from Persona 4 Golden, players can use the in-game SNS app to communicate both with in-game characters and other players via PlayStation Network. Players can send messages to each other about what activities they have performed, in addition to affecting the Alertness meter in the player's favor and aiding in battle when a party member is taken hostage.
Setting and characters
Persona 5 takes place within the Persona universe: set in modern times, it revolves around a group of people who must face dark forces by harnessing Personas, manifestations of their inner psyche. Rather than any specified date, the game's events begin in the year "20XX". Persona 5 is set in modern-day Tokyo, with navigable locations including Shinjuku and Shibuya, as well as the Greater Tokyo Area. Alongside larger environments, there are specific locations that can be entered such as shops. A major setting in Tokyo is Shujin Academy, which the Protagonist attends. There also exists a parallel realm known as Metaverse: born from the amalgamated hearts of humans, it holds multiple "Palaces", structures created from individuals' distorted desires. Originally created by the hopes and dreams of people, it has been corrupted by adult authority figures. A location that returns from earlier entries is the Velvet Room, a metaphysical haven for the growth of Persona users that shifts appearance depending on the current guest: in Persona 5, it takes the form of a prison.
The player character is a silent protagonist in common with other Persona games: he becomes the de facto leader of the "Phantom Thieves" vigilante group. His first companion is problem child Ryuji Sakamoto, who forms the group with the protagonist. A third founding member is Morgana, a mysterious cat-like creature they aid within the Metaverse. Over the course of the game, further people join the group, including the withdrawn quarter-American Ann Takamaki; art protegee and Kousei Public High School student Yusuke Kitagawa; Shujin student council president Makoto Niijima; Futaba Sakura, a withdrawn first-year student with genius computer skills; and cultured heiress Haru Okumura. Also interacting with the protagonist are Goro Akechi, a high schooler and detective; Sae Nijima, a public prosecutor and Makoto's older sister; and the residents of the Velvet Room, Igor and his two assistants Caroline and Justine.
A vigilante group called the Phantom Thieves of Hearts, led by the protagonist, is cornered inside a casino by police during a heist. The protagonist attempts to escape, but is captured, arrested, and taken to an interrogation room. There, public prosecutor Sae Nijima confronts him and demands an account of the events that led up to that point. The protagonist begins to tell his story.
After the protagonist defends a woman from being abused by powerful politician Masayoshi Shido, Shido uses his connections to have the protagonist charged with assault and put on probation, resulting in expulsion from his school. The protagonist is sent to Tokyo to stay with family friend Sojiro Sakura and attend Shujin Academy during his year-long probation. After his arrival, he is drawn into the Velvet Room, where Igor warns him that he must "rehabilitate" to avoid forthcoming ruin, and grants him access to a supernatural mobile app that leads the protagonist into the Metaverse and the Palace of the school's abusive volleyball coach Kamoshida. The protagonist meets Morgana, who convinces him to change wicked people's hearts by stealing their "treasure"—the emotional root of their behavior—from the Palaces ruled by their Shadow selves. After successfully reforming Kamoshida and having a second brief encounter with Shido, the protagonist and Morgana form the Phantom Thieves, stealing corruption from the hearts of adults in an attempt to reform the city.
The founding members are the protagonist, Morgana, Ryuji and Ann. On subsequent heists, they are joined by Yusuke, Makoto, Futaba and Haru. As their numbers and successes grow, they attract the attention of public and police including Sae and detective prodigy Goro Akechi. They learn that a secret conspiracy is manipulating events behind the scenes, and is directly connected to some of the Phantom Thieves' reasons for joining. Haru's father tries to reveal this group's leader after he is reformed, but an assassin kills him. In their pursuit of the conspiracy, the group is joined by Akechi, and goes on a mission into Sae's Palace when she discovers their identities. Following her defeat, the group is forced to split up when they are confronted by police, and the protagonist is arrested, leading to the interrogation in the frame story. Akechi is subsequently revealed to be a traitor working for the conspiracy. The protagonist convinces Sae of his righteousness and hatches a scheme to use the reality within Sae's still-intact Palace to save himself when Akechi attempts to kill him in a staged suicide. Failure to complete any Palace prior to this point or revealing the identities of the other Phantom Thieves results in Akechi killing the protagonist.
Escaping into hiding with Sae's help, the protagonist convenes with his friends, Sae, and Sojiro; they determine that the conspiracy's leader is Shido, who has been using Akechi's ability to infiltrate the Metaverse to remove obstacles to becoming Prime Minister and imposing his reforms on Japan. The group infiltrates Shido's Palace, and there they face Akechi, revealed to be Shido's illegitimate son bent on revenge towards Shido for his years of neglect. Once defeated, Akechi sacrifices himself to allow the Phantom Thieves to reach Shido. Shido is defeated, and in the real world confesses to all his actions. The game then skips forward to just before Christmas; the general public has turned on the Phantom Thieves, and Sae's efforts to prosecute Shido are failing. The Phantom Thieves make a final heist to steal the Treasure of the Mementos, the people's Palace at the Metaverse's core. Inside they find the imprisoned Shadows of their targets and other Tokyo residents, who have chosen to give up making their own decisions. The Phantom Thieves are then ejected from Mementos by the Treasure—a giant Holy Grail—and subsequently vanish after witnessing the Metaverse merging with reality.
Waking in the Velvet Room, the protagonist confronts Igor, Caroline and Justine. He persuades Caroline and Justine to merge, revealing their true form: Lavenza. Lavenza reveals "Igor" to be an imposter who is one and the same as the Holy Grail. His true name is Yaldabaoth and he was generated by humanity's wish for control and guidance through life. He granted the protagonist and Akechi their abilities to see whether the world would be preserved or be destroyed through their actions, all while steering events in its favor. The true Igor, who believed in humanity and was imprisoned by Yaldabaoth, created Morgana to help the protagonist. Yaldabaoth offers to restore the world if the protagonist continues in his role: if he accepts, the protagonist is returned to the world to continue his activities at the cost of humanity's freedom. By refusing the offer, the protagonist reunites with the other Phantom Thieves and they face Yaldabaoth. Their allies rally the popular support of the people, severing Yaldabaoth's control of humanity and allowing the protagonist to awaken Satanael—a Persona manifested from humanity's wish for freedom—to destroy Yaldabaoth and the Metaverse. While the protagonist must turn himself in so Shido can be prosecuted, his friends and associates successfully help secure evidence of the protagonist's innocence in the assault charge, leading to his conviction being overturned. The game ends with the protagonist beginning his journey home alongside his friends.
Preparation for development of the next Persona title began in 2010. Rumors of its development were floating around since 2009, when Sony's mobile website listed Katsura Hashino as the game's director. According to another source, preparatory work was going on in 2008 while Persona 4 was still in development. Preparatory development was nearing completion in August 2011, with full development beginning after that following the completion of Catherine. Hashino was only fully involved in development after Catherine was finished, later calling the latter game a test for the next Persona title's development. Development lasted five years. When production started, the staff consisted of around 40 people. During full production, this number expanded to 70: 15 planners, 15 programmers, and between 30 and 45 designers. These included the game's lead designer Naoya Maeda, who had previously done modelling work for the Trauma Team series. The general development was a challenge for the team, as they intentionally changed their development structure due to the more powerful hardware they were working with.
While the final game retained the turn-based system from earlier entries, one of the early design drafts was for an action-based system incorporating real-time elements foreign to the series. This idea was ultimately scrapped, but real-time command elements were introduced into the battle system, allowing the gameplay to evolve without any extensive change to the core system. A major new addition was the inclusions of unique dungeons with locked layouts as opposed to the dominant randomly generated dungeons of previous Persona titles. This was done to both emulate the game's themes and provide veteran players with something different. A returning feature from both earlier Persona titles and the mainline Megami Tensei series was Negotiation: as it was considered a key part of the overall franchise by fans, Hashino decided to reintroduce it after being absent from the previous two mainline entries. The Negotiation system for Persona 5 was tied into the origins of Shadows as suppressed psyches within the Collective Unconscious. The "Hold Up" function was inspired by scenes in films where the antagonist would hold people at gunpoint and make demands. These functions were incorporated due to the title being in part a celebration of the series' history. While designing the gameplay elements, the weather and environmental elements were all designed to reflect the real world. Dungeon layout was split into three distinct types: the Tokyo overworld environments, "institutions" such as the protagonist's high school, and dungeon environments. Some segments took control away from the player aside from limited dialogue choices; this was chosen as it reflected the controlled environment of Japanese high schoolers. Lead programmer for the game was Yujiro Kosaka, who previously served the same role on Persona 4 and Catherine.
While Catherine used the third-party Gamebryo game engine, Persona 5 used a specially-created engine. Hashino believed that the new engine would make rendering their ideas much easier, although it would result in a long wait by fans for the game. The event scene software was also developed internally by Atlus, with an estimated 1,160 being featured in the final game. The tools for developing and handling them were greatly expanded over the previous two entries so as to properly communicate them to players on the more advanced hardware. Character modelling in general was handled with a specially-developed toon shader which helped properly translate the character designs into the game, while also allowing for easy adjustment of shaders and lighting effects during fine tuning. The characters were originally rendered realistically like in Catherine, but this felt wrong for the Persona series. With this in mind, the team did some trial and error before finding a style that satisfied them. They did something similar for the interface and menu design. In contrast to Persona 4, which had a general deformed look to hardware limitations on the variety of body shapes, the technology available to the team for Persona 5 enabled unique customization for all relevant character models. Two different models were used for members of the main cast: a detailed model for real-time cutscenes, and a general-use model for standard event scenes and general gameplay. Persona 5 was the first time a large number of Personas had been rendered in high definition, something which proved a grueling challenge for the team.
Story and themes
The original story concept was written by Hashino. The initial concept was for a storyline that diverged from the established paths of Persona 3 and Persona 4, with "self-discovery" and "journey" being its keywords. Originally using the frame story of a backpacking trip around the world, Hashino decided to refocus on Japan in the wake of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake. Following that, and seeing the way people were bonding in the face of the crisis, Hashino decided to have the story take place solely in Japan, with the journeying being through the ever-shifting Palace. According to Hashino, the central theme of the game is freedom and how the characters attain it. He wanted to make the game more "thematically approachable" for newcomers to the series, and to be an emotional experience that presents players with a mix of emotions that leaves its audience with a strong sense of catharsis and the inspiration to take on their own modern-day problems.
The story's central concepts were inspired by equivalent social changes Hashino saw in modern society, particularly in Japan. The narrative of Persona 5 was designed like an omnibus, with the antagonists pursued by the party changing regularly. The three main stories the team used for inspiration were Water Margin by Shi Nai'an, Japanese crime movie Hakuchuu no Shikaku, and the anonymously authored Spanish novel Lazarillo de Tormes. The setting and style was compared to a picaresque fiction; the question the team originally asked in that regard was how a character like Arsène Lupin III might win appeal in modern society. These themes were carried over into the aesthetics of Persona fusion and sacrifice, which were themed after styles of capital punishment. Having a more "stereotypical" theme enabled the team to create surprising story developments, mixing contemporary drama with the setting of the Persona series. The series' recurring motif of "masks" was used more overtly in the game's plot than previous entries. The game's main locations were based heavily on their real world counterparts.
The main characters, according to Hashino, share a mindset that they "no longer have a place where they belong in society": the events of the game give them a sense of belonging. Hashino stated that while the last few titles were about the protagonists chasing the antagonists, Persona 5 would feature more of the antagonists and phenomena caused by them chasing the protagonists during their activities. The characters have been described as "juvenile academics". Their activities as thieves is part of the way they break way from societal norms and express themselves. The main aim of the game was to show the characters finding the courage to go outside the normal limits of society as set by previous generations. In contrast to previous Persona casts, the party of Persona 5 willingly embrace the unfolding unusual events in their role of masked vigilantes rather than being dragged into them. The cast was originally going to be larger with character Hifumi Togo becoming a Phantom Thief, but as the story was already very large, she was relegated to a supporting role as part of the Confidant system. Technological advances such as smartphones and the use of social media were integrated into both story and gameplay due to its growing prevalence in modern society.
The characters' initial Personas (Arsène, Captain Kidd, Carmen, Zorro, Goemon, Johanna, Necronomicon, Milady, and Robin Hood) were themed after outlaws and picaresque heroes to reflect the function and dominant suppressed passions forming the Palace, and also represent aspects of their owners' personalities. The protagonist's initial Persona was originally the German demon Mephistopheles, but it was changed to Arsène as the latter character better fit the game's themes. The cast's alternate Personas (Satanael, Seiten Taisei, Hecate, Mercurius, Kamu Susanoo, Anat, Prometheus, Astarte, Loki) are taken from mythical beings who act as tricksters or rebels. The three main inspirations behind the protagonist's alter ego were the original Arsène Lupin, The Fiend with Twenty Faces, and Ishikawa Goemon. The name of the protagonist's high school, "Shujin", was chosen because it was a homonym of Shūjin (囚人), the Japanese word for "prisoner". Following a trend from earlier entries, the Velvet Room assistants are named after characters from the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. The use of adults as antagonists was a more overt expression of narrative elements previously explored in Persona 4. The relation to police activities was also carried over from Persona 4, but this time with the role of protagonists and antagonists reversed. The game's villains and protagonists were parallels of each other, both being misfits trying to shape a world they saw as unsatisfactory or corrupted. This was intended to create ambiguity about the Phantom Thieves' actions, causing the player to question their concept of justice. This questioning extended to their mission as a whole, which was influenced by the way a vocal minority online could draw public attention to events and scandals in the news.
Shigenori Soejima, who had worked on the last two main-series Persona titles, returned as character designer. The game's art director was Masayoshi Suto, whose most notable work on earlier titles included the user interface (UI) displays. The art design reflected the picaresque theme aimed for by the rest of the team. According to Soejima, he was working on designs for the then-prospective Persona 5 while the previous game was still in development: his designs evolved as the story for Persona 5 came together. Aesthetically, the team felt that they were picking up where Persona 4 left off. Its styling presentation was an unintentional reflection on the hurdles the team needed to overcome during development. The thematic color of the game is red, as that of Persona 3 and 4 was blue and yellow respectively. The red color was meant to convey a harsh feeling. Because of this, Suto tested multiple font colors until settling on black and white, as it stood out best against the color. There was also a wish, especially in the teaser image used for the game's announcement, which represented the main characters' being chained down by the rules of the modern world. Soejima designed the logo to convey the high-speed existences of the young cast, while elements such as the protagonist's Persona Arsène were designed to appear old-fashioned by comparison. This presented challenges as Soejima needed to balance this with a strong sense of style. The main aim for the game's environments was to create a sense of realism with NPC movements, elements within Tokyo's districts such as street trash and graffiti. When creating the UI, Hashino wanted to demonstrate how a shift in perspective could alter a dull life into an exciting one in the context of the story. Early UI designs were so "aggressively animated" that it obscured what was happening in the game. Because of this, the animations were toned down and text orientation was altered, toning down the UI's graphical elements to present a balance between user-friendliness and style.
The first character sketches were submitted in 2012. Soejima worked closely with Hashino so the characters and environments reflected the game's themes. The protagonist's design was cited by Soejima as his most challenging recent work. The protagonist needed to both convey a taste of the game's overall artstyle, and to act as an avatar for the player. As the main theme and narrative of Persona 5 revolved around crime and vigilantes triggered by the protagonist voluntarily choosing that path, Soejima needed to convey this while allowing the character to suit whatever dialogue choices the player decided upon. Due to these difficulties, the protagonist was given multiple designs in a trial and error process to find the best one. As the "phantom thief" premise was a common stereotype in fiction, Soejima initially drew the protagonist and main cast in a style similar to shōnen manga, but these designs were scrapped as they clashed with the Persona series' realistic aesthetics. As with previous entries, the protagonist was a silent character, so as with previous protagonist Soejima had to work out a way he could communicate without dialogue. His solution was to imagine the Persona 5 protagonist as the type of person who made plans but did not share them with others.
The game's anime cutscenes were created by Production I.G, and were directed and supervised by Toshiyuki Kono. Kono was directed three and a half years prior to the game's completion by Hashino: faced with the project, Kono felt a great deal of pressure in his role. Persona 5 was the first time Production I.G had worked on the series, though many staff at the studio were fans. Despite this, the studio did not change their standard animation process, focusing on characters as they had done for many of their previous projects. The most important part of the cutscenes was getting the character's expressions right, particularly when it came to the general-mute protagonist. The storyboarding for the game's opening was handled by Sayo Yamamoto, the director of Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine. The concept for the opening of the characters figure skating around the environment was suggested by the director. It was intended as a visual symbolization of the opening's theme: breaking free of an external force. The scene where the protagonist first summoned his Persona was requested by Atlus to appear "wild", which again was difficult to the protagonist's purpose as an extension of the player. The blue flame effects related to the Persona were not created with CGI, but hand-drawn by the animators. All the anime cutscenes together were estimated as containing over an hour of footage.
|Persona 5 Original Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by Shoji Meguro, Toshiki Konishi, Kenichi Tsuchiya, Atsushi Kitajoh, Ryota Koduka|
|Released||January 17, 2017|
|Genre||Video game soundtrack|
The original score for the game was primarily composed, arranged, and produced by Shoji Meguro, the sound director for the Persona series. Further contributions and other general sound design was handled by Toshiki Konishi, Kenichi Tsuchiya, Atsushi Kitajoh, and Ryota Koduka; all of them having previously worked on the series as well. The opening theme "Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There" and further vocal themes were sung by Lyn Inaizumi, which was her first performance in a video game after a career as a jazz and soul music singer. When singing the opening theme, the most difficult part for Inaizumi was singing a rap segment in English. Her vocal contributions to other tracks initially surprised her. Meguro's main concern with her performance was that Lyn's pronunciation of the English lyrics was "on point". The English lyrics were written by long-term collaborator Benjamin Franklin, while the lyrics for the ending song "With the Stars and Us" were written by Shigeo Komori.
In order to express the game's mood, Meguro incorporated acid jazz elements into the score, including the opening theme, where he mixed strings with the vocals and the additional instrumentation. For boss themes, he included hard rock elements to properly convey the battle between a strong enemy and the party. Meguro changed the way the music flowed when compared to the last two Persona games: instead of the opening and ending themes being conglomerates of the general score, he described the entire score as a single continuous work. A recurring musical element he included across the soundtrack was described as a "do-la" syllable: the opening used "so la re mi" on strings as a hook, which then led into the "do-la" syllable for other tracks such as the normal battle theme. While he was creating the music, Meguro received help from Hashino when he made positive comments on early tracks created for an internal demo. Meguro was given full creative freedom to work on the soundtrack without any restrictions, with about 80% of the tracks used in the game being his.
The game's official soundtrack was released in Japan by Mastard Records as a three-disc set on January 17, 2017. The album featured 110 tracks, and the cover art was created by Soejima. In addition to the standard release, a special disc with selected tracks titled Persona 5 -Sounds of the Rebellion- was released as part of the North American and European Collector's Edition. The full soundtrack received an international digital release on iTunes on April 18, 2017. Upon its debut in Japan, the album reached #5 in the Oricon charts with sales of over 29,000 copies.
Persona 5 was first announced in 2013 with a cryptic teaser trailer alongside spin-off titles Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, Persona 4: Dancing All Night, and the PlayStation 3 port of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax. The game was originally announced for a winter 2014 release exclusively on PlayStation 3. In September 2014 during Sony's SCEJA Press Conference, it was announced that Persona 5 would also release for the PlayStation 4 and that it would release in 2015 instead. According to director Katsura Hashino, the game was delayed to 2015 to develop the PlayStation 4 version of the game and improve the general quality of the game. The game's first gameplay trailer was revealed on February 5, 2015 during a special livestream. A Blu-ray Disc containing an exclusive trailer for the game was bundled with first print copies of Persona 4: Dancing All Night in Japan on June 25, 2015. The song used in the first gameplay trailer was an instrumental version of the main theme. During a special livestream for the game at the 2015 Tokyo Game Show, it was announced that the game would be delayed once again to Q3 2016. Speaking in a special staff interview video, Hashino apologized for the delay and said that it was necessary to deliver a high-quality product without having to hold back in terms of content.
In April 2016, Atlus launched an official countdown relating to the game that counted down to May 5, 2016. Shortly after, a special livestream was announced titled Take Tokyo Tower, which would coincide with the countdown date. During the Take Tokyo Tower livestream on that day, the release date for the game was revealed in a trailer shown during the livestream. The game was released on September 15, 2016 in Japan. Along with the standard edition, a 20th Anniversary Edition was created featuring additional content which includes downloadable content (DLC) based on Persona 3 and Persona 4, a five-CD album featuring special arranges of music from all six games in the series, the official artbook for the game, and a special box featuring art by Soejima. In honor of the game's release, the series-focused variety show Persona Stalker Club featured a new programming block titled Persona Stalker Club V. In addition, a standalone anime special titled Persona 5 The Animation: The Day Breakers aired on television before the game's Japanese release in September 2016. The Day Breakers is set during the events of the game, being portrayed as a "sub event" separate from the main narrative.
Following its Japanese release, character skins and additional Personas were released as paid downloadable content (DLC). The costumes included those incorporated into the 20th Anniversary Edition based on Persona 3 and Persona 4, in addition to new costumes based on the characters of Revelations: Persona, the Persona 2 duology (Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment) and Shin Megami Tensei If.... The costumes were accompanied by arranged battle music from each costume set's respective game. The Personas were reskinned and original versions of key Personas from Persona 3 and Persona 4. In addition, PlayStation themes and avatars were released based on the central characters of Persona 5. In October, further costume DLC was released, featuring both swimwear and costumes based on the cast of Catherine, Shin Megami Tensei IV, the third and fourth Devil Summoner games, Persona 4 Arena and Dancing All Night: the themed costumes were accompanied by battle music from their respective titles. For the latter two, themed Personas were included. A new difficulty setting known as "Challenge" was also released as free DLC.
Pre-order bonuses and its initial North American release date was announced a week prior to Electronic Entertainment Expo 2016. As with the Japanese release, the North American version was delayed so it would be a high-quality game in keeping with other Persona titles. In Europe and Australia, the game was published by Deep Silver. Initially planned for a Western release on February 14, 2017, the game was pushed back to April 4; the stated reason was that Atlus wanted the game to be at its highest possible quality. As with previous Persona titles, the localization is being handled by Atlus USA, supervised by series localization project leader Yu Namba. According to Namba, the team began with a "blank slate" when choosing the English voice cast, as it was a new setting to earlier Persona titles. Localizing Persona 5 was described by Namba as a massive project with the largest staff yet dedicated to the series. Namba, as project lead, made the final call on issues brought up by the team during the localization process. The localized script was estimated as being 50% bigger than that of Persona 4 Golden. Both Persona 3 and Persona 4 had included the "Shin Megami Tensei" moniker to aid in marketing, but for Persona 5 the moniker was not used. While the English voice track was included on the game disc, the Japanese voices were made available as permanently free DLC. The DLC for earlier Shin Megami Tensei titles, Catherine, Shin Megami Tensei IV, and the Raidou Kuzunoha games is also set for release.
During the PlayStation Awards 2016 in Japan, Persona 5 won Gold Prize and User's Choice categories. Famitsu gave it a positive review, with the game garnering a near-perfect score. One reviewer praised the drama, while another praised its overall presentation and style. Another reviewer felt that, while there were some faults, the overall gameplay was good.
Persona 5 received universal acclaim, according to review aggregator Metacritic, where it is the highest rated game for the PlayStation 4. The first English review for the game came from PlayStation Official Magazine – UK, in which it received a perfect score of 10/10; with the author even describing the game as "an unabashed masterpiece."
The quality of the game's English localization, described by Polygon as "aggravatingly mediocre" was one of the few aspects singled out for criticism by several professional translators and critics. Another was the game's treatment of LGBT topics: Kenneth Shepard noted in Paste that the only characters to exist outside of the game's thoroughly heteronormative setting are a lecherous gay couple who are treated as a joke, which led him to conclude that Persona 5 sees gay men "at best as a joke and at worst something revolting to be feared".
The game received a boost to pre-order sales following the delayed release of Final Fantasy XV, which was originally scheduled for the same month as Persona 5. Sales went up on Amazon Japan by 450%, bringing the game to second place in their best-seller charts behind Tales of Berseria. In its first week of release, Persona 5 topped Japanese game sales charts. The PS4 version reached #1 with sales of 264,793 units, while the PS3 version reached #2 with 72,974. This resulted in a combined sales total of 337,767 units. This made Persona 5 the fastest-selling title in the series' history, surpassing Revelations: Persona, and together with Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 pushed sales of the PS4 up significantly over the previous week. The following week, the PS4 version fell to #2 with further sales of 45,178 units, while the PS3 version fell to #6 with 14,771 units. It was later reported by Hashino that combined physical shipments and digital sales had reached over 550,000 units. Within three weeks of its launch in Japan, the game became Atlus' best-selling title in the country.
Upon its debut in the West and Europe, the game reached #1 in gaming charts; it was the first JRPG to reach this position since the PS3 game Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch in 2013, and was the biggest debut for any Persona title in the region to date. In North America, the game reached #2 in gaming charts behind the Nintendo Switch version of Mario Kart 8. According to NPD Group analyst Mat Piscatella, this was the strongest debut yet for the Persona series, with packaged sales five times better than Persona 4. On PlayStation Network during April, Persona 5 topped the PS4 charts, and came in at #3 on PS3 charts. Two days after its international release, Atlus announced that Persona 5 had sold 1.5 million units, including physical shipments and digital sales.
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