Promotional art featuring the main protagonist and his Persona, Arsène.
|Series||Megami Tensei (Main)
|Genre(s)||Role-playing game, dungeon crawler, social simulation|
Persona 5 (ペルソナ5 Perusona Faibu?) is an upcoming role-playing video game currently in development by Atlus for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, scheduled for release in Japan in 2016. It is chronologically the sixth installment in the Persona series, which is part of the larger Megami Tensei franchise.
Persona 5 is a role-playing game in which players live out a year in the life of a high school boy who gains the ability to summon facets of his psyche, known as Personas. Dungeon exploration features additional elements from previous iterations, such as jumping across gaps or dashing between cover. Dungeons feature a mixture of fixed environments tied into the plot and theme, and randomly generated environments. Battles are based on a turn-based attack system, with the characters wielding both their Personas and two weapon types: a gun and a melee weapon. The Social Link element from Persona 3 and 4 also returns in an altered form.
The story focuses on the 16-year-old protagonist after he is transferred to the fictional Shujin High School in Tokyo. Staying with friends of his parents, he meets up with problem child Ryuji Sakamoto, the withdrawn Ann Takamaki, art student Yusuke Kitagawa, and a talking, shape-shifting cat-like creature known as Morgana. During the protagonist's time there, feeling suppressed by their environment, the five form a group known as the "Phantom Thieves of Hearts", working together to carry out heists and encountering mysterious phenomena along the way.
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. Confirmation of development was given by Katsura Hashino in 2012 during an interview with Famitsu. Multiple staff from previous Persona games returned for Persona 5 along with Hashino, including character designer Shigenori Soejima and composer Shoji Meguro. Hashino only became fully involved with the title after he finished work on Catherine. While Catherine used a third-party engine, Persona 5 uses a specially-built game engine. While he thought that this would help with development speed, he stated in 2012 that the game was far from being finished and to expect a long wait. The game's anime cutscenes were created by Production I.G. The game's themes were finalized by August 2011. Meguro used the themes as inspiration for his music, saying that he used acid jazz elements to get the right mood.
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. According to Hashino, the central theme of the game is freedom and how the characters attain it. He worked closely with Soejima to ensure the theme was reflected in the characters and environments. 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. 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. Hashino 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 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 main characters' 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 spite of these changes, the setting was still within a high school as with previous entries. 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", while the setting and style was compared to both a picaresque novel. The question the team originally asked in that regard was how a character like Arsène Lupin III might win appeal in modern society. Among the character inspirations for the Phantom were the original Arsène Lupin, The Fiend with Twenty Faces, and Ishikawa Goemon. 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. The protagonist is described by Hashino as a trickster who creates events with his companions during his activities. The Persona series' recurring motif of "masks" was used more overtly in the game's plot than previous entries.
The game 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. Initially announced for a Winter 2014 release for PlayStation 3, it was announced for release on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 in 2015 during Sony's SCEJA Press Conference held in September 2014. The game's first gameplay trailer was revealed on February 5, 2015. A Blu-ray Disc containing footage of the game was bundled with first print copies of Persona 4: Dancing All Night in Japan. The song used in the first gameplay trailer was an instrumental version of the main theme. During Tokyo Game Show 2015 the game was announced to be delayed to mid 2016. Speaking in a special video, Hashino apologized for the delay and said that it was necessary to deliver a high-quality product.
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