Persona 5 received its first trailer yesterday. If you missed it, go ahead and watch it now.
If you didn't, watch it again anyway.
We can agree that it's devastatingly stylish, but a closer look reveals a wealth of potential new details about the anticipated JRPG. Not just in terms of characters and setting, but mechanics, symbolism and themes too. Ahead of an upcoming Famitsu feature, let's delve into Persona 5's debut video and see what we can pick out. Starting with the basics.
Characters are key to the enduring success of the Persona games. We've finally got to meet a few of them.
- The Protagonist: High-schooler by day, mask-wearing ne'er-do-well by night. This time, however, we're going to make plaid trousers look awesome.
- Ryuuji Sakamoto: A blonde male hero. Seems free-spirited and rebellious. Likes skating. Can't possibly be hiding deep emotional conflict, nooo.
- Anzu Takamaki: A female heroine who seems to be channelling Catherine's art design.
- Morgana the cat: A normal cat, or a bizarre cat-thing? Or the first proof of a new Persona system? More on that later.
- The Twins: This time the Velvet Room seems to be run by a pair of twins. But where is it exactly?
- Igor: It wouldn't be a Persona game without our favourite creepy old mentor/bizarre Philemon construct
Exploration & Cover System?
Persona 5 looks to be a huge step up for the series in terms of visual immersion to sit alongside the engrossing storyline and writing. The school -- set in Toyko, by the looks of it -- bustles with activity in its corridors and classroom, but perhaps the most interesting moment comes from a snippet of what appears to be stealth gameplay as our masked-up protagonist sprints from cover to cover, seemingly attempting to stay hidden.
Can we use stealth to evade enemies, perhaps, or is this just a set piece section like Persona 3's bathhouse? We'll have to find out. Until then, though, I suppose we should talk about those masks.
Masks & Lawbreaking
This time around, masks seem to be a key theme, both visually and thematically. Our investigation/extermination team seems to want to keep their identities hidden, changing into some stylish masks and superhero-inspired outfits when on official business.
But why? Who are they hiding from? Or, perhaps, are they breaking the law?
I think so. After all, just look at the banner art...
Looks like a wrong'un to me. Or a vigilante.
I also suspect that the masks function as some sort of summoning medium much like Persona 2's Evoker handgun, but I'll explain why later.
Where is the Velvet Room?
My best guess? A prison... train. A prison train.
It's clear that the Velvet Room is housed in a train carriage, but a brief flash shows what appears to be a prison cell complete with prison uniforms bathed in the familiar blue colour. This ties in nicely with all the slightly nefarious imagery, after all.
The Interface Is Astonishingly Beautiful
Who says function can''t be fashionable?
That said, it's also worth noting that characters seem to be capable of equipping two different weapons, such as a blade and a gun. A small point worth making, perhaps, after playing Persona Q.
Nitpicking the little details is all well and good, but sometimes what's missing from a trailer is just as interesting as what's there. Such as the fact that we didn't see a single Persona being summoned, despite this being a Persona game!
Or did we?
See, the scene at the very end of the trailer shows the protagonist wreathing himself in flames as the familiar summon sound effect plays out, and seeming to undergo a change in personality too. This time, does the party actually transform into their Persona?
Quite possibly. This would tie into the symbolism of the masks, and also suggests that the masks themselves have some sort of use in the transformation process too. Hidden identities and all that.
It would also explain the cat, who appears to be a normal moggy... or a powerful masked party member. Put on the mask, become your Persona, perhaps.
Or not, but it makes for an interesting theory. Got a theory of your own to add, or feel I've overlooked/mistaken something? Sound off in the comments!