A Surprisingly Good Strategy Game in Persona 5 Tactica
6 mins read

A Surprisingly Good Strategy Game in Persona 5 Tactica

I always used to worry about spin-off games from the Persona series, but titles like Persona Q and Persona 4 Dancing All Night have proven that these experiments can be successful. The latest example is Persona 5 Tactica, a strategy game tie-in that shows even this kind of game can work well.

In Persona 5 Tactica, the Phantom Thieves face a new challenge typical of the series. The story unfolds at LeBlanc after the events of the main Persona 5 storyline, where news about the disappearance of Japan National Diet member Toshiro Kasukabe is circulating. Suddenly, a strange event occurs – the world shifts, the usual city sounds disappear, and even the door to LeBlanc changes. Stepping outside, the group finds themselves in the Marie Kingdom, a French-inspired realm ruled by the villainous Marie and her Legionnaires. Meeting Rebel Corps leader Erina and the missing Toshiro, Joker and his friends embark on their familiar mission of setting things right, investigating the situation, and saving the day.

If you’ve played the Mario + Rabbids strategy games on the Nintendo Switch, Persona 5 Tactica will feel quite familiar. In this game, you control a limited number of units in each stage, forming a party of three characters. The gameplay involves turn-based tactics and cover-based combat, where barriers with different shields (yellow for half-size, red for full-size) help mitigate or block damage. The objectives vary from defeating enemies, destroying flags, and protecting someone, to reaching specific places. You use guns, melee attacks, and Persona abilities to achieve these goals, sometimes within a set number of turns or by completing extra objectives for bonuses.

Persona 5 Tactica

As you progress through main and side missions or engage in conversations in the LeBlanc hub, you earn points to unlock additional abilities and perks on a skill tree for each character. Each character, through their unique Persona and Sub-Personas, gains extra abilities to enhance their effectiveness in battles.

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While the strategy gameplay might be new to series fans, the tutorial in Persona 5 Tactica might feel a bit lengthy. Despite my familiarity with the genre, I found it a bit frustrating that new gameplay elements kept being introduced throughout the first area and beyond. Some of these mechanics could have been introduced earlier or might have been relevant before reaching that point, even on the harder difficulty levels.

Despite the tutorial dragging a bit, Persona 5 Tactica maintains good pacing overall. The story flows well, and the difficulty level increases satisfactorily. Side missions often pose more challenges than the main ones, requiring creative problem-solving for specific objectives, like moving a character across the map in a single turn. The maps are generally designed for quick completion, with many taking around five to seven turns, and some can be finished even faster with strategic planning.

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One thing I observed is that I tended to rely on specific characters depending on the situation, even if they hadn’t “rested” and weren’t in their optimal state. For reaching specific points on the map, I often chose characters with 7-movement like Yusuke and Morgana, along with someone with a 6-movement range. When the goal was to clear out all enemies, I found that Joker, Haru, Ryuji, Makoto, Morgana, and Yusuke were the most effective. Certain characters had inherent perks, such as Joker providing higher gun-based damage, which often outweighed the advantages of using other party members.

In Persona 5 Tactica, the absence of Persona weaknesses was notable, allowing characters like Haru, Makoto, and Morgana to be universally useful. Their Persona skills, like Hypno, Vortex, and Sweep, could manipulate enemy positions without worrying about weaknesses. Similarly, Yusuke’s Goemon Bufu abilities and Ryuji’s Captain Kidd Zio skills could inflict Freeze or Shock without concern for elemental weaknesses, adding strategic options for certain challenges. While the removal of weaknesses meant more flexibility in choosing characters for any fight, it also removed a traditional strategic element, which was a bit disappointing.

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Fortunately, other familiar Persona features, like Sub-Personas, are present and enhance the overall strategy. Equipping Sub-Personas not only introduces additional status effects but also allows for loading up characters with useful passive abilities. The “1-More” attack triggered by landing a critical hit outside of cover proves fantastic for covering more ground or achieving optional objectives. Executing a Triple Threat All-Out Attack by strategically positioning three units in a triangle after knocking down an enemy with a critical hit adds a satisfying layer to the gameplay. Even setting up a Follow-Up Attack from a higher vantage point brings a sense of accomplishment. These features compensate for moments when party members cannot “pass through” each other, potentially limiting your tactical options. While Baton Pass is present, you can only switch in a standby ally if an active party member’s HP drops to 0.

I thoroughly enjoyed Persona 5 Tactica, especially when I decided to increase the difficulty and enable friendly fire, adding an extra layer of challenge. The characters, Personas, and overall concept seamlessly transitioned into the strategy game genre. Atlus managed to make it accessible for newcomers to tactical titles, which is commendable. While I wished for more elemental elements and some characters seemed a bit too versatile, the game remains entertaining. I appreciated the creativity behind the design direction, making it a unique and enjoyable experience.

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Persona 5 Tactica System Requirements

Operating SystemWindows 10 or Higher
ProcessorIntel Core i3-2100 or AMD Phenom II X4 965
Memory6 GB RAM
GraphicsNVIDIA GeForce GT 730, 2 GB or AMD Radeon HD 7570, 1GB or Intel HD Graphics 630
Storage20 GB available space

Persona 5 Tactica will come to the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC on November 17, 2023.

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