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Persona 5’s demon negotiations perfect a longtime series tradition

Try negotiating with a demon to learn the real art of the deal


Persona 5 has attracted near-universal acclaim, and for good reason: It’s a witty, shocking, stylish-as-hell gem. There’s one part of the game that is more polarizing than most, though, which is a shame — because it’s a stellar innovation on a gameplay system Atlus has been refining for years.

Unlike the two previous Persona games, the hero now has to talk his way into convincing more fighting demons to join his team. These events are called, naturally, demon negotiations. If the player’s good at nailing opponents’ weak spots over and over again, they’ll get into these optional interactions fairly often; talking to a demon is one of three choices players have during a battle’s most vulnerable moment.

Choosing to talk to a demon is highly recommended, even if it doesn’t work out in your favor. The reason for that is because Persona 5 has some fantastic writing, much like its recent predecessors. Some of the most absurdist comedy comes out of these demon negotiations, where vile creatures are instantly made likable just by spewing some inane thoughts from their mouths.

Look at this back-and-forth with Joker, the cool-guy hero of Persona 5, and the devilish Incubus Persona:

Turns out Incubus is kind of sweet? That’s an unexpected side of it, to be sure.

Talking to Hua Po is also pretty entertaining:

This is one of the most annoying demons to fight in the early part of the game, but it’s hard to hate Berith once it starts speaking in that Southern twang:

Every Persona has a unique personality, and it only comes across in conversation. It’s crucial to pay attention to that personality bit when trying to choose between the occasionally random answers that Joker can give in response. Hidden in the Persona 5 manual are some tips for how to respond to the different demons that the team comes across:

Keep these negotiation tactics handy.

It’s fun to choose the wrong thing to say sometimes, though. Anytime the player’s in a pinch, it’s advised they respond to the temperamental demons appropriately. Otherwise? Say whatever you want and let Persona 5’s writing amaze you every time.

This mechanic may be new to Persona players, but it comes from the broader Shin Megami Tensei series. Games in that franchise require players to enter some serious negotiations with the demons they fight in order to build out their team. Those can feel like way more of a crapshoot than Persona 5’s system, in our experience. Persona 5’s conversations don’t last much more than 30 seconds, and other Shin Megami Tensei games make the appropriate answer feel even more random — demons would change what they wanted to hear during each battle.

Not everyone loves the change from randomly shuffling cards as the means to acquire new fighters, but Persona 5’s version of negotiation spices up what’s already a pretty fantastic battle system.

The next level of puzzles.

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