Persona 5's hero is in trouble.
In 10 days, he'll be expelled from school. The only solution is for he and his band of Phantom Thieves to conquer Kamoshida Palace — a place not that no so coincidentally shares a name with one of their teachers — before time runs out.
So goes the setup for Persona 5's presence at E3, which is perhaps best described as "light." Despite its impending launch this September in Japan, the game isn't playable at the show. Instead, it's appearing in the form of about eight minutes of pre-recorded gameplay showing both at the Atlus booth and behind closed doors.
Atlus' "Day to Night" demo takes place in April (historically the opening month for Persona games) and emphasizes the game's different day and night cycles, which players of previous games will be familiar with. First up is time spent in school, where players will answer questions in class and find new ways to bond with classmates. It's a familiar scenario with some slick upgrades; a simple list of answers is replaced by what appears to be placeholder art for something more visual.
Part-time jobs are making a return, with the demo showing off a convenience store and a flower shop. In a brief segment shown previously in trailers, the protagonist hits balls in a batting cage. With enough practice, this will increase a specific character trait. It's unclear which trait that is, but there are five at play in Persona 5: knowledge, guts, charm, kindness and proficiency.
Daytime activities don't end there; Persona 5 will also let players go to movies, study in a restaurant, shop for weapons or tackle the Big Bang burger challenge similar to the Aiya Beef Bowl challenge in Persona 4 Golden. Notably Morgana, the game's feline companion, accompanies you everywhere you go — from hiding in your bag at school to hanging out at the movie theater with you. Occasionally, the hero will receive texts from friends, too; although you can sometimes choose from dialogue responses, texts might also be warnings of upcoming deadlines or other things to be mindful of.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Day to Night content is the time spent in the game's dungeons. Players can move into Kamoshida Palace with very little transition. Upon arriving, the protagonist can be seen pocketing his phone, suggesting that it's key to entering this world. Waiting outside the Palace is one of the Velvet Room Twins, Caroline or Justine. Although it's still unclear what their role is here, it's likely a way to travel to the Velvet Room, a place where players can fuse Personas or accept side-quests.
Once inside the Palace, the Phantom Thieves are focused on stealth. Where past games only required you to tap a Shadow with your weapon to get the jump on them, Persona 5 expects players to be a little more clever — using the environment to hide and surprise shadows. Once in battle, players will have access to several new types of attacks: psy, blessing, curse and nuclear, which appeared in older Persona games.
It's a lot like the series' all-out attacks
Persona 5 will also bring back the ability to chat with Shadows (the game's enemies) you encounter — a feature known in the older Persona games, and more specifically the Shin Megami Tensei series. To get there, however, you have to trigger a "Hold up!" sequence. It's a lot like the series' all-out attacks, where the entire party will rush enemies to inflict massive damage, but this time with the choice to speak with your foes. Making peace is important to obtaining more Personas, as this will apparently replace the older games' system of drawing cards post-battle.
There's still little we know about Persona 5 or even its protagonist. Near the video's end, we see him return to his home above a cafe. His room is bleak, even derelict looking — a stark contrast to what we've seen in previous footage, which suggests that his room will be upgradable.
Persona 5 launches in North America for PlayStation 3 and PS4 next February.