Persona 5 Director Interview with Honkai: Star Rail Developers on UI, Turn-Based Combat

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Around Tokyo Game Show 2023 in September, a team from HoYoverse, the studio behind Genshin Impact and Honkai Star Rail, paid a visit to Atlus in Osaki, Tokyo. During the visit, Denfaminicogamer conducted an interview between Honkai: Star Rail producer David Jiang and Atlus director Katsura Hashino.

A previous interview between the two was published in April 2023.

During the visit, the HoYoverse team were presented with an illustration by Persona series and Metaphor: ReFantazio artist Shigenori Soejima, featuring Star Rail character March 7th and Metaphor character Gallica.

The interview topics relevant to Persona:

Persona’s Popularity in China

Denfaminicogamer: What was the reaction to the previous interview with Hashino in China?

Honkai: Star Rail Development Team: It was a big topic. There are many fans of the Persona series in China, so it gained a lot of attention. There is an internet meme phrase in China that goes “Persona 5 is the best game under the sun,” so that’s how highly regarded Persona is there.

Persona 5’s UI

Star Rail Development Team: Games created by Hashino have special attention paid to the UI design. What led you to putting focus on that aspect?

Hashino: I don’t know if the saying “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” exists in China, but basically it’s the idea that the game is pop and mainstream on the surface, but on the inside it’s typical of what Atlus has always been creating. We wanted to strongly emphasize this contrast. At the time of development, a lot of websites were using Flash to create stylish homepages, and I was influenced by that, so I decided to introduce the game by making it pop, with flash-like animation.

In terms of functionality, games that focus on immersion, such as action games, tend to have a very minimal UI. it might have been once considered what’s trendy, but it’s a common standard now. In JRPGs, you spend a lot of time in menus, so the interface itself is part of the game, rather than being something separate.

In Japan, UI design is often handled by new employees. Top level designers are usually in charge of characters and background graphics, with the UI being secondary. I think that’s a mistake. That’s why Atlus’ UI designers are paid so well (laughs).

Turn-Based Battles

Star Rail Development Team: What do you think about the potential of turn-based battles?

Hashino: As I said in the previous interview, I think they’re good as long as they are meaningful. Even in action combat, there are moments when you take things slowly, creating a standoff. I think you can appreciate any style as long as it has a meaningful direction, and that’s what I’m challenging in Metaphor: ReFantazio. 

Looking over Metaphor illustrations. The images are blurred as some have not yet been revealed.

Lyn Inaizumi, the vocalist for Persona 5, will also be providing vocals for a song in upcoming Honkai: Star Rail content. An excerpt can be heard in the trailer below:

Denfaminicogamer