Last week, the invite-only Persona 5 Scramble: The Phantom Strikers “Premium Experience Event” was held, featuring the first public demo for the upcoming action RPG developed in collaboration between Atlus’ Persona Team and Koei Tecmo’s Omega Force.
Held at the Tunnel Tokyo membership-based workspace in Osaki, Tokyo, the venue was decorated in P5S imagery. A large number of setups were available, with around 40 lucky users who got to participate, chosen from applications.
A huge Morgana was present, next to the details for the game’s “Treasure Box” limited edition.
Dengeki was present, and they have published a report of their experience at the demo event.
Full of P5 quality from the prologue, keep an eye on the new character!
In this demo, attendees were able to play for about 2 hours starting from the beginning of the game. As reported previously, after the members of the Phantom Thieves reunite at their hideout in Yongen-Jaya, you can play a segment in Shibuya where they find themselves in a different world called “Jail” and become involved in a new incident.
The details of the story are not written as the author wants to avoid spoilers, but the Phantom Thieves are exactly like how they were depicted in P5, facing a new incident. The writer felt anticipation for a new story that follows the atmosphere of P5.
The new character Sophia, who appears for the first time in this game, also appears at the beginning. Although her behavior is off-kilter, you come to know she’s good-natured when you first meet her. She becomes a member of the Phantom Thieves and participates in battle. “No doubt this will become a popular character!?”
Another new character is the public security police officer Zenkichi Hasegawa. He did not have much presence in what the writer played, but they anticipate him in the full game.
What was surprising to the writer was the volume of “RPG” that was in the game. Before the demo, they thought that the ratio of action elements would be larger, but it turns out that Persona series RPG elements such as event scenes and city exploration are greatly implemented.
Combat with plenty of P5 elements
Next is the combat. Jails, the battlefield in this game, have strange landscapes that reveal people’s distorted desires, just like the alternate worlds known as Palaces that appeared in P5. Jails, however, are much larger than Palaces. With a wider area to cover, they also have many types of different mechanics.
When tackling a Jail, you fight in a party of four. When the writer first entered the Jail, it was almost entirely comprised of tutorial. But when the full-fledged search began, all members of the Phantom Thieves, including the main character and Sophia, could be arranged into the party from the beginning. In P5, new allies were added as the story progressed, but in this game, the members are already available in full swing, so you can use your favorite characters from the outset.
Enemy shadows move around the Jail, and by confronting with their symbol, you enter a battle. A lot of shadows appear at the moment of an encounter, but there was no load time and it was possible to transition into combat smoothly. When the surrounding shadows are defeated, the battle ends. You can earn money, experience points, personas, and more.
If you engage an enemy without being detected, combat encounters can become “chance encounters,” giving you an advantage at the start of battle. On the other hand, if a shadow takes you by surprise instead, a “Danger Encounter” can occur at the start of battle, putting the player in an unfavorable situation. This is an element that was also in P5. As with P5, the impact of the type of encounter will be an important factor in the outcome of battles.
Stylish persona battle!
Unlike in P5, you have direct control over the characters as you fight shadows. A big element of this game is the variety of actions you can perform with simple executions like button combinations and repeated presses. Each command is explained below.
Use the left stick to move around. You can also dash by moving the stick while holding in the R2 button. If you just press the R2 button, you will perform an evasive action. Evading was important when facing hordes of shadows and strong enemies.
Camera (Viewpoint) Movement
Use the right stick to move the camera around. Press the L1 button to reset the camera. Using the R3 button, you can lock onto shadows to keep them as the focal viewpoint. It was useful when fighting strong enemies.
You can jump with the X button. If you press the X button in the air, you can double jump. There are many places in Jails where you’ll need to rely on jumping to proceed.
Change the character you are controlling to another party member with the left, up, or right directional buttons. There are many uses for this, such as changing characters when your HP is low, or replacing a character with one that can attack an enemy’s weakness. The Showtime gauge (described later) is likely to increase after a Baton Touch. Relatedly, under the directional buttons, you can use “automatic recovery” to use recovery skills until your HP is fully recovered (used outside of battles).
The square button is used for normal attacks, and the triangle button is used for special attacks. Various attacks are possible depending on the combinations used. There are various combos, such as pressing square 3 times or pressing square, square, and then triangle. Combos that summon and attack with a persona as it’s happening. When you press the triangle button once, you can use a special action unique to each character.
Hold a character’s gun by pressing and holding the L1 button, and then fire by pressing the R1 button. The type of gun equipped by each character is different, with different attack ranges and numbers of bullets. The number of bullets that can be shot is limited, but they are restored once the combat encounter ends.
Summon a persona with the R1 button and use skills with the circle button. While holding the R1 button, you can adjust the target range of the skill using the left stick. During this, time will stop, so you can carefully choose your skill and use it. If you hit a shadow’s weak point, you’ll be able to deal a great amount of damage.
There are many other skills that can be used, such as recovery and status modifying ones, but using skills consume SP. There are also physical attack skills that are powerful but consume HP.
Instantly move to a specific point using an object on the field. It’s like the use of cover in P5, where you can move up and hide from a shadow’s line of sight. From there, if you pull off a sneak attack, you can initiate a chance encounter.
This action can also be used in battle, where you will attack using objects in the area. For example, by using a traffic light, you can defeat shadows by spinning around the pole laterally.
Shadows are knocked down when you hit their weak point with a skill or hit them with a critical attack. If you press the circle button, you can initate an all-out attack with your allies. The all-out attack is very useful because it not only causes a lot of damage, but also afffects a wide area.
In chance encounters, you can launch a powerful ciritcal attack first, so it’s often the case that the enemy will be knocked down right as the battle begins, and you can immediately pull off an all-out attack.
A special technique that can only be used when the Showtime gauge is filled completely during a battle. The character will attack unilaterally in an invincible state, with great power and range. It’s the strongest attack that can be called a battle’s trump card.
Activated using the L2 button. Analyze the ability of shadows to understand their weaknesses.
These are the systems that have been confirmed thus far. The writer used them all to fight shadows, but the effective tactic they found was to basically aim for an all-out attack by knocking enemies down using combos and persona skills.
Because many objects are found throughout the area, it seems that actively using them is a good idea. The writer was able to perform the Phantom Move with characters other than Joker, the main character. They enjoyed watching the animations of every character using the objects around them.
On the battle side, if you’re not careful around even weak enemies, you’ll be met with their skills that can cause a lot of damage. Shadows that are about to attack you with skills have their skill names displayed in a pop-up balloon above them, so you can easily recognize when they are about to use them.
In the demo, the writer was unable to reach the boss of the Shibuya Jail, but a mid-boss appeared that was quite strong. Tbese enmies have a lot of health, so it takes a lot to take them down. However, if their weak point is attacked, an additional attack is possible with “1MORE.” SP consumption can be saved during these boss battles by using this.
Experience points gained in battle can be used to level up. After you return from searching in a Jail, your team’s HP and SP will be fully recovered. In P5, it was necessary to have a day pass before returning to a Palace, but that’s not necessary in this game, with no disadvantage to simply returning to Jail exploration.
In this game, the difficulty is spearated between three levels: Easy, Normal, and Hard. People who are not good at action can play with a lower difficulty level.
Action representing the Phantom Thief members!
Part of what makes for this game’s charm is how each character’s actions are represented. Below are descriptions for each Phantom Thief member’s actions.
- Code Name: Joker
- Voice: Jun Fukuyama
Combo with his dagger and with a wide range of attacks, with an overall easy-to-handle feeling. His biggest feature is that he can switch personas using the R1 + right and left directional buttons.
His initial persona is Arsene, who can use curse attribute attacks, but changing personas lets him use attacks of other attributes. He’s a universal type that can handle various types of shadows.
- Code Name: Skull
- Voice: Mamoru Miyano
A delinquent who uses a blunt weapon. All of his square button attacks can be charged by pressing and holding the button. The longer the charge, the greater the attack power and range. While charging, he can use evasive actions used with the R2 button, so a strategy can be to evade an enemy’s attack after charging and hit them with a massive blow.
He’s a versatile character who has the ability to activate “Guts” with the triangle button, which improves his defense and increase his resistances. Using his persona, he can use electricity attribute attacks.
- Code Name: Mona
- Voice: Ikue Otani
He fights with a sword, using rapid movements like a cat’s. With the triangle button, he can transform into the Morgana Car. In this form, he gains a wide range of attacks. His persona can use wind attribute attacks and recovery skills.
- Code Name: Panther
- Voice: Nana Mizuki
Her attacks can cover a wide range. Using the triangle button, she can imbue her whip with flames, dealing heavy damage to enemies weak to the flame attribute. Using her persona, she can also use flame attribute attacks.
- Code Name: Fox
- Voice: Tomokazu Sugita
He cuts shadows stlishly with a katano using iaido. Using the triangle button, he can counter-attack shadows that attack him. Using his persona, he can use ice attribute attacks.
- Code Name: Queen
- Voice: Rina Sato
In addition to striking with her fists, she uses her persona “Johanna,” shaped like a motorcycle, to launch hit-and-run attacks. The traiangle button allows her to use a burst that grants her weapon the nuclear attribute. Her persona can also use nuclear attribute attacks.
- Code Name: Noir
- Voice: Haruka Tomatsu
Contrary to her appearance of a frail woman, she is a power type who decimates her surroundings by weilding a huge ax. PRess and hold the triangle button for even more powerful attacks, such as continuous swings of her ax. Her firearm is a grenade launcher that deals damage to a wide range of enemies at once. Her persona uses psy attribute attacks.
- Code Name: Sophie
- Voice: Misaki Kuno
A tricky character that fights using yo-yos. When the yo-yo returns to her hand, press the square or triangle button with proper timing right when her hand glows, and it’ll activate a “just catch” status where the attack power of her next attack will become stronger. It seems like this can be followed through for up to two stages. It you can master this ability, she will be a very strong character. Additionally, she uses skills using her floating object, Pithos, similar to a persona, with Pithos being able to use bless skills.
There’s also another Phantom Thief, Futaba Sakura (code name: Navi / Voice: Aoi Yuuki), but she cannot be used as a playable character, so I could not confirm what she was able to do. However, in P5, she supported the Phantom Thieves as a capable support character, so there should be a place for her to have an active role. Will she have specialized support abilities in P5S? Please look forward to the follow-up report.
City exploration and upgrade elements
In the demo, other elements were confirmed. One example was the city search element. In this so-called search segement, you go around Shibuya in search of information related to the incident. Whenever you return to the city after exploring a Jail or during it, you can stop at any store or vending marchine to shop. Weapons and other items can also be purchased at the Phantom Thief hideout.
In the city of Shibuya, the writer found a nostalgic entrance to the Velvet Room. In it, players are able to obtain new personas by fusing personas that were obtained. As you raise your level, personas will learn various skills, and many different personas can be created in the Velvet Room.
In addition to the levels that each character and persona have, each character will also have “Master Arts” and “BAND” action elements that will gradually become more powerful as individual characters are used more, and which will be important as the game progresses.
The game is packed with the feeling of P5, from the original and remixed background music, to the UI elements with the Phantom Thieves upon navigating the menu. Even though the writer only played for 2 hours, they found it very satisfying.
Overall, they felt it was a high quality action RPG that firmly maintained the P5 atomsphere, but also highlighted the individuality of each character. They would recommend it not only to P5 fans, but also to action game fans, and they can’t wait for the release date.
Daisuke Kaneda Interview
The Dengeki writer met the producer of the game, Daisuke Kaneda, who was present at the venue to learn a little more about the game. Other development staff members were also present, answering questions from the attendees and chatting with them.
The scenario is more voluminous than I expected at the beginning, and it gave me the impression that the story was carefully crafted.
Kaneda: The scenario took around two years from conception to completion. I think it’s definitely a “Persona 5” story. [Kaneda discussed some more about the process in a previous interview.]
I felt that the middle boss class enemy was quite strong. Was that intentional?
Kaneda: We’re particular about the RPG part of this game. Basically, I think the best way to fight is to keep the weaknesses of the enemy in mind, as you’d expect from “Persona.” Those who are good at action can fight with their techniques, and those who are not as good can easily fight if they raise their level. Please look forward to a new action RPG that takes advantage of the Persona series!
Persona 5 Scramble: The Phantom Strikers will be released for the PS4 and Nintendo Switch on February 20, 2020 in Japan.