Persona 5 made such an impact when it launched in 2016 that even now, seven years on, it is STILL seeing new releases based around its fan-favourite characters. Persona 5 Tactica gives the Phantom Thieves a different type of adventure though, with it adding a refreshing XCOM-like tactical twist to the RPG action.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Persona 5 Tactica sees the iconic Phantom Thieves venture through the Metaverse into a new world known as Kingdoms, which is run by a tyrannical military group known as the Legionnaires. Nothing that the Phantom Thieves can’t handle, right? Well, apparently not, with their first showdown with them ending pretty… well… badly. Fortunately, their lives are saved by a mysterious woman named Erina, who just so happens to run the Rebel Corps that are fighting back against the Legionnaires in a battle for freedom. And, of course, it’s a battle that you’ll find yourself a part of.

Whilst I don’t like to admit it, playing Persona 5 Tactica made me realise that I’m ready to move on from the overarching Persona 5 narrative. I know, it’s shocking, but after spending so much time with the Phantom Thieves, I’m ready to see what’s next in the Persona series. That’s not to say that the storytelling of Persona 5 Tactica didn’t hook me in (and it has plenty of cool little twists throughout its mystery), but I feel like I’ve seen enough of the Phantom Thieves now.

At least the gameplay is a bit more refreshing, with it adding a twist to the formula with the switch to XCOM-like tactical gameplay. Players take control of three party members, where they’ll take turns to strategically move across the battlefield, perform actions, and attack enemies. There’s an emphasis placed on maintaining defensive positioning whilst attacking by placing characters behind cover, whilst the distance between your characters and their enemies can determine the efficiency of their attacks.

“I really, REALLY like the combat, whilst I haven’t even mentioned the Chibi-style visuals which help give the game a totally different vibe to its predecessors.”

Things probably seem a little familiar so far, but Persona 5 Tactica does have a few original ideas to give the formula a bit of a twist. For one, there’s an emphasis placed on knocking down enemies, which is initiated by hitting them with a melee attack when they’re in cover and leaving them vulnerable to attack – hit them in this state and they’ll get knocked down, triggering the ‘One More’ mechanic that’ll give you an additional opportunity to attack. This can be hit in a combo between enemies with some clever planning, whilst you’ll also unlock the ‘Triple Threat’ attack that sees your party taking a triangular formation around a downed enemy to dish out a devastating AOE attack, costing just one character’s turn.

That probably sounds a little perplexing to read, but it’s actually a really innovative system that’s easy to get to grasps with when playing. Whilst I wouldn’t say Persona 5 Tactica is an easy game, it is accessible in its design despite offering plenty of elements of strategy, so no mechanic in the game ever feels so convoluted that you’ll struggle to understand how to best utilise it. Their use is imperative though, especially in the more challenging encounters that’ll demand precise planning and coordinated attacks in order to survive. You’ll even come across some side quests that demand you utilise these mechanics fruitfully in order to complete them, which emphasises just how significant they can be.

Of course, the Persona you equip to characters will be just as significant to your success, with each modifying their stats and abilities in different ways. And, again, there’s an emphasis placed on fusing them to create the best options for your team, with experimentation encouraged throughout the game’s runtime to build a party setup that best suits how you want to play. It complements the satisfying strategic action found in combat and ensures players are always given plenty of free rein in how they want to build their party.

Check out some screenshots down below:

It’s clear then that Persona 5 Tactica gets a lot right in this shift to tactical action, but it also makes a few missteps along the way. For example, combat is guilty of getting a little repetitive in places, with players facing a lot of the same enemy types over and over again throughout the adventure. Whilst the boss encounters are a lot more interesting and there are some set pieces in battles that add to the excitement, the normal encounters can get formulaic and don’t always offer enough differentiation to help them stand out. Don’t get me wrong, combat is a lot of fun, but the slower pace and lack of variety can make it easy to fall into a formulaic pattern of actions.

It doesn’t help that there’s no exploration in between all of these encounters, with players instead limited to cutscenes that progress the story forward, a bit of heavy menu navigation, and combat. Sure, you’ll still share some brilliantly written interactions with characters, but the lack of freedom to explore your surrounding and embrace their sights just made Persona 5 Tactica feel like it was missing that social aspect that the series is known for.

These problems don’t make Persona 5 Tactica a bad game at all though, with most elements of its design wonderfully incorporated to ensure players have a good time. I really, REALLY like the combat, whilst I haven’t even mentioned the Chibi-style visuals which help give the game a totally different vibe to its predecessors. It looks and sounds fantastic. It just doesn’t reach the incredibly high standards expected of the Persona 5 name, and whilst that certainly doesn’t mean the game isn’t impressive, it might leave players wanting more.

Persona 5 Tactica Review

Persona 5 Tactica offers a refreshing twist to the formula that brings in some cool ideas, even IF it can get a bit repetitive over time.

The combat is intuitive and tactical, it looks fantastic, and the storyline managed to hook me in, so it’s clear that it does a lot right. It just has a few missteps too, with some repetitive showdowns, a lack of exploration, and an overfamiliarity with the Phantom Thieves letting it down a little. I still had a really good time with the game and it’s exciting to see the series take a different direction, but I think I’m ready to move on from these characters and see what the future of Persona really brings.

Developer: Atlus
Publisher: SEGA
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch