Since I'm very (very!) close to the end of Persona 5 now, I have a lot of thoughts about it, and at some point when more people have played through and I'm freer to discuss them, I'm sure I'll have all those conversations in detail.
Until then, here are some spoiler-free bullet point thoughts, based around the realisation that while I enjoy almost every aspect of this game, every single one comes with a caveat or two.
- The Palaces of the game are much more interesting than any of the previous games' dungeons with their heavily randomly generated floors - and even the one with randomly generated elements feels snappier and less of a slog.
- When they're bad, they're bad. It doesn't happen very often, but sections can be tedious. There's one late game dungeon which has a mechanic which is cute the first time, but then is repeated over and over again, forcing the player through a series of puzzles which involve a painful amount of backtracking.
- This is definitely the best the series has been for combat. They've been steadily making battles quicker to get through and this is the most streamlined approach yet. The new Hold Up mechanics offer some refreshing alternatives to All-Out Attacks, too.
- I wish they'd done a little more with those conversation mechanics. I don't know if it's just some weird localisation, but the response options feel very canned and in places odd, making it confusing to determine what the game wants from you.
Outside the dungeons
- It seems like there's more to do than ever, and it was a very good move to make it so that many of the social links grant you special abilities as well as simply powering up Personas.
- One of the ways they balance the game is by stopping you from doing activities in the evening sometimes. Usually whenever any major plot points are happening. It makes sense from a balance perspective and the previous games did this sometimes too but here it feels intrusive.
- The game is at its best when it's on-theme. Some of the things that it has to say about society and how people defend the very systems that hurt them feel very relevant in 2017. While it doesn't go too deep into its critique of society, when it hits it, it hits it well. Another nice thing about the Palaces is that they feel like part of the story this time, rather than a gate for the story advancement.
- Conversely, the game is at its worst when it sabotages its own themes. For example, there are a few (fortunately very short) homophobic moments, in a game that is literally about defying society's expectations of how to be. I wish the writers would think harder on how specific moments affect the overall themes; it would deepen the whole experience.
- The characters are distinct and mostly pretty fun to be around, and aside from a few weird moments, there's none that I dislike nearly as much as Yosuke from Persona 4. I can't say I absolutely fell in love with them like I did with some of the better characters from Persona 4, either, but they're good enough to carry the story.
- Part of the problem is that the game suffers from an uneven localisation. It spends a lot of the time coming across as quite a literal, by-the-numbers translation into English, such that it's very noticeable when on occasion the dialogue springs to life. Also because the Palaces are not focused around the lead characters, the leads rarely feel quite as deeply developed as Persona 4's.
- As expected game is the most stylish yet, and I was still not bored of the way the interface animates and scene transitions after seeing them for hours. The music is for the most start more understated than previous games, but it perfectly complements the tone of the game, and the few standout moments in the soundtrack are among the best in the series.
- Some of the texture work is noticeably low quality, and it's a shame to be in such a stylish game and then walk past an large billboard advertisement which clearly had a very small texture.