Persona 5 is one of the best games available on the PS4 and PS3 right now, but it’s not perfect. For all the stylish visuals and clever writing, there is a constant annoyance that will anger the most hardcore fans. No matter what skills you get or how many bonds get forged, the protagonist does not know how to manage his time.
This is a problem that plagued previous Persona games, so the fact that it isn’t fixed is a missed opportunity. It’s really apparent in the beginning, when players have a hard time crafting lockpicks, due to other activities. That’s not to say the whole system is flawed, as the additional pressure adds plenty of tension for each mission.
Time After Time
Managing time can be tedious in Persona 5 since players have to balance part-time jobs, hangouts, side quests and palace invasions. The latter is the longest and most important part of the game, since they advance the story and are on a time limit. In fairness, it is usually a number of days before the palace has to be reached and it’s easy enough to manage at first.
What’s ridiculous; however, is that each activity takes up the same amount of time, limiting what a player can do. Making a cup of coffee or creating a lock pick takes the same amount of time as a date or a part-time job. Atlus could have made the more minor activities take less time, but as of this writing, all these tasks are of equal length.
In a way it’s genius, since players will have to prioritize what and who are most important to them, just like in real life. On the other hand, players can inadvertently cancel their hangouts to make a cup of coffee, which is insane. Even stocking up items can take a whole day, so players really have to choose what day is for fighting and what day is for stocking up.
Persona 5 has two main dungeons for Persona collecting and turn-based combat: the various palaces and Mementos. Mementos is an ever-changing dungeon players can go to for grinding and completing side quests, which usually leads to great rewards. The various palaces are only around for a number of days and must be completed, otherwise it’s game over for the player.
One thing these two dungeons have in common is that they exhaust the protagonist to the point that they can’t do anything else after but sleep. It’s realistic and going back home after reaching a safe room can often be comforting, especially when a palace is filled with tough enemies. That being said, the fact that the player can’t even water their plant or watch DVD after this is a wee bit annoying.
Not being able to go to a part-time job or the batting cages after a palace mission is fine, since these are physically tasking. However, not being able to read books or buy items after these missions is eye-rolling, especially when the player is allowed to go out at night later on. Going to the clinic for healing items or eating with friends (especially party members) feels like an option players should have after fighting enemies.
To be clear, none of these limitations makes Persona 5 a bad game at all, not by a longshot. Few games have characters this likeable or a mythology this interesting; perfectly balancing relatable social issues with gratifying power fantasies. However, there is no denying that the time management issues can take a toll on players, even angering them to a certain extent.
Persona 5 is available now on the PS4 and PS3. It’s one of the best games of the year, so JRPG fans should check this out.