Anime Hack'N'Slash JRPG Review

Persona 5 Strikers – Review | A Hack’n’Slash JRPG

Is Persona 5 Strikers what you think it is? Judging by talking with friends, colleagues, and people online, you might be surprised. Many have likened it to the Warriors series of games, focusing almost solely on hack and slash battles against thousands of enemies. While there is some similarity, there’s a lot more to it than fighting.

Persona 5 Strikers - Joker

What is Persona 5 Strikers?

I feel like the best way to describe Persona 5 Strikers is a JRPG with hack and slash combat. Before that though, is that it’s the sequel to the original version of Persona 5. The prequel was a fairly standard, if very well-regarded JRPG. I’m actually reviewing this from the perspective of someone who hasn’t played the previous game. Surprisingly it does a really good job of making sure that isn’t a problem.

Persona 5 Strikers - Nicer Alice

Holidays Cancelled

After a brief combat sequence, Persona 5 Strikers starts with the Phantom Thieves talking about how they haven’t met up in a while. They start making plans to go on a short holiday. After the events of the previous game, they need a rest, right? Unfortunately, that isn’t going to happen.

We skip to a meeting where the police are talking about a number of recent cases. Public figures are suddenly confessing their crimes or thoughts. The police are ordered to investigate and the Phantom Thieves are number one on the suspect list.

Meanwhile, the thieves start using a new popular AI assistant app. By chance, they meet a fashion idol at a surprise event. She gives everyone there a keyword to be her friend on the app. And suddenly they’re in the metaverse, fending off a horde of enemies.

Persona 5 Strikers - Fight

Along the way, they find Sophia. A sentient-seeming AI who states that she is humanity’s companion. She aspires to understand humans more and ends up joining your group in order to help you escape. I mentioned before that Persona 5 Strikers was fine to play without playing the previous game. Sophia is the reason why – they often use her character to reiterate the world-building that would have taken place in the previous game.

It comes to light that this idol is somehow stealing the desires of all the people she gives her keyword to. They become absolutely obsessed with her. This is to the point of going into debt to buy her clothes, breaking up with significant others, and practically dedicating their life to her.

With this, the Phantom Thieves are back in business. They work to change her heart and free her victims. But they soon find out that it’s not just her. It’s happening all over.

Persona 5 Strikers - Alice

Take My Heart

I really enjoyed the story. One thing which stood out was the villains. It had a theme throughout that a certain member of your group had some sort of connection or similarity to that chapter’s enemy, so it was interesting to explore through that lens. They often seemed like terrible people too, but then when exploring their character further, you could see why. It was possible to sympathize.

Seeing the connection that the characters had with the villains was an interesting way for me to get to know them too. Perhaps someone more familiar with the previous game would be less interested, but I found it a good way to explore their personalities. An early example being how it showed Ann’s motivations and desire for others to be happy.

While I’ll be refraining from saying anything specific for fear of spoilers, we also meet a number of other characters. One of them has a particularly surpising character arc. The narrative of finding out why this is happening also kept me hooked, not so much for the story but for how it unfolded.

It’s not all serious though. You can see the characters joke around with each other or talk about their hobbies. Scenes are set around the leader cooking for the group or cheering up a member with ice cream. It also highlights Sophia’s growth in understanding humans. At these less serious times, you can also see absurd moments like a talking cat turn into a van that runs hordes of enemies down.

Persona 5 Strikers - Vote

Is this a JRPG?

Ignoring the combat for the moment, it has fairly high-quality, but otherwise typical JRPG gameplay. There are cutscenes and plenty of moments with character dialogue. You can participate in conversations with occasional meaningless choices. Wandering around town and talking to NPCs happens frequently. The story tends to be front and center, while told through these mediums. Some parts were pretty flashy – an action-packed anime sequence with roof-jumping, sliding down walls, and jumping onto a helicopter was an opener. Some parts are more laid back, like sitting around eating curry.

As you go about town, you might buy items and equipment. There are times that you will need to investigate by searching the city and talking to people for information to complete a quest. There are even side quests called requests which unlock after a certain point.

Persona 5 Strikers - Onsen

As well as the standard JRPG activities, there are some quite deep RPG mechanics involved. Methods to increase your stats. Perks that you can unlock. Capturing and fusing of creatures. Modifying available magical spells and creating custom move sets. It has quite a few. I had a particularly fun time with these. All the details like inheriting skills and building the perfect Persona appealed to me. 

I would not have any issue describing this as a JRPG. While you can find many of these mechanics in hack and slash games such as the Warriors series, they don’t tend to be as prominent. It has the focus on the story and the RPG mechanics here. There is a reason why people question it though – the combat.

Is this a Hack and Slash?

Yes, it is. But perhaps not like some readers might be thinking. I already mentioned that the RPG mechanics are there, so while statistics and equipment are in many hack and slash games, you spend far more time here going through dialogue and wandering around town than you might expect.

The hack and slash portion of the game takes place mostly in the ‘jail’. These are similar but distinct from the palaces in Persona 5. You explore them, often completing similar tasks. Typically this involved going to certain points to unlock things to proceed, facing a number of mini-bosses and bosses. There would be checkpoints, treasure chests, items, and enemies along the way.

How combat works in Persona 5 Strikers is that most of the time you can choose whether to fight or not. Or at least you can if you’re perceptive. Enemies walk around the map. If they see you, they’ll attack. If you’re careful, you can sneak up behind and ambush them instead for an opening at the start or just avoid them. I was impressed that it did get more difficult to avoid at times in a natural way. More perceptive enemies came in and a certain event made it difficult to avoid even easier enemies. Some were mandatory too, like defensive battles while Futaba hacks a door open or bosses.

When it did come to a fight, it blocks off a small area and starts an encounter. This is another thing that separates it from a lot of hack and slash games – you’re not fighting whatever enemies are on the map in an open area. The one security guard that might have been on the map suddenly turns into a dozen monstrous creatures in this closed area.

Persona 5 Strikers - Hack and Slash

To the Death

I found the combat itself quite satisfying. It might not be as smooth as some titles, but it’s combat that I needed to think about. I admit, in games like Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate, Senran Kagura Burst Re:newal, or Fate/Extella: Link I often just mash away with the same patterns. It gets me through and it’s mindless fun. In Persona 5 Strikers, I had to watch the enemy, dodge, cast skills of the correct elemental weakness, and react quickly to openings. If not, I’d die.

Openings were an interesting one. These could often be created by using skills or using the environment in certain ways. There are plenty of fun objects around at times, like stacks of swords that you can land on and throw, chandeliers you can drop on enemies, and exploding ice crystals to name a few. When an opening is created, this could sometimes let all characters attack at once or give you the option to rush for a follow-up attack. Either way, it let you control the flow of battle. I enjoyed the thought that needed to go into it.

Interestingly you can switch between four party members in combat, who you can choose from the full team outside of combat. The characters have different personas equipped with access to various magic and their own unique skills. Even regular combat felt unique between characters, with some feeling lighter than others. Considering that many hack and slash games do have very similar feeling characters, this is definitely a point in the favor of Persona 5 Strikers. The game encourages you to switch too by giving extra opportunities when you do at times. That and I did end up having one or two characters dying at times, so I had to switch over to cast revive spells or use items.

Optional but Mandatory 

I’ve mentioned the difficulty a couple of times. I found it manageable on normal mode, but there are easier and harder modes. With that said, I only found it manageable after doing the ‘optional’ things.

After unlocking requests, the rewards seem minor at first. But you soon find that you need to go back and defeat old bosses once more and kill numerous old enemies to unlock more important things. Removing a level cap, putting new equipment in the store, things like this. This is a downside since I felt forced to redo the same content, rather than just having it as an option for bonuses.

You can unlock cooking eventually which lets you create items with ingredients. This involves searching the cities you visit and buying recipes, along with ingredients. I actually quite liked this feature and how they integrated it into the game with little events and different ingredients in different cities, but it did feel necessary to help reduce grinding for healing items and money.

Persona 5 Strikers - Bike

Those Minor Issues

Persona 5 Strikers played well for the most part, but I did come across a few frustrating parts. The most notable of these was how barriers seemed arbitrary at times. In certain instances, I could jump over obstacles, but at other times it wouldn’t let me. I could jump up to the roof of a building, but not over a bush. These sort of things popped up relatively often and didn’t really make sense.

Another minor one was characters kept telling me a checkpoint was near, even when it was a long walk away. It was near on a map, but could practically be far off.

But on the Plus Side…

Balancing out the issues, it’s worth noting that there are some nice features. One that I always love to see in games is a way to catch up on the story. A lot of us have busy lives and might not be able to play for a while. Persona 5 Strikers understands this and at any point, you can discuss the current events with the team and they’ll give you a summary. There are also waypoints, both as an overlay and on the minimap. You will generally be able to figure out where you’re supposed to go quite easily.

As a bonus feature, you can even fast-travel. In the real world, this can be done anywhere. In the jails, you can move between checkpoints that you’ve activated. This was really convenient.

Persona 5 Strikers - Cooking

Lights, Camera, Action

I have rather mixed feelings about the graphics in this game. The user interface and the sprites are brilliant. High quality and very stylish, much like the rest of this game. The models however seem to lack detail. At one point I couldn’t see a character’s face with him slightly in the distance. This is only apparent during certain cutscenes, with some pre-rendered ones looking quite good and it not being an issue in combat or while walking around.

I mentioned it as being stylish. This is throughout the game really, but one example I particularly liked was the menus. Sophia runs a shop and even switching between parts of the menu has a stylized version of her moving around the screen. It’s just those little touches where it could’ve just been a basic menu, but they’ve gone further in terms of presentation.

The music is amazing. It’s high energy when it needs to be and adds the right sense of drama at times. Hearing ‘Life Will Change’ as you come on up to a boss battle can really fit the scene and ramp up the hype for that final battle of a jail.

The game includes both Japanese and English voices. I primarily played with Japanese, but both are good. It’s not often I actually say that about English voice-overs either. 


I had a lot of fun with Persona 5 Strikers. I was a little surprised at how much of it was like a JRPG as the trailers and discussion online seemed only focused on the combat aspect. How easy it was to get into for someone who hadn’t played the previous game was also impressive.

The quality was high despite a few issues and I felt like the combat was done particularly well. The progress through the story is what kept me wanting to play through, along with the deep RPG mechanics. I felt like they mixed really well with the hack and slash aspect.


Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC (Steam)

If you would like to see more Hack and Slash games, you may be interested in our review of Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate. Or if you’d like to look at earlier parts of Persona, you can purchase Persona 4 on PC by clicking here.

Many thanks go to Sega/Atlus for a PC review code for this title.

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