The most common question we’ve gotten, when talking about how much we love the new video game Persona 5, is whether there are lots of people to kiss. The second most common question is: Can you play it without playing the other Persona games? The answer to both of these questions is yes.
Persona 5 is a turn-based role-playing game that mixes high school intrigue, intense dungeon-crawling, and Pokémon-style monster hunting. It is sleek and stylish, an ambitious game that takes around 100 hours to finish but rarely feels too long. And despite that intimidating number on the end of the title, Persona 5 is a standalone game. It requires no knowledge of the series to play. In fact, given that it’s the best Persona game to date, it’s the perfect starting point for people who have never bothered to pick up an Evoker.
The fifth Persona comes with a brand new setting, story, and cast of characters. Although it’s got a few references to previous games in the series, you can go into it with absolutely no Persona knowledge and still have a great time. Persona 5 is good at teaching you basic concepts—like how to fuse your collectible Personas and use them to target monsters’ weaknesses—without expecting you to have played other games. And the plot requires no Persona knowledge to appreciate.
Unlike previous games in the series, Persona 5 is friendly and forgiving to players. The dungeons are full of save points, and the game will warn you every time you’re about to fight a boss or tough enemy. It can be a challenging game—look out for Kotaku’s tips tomorrow—but it rarely feels unfair. Whereas previous Persona games (and other games in Persona’s parent series, Shin Megami Tensei) liked to steal your progress with bullshit one-hit-kills, Persona 5 is way better about respecting your time.
Don’t get me wrong: it’ll still occasionally steal your progress with bullshit one-hit-kills. You’ll just lose a lot less progress than you would have in previous games, where save points were rarer and insta-kill spells like Hama and Mudo were far more common. (Pro tip for Persona 5: Hook up your main character with at least one Persona that’s immune to holy and death attacks.)
Also, there are lots of people to kiss.