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A 2016 dungeon crawling JRPG/social sim game created by Atlus and the fifth main installment of the massively popular Persona spinoff series. The game features the mostly same crew as Persona 3 and 4, the game is directed by Hashino Katsura, who also wrote the story. This game is notably his swan song for the series, which he has acted as director for since Persona 3, and he will leave any future Persona installments in the hands of other creators while he works on non-Persona games. The art work was handled by Soejima_Shigenori and Suto_Masayoshi. The soundtrack is composed by Meguro Shouji with vocals by Inaizumi Lyn. This time, Meguro goes for an acid jazz style for the soundtrack. It was released in September 2016, after multiple delays.
Kurusu Akira is a normal unassuming boy until he steps in one night to rescue a woman from being sexually assaulted by a drunken man. Unfortunately, said drunken man happens to be a high ranking and respected official who has the police in his pocket so Akira is powerless when it comes to proving his innocence. He is slapped with a criminal record and expelled from his school, forcing him to move to Tokyo where he lives with Sakura Sojiro, the owner of Cafe Leblanc. Akira is set to attend Shujin Academy. Sojiro warns Akira not to get in any trouble, but this quickly proves to be easier said than done. Akira's reputation follows him into his new school and most of his fellow classmates and teachers are wary of him. Furthermore, his smartphone has received an undeletable app that leads him to the mysterious Velvet Room whose owner Igor informs him that he must rehabilitate lest he be ruined.
One day when going to school, Akira and fellow outcast Sakamoto Ryuji, are suddenly dragged from Tokyo into a strange monster filled palace and are forced to fight for their lives. There, they encounter the cat Morgana who tells them that they have been trapped within the Metaverse Palace of the volleyball teacher Kamoshida Suguru. The Palace represents his twisted view of himself and others around him. Their job is to steal the treasure of the Palace and in doing so, change the heart of its owner. Kurusu, Sakamoto, and Morgana proceed to team up with various Shujin Academy classmates to form the Phantom Thieves, a group of vigilante thieves who send calling cards to various corrupt and twisted authority figures, and embark on bringing justice to these criminals by stealing their hearts and making confess to their crimes. With each target they take down, they find themselves coming closer to uncovering a conspiracy that can affect the entire human race. . .
Like its predecessor, the game combines dungeon crawling with social simulation. This game notably revamps the combat system and dungeon exploring. Instead of procedurally generated levels, the dungeons, except Mementos, are all hand-crafted and are filled with unique puzzles. The game introduces a stealth mechanic, allowing players to score some extra damage at the start of a fight if they manage to catch an enemy off guard. There is also the option to switch characters after scoring a critical hit on an enemy. The game also brings back the demon negotiation system from the main Shin Megami Tensei games and early Personas. Players can perform a hold up where the player can convince a demon to join their side if they give the demons answers they're satisfied with.
In contrast to its predecessors use of yellow, the game predominantly uses a red and black color scheme, and the game's main theme is freedom and resisting the shackles of society. It is also darker in tone and its story touches on real life social issues within Japanese society as well as critiquing various aspects of Japanese culture. The games' story structure was based off of picaresque fiction, taking inspiration from works like (水滸傳) Water Margin by 施耐庵 (Shi Nai'an), Hakuchuu No Shikaku, and Lazarillo de Tormes. It is also heavily inspired by the Arsene Lupin novels, and as the main cast are thieves, dungeon-crawling in the game is framed as a series of heists with the characters essentially infiltrating a high security area and making off with the location's loot. It was originally intended to be a backpacking style adventure, but the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake caused Hashino to change the premise to focus on Japan. The game's story is also divided into multiple distinct story arcs with the heroes facing a new villain for each one.
This game notably features a massive cast of well known seiyuu. At the same time, it is also unfortunately the final performance for two of its voice actors, Matsuki Miyu (Mifune Chihaya) and Tanaka Kazunari (Kaneshiro Junya).
Upon release, the game received widespread critical acclaim and became Atlus's best selling game within Japan. The game won the Gold Prize and User's Choice categories in Japan's 2016 Playstation Awards.
The Phantom Thieves:
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