Is Persona 5 Tactica Worth It?

Persona 5 Tactica is the latest spinoff from Persona 5, which is the latest entry in the Persona series, itself a spinoff of the Shin Megami Tensei series. Got all that down? Weird trivia aside, Persona 5 Tactica, true to its name, combines the Phantom Thieves with a tactics-based RPG system. XCOM, Fire Emblem, Tactics Ogre, Suikoden Tactics… those sorts of games. And many others. But we really wanted to give the underrated Suikoden Tactics a shout.


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At any rate. Persona 5 Tactica has quickly developed a fairly divisive reputation. Some love it, some… not so much. Professional reviews are similarly up and down. Here’s our own take on the game, and whether it’s worth your cash to give Joker’s strategy-centric tale a chance.


Review

toshiro saying eri wouldn't stand for injustice persona 5 tactica

“I love Persona 5,” our very own Stacey Henley says in the first paragraph of her Persona 5 Tactica review. She loves its “self-made ecosystem of pseudosequels and spin-offs to fill the silence before Persona 6 arrives.” As for Tactica in particular, things are murkier. “Tactica may be one game too far for the Phantom Thieves.”

Don’t get us wrong. Stacey hardly hates Persona 5 Tactica. There’s plenty to enjoy, and ultimately, she awards it three out of five stars. It is by no means an outright bad video game. It’s simply not up to par with Persona’s greatest hits. The combat can get fairly repetitive, with too many similar situations and far too few enemy types. The story takes too long to get going, but eventually “hits you in the emotional solar plexus,” which doesn’t sound particularly desirable. Don’t worry: it’s a good kind of punch to the plexus. Which, evidently, exists.

Makoto riding Johanna in Persona 5 Tactica

One thing that’s been commonly criticized about Persona at-large is its tendency to include heaps of seemingly endless conversations in which characters repeatedly restate the same basic stuff. Put plainly, many players perceive the games as overwritten. Some of us welcome it, since it’s that much more time to spend with the rad casts, but there needs to be a strong vibe to make it work – the overwritten scripts must avoid outright blandness, which Persona 5 generally pulls off.

In Persona 5 Tactica’s case…

These conversations feel like playing Kingdom Hearts as a Disney fan watching beloved characters rabbit on about the power of friendship for 25 minutes then achieve nothing. You’re not the real Queen Elsa, go away.

Joker approaches the last enemy to finish Quest 12 in Persona 5 Tactica.

Still, it does come together. And while Stacey treats the 20-hour main story – despite its relative brevity for a Persona title – as outstaying its welcome, she shines praise upon a fair few aspects. Nifty mechanics like Triple Threat help keep things somewhat fresh; its side content is suitably challenging; boss battles are a spectacle; and new characters Erina and the (surprisingly adult) Toshiro are the stars of the show.

Most of the core story quests are too easy, by contrast. But hey, this stuff is there if you want to feel at all pressed.

Persona 5 Tactica is undone by the fact it’s unsure if it’s putting the Persona twist on the tactical grid game, or using Persona characters to introduce newcomers to the genre.

Cost

Morgana and Zorro in Persona 5 Tactica

There’s no mistaking it: Persona 5 Tactica is a premium-priced video game. Atlus charges $59.99 USD and its international equivalents for the base game. If you want all the launch DLC, including the fairly meaty Repaint Your Heart quest that centers on Goro Akechi and Kasumi Yoshizawa, you can either splurge on the Digital Deluxe Edition for $79.99, or, if you decide to snag it all later, fork over $29.99 for it separately.

If you don’t care much about the Picaro + Raoul Summons or the Weapon Pack, Repaint Your Heart on its own is $19.99. But at that point, you’re spending as much in total over time as you would have on the Digital Deluxe Edition, and you’re missing that aforementioned content. It’s clear that Atlus wants to get that initial $80 sale in – though truth be told, this is a common modern marketing approach for most major publishers. We get it.

There’s another approach if you’re subscribed to Xbox Game Pass, and it’s our biggest recommendation if so. As of this writing, Persona 5 Tactica is available on Game Pass. It lacks the DLC, but you can, in essence, play the game and all its optional content for $29.99 in this fashion.

Time Expenditure

Queen's skill tree with her Pedal to the Metal skill learned in Persona 5 Tactica.

Per HowLongToBeat, finishing off Persona 5 Tactica’s main story nets players an average of about 24 hours. Our reviewer, Stacey Henley, estimated the main story’s about 20 hours, so not far off either way.

If you’re interested in completing not just the main story, but the side content as well, you’re looking at around 30 hours devoted to Persona 5 Tactica. And, if you really want to get your bang for your buck, a completionist file will clock around 37 hours on average. It’s hardly the longest Persona product in memory, but as a spinoff, it’s hardly the shortest! (Looking at you, Dancing in Moonlight/Starlight.)

What People Are Saying

erina and joker looking at marie's flag persona 5 tactica p5t

People are talking about Persona 5 Tactica. You can see it all over the internet. But we’re going to focus on what a few of us here at TheGamer have said, because this is TheGamer dot com, and we kind of have a brand and all. Here are a few takes on Tactica, courtesy of the hard-working and industrious keyboard warriors who just so happen to contribute to our site.

Persona 5 Tactica promised us cute chibi-style trio tactical battling, and it delivers – but as more of a pop than a bang. Approaching the game as someone who loves Persona but didn’t have much experience with turn-based tactical combat requiring you to always be thinking two steps ahead of yourself, I enjoyed the game once I got the hang of being more careful. That said, while the game and its DLC content is all fun enough, I’d only recommend it to either the most diehard of Persona fans or folks who enjoy both the Persona series and tactics games well enough – if you’re not anywhere in those extremes, you may find it lacking.

A Great Game… To Buy When It’s On Sale

There’s a lot to like about Persona 5 Tactica, but very little to love. If you’re desperate to spend a couple dozen more hours with the Phantom Thieves (admittedly, I’m part of that group…) then you’ll have a fine time, even if the established cast tends to play second fiddle to the new faces. Atlus’ writing tendencies are on full display here, from the hit-or-miss humor that really lands when it lands, but borders on insufferable when it doesn’t, to the tendency to overexplain every little detail – but build toward something that is genuinely compelling nevertheless.

The battles won’t stand toe-to-toe with stuff like Tactics Ogre or Fire Emblem: Engage, and the customization systems are simply decent. But Tactica doesn’t land with a thud, and it’s hardly a dud – it just isn’t something I’d ever recommend at full price. If you can grab it at a 50 percent discount, though? Well worth your time.

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