We're looking for new writers to join us!

Persona 5 Tactica

Persona 5 Tactica

Written by Elliot Hilderbrand on 12/1/2023 for PS5  
More On: Persona 5 Tactica

I was late to the Persona 5 love train. It was an RPG I had put on my list to get to but never found the time - a story most of us are all too familiar with. I knew Persona 5 would be a time investment. I was knowledgeable enough of the series, and RPGs in general, to know that once you start the journey it won’t be a short hike. Then we had that little global pandemic a few years back, maybe you recall? I was able to really sit down and have the time of my life playing Persona 5. Loved the whole experience, a really bright moment at a time when everything was, well, crazy.

Like many others, I was interested in seeing this group of characters’ further exploits. Thankfully, Persona 5 Tactica has delivered just that. A new, unique twist to Persona, and one that found a way to fit into the story cannon of Persona 5, something Persona 5 Strikers wasn’t able to do.

I love the idea of a sequel, or a interquel, a story that takes place somewhere in the middle of Persona 5, that takes place in another genre of game. However, Tactica is not just some fan service title, something that has the name Persona 5 glued onto it without being something that feels like the embodiment of Persona 5.

Obviously being a tactics game is different, in general, from the original Persona 5, but there are other differences too. New characters are introduced, adding to the already excellent cast. I found the antagonist character of Marie to be dreadful, but in the best way. Atlus did a great job of making her; she makes me want to hate her, and I do. Don’t get me started on how the game pronounces Marie; it only adds to my hatred of her. The art style, while different from the original, fits these characters and the style of Tactica well.

I only had two noteworthy complaints about Persona 5 Tactica. The first (and less egregious) was the time it took for Tactica to become a game. It was easily an hour before the game really kicked into gear. Not only is there a ton of exposition, explaining the previous mainline game, what happened then, and where the characters are now; but you also have a whole other game you’re playing right here and now. It has its own story and unique characters to share and learn about. And on top of that, you’re playing a new game with it’s own style from the previous title.

All of this is handled better than I would have imagined; it’s clean-cut, crisp, and to the point. However, it is still an Atlus role-playing game, and it still feels like it dragged out the opening more than it had to. There is a lot of back and forth, a lot of setup for future storytelling, a lot of rules to the game being explained. Almost all of it was needed, so again, a small complaint. You need to play through the setup of Tactica to enjoy the experience it has set out. At the time I didn’t like it, but in the end, once it was all said and done, it wasn’t that bad.

While the setup took a little bit to get into, the gameplay does not. Persona 5 Tactica gameplay is fast, but still deep enough that it doesn’t feel like an afterthought with the Persona characters laid on top of it. Persona 5 Tactica falls closer in line with tactics titles like Mario + Rabbids and XCOM then it does with Triangle Strategy or Final Fantasy Tactics. All different, all good, and all still tactics games, but approached from a different perspective. Tactica wants fights to be over faster than you think. You’re rewarded with finishing quickly, finally I’m rewarded for being done quickly, a lesson I would love my wife to learn. (Zing! - Ed.)

I couldn’t get enough of the combat with Tactica. Each fight has a handful of conditions, most of them can be ignored, just survive long enough, or wipe out the opposing units. Often they have a condition to win the match in a certain number of moves. I don’t usually fall victim to challenges, especially ones that feel this simple. There is something about Tactica that gets me. I strive to finish the fights and stay within the challenges the game has set up for me. In the beginning that was easy to achieve, the further in the more difficult, but, the more rewarding it was to maintain.

Movement is a big focus in Persona 5 Tactica. Moving the characters to the correct space, chaining attacks off each character, or even powerful attacks that happen once you have your team of characters in a particular formation. While combat is fast paced, there is more to Tactica than making sure you end your turn in cover, it’s about playing Chess while the enemy plays Checkers. You need to think ahead and plan where the enemies might be, or where they might be pushed to.

On the surface, all of this thinking before acting doesn’t seem necessary, and early on you would be right. You can run and gun with success. If you play on a lower difficulty that is probably true for most of the game. But Tactica does a good job of slowly feeding you more and more without making too much to handle. After a few hours, you start to look at maps differently. Even replaying fights can be fun, knowing what happened the first time and trying something different to make combat faster, or saving powerups for later, knowing what the enemy will do helps to add to the replayability of the game.

I found the gameplay and all of its elements to my liking. I did not find the story nearly as charming. Part of the issue was how much I enjoyed Persona 5 proper, part of it was that the new story felt a little boring. Like most games made by Atlus, there is a lot of back and forth with characters talking. Some of that dialogue is pushing the narrative, but often times it felt like talking for the sake of talking. After each fight you have a dialogue option to help push the story. Sometimes you can ignore it, sometimes you have to see it through. The story was unique and doesn’t feel like a retelling of Persona 5 at all. I just couldn’t get into the story, it felt more like work, and some of the humor just didn’t hit the right notes. In the end it felt like it was taking up more time then it needed to, I would rather be fighting something.

Persona 5 Tactica manages to carve its own niche within the Persona 5 universe while delivering a refreshing tactical gameplay experience. This might not be the tactics game a hard-core enthusiast is looking for; it still feels more like an Atlus RPG than anything else. Despite a somewhat slow initial setup, the game is faster-paced and deeper than it appears, and the combat gives me enough to be satisfied. The focus on movement and formation adds the extra tactics layer I needed. While the story may not resonate as strongly as its predecessor, the incorporation of new characters helps to make Tactica a Persona title in more than just name.

Despite minor complaints about the story's pacing, the overall experience of Persona 5 Tactica is rewarding. Engaging combat dynamics and a strategic depth that is hidden at the game’s slower-than-I-wanted start kept me invested in the tactical twists. Persona 5 Tactica successfully delivers a compelling inter-quel that stands on its own within the beloved franchise. Persona 5 Tactica is a solid, enjoyable tactics game that still feels like a Persona game despite not being a true RPG. It successfully blends the Persona universe with a tactical RPG gameplay style. This one can be enjoyed by Persona 5 fans and tactics fans alike. 

Rating: 8 Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

Persona 5 Tactica Persona 5 Tactica Persona 5 Tactica Persona 5 Tactica Persona 5 Tactica Persona 5 Tactica

About Author

I'm pulled towards anything that isn't driving or sports related; having said that, I love a good kart racer. I Can't get enough RPGs, and indies are always worth a look to me. The only other subject I pay any attention to is the NFL (go Colts!).

While writing about games is my favorite hobby, talking is a close second. That's why I podcast with my wife Tessa (it's called Tessa and Elliot Argue).

View Profile