Yo this game is dope. I didn't expect them to actually nail it when they said they were going for that open-world, "go anywhere you can see" formula, but they did. The game world feels gigantic and incredibly navigable, more so than similar games. The way it's designed feels much more handcrafted, with tons of area where you can see far, far off into the distance into places you want to go, or places you've already been. The terrain is varied and littered with different named locations, full of encounters, treasure, shrines, and plenty of things to gather. Especially around the first third of the game or so, that feeling of discovery is addictive and exciting. That diminishes later if only because you fast travel more and you're more used to what the game is serving you.
The change from big, long dungeons was a really big one. I came out of it enjoying what they substituted it with; 120 small dungeons and 4 (arguably 5) longer ones, but I missed the big, crazy dungeons with unique items of Zelda's from the past too. It was awesome knowing I could go anywhere and solve any puzzle with what I had, it made me really think about some solutions to things that initially seemed impossible, but man I loved having an inventory full of crazy shit to mess around with and interact with, too. It would've been nice to sink my teeth into a more intense, long challenge. There was no equivalent to the Water Temple or anything like that. I do like the shrine system , bite sized puzzles are cool, but I think it's a one and done sort of thing. Next Zelda I'd appreciate a few more dungeons and some more meat attached to each of them.
Zelda at this point is renowned for great music, and this game doesn't disappoint. It saves its recognizable themes for moments that matter and it scatters everything else into the world, while also providing you with a ton of really atmospheric, mostly piano, music that sets the tone of the game really well. It's also a gorgeous game and I love the style of it, like a little more cell shaded Skyward Sword, essentially.
Many people have a lot of divisive opinions about the durability stuff, I didn't mind it overall. It led to a lot of cool situations where you had to think outside of the box for a good combat solution and then partway through the game you'll hit a point where you're getting quite a few good weapons anyway, so it wasn't really obnoxious to me at all.
This game was just a lot of fun, honestly. I put somwhere around 70 - 80 hours in I believe and I had a ton of fun stumbling into awesome locations, finding the Master Sword, fighting Ganon and regaining Link's memories, and interacting with a world so huge and detailed.
They did it. They finally released Persona 5. After all these years, it felt kind of surreal actually being able to boot it up and enjoy a brand new Persona experience for the first time in forever.
From the very beginning, it displays classic Persona charm. The soundtrack is catchy and appropriate, the art is stunning, and it oozes style at every corner. Especially thanks to the power of more recent consoles, the game looks very sharp and detailed. You can travel through many areas in and around Tokyo with a crazy amount of detail and it really feels like you're walking through a place that exists. The dungeons this time around are way more detailed as well, with each environment completely different from the last. Sometimes I did feel like I just wanted to get to the end of the dungeon and be done with the puzzles this game introduces though. Perhaps it's just me wanting a bit more simplicity, but especially when you know where the objective is and the game is just introducing more and more obstacles in your way which sooooometimes just felt like prolonging the length and not really adding much, but I could've done without some of the puzzles.
Speaking of puzzles and gameplay, there's been quite a few things added to the combat. The Baton Pass system, plus the use of guns, as well as the return of the negotiation system are among a few of the new options you get. All in all, it adds additional options and strategy which is helpful because I found that on Normal difficulty, P5 is not a very hard game. Other then that, the combat feels very familiar and I was able to sink into a very familar rhythm after a couple hours.
The Velvet Room has been expanded as well, offering a slew of new options for fusing Persona's and boosting their abilities. The game rewards experimentation even more than before now and if you put in the time, I've seen some pretty monstrous creations.
What you do outside of the dungeons has been expanded quite a bit as well. There's a bunch more activities you can spend time with. You can go the the batting cages, the hot springs, play games, go to a multitude of places with your friends, cook, work out, and even more stuff. Add that on to the 20ish social links you can do and you'll be busy forever.
That's kind of one the problems I have with this game. There's too much to do and a cat constantly forces me to go to sleep. So many nights and days were wasted after doing seemingly nothing, or just waiting for something to happen. When you're already on a pretty limited schedule, trying to juggle raising stats, going to Mementos and dungeons, hanging out with people, and then the side activities you can do, it feels like the game is giving you limited time on purpose.
Speaking of the social links, they are back in full force. Each one offers you a bonus ability or buff now though, which comes in handy in a Palace of Mememtos. Some of the abilites feel almost too crucial though, where I imagine it'd feel almost like you're being penalized if you don't have that ability. On top of that, I feel like especially if you were to compare the social links to Persona 4, they fall flat. That's not to say that they're bad, but I feel like overall the quality of the writing in them could've been imporved. I didn't really connect with many characters, and most of the social links I'd consider to be in the top tier of quality were the ones that had characters with significant flaws, characters who I often didn't end up liking that much, but could appreciate the humanity of. Again, coming off P4 where the focus was bonds and people with real, human flaws, these characters are good, but they feel less like they define the archetype and more like they fit into it. I love the theme of finding a place for yourself and pursuing what you believe is right, no matter what anyone says, but it doesn't resonate with me as much as P3 or P4.
This goes the same for the rest of the story. I really like the idea of rising up against corruption, pursuing your own justice, staying true to your friends, and overcoming your own limitations. I really like the story in this game. It did feel like there was a lot of setup though, almost. Towards the beginning fourth of the game or so, the Phantom Thieves kinda do their own thing and thats it. Hints at a bigger story are there, but there's no real grand objective. You're gonna change people's hearts and thats it. You do end up finding a villain and everything else you'd expect, but I felt directionless half the time, compared to the mystery of P3 and P4, trying to discover what the hell is up with this tower, or who killed these people. This, combined with the lack of emotional connection I felt with people, led to me being less invested in the story and characters overall. Like I said though, I do enjoy it. There are some amazing story moments, tied together with the most style I've seen in a video game, some ballin music, and some really cool characters moments on top of that. I just feel a little...disappointed? I guess? By the package as a whole.
I wouldn't be surprised if I grew to love this game the way I do P3 and P4. I grew to like those games even more after learning more about them and playing them again, but for now, P5 will take a spot below both. So many great components are in this game, but in my opinion, it does lack the emotional gut punch the others put out. A very good game overall, but not one I'm in love with.