I played through Persona 5 Strikers on PS4, but it’s also available on both PC and Nintendo Switch. This, reader, is completely stupid.
For those unacquainted with Strikers, it serves as a sequel to Persona 5, but not Persona 5 Royal. As someone who has played through all of these games – two of them multiple times – I can confidently say that Persona 5 Royal is the best one. It’s the definitive version of Persona 5, adding in all kinds of quality-of-life changes as well as an entire term’s worth of additional narrative content. It’s got everything the series is known and loved for, and the sheer swagger of its stylistic flair is stunning.
I’d love for Royal to come to PC – who doesn’t want a Ryuji romance mod? – although I recognize it’s not very likely to happen. I mean, it would be great if Sega and Atlus just put every Persona game ever made on Steam, especially considering how well Persona 4 Golden performed, but I understand that there’s probably more to it than that. Putting Persona 5 on Steam is giving yourself a license to print money, so there must be some behind the scenes reason for Atlus saying, “Actually, we’re alright with a lighter wallet.” That being said, at least Persona 5 Royal is its own cohesive entity. It tells a similar story to Persona 5, but adds in a whole new ending sequence – which is arguably a lot stronger than the base game – and has no official sequels.
Persona 5, on the other hand, does have a sequel – Persona 5 Strikers, or for ease of comprehension, Persona 5-2. I can’t believe I’m writing this – I sound like a Kingdom Hearts fan.
Imagine you’re watching The Lord of the Rings for the first time, right, and you start with The Two Towers. Who’s this Frodo lad? What’s up with this weird ring? Why is Aragorn so happy to see this wizard guy in a forest – are they mates? By the time you get to The Return of the King you’re probably thinking, “Wow, Denethor prefers a character who I’ve never ever seen before to Faramir, that’s cold.” For what it’s worth, the films did Boromir dirty anyway, so I don’t think his Fellowship of the Ring film appearance should be given much weight – despite Sean Bean’s excellent performance – but you get the gist. If you jump into something halfway through instead of at the beginning, you’re going to fundamentally misunderstand the characters, plot, and just about everything else that follows.
Persona 5 Strikers is admittedly pretty self-contained, to the extent that it’s perfectly enjoyable even as an entry point to the series. That being said, it’s almost brazenly referential towards what came before. Characters constantly talk about what transpired in Persona 5, hearkening back to the times in which you’d level up their Confidant rank as you gradually got to know them. By the time Strikers starts, you’re all already best buds. I personally like that Strikers didn’t do the social link stuff all over again – as I just stated, you’re all friends, why would you need to level up your friendship all over again? Still, it’s contextually important to have gone through that process in Persona 5 if you want to get the full experience in Strikers. Knowing why you’re mates with these specific characters and what you went through together raises the stakes in Strikers, and also converts some ostensibly innocuous scenes into emotional laughathons and sobfests. The attention that Strikers pays to its predecessor is precise, pointed, and always present, so the fact that people who are playing on a certain platform have absolutely zero access to said predecessor is just a really bad joke.
I love Persona 5 and I adore Strikers. I guarantee that I’ll probably have replayed the latter at least once by the time 2021 is out. Seriously, though, the fact that I can only play the former on PS4 is ridiculous. I’ve wanted to be able to play Persona on Switch or with the additional power of a good PC for ages, but I always resolved the fact I couldn’t by thinking, “Yeah, I guess it’s just not possible right now.” But then Atlus came out and said, “You wanted Persona 5 on Switch and PC, so here it is, Persona 5-2 on Switch and PC!” That’s not quite what I or anyone else meant, folks.
I do think a day will come where Persona 5 will be playable on PC. I’m less sold on Switch, mostly because Persona 4 Golden being on Steam is our reference point for this whole scenario, but hey, Joker is in Smash now, I guess. Regardless of the logistics of the whole situation, it’s really stupid that a Persona 5 sequel is playable on these platforms while Persona 5 itself isn’t. Come on, Atlus. Do the right thing. Open the floodgates for Persona 5 romance mods – you know you want to.
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Cian Maher is the Lead Features Editor at TheGamer. He’s also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.
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