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Persona 5 is a game that I have been playing every day for the past six months without fail. It is without a doubt the only story based game that I have sunk so many hours into, and continue to do so. It is safe to assume that I love the game.
What is truly impressive about it is how it represents the world view of so many different people within the context of palaces, showing the type of personality they have along with how they see the world and the people around them.
Whether is be Kamoshida’s palace where he see’s himself as the ruler and looks at students as slaves and playthings, or whether it is Sae Niijima's palace where she runs a casino where she herself is not exempt from punishment should she lose. This is achieved by fantastic environmental design, enemies, and boss battles that give us a deeper understanding of their distorted personality.
With there being eight palaces there are eight different sets of distortions, in addition to Mementos which shows the larger distortion of the world view as seen by the general populace. We get to see a wide variety of world views from different perspectives, each of which is born from the trials of the real world.
The distortion that I personally related to the most was that of Sae Niijima, viewing everything she does as a massive gamble, whether it be in life or at work. This is how I have felt for the past several years as a result of deciding to be a filmmaker. Knowing that the odds are truly against me, however deciding to go ahead with it and striving to achieve that goal regardless. Therefore, Sae Niijima's storyline is also one that I related to quite a bit along the multiple playthroughs of the game that I have gone through.
Each palace has it’s own distinct look, enemy groups, and it’s own soundtrack to help them all feel that much more distinct. This all helps us understand their various perspectives, even if we do not agree with all of them.
What this really drove home was the fact that even though we all live in a single physical world, our cognition views it in its own individual singular way that is unique to everyone depending on the life they have led.
With that understood the next question is would it be one where you see yourself as better than everyone else, and use any reason to justify your behaviour, or choose to fight against the unfair world and take command of your life choosing to help others in need? This is a question where there will be as many responses to as there are people in the world. This uniqueness in logic is something that Persona 5 manages to embody with everything that we have talked about so far.
By the time the end of the game rolls around and you have gone through a hundred plus hours worth of gameplay and story we get to my favourite line in the entire game. In fact, it may even be one of my favourite lines period. It is when Ryuji says ‘anyone can change the world, all you have to do is look at it differently.’
The true beauty of this statement is the fact that it is earned with the hardships that the characters have gone through and not simply a line that is said off hand. At no point does the game say that this would be an easy thing to do, there is the very real possibility that you may not even be able to do so without help, but that it is possible if you are willing to embrace it. The entire game is literally about the way you see the world, and after so many hours there is no better way to cap off the game.
This is why I love Persona 5 so much and why I think it is truly a work of genius.