It took me two and a half months to finish Persona 5.
Few games have welled within me such a depth of feeling as Persona 4, all the way back in 2009. When Persona 5 released in North America this April, it had been eight years since its precursor had left its mark on me. I was ready for a new experience.
And so as the jazzy opening theme to the game greeted me through the speakers of my television, I grinned. Here it was again: a massive, sprawling RPG that dared to be different, soundtracked not with baroque orchestrations but with ebullient jazz; taking place not in an elaborate medieval fantasy world, but in modern Tokyo; drawn not in garish, gritty Unreal renders, but in a modest cel-shaded style that oozes personality; a game dripping with inspiration from and reference to Jungian psychology. Finally: Persona is back.
I played it for three hours that night. Then I stopped. I didn’t play it again until that weekend, when I played for a single four-hour session. Then I stopped, again.
This was how I played Persona 5: in fits and starts. To a certain extent, I was following the advice of the game itself, the loading screen adorned with an image of the protagonist’s face above the words “Take Your Time,” assembled with disconnected cut-out letters as if a threat in a ransom note. But more, it was because Persona 5 is simply overwhelming. Whenever I would put the controller down, I would involuntarily sigh, as if some heavy burden is easing off my shoulders.
It’s one of the best video games I’ve ever played.