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Persona Strikers 5 reminds us of the friendships we lost in the pandemic

Gaming has become a bigger part of our lives in the past year. To many, this hasn’t been by choice, as they choose to immerse themselves in virtual worlds instead of facing the pandemic that awaits in reality. 

While stuck indoors, friendships have dwindled, now fostered through text chats, video calls and Animal Crossing as we wish desperately for normality and to see our loved ones again. Sadly, at least in the UK and many other countries, that ultimatum is yet to rear its head. In a way, this isolation makes the themes of Persona 5 Strikers all the more impactful. 

The original Persona 5 told a tale of young people coming together under the face of adversity, feeling themselves crushed by a society that demanded they stick to structural norms set out by the generations before them. They fought back, forming The Phantom Thieves as both a force for saving the world, and perhaps more importantly, themselves. 

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Persona 5 Strikers

Friendships were formed between characters that represented several different biases in the real world, whether it be women conforming to unrealistic standards of beauty or other young people facing up against unhealthy authority figures. Many of its lessons felt relatable, and by the game’s conclusion you felt like a true member of The Phantom Thieves. 

Having prior experience in this world makes the journey you embark upon in Persona 5 Strikers all the more palpable. I felt like I was meeting up with old school friends, reminiscing about times gone by with a tearful glint of nostalgia in my eye. It reminded me of friends I haven’t seen in months, possibly even years by the time things return to normal, and the small yet meaningful conversations that punctuate our time together. 

But even newcomers can enjoy what Strikers has to offer, with the banter between these young adults proving downright infectious regardless of your perspective. Fighting to save the world is enjoyable in most games, but doing alongside characters who clearly care for one another is another thing entirely. For once, we aren’t turning towards fanfiction for character insights developers would never dare touch upon.

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Now Persona 5 isn’t perfect, its depiction of women and more socially ambitious themes oftentimes tumble out of the starting gate, but such flaws are buried by the genuine chemistry felt between its main cast. They feel like real teenagers battling through the troubles of growing up while also trying to battle a bunch of evil shadows in the Metaverse.

Seeing them return as borderline adults in Strikers is awesome, and arguably reflects the gulf we’ll witness in reality once all this pandemic nonsense is over. I’m only a few hours into Persona 5 Strikers, but I’m already ready for dozens of hours causing trouble alongside The Phantom Thieves.

Persona 5 Strikers is coming to PS4, Nintendo Switch and PC on February 23, 2021. You can check out my hands-on preview here. 

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