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Persona 5 Tactica review - wake up, get up, get strategic

Show off your battle maneuvers in Persona 5 Tactica on Nintendo Switch, offering a brand new story for the Phantom Thieves in a mysterious realm.

Persona 5 Tactica review: the cast of the game on a red background, in combat poses

Our Verdict

Though the Phantom Thieves’ journey never seems to end, you can’t deny the games are good, and Persona 5 Tactica is no different. Play as Joker and co in a different setting and stretch those strategic muscles across challenging and fun stages, wrapped in a delightful story.

As Sun Tzu states in The Art of War, “If your enemy is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.” These are your principles in Persona 5 Tactica.

Persona 5 already has a big roster of spin-off titles, so what’s one more? This time, it’s Persona 5 Tactica, a tactics and strategy-based game featuring the Phantom Thieves in a new story and setting.

Look, I’m a huge Persona 5 fan. I willingly spent $50 on a replica of Ryuji’s hoodie, for crying out loud. So as a self-proclaimed voice of reason on the series, I tell you this game is good, and worth your time if you enjoy a bit of strategic combat. It’s a very different feel from Persona 5/Royal and Strikers, so it’s not worth comparing them outside of the fact that both games have our favorite band of thieves.

One day, Joker and co are hanging out in LeBlanc, when suddenly chaos ensues. They’re sucked into a strange new Metaverse-like world, where once again, they must face down against an evil foe. Here they meet Erina, who quickly becomes an honorary member of the Phantom Thieves, and you know what, she’s pretty cool.

Persona 5 Tactica review: a view of the menu showing different attack options

You fight through stages by picking off enemies, and working toward a goal – be it to reach a destination, keep your party alive, or capture a flag. Each stage has you move the Thieves around in an isometric form, and you can create All Out Attacks by placing three party members in a triangle around unwitting enemies.

Each party member has their own skills – their classic Personas are back, but you can also equip them with a secondary, fused Persona, to add new move types and some passive buffs. This really opens up your opportunities in battle. As there are only three party slots, it limits the elemental weaknesses you can hit, but these new Persona additions solve that quite well.

Your party members also have their trusty guns and can perform melee attacks, so there are plenty of options when it comes to beating up the enemies you encounter. This is helpful, as there are some fairly challenging side missions that require you to think outside the box. For instance, one level gives you one turn to reach a goal. It seems impossible, but with some tinkering and careful use of ‘one more’ turns, you can just make it.

The thieves’ abilities have had a little refresh here, too – as you’re not just face-to-face with a team in turn-based combat like Persona 5 Royal, certain moves can sweep enemies away, or damage an entire line of them in one go. Hint: Ryuji’s ‘ultimate’ move Brigantine Blitzkreig is very helpful and I suggest you use it as much as you can.

Persona 5 Tactica review: Joker, Morgana, and Erina talking in front of a black and pink background

The key thing to remember here – which I did need to keep telling myself – is that this is a tactics game. You need to think strategically and not just go guns blazing and attack head-on. Sometimes a good defense is the best offense, after all.

There’s actually way more story and conversation between characters than I expected here… I’m not sure why I’m surprised, really, as this is a Persona game after all. It’s got an almost visual novel feel at points. Though it is worth mentioning that while you can equip weapons and fuse Personas in the Velvet Room, a key part of Persona is missing – there are no social links or ways to get to know characters better. You can upgrade their skills, however.

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the bendy, cartoony art style, but to be honest it doesn’t matter. Your time is mostly spent reading conversations (or listening to them with the original cast back doing their thing), or moving your teeny tiny party members around stages. Couple this with new music tracks by the quintessential Lyn to keep our ears amused as we plot our victories.

Persona 5 Tactica review: Ann firing a gun at an enemy in a red themed room

Persona 5 Tactica looks really nice on Switch, and runs very well, which is a very refreshing turn of events. Load times into some stages can be a little long, but it’s by no means a noticeable issue.

I really don’t have any criticisms here, except as the lore lover that I am, maybe we could do with a little clarity on whether Persona 5 Tactica is canon, and where it falls in the events of the Persona 5 timeline. The story is officially said to take place before the third year’s graduation, placing it after Persona 5 Royal’s third semester, before Persona 5 Strikers, and the actual end of Royal. Are you following that? No, me neither.

While it does seem that Atlus is milking Persona 5 and our beloved thieves, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Tactica is really quite good. It feels comfortable to play a game with recognizable characters and a new setting, even if the story didn’t grab me quite as much as Persona 5 Royal, but that’s kind of expected given that’s one of the all-time best games ever. I’ll almost definitely get the DLC for Tactica, too, to get all the content I can.

Perhaps this inspires you to try some other Persona games on Switch – or, if you’re a mobile player, here’s what we know about the Persona 5 The Phantom X release date.