Persona 5 Tactica's announcement was definitely a surprise, but not because it was a spinoff of Persona 5. After all, they had already released other spinoff games such as Dancing in Starlight and Strikers. What surprised me, and likely other gamers with the announcement, was the fact that it was a turn-based strategy game, much like Fire Emblem. Does Persona 5 fit into turn-based strategy gameplay? Or did Atlus go too far with this one? In this review, we look at Persona 5 Tactica, from its gameplay to its story, as well as our score for it.

Persona 5 Tactica Review

Persona 5 Tactica's release date was back on November 17, 2023. It is now available on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

Persona 5 Tactica Background

As mentioned above, the game is a turn-based strategy game, similar to Fire Emblem. This is different from the usual speed-based JRPG gameplay of Persona 5. As is normal for turn-based strategy games, the player moves all of their units, carries out their attacks, and then ends their turn. The enemy then does the same for their own units. This repeats until either the victory conditions are met (normally defeat all enemies within a certain amount of turns), or until the player's team is defeated (or they fail to meet the victory conditions). There are, of course, some things that Persona 5 Tactica does differently, but we'll take a look at that in the gameplay section of this review, which we will dive into next.

Persona 5 Tactica Gameplay

Persona 5 Tactica has all of the basics down for a turn-based strategy game. However, it does have some features that add its own personal twist. For starters, they implemented a simple cover system. Cover systems aren't new to turn-based strategy games, but that doesn't mean it's a bad addition. It adds this layer of complexity that is very welcome. It makes players think about where their character will end their turn and incentivizes thinking ahead. Staying behind cover is important in this game, as leaving your characters exposed can potentially end with their death the following turn. This isn't an exaggeration, this actually happened to me in the early levels when I left Erina in the open during my turn's end.

Before I head to my next point, let's talk about the attacks a player can do. Players can either do Melee attacks, Gun attacks, or Persona attacks. Gun attacks are your bread and butter here, unlike in base Persona 5 where you're mostly using your Persona or Melee weapons, only bringing the gun out if the enemy is weak to it. Each gun has a different range and area of effect, so players should take care to figure out what each Gun does. Persona attacks are the usual. They cost SP to cast and can affect either one enemy or many. Melee attacks, on the other hand, are very important when it comes to the game's cover system.

In Tactica, Half cover can decrease the amount of damage the unit receives, while frontal attacks on units behind full cover are canceled entirely. How then, does one deal damage to enemies in full cover? This is where Melee attacks come in. When you move a character beside an enemy behind the cover, you can do a Melee attack on them. This knocks them away from the attacking character, and the attacking character takes their place. This pushes the attacked unit out of cover and makes them vulnerable to any follow-up attacks.

This is a very important part of Tactica, as you will only be wasting attacks and turns against enemies behind cover. Not only that but figuring out where to send enemies flying is another thing to consider when planning. You can potentially send an enemy flying towards their teammates, which opens up an opportunity to use AoE attacks. This is yet another level of complexity that I appreciate in the game, as you don't just attack the nearest enemy to you, but also have to plan out what happens after you attack them.

Since we were talking about the Personas, let's take a dive into it as well. The Persona system is very different in Tactica. The biggest difference is that Joker, the game's protagonist, can no longer use multiple personas. That means, he can only use his base Persona, Arsene. While this may seem like a bad idea, it really isn't for two reasons. The first is that it further shows the importance of planning, and using the proper units for the mission. Why bring Joker and his Arsene when you can field other units with Personas that the enemy units are weak to?

The second reason, and perhaps the most important one, is the sub-Persona system. Joker can equip an additional Persona, which lends its skills to the character. That means that even if Joker can't equip a different main Persona, they can change their Sub-Persona to be able to use a Skill that they might need. The reason why this is the most important bit is that everyone can equip a sub-Persona. In the original game, only Joker was capable of using multiple Personas. In Tactica, everyone can equip a sub-Persona. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to see Ann cast Ice spells, you can see that now.

The game, of course, still retains the Velvet Room, as well as its Persona combining features. After all, you can't have a Persona game without the iconic Velvet Room. Other gameplay features it retains are equipment, shops, and chilling out at the hideout.

Overall, in terms of gameplay, Persona 5 Tactica brings a lot to the table that freshens it up. It's a perfect game for Persona fans who want to get into turn-based games, as it is easy to learn, but a little difficult to master. Just the gameplay alone is enough to keep me interested in the game, but of course, what is a Persona game without its story?

Persona 5 Tactica Story

The premise of Persona 5 Tactica's story starts off fairly simple. The Phantom Thieves are hanging out together in Cafe LeBlanc, as they usually do. The game doesn't really specify when the game takes place, but context clues put it after the events of the original game. While hanging out, an earthquake suddenly occurs, followed by weird phenomena such as floating cups and the like. They exit Cafe LeBlanc, and find themselves in a medieval-inspire world, populated with creatures that look like Shadows from Palaces. The team quickly dispatches the enemies, but is defeated by the arrival of the place's ruler: Marie. Marie enslaves the entirety of the Phantom Thieves, except for Joker and Morgana. Things look dire until they are both rescued by the game's original character: Erina.

I really love how the game started, as it was able to quickly set the tone for the rest of the game. It immediately gives you an enemy, Marie, as well as her motive, which is to host the perfect wedding. You can even see her motives from the way she dresses, as well as the fact that she is riding a tank with the placard “Just Married” on it. The game also immediately presents you with the stakes: not only do you have to take down marine, but you also have to rescue the other Phantom Thieves from Marie's enslaving powers. This gives players a goal to strive towards, one that they will want to solve as soon as possible.

It also does a great job of introducing Erina as an original character. Her grand entrance to her fighting skills, and even her appearance tells a lot about her character. For those not familiar with the game's original character, Erina here's a quick rundown: Erina is the leader of the Rebel Corps which is fighting against Marie and her tyrannical rule. You will be teaming up with them, or her in particular, during your fight to rescue the Phantom Thieves and defeat Marie.

I want to bring particular attention to Erina's character design, as it tells a lot about her character just at a glance. The Military uniform, including the plate armor on one leg, shows that she is very serious about fighting the war against Marie as a soldier. At the same time, the fingerless gloves, rolled-up sleeves, the studded belt that's slacking instead of secured, as well as the leg without any Armor, show off her status as a rebel, and the freedom that she strives for. It's these types of character designs and subtle story telling that Persona is really known for, and I appreciate that even if the game's art direction is different from normal, they still managed to tell a story like this just from her character design.

As for the story itself, I can just say that it's what I expected from a Persona 5 spinoff game. I can't really reveal much about it, as half of the experience in any Persona game is the story. As such, if you are interested in finding out the story, then go play Persona 5 Tactica for yourself.

Persona 5 Tactica Review Summary

Persona 5 Tactica is a good spin-off, all things considered. It brings a fresh, new gameplay style to the game series, while also making sure that it isn't stale. It brought some changes to its key system, mainly in the combat department, but is anything but complicated or boring. The story is also pretty well-written, with the story coming from all fronts. Players can enjoy the game's story not just from the dialogue and cutscenes themselves, but also from the character designs and mannerisms. Although Persona 5 Tactica isn't at the level of Persona 5 Royal when it comes to the story or gameplay, it's still a pretty good game to sink hours into when you've already finished Persona 5 Royal for the eleventh time to get the harem ending.

Persona 5 Tactica Review Score: 9/10

Editor’s Note: ClutchPoints received a PlayStation review copy of Persona 5 Tactica to allow us to cover the game. This copy did not, in any way, affect this Persona 5 Tactica review’s verdict and score.