Persona fans were certainly shocked and awed by the incredible reveal trailer for Persona 5, which had been teased relentlessly since the massive Persona livestream from Atlus first started yesterday.
And while many certainly noticed the larger details — the jazzy and completely instrumental opening theme, the gorgeous graphics, the stylish and stealth-based gameplay — some of the smaller easter eggs may have understandably slipped under the radar.
For this reason (and because I am a raging Persona-phile with a burning need to talk), I’ve decided to compile an extensive and detailed analysis of the trailer just for you.
Note: Keep in mind that my analysis is more focused on the smaller details contained in the video, rather than larger mechanics and details that can be easily spotted in the trailer. All animated GIFs are courtesy of NeoGAF.
Let’s start from the top. In the beginning we can see several thieves scaling the buildings in the game’s setting. However, a closer look seem to yield an extra thief among the group — one who hasn’t been shown in the later footage.
As you can see, the third screenshot of the thief with the fox mask (and tail) is a completely different design. Meanwhile, the last screenshot confirms that the first thief shown is in fact the protagonist, judging by his distinctive coat.
Next up are the twin Velvet Room attendants. Take a closer look at their eye color:
They both have blue eyes, which are decidedly not the same as Elizabeth, Margaret and Theodore’s from Persona 3 and 4. This seems to indicate that they are not related to those previous siblings; not an unusual fact when you consider Persona and Persona 2 had beings who weren’t related to the aforementioned trio: Belladonna and Nameless.
Also, look at the room itself: it’s shaped like a jail cell. As stated in previous Persona titles, the room’s state is a reflection of the protagonist’s journey. Of course I’m not insinuating that the main character is going to jail (unless you screw up one of the dungeons I presume); in fact this ties in very with the original theme of Persona 5, emancipation from your status as a slave.
Another section of the trailer that showcases this theme occurs when the protagonist is walking through the subway station:
We see several identical looking “salaryman” (a Japanese slang term for a white-collar corporate slave) shuffling by with briefcases and hunched backs. This shows Japanese society’s pressure to conform to the ideal worker — hardworking without standing out and breaking free from their cog status.
Actually, the image is such a caricature of that term, I would go so far as to state that it’s the main affliction targeting people of he city in P5. Check this screenshot out of a train operator as he’s clearly affected by something nasty (it does cause him to crash the train into the station):
Staying within the setting, carefully look over this screen of a busy intersection in the city:
Doesn’t it look familiar? Take a look at this picture of the famous Shibuya Crossing:
Photo courtesy of Guillaume Marcotte and TokyoLuv
A few details are different here and there, but otherwise the resemblance is uncanny. Not only that, but having such an iconic part of Shibuya is completely in line with the theme discussed above.
Shibuya is known as the fashion center of Japan, and a oft-heard criticism of fashion industry is that it promotes a herd mentality. Those in it must always strive to wear what is trendy and scorn what is not, shackling many to servitude of striving toward the same image and thus looking just like each other in the process. Not to mention the sheer number of people summons a mental image of insects scattering around their given roles without room for individual thought.
Switching to another part of the setting, the heroes can all be seen gathered at a pretty homey but comfortable bar. If you pay attention, you’ll notice that it has a striking resemblance to the Stray Sheep, a bar in Atlus’s other title Catherine. First, Persona 5:
And now Catherine:
This doesn’t mean that the characters have suddenly decided to stop by the Stray Sheep, as indicative by the fact the P5 version is a diner with no drinks in sight (the characters are in high school after all) and that Catherine has been stated to take place in the United States in a different universe from Persona‘s. The similarities as well as the change in artstyle to Catherine‘s do, however, establish an overall tonal difference between other Persona titles and this one.
Now we can move on to gameplay mechanics and the hidden gems in there. First, check out the two gifs below, showing off some of the stealth features including free movement above ground and a cover system. You can also see that there are a few knight armors patrolling, who the main character must avoid while moving through the dungeon:
The knights from a distance resemble Berith or Eligor, demons from the Shin Megami Tensei series, but upon closer inspection of the right knight’s face, you can see they look completely different. They resemble the Shadow masks worn by foes from Persona games, although the design differs slightly:
There are also ripples where the hero steps, indicating that the space he’s traveling in is somehow otherworldly or unreal. This is interesting because the very first scene in the trailer shows us that the hero’s alias, The Phantom, is clearly wanted by very real law enforcement. This might mean that even though the current dungeon environments are not real, they are based in a very real setting, and that whatever goals he must carry simultaneous affect the real world as well.
Then there’s the third gif, which shows the party members in combat:
They are clearly engaged in a battle against Sandman and Pyro Jack, a far cry from the Shadow foes of Persona 3 and 4. Here’s a screenshot showing this up close:
This shows us that enemies will be mostly likely switching back to demons. Not unusual since those were the original enemies in Persona and Persona 2.
Going off to menu design, we can see from these screens that the protagonist can dual equip both a gun and a knife. This was a feature seen in the first two Persona titles — as well as a few Shin Megami Tensei titles — as party members could equip both a gun and a melee weapon. We can also see that outfits, as well as armor and accessories, can be equipped, just as in Persona 4 Golden. Maybe this is hinting at future DLC packs or in-game unlockables for more outfits.
This screenshot below here is interesting, as it contains a couple fun little tidbits:
The obvious one is the in the menu itself, which shows that the “Social Link” category (Community in the Japanese version) has been replaced by a “Cooperation” category. A possible explanation is that the protagonist must cooperate with his team members and allies in order to effectively carry out heists, as well as strengthen his Personae for battles within these dungeons.
The second one is a little harder to spot. The protagonist is covering the camera, while the text on the side states: “Don’t look at me like that.” This is clearly another reference to the overall theme of emancipation, since cameras record all activity and therefore are a method of control on a its populace. It also refers to the hero’s status as a criminal, since being recorded on tape would be very bad for his career.
Of course the protagonists can’t accomplish all these goals on their own; they seem to have some well-connected allies as well. The first is a scientist who sells you medicinal items in her medical lab and the second is a man selling weapons in a military store:
This hints at a much bigger picture, an entire rebellious operation attempting to “liberate” those living in the city somehow. It certainly fits the theme.
Finally, there’s the last teaser section of the video, which holds two very important clues. The first is the protagonist shown with yellow eyes, the mark of a human Shadow:
This is, once again, something that has occurred with the protagonists from both Persona and Persona 2: Innocent Sin, as well as being a central theme of Persona 4. What makes this unique, however, is the next scenes. In the gif below, you can see the character morphing into what looks likes his Persona:
By watching the official trailer, you hear the sound of glass shattering — the sound used in Persona 3 and 4 when a character summons their Persona. This could very well mean that the protagonist in P5 doesn’t summon his Persona, he turns into it during battle aka Digital Devil Saga style. Of course, this could also be hinting at another event altogether: maybe something wrong happening and the character as a result becomes possessed by his Persona.
Bonus track: The (Possible) Villain
In the beginning of the opening, a small section showed a mysterious being with wings, who caused a black hole-like anomaly to appear in the intersection area:
While it’s hard to say what this being is exactly, I not only believe it to be the main antagonist of the game but in fact, believe it’s possible for him to be Nyarlathotep, the main antagonist of Persona and Persona 2. For reference, this is Nyarlathotep as he appeared in Shin Megami Tensei II:
And this is his appearance as the Joker’s Persona in Persona 2: Innocent Sin:
There are some differences between the screenshot image and his two official designs but there is some overlap in certain key areas. Nyarlathotep and this being both possess wings (even though the type is different), the clawed feet and hands and the strange sharp spikes sticking from the calves.
Another point is that Nyarlathotep is known as “Crawling Chaos” and his goal is to spread destruction and chaos throughout humanity, since he is born from humanity’s desire to seek out its own end. This would be a very interesting clash of ideals, as the protagonists seem to want to challenge the system and stir anarchy, but in a way that benefits humanity. Nyarlathotep, on the other hand, wants to do the same to kill all humans. One side represents the inherit good in chaos and the other represents the inherit destructiveness and madness in chaos.
Referencing the affliction I mentioned earlier, he could definitely be the cause of that, as directly influencing the human world to kill and terrorize is right up his ally. Furthermore, the shadow protagonist seen at the end could easily be a Shadow copy Nyarlathotep created, as he made Shadow versions of the party members in Persona 2 as well.
His return as a villain would also be an excellent call back to Persona 2 in general, in which he stated that he would return someday when human called for him again.
Atlus revealed quite a bit of information in this opening, and by examining its contents thoroughly we can see the direction Persona 5 is headed in. While some of these points may be disproved as new information is released, it’s interesting to see what nuggets of truth can be uncovered by looking just a little bit deeper.