Playing Persona 5 Without a Guide is the Right Thing to Do

Written by Allen

May 3, 2017

Back in the PS1 age, the Persona series may have been one more akin to obscurity. But by its 3rd installment during the PS2 age things really took off, even to the point that it got a second release on a console with expanded content. Persona 4 continued to improve and deliver on what was expected of it which the fans loved.

8 Years later, the story seems similar for Persona 5. Having the game themed around the double life of being a normal high school outcast and being cat burglar, made so aesthetically pleasing that no amount of hair wax will make you more stylish than the game itself, was hugely received with praise by its audience. Heck you would have seen one of its UI memes by now. It indeed is the best entry in the series so far, so if you haven’t picked it up, what are you doing? Whether or not you’re a fan of the genre you should totally pick it up, especially if you are a fan of the genre.

Having that out of the way, I’ve noticed a trend for those who wish to make the most out of their playthrough in one go. That trend would be to consult a schedule guide to make sure that the many, many goals and achievements to meet in the game can be attained in one playthrough. For those who have pretty tight schedules in their real lives (and maybe a backlog of games because who doesn’t have that now), I can understand the behavior behind it. But I’d like to tell everyone that to really make the most of the game, they really shouldn’t be playing with these guides to restrict your playthrough.

I did the same thing in Trails of Cold Steel 2 because of all the missables that game would have. I indeed did get almost everything in the game had to offer, only to miss a few points that would net certain rewards earlier thought I did miss the platinum trophy entirely. Heck for that reason alone I found myself pondering on repeating the game entirely. It was honestly not that satisfying because every action I took had be to double-checked if it was following what the guide had dictated and points of confusion happened quite often. In the end, it felt like I was following a long, interactive movie rather than really playing my own game. Taking that experience to heart, I wouldn’t recommend people do the same with Persona 5.

In fact with how the game is designed right now needing a guide seems excessive with all the help the game offers. Those annoying random trivia questions are easy to get correct thanks to online consultation, and the map gives you indicators for anything of interest specially for available social links. Getting everything right is also much, much easier during an NG+ run and if you don’t have time for it you can probably view whatever it is you missed on youtube.

Also, let’s recall how the game begins, it asks that you take responsibility for your actions, right? Now while that may sound like some sort of usual EULA sign-off, it’s actually pretty related to the one of the game’s themes. Persona, since at least the third installment, constantly bombards you with choices of what you do with your limited time as well as how you interact with a vast cast of characters. On top of that you’re asked to live a double-life of a regular high school student and some sort of superhero. It basically asks you to balance all these to succeed in the game. In my opinion, this constant dilemma of choice is the actual difficulty of the game. To take away that hurdle in the game is pretty much playing it on easy mode.

Playing this series taught me that being able to do something worthwhile requires a commitment of, at the very least, time. There’s very few things that you can do in five minutes that actually matter. By the end of the game I felt a connection with these characters whose stories unfolded before me over time. Most of all though, it taught me much about myself. With what choices I naturally made in choosing who to hang out with, how I reacted during key situations, how I set my priorities up. Of course, those first plays were far from perfect, and it gave me some material to reflect on regarding how I am. And stuff like this is something that I believe games are particularly good at doing.

Now, if even one of you had a change of heart with how to tackle the game from this then I’m genuinely happy. I suppose I can leave you a few tips (that doesn’t restrict your choices) on how to effectively play the game:

  1. Plan ahead – set goals within the time frame for yourself so your progress doesn’t end up too scattered before certain due dates. For example, try to raise your knowledge by 1 level before any sort of exam season.
  2. Maximize dungeon raids – it’s particularly impossible for the first few dungeons but try to fully clear dungeons in one run. Or at least squeeze as much out of your party’s SP as you can. Don’t be too hesitant to use SP recovery items or you may end up never using them at all.
  3. Raining opportunities – There’s a lot of opportune things that you can get more out of if you happen on a day that’s raining. Carefully consider your options on these days.
  4. Explore everything – There is hardly anything that isn’t rewarding in this game if you invest into it. Improving a social link, training your stats, grinding in a dungeon, even feeding a plant nets you some sort of bonus.

Persona 5 on the PlayStation 4 is a game that thrives in letting you do whatever you want while keeping you in check by imposing certain deadlines. Pretty much an interesting marriage between linear and open-world gaming. I hope what I’ve shared has allowed you to see it in the same light I do. Hopefully, when you do pick the game up you play it as you naturally would, and see how your ‘other self’ handles everything.

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  1. GM_Rusaku

    It’s fine to use guides on the second playthrough if you want to get a Platinum but for the first playthrough it’s much better to go guideless to fully experience the game’s beauty. This not only applies to P5 but to other games as well.

    • Allen

      Yeah I agree with you there. Those behind the game carefully plans what you’ll experience and using a guide might basically spoil the experience. I’m totally cool with guided NG+


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