persona 5 road screenshot

The creator of Persona on life, Japanese culture, and the unconscious

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. In the crowded world of Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs), the critically acclaimed Persona series has stood out for a decade and counting. Defying conventions established by other popular franchises like Final Fantasy, the series forgoes the usual swords and sorcery for something closer to home. Using subtle surrealism instead, Persona layers its more fantastical elements with social commentary. Players venture into a strange, shadowy world hidden behind their television screens, where enemies are a unique blend of the psychological and supernatural. “The Persona series addresses problems that people hold deep in their hearts,” said Katsura Hashino, the…


Atlus’s surreal sleeper masterpiece is coming to PSN this week

Now that Atlus is re-releasing Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon on PSN later this week, I can finally put my PS2 to bed. A sequel to a mediocre game which sported a super-long, unwieldy name, Devil Summoner 2 was overlooked by nearly everyone when it released for the PS2 well into the PS3’s lifecycle. But this sleeper from the creators of Persona is tops in my book, as you can glean from my writer’s bio. So allow me to wax for a moment about how outstanding it is. For one, the systems were pitch-perfect. The action-oriented battling…


Stone-cold sleeper classic SMT: Nocturne gets re-released; go play it

A certain savvy minority of player will tell you that Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, re-released yesterday for PS3 on the PlayStation Store, is superlative, and those fine few individuals would be correct.  What makes this old, brutal, cyberpunk-y, cell-shaded, ambiguous-moral-choice-making, demon-bartering RPG so noteworthy? Well, it featured a rich occult world where the idea of fighting through mysterious temples and dungeons actually made sense—not to mention that the design of those foreboding places were far superior to those you typically find in RPGs, almost Zelda-esque. The battle system is snappy and lightning-fast. It has an intuitive fusion system just like…


Persona – (dungeons + demons + stats) + responsible gender politics = this dating sim for girls

Between bullying, internet strangeness, social anxiety, and navigating the labyrinth of sexual identity, junior high has high nightmare scenario potentiality. But the episodic dating game LongStory hopes to make that burgeoning period less mortifying for girls aged 10 to 16.  LongStory looks like an Americanized Persona, sans the dungeon-diving RPG half of that game, or a Christine Love graphic novel, like Digital: A Love Story, but with a Chris Ware-ish illustration style replacing exaggerated anime. (Its character Nora, the friendly home-schooled kid who lives online, is a dead ringer for Fuuka from Persona 3, for instance.) And it hits on a…


Persona 5 director reveals that, yes, the game will be dark

If you’re like me you spent a half-morning back in November watching and re-watching the mysterious announcement trailer for Persona 5, trying to cut through the thick layer of symbolism, and still thinking about it later that day on a quiet car ride. A new interview with longstanding Persona director Katsura Hashino, translated from Japanese by Pepsiman (you can find it in its entirety on his Tumblr), somewhat explains things—although he is a master at speaking cryptically.  When asked what’s up with the imagery of empty chairs with their legs being shackled by a ball and chain, Hashino said: I…