Premise of Persona 5 is depressingly horrifying

  • I played a little bit past first dungeon so there may be spoilers of some story and game mechanic from beginning of the game.
    So in the beginning your motivation of going to another world is established very well. Kamoshida is a real bad dude and you see people suffering around him. When you presented with option to steal his desires it seemed like something that had to be done. There is some thought given to what it is actually means to a person to lost his desires and how bad it can be. I thought it was very well done. Until you beat the boss.
    From other Persona games I am only familiar with P4. In that game people fight with the inner demons by burning and electrifying them but they really won only when they accept themselves. There is where your true power comes from.
    The former applies to P5 as well, but not the latter. You just have to beat the shit out of someone’s persona after which it swipes the blood from the face and say “Yeah, you right I was a bad person, I am gonna change now.” The same happened in side mission. So, basically, all problems that people have can be solved by beating someone until he becomes good. And your true power is being very, very angry. I find that unsettling.
    Then main characters motivation to continue to be Phantom Thieves was presented in very selfish way. Some people were meant so let’s STEAL THEIR SOULS, that way we have more twitter followers. And we need twitter followers because “Basically there is no point to take down bad guys if no one knows about it.”(This is actual quote from the game)
    May be I am reading too much into it and P5 just want to be video game so, naturally, every problem can be solved if you shoot enough people in the face and number should always go up. But I guess I expected more and it’s really puts me off. On other hand may be P5 goes somewhere with it and I’ll be ashamed of my thoughts and deeds.
    Anyway I felt I need to share my thoughts so I can continue to play the game and begin to enjoy it again.

  • Some things changed from prior Persona games with 5 because they were going for something different (for example, in P4 you generally went into the worlds of your party members but in P5 you go after bad people).

    In other ways I think it's just reflecting japan and the developers mindset which can seem a bit odd for many westerners because japanese culture is different.
    You also have to consider the fact that the playable characters are kids.

    But do I agree with the characters motivations and such in Persona 5? Not always, but enough not to be bothered by it (since overall it's a very well made game).
    But I wouldn't really say that the overall story and script is strong in any Persona game, it's mostly down to the characters and gameplay for me.

  • I'm not gonna say that your interpretation is not correct, but here are my quick thoughts on the matter.

    Given the theme and premise on the matter I believe the awakening of the characters responds well to the fact their circumstances and that their anger is an appropriate manifestation of their accepting their inner selfs. As for what should trigger the change it technically wouldn't beating up the guys but taking their treasure, which is the root of their twisted realities. I'm not gonna say that this is perfect, but I believe it works well and I think I get your point yet I don't find an issue with it.

    Also in regards to their motives and these being selfish, the game will work with that at a later point.

  • Yeah, as has been pointed out, it's the stealing of the treasure that's the catalyst for change and not the actual boss fight. It's just that, quite accurately, people fiercely protect their own delusions that they use to prop their distorted worlds up.

    I found it interesting in retrospect that the first dungeon/boss:

    Was themed about lust and power, but his treasure was actually the celebrity and notoriety of the Olympic medal that allowed him to get away with living his carnal fantasies.

  • @mrnikiter said in Premise of Persona 5 is depressingly horrifying:

    Then main characters motivation to continue to be Phantom Thieves was presented in very selfish way. Some people were meant so let’s STEAL THEIR SOULS, that way we have more twitter followers.

    The motivation for the first palace wasn't because Kamoshida was "mean". You're also not stealing souls, but rather stealing the manifestation of their desires and forcing them to take a hard look at who they really are. I'll use a spoiler tag here even though I'd hope anyone reading would be past the first palace.

    He physically abused students. He raped female students. He forced people into uncomfortable situations just to please himself. His actions led to a suicide attempt by Shiho. Wanting to remove someone like that from prominence is not a selfish act at all, even if there are extra motives thrown in as well - such as not wanting to violate your probation.

    As for wanting more recognition, I love how it ties in to Mementos. Since Mementos is essentially the collective unconscious, more recognition means they're able to explore more and help more people. I wouldn't call their acts completely selfless but then again, what human being can say that? Considering the series as a whole is deeply tied to Carl Jung's philosophies, I think they found an entirely unique (and dare I say clever) way of making that a mechanic and giving it context.

  • @mrnikiter So you skeedaddled right past the part where highschoolers are making pacts with essentially demons for power and are upset the kids are a tad selfish as kids tend to be? Just be glad they're not shooting themselves in the head to summon their power anymore.
    don't try this at home kids

  • I understand that theoretically stealing desires should create change and not a boss fight. Strong desires allow people ignore "evil part" of themselves and overcome guilt. Without desires they forced to face their "evil part", feel guilty about it and change because of guilt. That's how cat explains it (at least how I understand it), but that's not what happens in the game. In the game "evil" part turns into monster, you beat that monster, "evil part" falls on the knees and tells how sorry he is. But thinking more about it, it’s probably more unfortunate representation of interesting idea than fundamental flaw.

    Characters motivation still bothers me though. While mechanically more followers allow them go deeper into Mementos to find out source of it all (I guess), it is not why they want more follower, at least initially. And the way they show disappointment that there is no new targets, suggest to me that they just want to be cool and famous dudes/girls/cats who fight monsters in fantasy world, rather than help people. Which is probably not unrealistic representation of teenagers? But I just feel they are not very good people who use and abuse their power to satisfy their desires. Not unlike their targets. On other hand who would not want to be cool dude/girl/cat fighting monsters? They at least find bad people to hurt.

    @SabotageTheTruth By mean people I did not mean Kamoshida, but people in restaurant, who seem to be a catalyst in creation of Phantom Thefts club. And while desires are not technically a soul, it is what makes us who we are, so for me it’s pretty much the same.

    @Mbun I might indeed skedaddled past demon pacts. I assumed personas are part of someones
    consciousness which just happens to look cool in other world.

    Thanks everyone for commenting, it's really helps me to develop my thoughts.

  • @mrnikiter You're cherrypicking quotes.

    Ann verbatim says that she wants the Phantom Thieves' good deeds to be heard widely that she can give hope to as many people as possible. All in the context of this oppressively hateful school that main character transfers into, and her futile attempts to flirt with their violent child rapist teacher just to draw his ire from her friend, who only narrowly survived a suicide attempt.

    I'd say the premise is pretty normative except for the fact that it deals with real social issues, with the party members and situations becoming more complex as you go. Although, if you were really bothered by the whole cathartic violence thing, I don't know what other, more high-minded games you have been playing.

  • @mrnikiter said in Premise of Persona 5 is depressingly horrifying:

    but that's not what happens in the game

    It's exactly what happens in the game?

    The "boss fight" is the shadow self trying to protect it's desires. Kamoshida fought you when he saw you stealing his crown. His crown represents how he feels he's better than everyone else. And It turns out that part of why he feels that way was because everyone treated him that way due to his Gold Medal and athletic prowess. You "beat" him when you take it from him and make him see how he's been acting without the self delusion that he's superior and can do whatever he wants. Not because you punched him.

  • So alright, here's my question - if you find the motivations of the characters here appalling, why do you give a pass to Persona 4? Yosuke (for the entire game) talks about how cool what they're doing is, how he could potentially use it to pick up chicks, etc.and he is a major driving force behind the party, considering he is the first real member you get. How did you get someone to accept their true self in that game? You fight a boss. The characters in Persona 4 are much more self-absorbed, have lesser problems (in my eyes), and gripe more. The ones expressed in 5 feel much more grounded.

    The concept that people should do good just because it is the "right" thing is such a nice thing on paper - but it isn't reality. It's not how people actually function. Characters like Superman can get away with it because he's technically an alien but think about any well-written comic book hero or even literary hero. Do they uphold justice just because they feel like it should be done? Nah. There's almost always a benefit for them as well.

    Dive in deeper to the game and you get some solid questions about justice and what it truly means - and the idea behind if the Phantom Thieves are just is something the party is presented with and discusses. There's also characters that join up that have some really damn moving reasons for being there (3rd and 4th palace, I'm looking at you).

  • @Haru17 said in

    You're cherrypicking quotes.

    You probably right, by the time diner scene came up I was already upset with the game and was in full "conformation bias mode", and quotes I found most jarring stick with me the most.

    I tried to pinpoint what actually makes me upset and why I was not similarly bothered with P4. I agree that Persona 4 is less serious, you deal mostly with teenage social anxieties and in dungeons you straight up save people. I felt game keep appropriate amount of seriousness/aloofness in this context.

    P5 is much more dark game. And I again agree with you that it feels more serious and real. And what you do in the dungeons is more questionable. You go into mind of people you don't like, rip out fundamental part of their consciousness and turn them into people you want. I just can't get over how fucked up it is. In the beginning of the game character have doubts if it right or wrong, but they have a lot of reasons to go through with it and no real alternatives. But then game drop all doubts and do it too sudden. Characters become more concerned with "if it gona work" and not if it was right. And apparently if you destroyed someones personality by no one died it's all fine and dandy. So I find myself bending peoples will to my liking because they are bullies. Seems a bit much to me, could you at least talk to them first? (would be probably super annoying mechanically)

    I guess I am upset that game turns out to be not about real people dealing with real problems where magic is just an interesting backdrop and allegory of your real abilities. In this game magic IS the answer for all problems.

  • @mrnikiter Stick with it because that exact issue is brought up by a character between the 2nd and 3rd dungeons.

  • @Mbun
    I really wish the P3 films would get a proper US release, although Anieplex would probably charge like $90 per film.