Persona 5 has officially been slated for a 15 September, 2016 release in Japan. The announcement was made in dramatic fashion during an live stream as the game's 'Phantom Thief' took over the famous Tokyo Tower in Japan. A UK or US release was not revealed, although developer Atlus confirmed that the game will be showcased at E3 2016 in June.
The fifth title in the series lands surprisingly close to with this year's other blockbuster JRPG, Square Enix's Final Fantasy 15 - set for a 30 September worldwide release.
The last mention of a Western release set the game up for a late 2016 release in the US, with still no word on when/if the game will make it to UK shores. Further detail will likely now have to wait for the game's appearance in Los Angeles during year's annual E3 event between 14-16 June.
2016 marks the 20th Anniversary of the Persona series and to celebrate the occasion a litany of extras accompanied the announcement.
A Collector's Edition of Persona 5 was unveiled for the Japanese market which includes "series special" DLC, an art book, soundtrack CDs and a rather large, snazzy box. The stream also included a brief snippet of the Persona 5 anime series set to accompany the September launch. A brand new gameplay trailer (below), official box art and the illumination of Tokyo Tower in the game's signature bright tones completed a showing that promises an exciting year for fans.
Initially announced in 2013 as a PS3 exclusive, the title was eventually pushed back from its vague Winter 2014 launch window, with Atlus also confirming that the long-awaited sequel will release on PS4.
The livestream also named two NPCs that have cropped up in previous trailers. Twin sisters Justine and Caroline will share the role of assistant for the mysterious recurring character Igor. Both popped up in what appeared to be Persona 5's version of the Velvet Room - the series's sinister central hub, which resembled a prison-block in the stream.
The game's bizarre story puts players in the shoes of a teenage student who transfers to the bright lights and social cliques of a high school in Tokyo. The weird-factor in this relatively mundane scenario kicks in thanks to the titular personas - Jungian alter-egos of its main characters that give the heroes their powers in turn-based RPG combat.
If that all sounds a bit intense, think of it as a coming of age tale-meets-Pokémon-meets-Final Fantasy and you are not far off. We still know very little about the 'phantom thief' personas this time around, although we do know that the lead character's introductory persona is a "famous gentleman-thief," named Arsene Lupin.
The game's RPG dungeon crawling mechanics will be familiar to fans, as it sticks to the randomly-generated environments last seen in the upgraded version of Persona 4 on PS Vita - Persona 4 Golden. Judging from the trailers so far, the themed arenas will be adding stealth and platforming gameplay features this time around.
Originally a spin-off of Atlus's Shin Megami Tensei franchise, Persona has garnered a significant cult following outside of its native region, with Persona 4 Golden in particular arguably ranking among the finest JRPGs ever made. It's relative success later spawned the dance/rhythm game Persona 4: Up All Night and a story-based fighter Persona 4 Arena, co-developed by acclaimed BlazBlue and Guilty Gear studio Arc System Works.
If nothing else, Persona 5's stark day-glo anime-style visuals and its series-traditional acid jazz soundtrack should certainly help grab a fair bit of attention when it is finally released.