Persona 5 Royal- Week 2 Play Update

Hey guys, welcome to Week 3 of my Persona 5 Royal play update. We have an added update: pictures! So for those who do not know, with the original Persona 5, basically the whole thing was classed as a blocked scene, so you could not take screenshots, videos or stream the game (at least using the PS4 built-in feature). That’s changed with Royal! As far as I can tell, you can screenshot, record and stream until your heart is content… until 24th December. But that is completely fine because we have a long way to go until then.

This week, I have been pretty busy with Easter and trying my best to focus on University work and work experience, so my gaming has suffered a little bit. For a little reference, as I wrote last week’s post, I was just about to steal the treasure of the second palace. This week, I’ve just had a certain student council president awaken to her amazing, super cool Persona today.

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Jose letting me know that I’ve done a good job!

So, I still love Jose a bunch. I thought I would include a screenshot of him because I know some people cannot play the game yet, but they still deserve to see and know about this precious angel baby. He’s recently gotten some newer items, which backs up my theory that as the game progresses, the items that he has are going to be more useful/ rarer.

Now, there are some other children in this game that really need to be discussed. Yes, the twins. They have had me (and my partner, actually) in stitches this past week. I have taken them out twice (maybe three times, actually) and it is hilarious. You get skill cards as a result of taking them out, it does not increase their confidant or anything, but honestly I highly recommend it because- it is the funniest thing. It is clear that they just want to go and have fun, you know, be kids. I think it is such a nice touch to their characters. Their confidant is so much different to everyone else, you barely get an insight into their personalities. This added extra is nice and refreshing if you do not have much to do.

The Twins (Strength Arcana) at the gym.

Kichijoji deserves the hype. It really is as simple as that. It is pretty great. It’s a big area with several things to do. The darts is fun. Straight up, so fun. I have thrown my controller by accident one or two times, but honestly, it is so fun to just play. I know I have mentioned before that I have dyscalculia, so I usually stay away from things like this. I am familiar with the particular game of darts that is played in Royal because my family used to play it a lot, but I always freaked out about the counting. I do not need to freak out here, because once you get close enough, the game tells you what you need. So yeah, that is very helpful. Billards had potential. To be honest, I was a little disappointed. However, it is still pretty fun just to watch, and everyone is super impressed by Joker’s skill. There is a Jazz club, which is not available yet, but I thought I would mention it anyway. There is also a clothes shop, where you can trade the things you find in the metaverse (dirty clothes) and get both money and points to get things from the shop, which is really unusual to me but also, again, pretty cool.

I do not think I have quite expressed my changing feelings for Goro Akechi, so here they are: I hated him throughout the entirety of my first Persona 5 playthrough. He made my blood boil. Whenever my partner brought him up (mainly to tease me), I swear a vein was about to pop out of my head. I felt like his ending was not one worthy of redemption. My second playthrough was a bit different as I was not so wrapped up in the situation. I knew exactly what was going to happen, so it was not such a big deal. He still annoyed me (I believe I actually just skipped through most of his dialogue), but I did try to keep an open mind. In Persona 5 Royal… I like him. There. I said it. I am starting to like/ tolerate Goro Akechi. I do not know if it is because I know he is more prominent in this game, or if it is because his confidant is not completely automatic. I like him. I enjoy spending him with him. That will probably be my biggest take away from Royal. And before we move on, I would just like to say that although I dislike the character, I appreciate good (great) writing when I see it, and I have always appreciated the writing of Goro Akechi. And the voice actor. The voice actor is great and did a song with Joker’s voice actor.

This is the song. Please listen, especially if you like musical theatre.

So, a small update on Kasumi and Maruki. I have started Kasumi’s confidant (literally the day I posted the last update). I am enjoying it. I am not very far into it at all. She seems to come and go. I hope she appears more because so far, I have really enjoyed her appearances. As for Maruki, I am really enjoying his confidant. My partner found out that the third semester is reliant on his confidant (I do not know if this is true, I have not looked because spoilers) so I have hung out with him whenever I possibly could. I am really enjoying the whole research thing, and his abilities are beyond amazing in my opinion. I am very impressed.

Anyway, I am going to get back to it and hope that I get further than just in between palaces this week! Leave your thoughts and feelings in the comments, I love reading them! And I will leave you with some funny screenshots I’ve taken!

The Twins reminding me that I need to work my jaw.
I tried to foreshadow, but Ryuji reminded me that this is not a video game.
Ryuji being a little rude to Mishima right before the clean up event.
Morgana being a gentleman and thinking about Lady Ann’s chastity!

Confidant Analysis- Persona 5 Part 2

Hello and welcome to part two of our Persona 5 confidant analysis. I feel the need (more so in the last post) to specify that this is for the original Persona 5 game. Persona 5 Royal obviously have different confidants, different abilities and I have yet to play enough of the game to feel comfortable with analysing any of the confidants. In case you missed the last post, we covered the Phantom Thieves. You can check it out here:

https://eleanorreesgaming.com/2020/04/05/confidant-analysis-persona-5/

In the last post, we established that confidants that we believe to be most useful are often not the ones who are actually useful. We found that this analysis is focused on the usefulness to Joker’s rehabilitation. Skills that directly help him in battle and in the metaverse are going to come in more useful to him than skills that passively help. For example, one that we will look at in this post is Takemi being more valuable than Kawakami as the medicine provided by Takemi provides direct aid to Joker during his metaverse adventures.

For a little reminder for those who did not have time to read the Phantom Thieves confidant analysis, Haru Okumura surprised us all with her fantastic gardening skills, followed closely by Futaba Sakura and Makoto Niijima. We are going to be using the same rating system I had in place, focused around the usefulness to Joker’s rehabilitation (I know I am repeating myself, but this is vital, especially when it comes to this post in particular). I have not changed the spelling of Akechi, but he is not relevant in this analysis due to being an automatic progression. Speaking of automatic progression, I would like to remind everyone before we dive into this that Igor and Sae Niijima will be excluded (just like Morgana was last week) as you get those automatically.

Here is the overview again:

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Here you can see the date in which the confidant becomes available, whether or not it is player-initiated, which arcana the confidant is linked to, the group I assigned them, and lastly the ratings that they received.

I know I went into this briefly last week, but I wanted to further explain why I separated the Adult Help and the Friends. It would have been easier to just have Non-Phantom Thieves and Phantom Thieves (because like I said last week, there is a ridiculous difference between them and that makes sense because they are fighting alongside the protagonist). However, this would not make sense from a narrative perspective. The entire game is about how adults have power over kids, and lumping them all together seemed unfair. Although they do have similar numbers, from a narrative perspective, it just made sense to separate them.

Something that I realised while writing the last post – and the reason I stress that we are analysing the usefulness of the confidant to Joker’s rehabilitation – is that there is a difference between the confidant arc and the confidant abilities. I know this seems obvious, but if you think about it, everyone is going to have different opinions on someone’s story. People have different morals, and they find different things relatable. Although I discussed the confidant arcs briefly (apart from Yusuke… I opened a bag of worms there, I know) in the last post, it is essential to remember that just because I took something from that arc, it does not mean you were meant to take the same thing. As I also mentioned last week, this is hard because everyone plays the game differently. Some people focus on Skill Cards; some people concentrate on Physical Skills; some people cannot wait to get their hands on things that increase SP. However, somethings are undeniably useful. For example, you can get Personas that have certain skills, but when your SP is gone, you sometimes have to just run to a safe room and go home.

That being said, let’s look more closely at the adults who helped Joker.

Ichiko Ohya

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This reporter is one that definitely deserved better confidant abilities. She is introduced early on, around the start of Madarame’s palace. She is directly useful for Kaneshiro’s palace. Her abilities are directly useful, but also have pretty much the same effect that an item you can create has. The main difference? Making the thing increases Proficiency. And that does not do this character justice.

Ohya is a journalist who writes about the Phantom Thieves. That is the basis for the confidant. You give her information; the Phantom Thieves get positive publicity. The protagonist can even work at the bar, Crossroads, that she goes to regularly. She is not the most likeable person, especially at the start of her confidant arc, but she is one of the most interesting characters in Persona 5.

Ohya wants an easy story and has it when Joker comes to her with as much information as she wants about the glorious Phantom Thieves. She does not have to dig deeper, does not have to ask around- Joker even sets her up with an interview with Mishima. But this leads you to ask why she wants an easy story. She does not seem to hate her job, the first time you meet her, she seemed interested in writing a good story for the public. Her arc reveals that her job is no longer her number one priority. Something happened to her work partner; she knows something is wrong, and she wants easy stories so that she has spare time to find out more about the truth of what happened to her friend. Ohya’s instinct that her friend is not dead is honourable- she knows it in her heart, and she’s prepared to scream it to the world if it meant that she could prove it to be true. It is clear that Ohya would do anything. The newspaper that she works for puts pressure on her when they realise what she is doing, trying to make sure that her work is her main focus and that she has no time to look for her partner. After the Phantom Thieves intervene, she finally finds her friend at a hospital for the mentally ill. This obviously throws her back, but it is clear that she has no regrets for all the hard work that she put in.

Compared to her confidant arc, Ohya’s confidant abilities are mediocre. They are easily replaced by items that you can make, and the security level does not tend to be a problem in the first place. Ohya is the one character that I truly believed deserved better confidant abilities because quite frankly, in a game where time is limited, and the big thing is to get the best use out of your time, she is not worth it. Her confidant abilities are not worth spending several full evenings on. Her arc? Totally. 100%. However, her story is not what contributes to Joker’s rehabilitation, and that is what is important here. Ohya has a disadvantage because she has the least useful confidant abilities, yet one of the most interesting and well thought out narratives.

Munehisa Iwai
You meet Iwai early on in the game. However, you need guts to be high (4) and therefore, I would not blame you if you just left him out until New Game +. However, he is more beneficial (slightly) if you get him in your first playthrough. However, getting a social stat up to 4 and getting all the way to rank 10 with a confidant after that is hard.

Iwai’s confidant abilities focus on guns. If you are going to make an effort to get to rank 10 with Iwai, I also recommend working hard to get to rank 10 with Shinya too, in order to get maximum effectiveness out of both of the confidant abilities (we will talk more about Shinya in next week’s post). Iwai’s confidant abilities are particularly useful for those who do non-persona/ physical runs. If you are, like me, more of a Persona user, then it is understandable if you wish to skip out on Iwai’s confidant. His abilities solely focus on gun power, and this shows off something that Persona 5 does really well. If you are consistent with how you play the game, this confidant can be very beneficial to you. I have said this tons of times, but Persona 5 is a game in which time is so limited that sometimes you do have to focus on particular skills or confidants to get better and to get the most out of that game. Iwai is one of the confidants that this applies to most. It is an added bonus that sometimes you get Proficiency from hanging out with him, but the best thing to do overall is work out how you are going to play the game, and then work out which confidants are going to be most beneficial to you.

In terms of Iwai’s confidant arc, he suffers from the same thing Ann and Makoto suffered from, only he did not suffer from it due to a friend, and the conclusion of his arc is actually significantly better. Iwai suffers from a pretty stale arc until around rank 6/7. There always feels like there is something missing. However, when you get past rank 7, things start to speed up and get more intense. There is nothing missing from the end of his arc. Actually, the end of Iwai’s arc has – in my opinion – the best conclusion out of all of the confidants.

Iwai’s confidant arc involves the Yakuza, which does add to the layer of intensity in the narrative. The player knows that this guy is dangerous, that this story is dangerous. To add to the level of danger, remember the fact that the protagonist is on probation. Being involved in the Yakuza is something that he probably should not be doing.

Regardless of whether or not you want to use gun skills, like Ohya, Iwai’s story is worth sitting through. Especially the ending.

Iwai also increase Proficiency, so that is a bonus!

Toranosuke Yoshida
“No good Tora” is next on our list. Yoshida is one confidant, like Chihaya, that takes quite a bit of work to start the actual confidant. For one, you have to work at the Beef Bowl shop a few times, which is stressful and sometimes feels like a waste of time.

In terms of abilities, his are okay. They are significantly more beneficial to have in the first playthrough because that is when you want to be aiming to get the most Personas. If you have the full Persona compendium, achieved throughout your first playthrough, then there is not really much of a point to shadow negotiations as it is much more beneficial to gain the XP from an All-Out Attack than getting money or an item from the shadow (unless that shadow is proving difficult to beat).

As for the narrative, this is where it gets weird. This game is fantastic at giving the characters great arcs or backgrounds. However, it failed when it comes to Yoshida. Yoshida did not learn much through his arc. He just kept going. The game had a great opportunity at the end when Shido was not able to be prime minister. They could have used Yoshida to show (after the change of heart) that the public had changed. This obviously would not have been part of his arc, but part of the main story. I think it would make more sense if this was unlocked if the player reached rank 10 with Yoshida because you learn his backstory (which is not as deep as you expected, and a bit of a let down to be honest) and know what he is aiming for at this point. Yoshida is a good guy, and having a good guy become Prime Minister due to the bad guy not being able to; with the change of heart of the public, them realising that Yoshida would be a good Prime Minister- that is the kind of ending for Yoshida that we deserved. But we do not get that. Yoshida’s arc is lacking a lot. There is no huge change, no revelation, his back story is sad, yet he is not doing anything about it. It teaches the protagonist about kindness, and that people like him need protecting from the harsher people in society. Between Yoshida’s arc and abilities, it would make sense not to focus on him (at least in the second playthrough) because his abilities are not the best, and his arc is not very compelling.

Chihaya Mifune
So Persona 5 has been called out several times for not addressing things as they are meant to be addressed. Time after time, I have stuck up for it, explained reasons behind their choices, tried to help people explain why they did not address things for what they are. The main complaint I see about this is that no one actually says that Shiho was raped. Time and time again, I tell people that it is because when people are raped, it is hard to admit it. It is hard for them, never mind the people around them. I never really saw it as a problem. However, playing through Chihaya’s confidant arc, I had in the back of my head “this is clearly a cult, why won’t they just say it is a cult?”. I think this goes to show that you need to apply what you know about real life and real-life reactions to different situations that you have not been in yourself. I eventually thought “wait… would someone who has been through this call it a cult?”. The likely answer is no. People who go through traumatic events in which they were abused or manipulated often fail to put a label on it because this is their life. This is the stuff that happens to them every day. This is almost normal. At times, and in Chihaya’s case, she did not know what the problem is. Chihaya’s confidant arc is so different than what was expected. However, before we talk in detail about what her arc is about, let’s talk about her confidant abilities.

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Chihaya’s abilities can be very useful, both in a first playthrough and New Game +. Affinity Reading is definitely the most consistently useful, and it can really help speed up confidant rankings. This is useful because there is such a limited amount of time in this game. There are 13 non-automatic confidants, each of which are most beneficial at rank 10, which is also the only way to complete the Persona compendium. It does cost money, but Money Reading can also get that money back pretty quickly. In terms of helping Joker with his rehabilitation, however, it is slightly less useful. The focus is on things such as social stats and confidants, which is obviously important but does not help him directly with his rehabilitation. I think Chihaya really loses out due to this system, as her abilities are useful in terms of playing the game. However, in terms of directly helping Joker with his rehabilitation, there is not much that can be said to aid her cause. However, it does need to be stated that it is a lot harder for Joker to go through rehabilitation without confidants and social stats.

Okay, so on to her confidant arc: it takes a long while to start, just like Yoshida. However, you are at more of a loss, as you have to pay 100,000 yen. This is for a rock, that breaks by the time you get back to Leblanc. It is irritating to have to spend so much time working on this confidant, just to start it. However, the abilities do make it worth it. The narrative is compelling, despite feeling that there could be more going on behind the scenes. This feeling goes away when you remember that Chihaya is an adult woman that has a life of her own. That sounds strange at first, I know, but she is not going to share as much with the protagonist as someone who is closer to his age would. She has matured (although she is probably the youngest in this particular grouping) and does not rely on other people as much as Ann, for example. She does not feel the need to talk about every single thing that is going on in her life, emotions, or anything really. Sure, she talks about her issues, but she does it in a very mature way. She does not just blurt everything out. I think that is one of the biggest differences between the female characters that are around Joker’s age and the female characters that are a bit older. The way that their confidant arc plays out, and the way that they convey what is going on and their emotions is significantly different and much more mature, which is to be expected.

Chihaya seems to learn a lot throughout her confidant arc and breaks free from the corrupt cult that was holding her back. The thing that was most shocking to me is that she basically came to the conclusion about the cult being corrupt herself. Considering the amount of work that the protagonist has to put in to prove that fate can be changed, just for her to believe him before the confidant even starts, I believed that convincing her that the whole organisation was actually a cult would talk a lot of work and possibly several Mementos trips. But she basically did the work herself, and I think that her doing that shows that she was always a strong person. It shows that she just needed a little support and someone to nudge her in the right direction, and the protagonist was more than happy to do that.

The thing about the female adult confidant arcs is that the biggest thing is that they are already what they are. They just need guiding. Life sometimes sucks, and it corrupts people’s hopes, dreams and perspectives. The adult confidants already have an established feeling of self, but life got in the way. The nice touch is that it is Joker who guides them back on the right path.

Sadayo Kawakami
After making that statement, I could not think of a better person to move on to other than Kawakami. Kawakami is the protagonist’s teacher, so her confidant is a little weird and illegal if you think about it too much (my advice would just be to ignore the fact that you can romance her… and the other adults). We learn a lot through her confidant but before we get there, let’s look at her abilities.

Yet another who my system does not do justice for. Kawakami is a bit higher than Chihaya because she can do things such as make curry and coffee, which directly benefit Joker and the rest of the Phantom Thieves in their metaverse hijinks. In the same way – perhaps more so – as Chihaya, Kawakami helps so much in terms of gameplay. Time is limited in this game, and she helps us do what needs to be done while letting us to what we want to do. Everyone should aim to get Kawakami to rank 10 because you just need that spare time if you want that shiny, sweet platinum trophy. Plus, it is so much more fun when you have more time to do things. You get so much more out of the game. As for Joker’s rehabilitation, however, she helps more than Chihaya because she can make coffee, curry and infiltration tools when Joker is busy taking a bath. She also provides time in lesson to make infiltration tools which can be used in the palaces.

As for her confidant arc, it is a rollercoaster. There are lies, plot twists and a hospitalisation there. Kawakami was once an amazing teacher, whereas, at the start of the game, all she does is complain. However, as the confidant progresses, you can tell that she actually really cares about her students. She’s just tired from working two jobs. My thoughts when calling for Kawakami were never “I’ll be able to rank her up” but rather “I’ll give her something easy to do so she can have a break” which I know is not normal, but I just wanted her to be okay. Right from the start, you can tell that she is overworking herself. Once you learn why she is overworking yourself, everything becomes clear. She just wants to keep her teaching job because she loves teaching. Because of that, she is forced to work a second, dehumanising job.

Teachers are so important. They spent more time with kids than their parents, and they have the chance to be really influential on those kids. If you are lucky enough to have a good teacher, you will go so far in life. Kawakami was that good teacher, and by the end of the confidant, she is that good teacher once more. All she needed was someone to support her and have her back, to give her the confidence to put her foot down, quit her second job and focus on teaching.

Between her abilities and her confidant arc, Kawakami is worth pushing through the slow beginning. Regardless of how you play this game, Kawakami’s abilities are going to be beneficial to you, and her story is an enjoyable one.

As an additional little add on, Kawakami increases kindness.

Sojiro Sakura
Sojiro Sakura is a womanising businessman who- okay no, who am I kidding? Sojiro Sakura is, first and foremost, a dad. He has had his adopted daughter Futaba for roughly a year, and she has him wrapped around her little finger. He acts like a womaniser, but in reality, the last woman he found vaguely attractive was probably Wakaba. He acts harshly at first, but it is pretty easy to see through his act. Sojiro just wants what is best for everyone, but he does not want any harm to come to him or Futaba (or the protagonist).  He does not want to actively help anyone because it could go wrong and backfire on him.

Sojiro’s abilities are highly focused on SP recovery, which directly helps with Joker’s rehabilitation as it means he can spend more time in the metaverse. SP recovery is so important in this game because SP is easily the deciding factor on when the team goes home. Sojiro’s abilities also means that Joker has activities that directly impacts his time in the metaverse and by extension, his rehabilitation.

As for his confidant arc, it is hugely focused on Futaba Sakura. Sojiro represents a category that I feel is often underrepresented in media: foster/adoptive parents. Parents who are not biologically related to the kids they are looking after, but they still love their kids. Sojiro undeniably loves Futaba. Right from the start, even when you don’t know that it’s Futaba on the phone, Sojiro clearly cares about the person on the phone. A lot of his confidant focuses on her and what is best for her, and how he does not want her to be taken away. This confidant arc is a touching one rather than a progressive one. Sojiro learns that sometimes it is not enough to be passively supportive.

As an additional fun thing, Sojiro increases kindness sometimes.

Tae Takemi
Lastly, Tae Takemi is great. Obviously.

So, the reason Takemi is so far up is because not only does she provide SP recovery but also HP recovery, which is actually pretty damn helpful. Reviving items are also available from Takemi. Not only that, but her arcana also has the best persona (in my opinion), which is Alice, so automatically, her confidant is worth doing just for Alice.

Her confidant arc does not show her change much, but she changes more actively than any of the other adult help. Takemi set up her little clinic to focus on her medicine in order to save a patient that she particularly cared about. She had no interest in helping other people. By the end of the confidant, she is significantly more open to helping those in the community. She is a good doctor, and when the rumours about her are gone, people almost flood through her door. Her confidant arc is satisfying, to say the least.

As an extra bonus, you can increase your guts here… but you do need some guts to do the clinical trials.

Conclusion
These confidants are a lot different from the ones that we discussed last week, in both the arcs and the abilities. This is expected, as the Phantom Thieves are literally fighting alongside Joker while he is working on his rehabilitation. However, these confidants give an insight into how people can indirectly help the Phantom Thieves in their missions, and also – more importantly – they give an insight into how lost people can find their way back to their own heart. Life gets in the way of people’s dreams and morals. These confidants show how easy it is to get back on track when you have the right support.

Top 10 games to play when you can’t go outside

This list popped into my head because right now, we are in the middle of a pretty scary pandemic. A lot of governments are urging their citizens to stay inside. Most people are working from home, and looking at the same four walls for days on end can drive people to boredom pretty quickly. Therefore, I came up with this list so you will probably not be bored throughout the entirety of your break from the outside world (for whatever reason that might me; you can even use this list after the pandemic!). Two quick things I must mention: All these games are on the PS4 and while not all of them are exclusive, there are at least two that are PS4 exclusives. Another thing- please do not ignore your responsibilities to play video games. I learnt this the hard way. Do you have a job and have to work from home? Great, do the work before losing yourself in a game. Do you have a degree that you need to study for? Yeah, I know it sucks but that pile of reading that you need to do for those four assignments is not getting any smaller when you are spending most of the day playing video games. And yes, I did call myself out there.

Without further ado, here are the Top 10 Video Games to Play when you can’t Go Outside.

10) Yu-Gi-Oh: Legacy of the duellist.
Starting off with this one because you have all the time in the world! Yu-Gi-Oh is an anime, card game and video game (based off of the card game) which gets progressively complicated. Since you have so much time, you might as well play Legacy of the duellist, learn the rules to the game, and then you have something to play with your friends when you are allowed to be within 6 feet of each other. I recommend this one because it goes through all the anime duels, which means if you really get invested in this game, you have a few animes to watch (trust me, there’s a lot).

9) Skyrim
Skyrim is a no brainer, really. I do not particularly enjoy it, but it is not a short game, and you can basically do whatever you want. Open World Games are definitely something that should be on the top of your list when you are unable to go outside since it means that you can technically go out- just in the game instead of real life. Is there really much of a difference?

8) Fallout 4
Fallout 4 is, again, another pretty big, open-world game. I find that Fallout 4 has a more straightforward story in comparison to Skyrim. It is also a pleasant reminder that you can go back and replay a Fallout game that was not a complete mess and hugely controversial. A reminder that there was a time before Fallout 76 before things really started to go downhill. And, now that you are stuck inside, you do not have to be reminded by real life either!

7) No Man’s Sky
This game is for the point of ‘stuck inside’ when you are completely fed up, think that the world is going downhill and nothing we do will ever fix it. No Man’s Sky started off rough (really, really rough) but they are definitely going strong now. This game gives you a chance to explore different worlds when you are a bit fed up of your own.

6) Shadow of War
This is a beloved sequel to Shadow of Mordor, and as someone who is not a Lord of the Rings fan because of how much my dad used to talk about it (I was named after a flower in it… and they spelt it wrong!), it is pretty decent. It has the Nemesis System, which has different traits that get thrown together to make higher-level orcs that have personalities. I enjoy watching my partner play it, and he, in particular, enjoys making blood brothers fight. It is funny to watch someone who was a particular nuisance to the player come back to life with scars and a new hatred. If you, like me, would find it more entertaining to watch this game, I recommend TearofGrace on YouTube. His reactions are very entertaining.  

5) Spider-Man
This is a game that I played momentarily before getting wrapped up in The Witcher 3. I think it could be the only thing more fun than Persona 5 Royal (you’ll never hear me say that again) in terms of swinging ability. I have heard good things about the detail of New York, which is the main reason I thought of this game for this list. I have both watched and played this game (granted, I have not played as much as I wanted to before moving on). It has a compelling story and great game mechanics. It is great for if you just want to stroll around New York, but cannot.

4) Life Is Strange 2
Okay, this one might be out of place, but hear me out. First of all, you could probably finish this game in a day or two. It is a short yet entertaining and emotionally investing game. It both restores your faith in humanity while reminding you that there are some awful people out in the world. It is beautifully written, and since you have the time, I say why not? I highly recommend this game. It taught me so much as a person, and I would love to play it again sometime soon.

3) The Witcher 3
Again, another open-world game. This time, better. The world of The Witcher 3 is beautiful, and the characters are something wholly different and unique. Plus, when you are done, there is the Netflix show and books that you can read if you are invested.

2) Red Dead Redemption 2
This is a game that I would not usually like, but I do. I have said it before; I do not like shooting games; I do not like games that are not direct with things that you have to do. That is probably why Fallout 4 and Skyrim are so high on this list (I knew if I did not put them in, people would come for my head and the points still stands, they are decently made). Red Dead Redemption 2 is something else. It reminds me a lot of The Witcher 3, which was my favourite game before Persona 5 came into my life. Its story is beautiful. I held off on playing it because I honestly did not think I would enjoy it. I started reading the wiki pages about the characters because I still wanted to know the story, as the parts that I had picked up on from overhearing my partner play it intrigued me. Within a week, I was playing it. I am nowhere close to finishing it (because as you will see, Persona), but I fully intend to go back to it one day. It is a decent length game, and you can roam around after the game is over too. It is beautifully designed (like, seriously, wow). I think this game would be great to play when you are just stuck inside all day, every day, for who knows how long.

1) Persona 5 Royal
Realistically, I think you all kidded yourself if you thought Persona 5 Royal was not going to be on this list. It is a long game. A really, really long game. And on top of that, it is a really, really, really, really great game. With the addition of the Thieves Den, you do not even have to play the actual story- you can literally just play a game of Tycoon if you are really bored and can not focus on the game. New Game + is also good enough for it to be beneficial and a different experience to just play the game again right away. Did I mention that it is a great game?

I hope this helps some people cure the boredom a lot of people are going through. Drop what you are playing in the comment section! Stay safe, and do not neglect your responsibilities!

Persona 5 Royal- Week 1 Play Update

I have been playing Persona 5 Royal for just under a week now. This post will contain spoilers for everything up until the second boss fight.

Are we all clear? Good.

The first thing I need to mention is the precious little angel that goes by the name of Jose. I adore him. As someone who did not bother with Mementos much previously, he does make it worthwhile. Both because he is adorable, and you can trade with him. I love that you can collect flowers and stamps. The whole changing the cognition of Mementos thing is pretty cool, and very useful. I hope that as the game progresses, rarer items (such as liquid mercury) can be traded with Jose. I think that would be very useful.

That leads us on to the whole will seeds thing. I actually like the addition of the will seeds. It is something else to keep an eye out for, and it feels like we are sneaking around for more of a reason because we just stole a will seed. I like to think that they play a more significant part in the whole palace thing than they do. It is quite fun to just search for them, and the item that comes out of it makes it worth the extra work that you have to do. I like how Jose can also make that item better. It’s like an extra layer of work that you can do if you want to.

Another thing that I am enjoying a bit too much is the Thieves Den. I have literally spent hours in there just playing Tycoon. I love decorating it however I want. I love how cool the awards look on the wall. I really love how you can change your appearance and become another Phantom Thief. I enjoy running around as Ann in her Metaverse gear. It is also entertaining to run around as Morgana in both real-world and Metaverse forms.

So far, I have found all the in-game changes to be refreshing. It is so lovely to be able to do things after the Metaverse, even if it is only in Leblanc. I think this would be less beneficial in New Game + when you have all of your stats, but as of right now, it is a nice change.

I wanted to bring up one thing that has happened to me, and it is only a small thing, but regardless, it is both funny and confusing. I have no chair in my room. My partner does in his playthrough. I have watched movies sat on the chair, but apart from that, it is completely gone. We can not find anything online about it, so I assume that it is not a huge thing that most people are dealing with. It is not a huge deal, I can obviously train in the gym, but I wanted to bring it up because I find it funny. Leave a comment if this has happened to you too, and then be can be chairless together.

Okay, so there is a big change that I need to talk about in terms of battle- Baton Pass. Like, woah. I definitely like how you can Baton Pass to your teammates straight away regardless of confidant rank. I am just not sure why it happened. From what I have seen, which (granted) is not much, the rest of the abilities are the same, if not a little changed to make them more specific. It does make me excited to see the new Phantom Thieves’ abilities, though. Plus, Baton Pass was a vital part to battle in some cases. And the new animation of it is excellent.

Lastly, before diving into the Kamoshida boss fight, we should talk a little about shadow negotiations. It is only a small thing, but Royal makes it so much clearer in regards to what certain shadows like and dislike by Morgana saying things such as “leave the witty banter”. Classic Morgana, always there to save the day. I imagine with the help of Yoshida, and the whole actually making it worth asking the shadows you already have for their power, shadow negotiation will soon be as beneficial as offing the enemy.

As for new characters, I am not entirely sure how I feel about Maruki. I do not dislike him, and I think he means well. I have not explored his confidant much yet, but I look forward to it. Kasumi has made limited appearances, unfortunately. I get why she made an appearance at the beginning because she is new and sparkly and needed to be shown off. I cannot say yet whether I like the fact that no attention is being brought to her. We know that she was involved with Kamoshida, even if it was strictly professional (which is doubtful, considering this is Kamoshida we are talking about). I feel like that may be part of her arc, but again, I doubt that will be all that will go on. It is just a bit confusing about why she is not seen around school. However, that might just be me not looking in the right places.

Okay, actual last thing before talking about Kamoshida’s boss fight now: the bathrooms. If you have yet to go to the bathroom, do it. Do it throughout your playthrough. It is so useful, and I love that they included a way to work out which stats you need to work on or which stats you are close to increasing.

So, Kamoshida’s boss fight. Not going to lie, it was harder than the original one. I sent Ryuji originally (I send him a lot, the guy is always pumped to do anything like that) to steal the crown and guess what? Kamoshida eventually noticed! It might have been because I had to focus on healing for a few turns, but regardless, it was definitely a nice touch. It is exciting and suitable for narrative because Kamoshida would have noticed Ryuji doing something he is not supposed to because he wants to make as much trouble for him as possible. From the trailers, I expected Mishima to have a more significant role than he did. The addition is still lovely. As for Shiho, it nearly tricked me. I was worried that once we took Shiho down, Kamoshida would just bring out another slave from the volleyball team. However, she was weak at whatever we threw at her, so she got taken out quickly, and the fight progressed. Overall, I think it better fits the narrative and Kamoshida’s personality.

I am still very much enjoying this game. I still highly recommend it. Come back next week for another update!

Confidant Analysis- Persona 5

Okay, we all know by now that I love Persona 5, especially if you follow me on social media. Persona 5 Royal came out on March 31st, and I have been working on some research regarding a perfect playthrough since January. That, however, did not turn out well because I was very absorbed in my personal playthrough of Persona 5, and I wanted to finish that before Royal came out because someone (my fiancé, who is actually pretty great) is very clear on the fact that we cannot have both Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal downloaded on the PS4. So, that put me in the situation of having done a lot of research, no way to test it in time, and feeling pretty disappointed in myself. I desperately wanted to finish my research, and more importantly, I wanted you guys to be able to see my research and maybe learn something from it. So I looked everything over and decided that there is something I can publish, something that I actually spent a lot of time on and had about five mental breakdowns over. Confidant analysis.

Since this post is going to be so long, it will be split up into three separate parts. There will be a new part every Sunday until it is all fully posted.

So, confidants are what I consider to be the most important thing in Persona 5 (apart from the whole metaverse thing, that is). They help Joker in his rehabilitation, and they make the story significantly more enjoyable. So, this post will discuss the importance of the confidants in Persona 5, how helpful they are to Joker’s rehabilitation, and it will go a little bit into the plot lines of confidants. Major spoilers ahead.

So, this is an overview of my research. It seems like not a lot once you understand it, but I am going to be using my highly trained university-level analysis skills (because this is the only way my degree is helping me right now) to add a bit of life to the numbers and colours and everything else. So, let’s go.

First, let me explain how I generated the numbers on the end. Please bear in mind that I have dyscalculia, so if I mess up with the numbers, that is why (but I do proofread so that should not be an issue). Same with dyslexia.

There are certain things that needed to be considered when ‘rating’ a confidant ability, and this is what initially drove me insane. The usefulness of the ability to Joker’s ultimate goal of rehabilitation (so basically how useful it is in regards to fighting and metaverse shenanigans). That meant I had to work out what was ‘useful’, and then surely by that standard, the members of the Phantom Thieves would surely have an advantage, right? Right. That is why you will see on the overview, I’ve put each confidant into a group: Phantom Thieves, Adult Help or Friend. I believe it to be fair for the confidants to only be assessed in their groups, as it gives them more of a chance to be evaluated fairly against similar strengths and weaknesses. In terms of answering the question of what is useful, more useful or less useful, this differs from how each person plays the game, and what each person prioritises. However, some confidant abilities are just plain better than others, and that is undeniable. If anyone disagrees or would like further explanation after reading this post, I will be happy to answer any comments.

So, going back to the overview, we notice that three people ultimately came out on top: Haru Okumura for the Phantom Thieves, Tae Takemi for the Adult Help, and Shinya Oda for Friends. First, let me explain why I categorised them the way I did.

All six members of the Phantom Thieves (I did not look into Morgana as he is automatic and he probably would have gotten mad at me anyway because I barely slept whilst doing this) are significantly higher than any of the other confidants. They all have skills such as Baton Pass and Follow Up that directly help Joker in the metaverse, and they also have their own things (for example, Haru has SP help, Makoto has analysis) to add to that. They also help Joker towards his rehabilitation by fighting alongside him. I believe that they deserve to be higher than any of the other confidants, but I also believe that comparing them to the other confidants in terms of usefulness would be unfair to the other confidants. For the other categories, I chose to separate them because a lot of this game talks about how awful adults are. In this world (and to an extent, the real world too), adults have much more power and therefore are able to help Joker to a higher degree. I did not believe it to be fair to compare someone like Shinya Oda to Sadayo Kawakami (despite their numbers being similar, it just did not feel right, especially relating to the theme of the game).

The Phantom Thieves Confidants

Going into this, I highly anticipated Futaba to come out on top. She has an amazing confidant storyline, great abilities (although sometimes frustrating), and fans are overall very fond of her. So, I expect this list to go Futaba, Makoto, Ryuji, Haru, Ann and then Yusuke. As you can see clearly by looking at the overall sheet below (the Phantom Thieves are highlighted), the list goes: Haru, Futaba, Makoto, Yusuke, Ann, Ryuji. This may seem a little confusing at first, especially if you have not completed all of the Phantom Thieves’ confidants to rank 10. Despite being first on the team, Ryuji gets pretty basic skills, whereas Haru for example, can be used to make SP replenishers that are more stable than Takemi’s medicine and increase SP more than Sojiro’s coffee or curry.

The Phantom Thieves all have similar skills that aid Joker in his rehabilitation. For example, abilities such as Follow Up, Baton Pass, and Endure that directly help whilst battling shadows. All of these abilities are rated the same. Whilst rating these abilities, it because clear to me that it was unfair to compare the Phantom Thieves to the other confidants, as they all had a clear advantage as they had battle skills as well as their own individual thing.

Let’s look at each of the Phantom Thieves in more depth.

Ryuji Sakamoto.

 The thing with Ryuji, as I have mentioned before, his skills are pretty basic. At the start of the game, he seems to be the most available as Ann requires Kindness and Takemia requires Guts. Ryuji is arguably one of the easiest confidants to get up to rank 10, as his story does not require Joker actually doing much. Ryuji’s story is decent. It goes through the process of healing after him falling out with his prior teammates on the track team, who refer to him as ‘track traitor’ due to losing control of his anger when Kamoshida told the team about his father, who was abusive. Ryuji makes it clear multiple times throughout the confidant that he has no intention of rejoining the track team. It is clear that Ryuji just loves running and being active. The most important thing that Ryuji’s confidant has taught us about his character is that he needs two things in life to be successful. One is a place to belong, which ends up being the Phantom Thieves, and the second is a clear goal/motive, which seems to be (overall) justice, although it could be argued that taking down the palace owners is also a clear goal that keeps Ryuji going. This leads to ask the question of what happens after the game? The protagonist leaves, and the metaverse is no more. He essentially has nowhere to belong and no achievable goal. But, that is not completely true. At the end of the confidant, when you go to say goodbye to Ryuji before the protagonist goes home, he expresses that he has no clear goal apart from running and going to see the protagonist when he can. At the beginning of the game, it is made clear that Ryuji didn’t run for a while after the incident with Kamoshida; he is stiff and feels weak in the metaverse. During the confidant, he learns that he does not need the track team to do the things that he loves. He has people supporting him, and that is what matters. It is clear when saying goodbye to him that this is not the end. He still has a place to belong because even though the Phantom Thieves are not an active group anymore, they are still there and their friendship is still strong. Just because it is over does not mean that what they went through together is just over. This is relevant in regards to Ryuji’s confidant because he had no one before the game. Overall, his confidant abilities are very basic if you keep in mind the skills of the other Phantom Thieves. Insta-Kill is a skill that seems good but really is not so great. In your first playthrough, it is fine to get you through palaces; however, when you are playing New Game Plus and are trying to get as much experience as possible to be able to comfortably use the better personas you acquired in your first playthrough, it can get a bit annoying. Granted, it can be avoided by holding off your attack for a second, but that puts you in a worse position in terms of battle than a successful ambush would.

Ann Takamaki

Ann, like Ryuji, is pretty basic. Her storyline could be better, and her abilities are fine when they get used. The main problem with Ann is that there was so much potential for her, but it seems like it slipped through our fingers. Ann’s confidant is focussed around Shiho, her best friend, who was sexually abused by PE teacher Kamoshida and attempted to commit suicide. Shiho’s story was compelling enough to probably make her a confidant in herself, and therefore make Ann’s confidant slightly stronger. Her arc is a little all over the place, but it always ends up tying back to her either wanting to improve for Shiho’s sake or wanting to improve for the Phantom Thieves’ sakes. Her aim is to strengthen her heart and to become a better person, as she felt like she was too weak to help Shiho when it was needed. She goes from wanting to focus on training, to acting (and I think we all know how bad Ann is at acting), to becoming the best model. It’s a journey, but not in the same sense of Ryuji’s journey. In the end, it is easy to feel unsatisfied from the story. It is entertaining, but that is not enough in this game. The best part of this confidant is when you get to see Shiho again, at Rank 9. This is a heartwarming scene when you see how far Ann has come. However, it makes you wonder if she is going to continue to improve now that Shiho is no longer in the hospital, and the protagonist moves away. The goodbye indicates that Ann has the intention of going to see the protagonist (and, of course, trying all the foods from his hometown) and that she still aims to be the best model. Throughout the arc, Ann learnt that being a model (a good one, at least) takes hard work, and whilst it is good to see that this pays off in the goodbye, it would have been nice if she learnt something more.

In terms of confidant abilities, she seems to be not so useful. This is only worse when you think about 1) the confidant abilities of the other Phantom Thieves and 2) how often things such as hostage situations happen. Another thing is that when you are in a hostage situation, you can usually use the Thieves Guild to easily get you out of the sticky situation. This makes Ann’s unique ability unused in many cases, which is not good because if you have ever seen it happen, you’d know that it is pretty funny to watch, as well as effective.  

Yusuke Kitagawa

Yusuke is special. Special in a lot of ways, in fact. He is probably the most unique of the Phantom Thieves. His confidant arc is about art, which sounds uninteresting but turned out to be relatable and insightful. Yusuke has several traits that suggest that he has Autistic Spectrum Disorder, although it has never been confirmed by the creators. This is relevant because his confidant shows this more than the main story. For example, at Rank 4, the protagonist ends up in a boat with Yusuke, who wants to capture love in his artwork. He finds who he assumes is a couple, but it happens to be a brother and sister. Yusuke is defeated after finding this out. He also does not seem to understand that he cannot just draw random people and expect them to stay still. At the end of the game, when the protagonist goes away to juvie, he asks why the group had to meet up, and why the meeting could not just be over their phones. He does not seem to understand that friends want to hang out together and do things in person. Moving on, Yusuke’s passion is art. This is undeniable, even in the main story (although lobsters are also probably pretty high up on the list). What you find in the confidant is a boy who was once so sure about who he was and his abilities, suddenly the complete opposite of that. He seems to have trouble capturing what he wants to because he does not understand the thing that he is trying to capture in his art. He is not confident in his abilities anymore. Since Madarame turned out to be something completely different to what Yusuke thought he was, he seems to be second-guessing everything. After going to Mementos with the protagonist, Yusuke paints ‘Desires’ which he believes to be a raw insight into the human psyche, and he immediately submits it to be put on display at an art exhibit. It gets put on display there, but it is met with very harsh criticism for being seemingly emotionless. This obviously does not do good for Yusuke’s slump. During the confidant, you see that Yusuke knows that he is capable of doing better. However, he has an almost romanticised view of being an artist. He wants to paint art for the sake of art, not for fame or money. This is even more evident than it would have been before because Madarane’s distorted desires stemmed from wanting fame and money from being an artist. At the forefront of this confidant arc, Yusuke does not want to be like his former mentor. He struggles heavily with this, especially due to the slump he was in (as a slump was what caused Madarame to abuse his pupils).

The thing is Madarame is a lot of people believe that the Phantom Thieves could have and should have gone after a bigger target. They believe that art fraud was nothing compared to what Kamoshida was doing to his pupils. However, a lot of people also fail to remember that it was not just art fraud. Madarame was abusing his pupils. Yusuke has a clear case of Stockholm Syndrome the first few times that you meet him, being incredibly defensive over allegations that were true. Madarame’s real crime was manipulating a young boy – and many others – into thinking that this was their only option. That life with Madarame, being abused and used, was the only way they were ever going to be successful artists. This is so evident when Yusuke’s confidant plays out because he is broken throughout most of it. Even towards the end, Yusuke has not healed from this. That is why this confidant is probably the most realistic. Healing from trauma takes time. Sometimes, part of that healing is realising that the thing you went through was actually trauma and that you did not deserve that. This can take years, and it probably will take years in Yusuke’s case. However, the great thing about the confidant, the thing that really makes the narrative worth sitting through, is the progression that Yusuke makes during the small amount of time. At the end of the confidant, a former classmate of Madarame offers Yusuke help, to stop him from going down the same path as Madarame. However, Yusuke declines this. He states that between his inspiration and the bonds he has created with his friends, he will not go down the same path as Madarame. This is such a big moment, as he was offered help by someone who seemingly understands his greatest fear – becoming like Madarame – to stop that from happening, yet Yusuke says that he already has it covered. That moment in itself is special.

As for abilities, this heavily depends on how you play the game. However, most people will use skill cards at some point in their game, which makes Yusuke’s abilities very useful. They are not the best for the time. For example, it would have probably been best to skip Novice Duplication from a gameplay standpoint (although it does make sense from a narrative standpoint). He has all the basic skills of a Phantom Thief, as well as that added glitch of him just smacking his teammates with his hand when his Harisen Recovery kicks in (it’s my personal favourite). Yusuke’s ability is similar to Haru’s (we will discuss that later) in terms of you have to prepare for it. If you know you want a certain Persona to have a certain skill, then make sure you find a skill card and have Yusuke duplicate it, preferably before the next palace infiltration. You don’t have to hang out with Yusuke in order to do this, although it is always good to try and hang out with your confidants as much as possible. Yusuke does need proficiency 4 to complete his confidant, which is not particularly difficult to get as you can do things such as go to the batting cages and craft infiltration tools. It’s not the hardest stat to increase. Again, it is always a good idea to get stats up as soon as possible, especially when you want to do confidants such as Makoto, Futaba and Sojiro. I recommend trying to do one thing to increase your stats a day, and then one confidant too. Yusuke’s abilities are significantly better than Ann’s and Ryuji’s, and it is a good indication of what to expect from further Phantom Thieves.

Makoto Niijima.

Makoto is the character that my past self relates to (as you’ll see soon, my life has not improved as much as Makoto’s). Her arc, again, could have and should have been so much more. She falls into the same hole as Ann- helping out a friend. Makoto suffers from not understanding her peers, and as student council president, that is clearly a big issue. However, it is clear that she cares very deeply about the students of Shujin Academy. She is very upset (and defensive, at times) over Shiho (see Ann’s arc) attempting to commit suicide. Before her arc, all she seemed to want was to take the pressure off of her sister by being a good student, getting into a good college and somehow helping out. She never wanted to be a burden for Sae. Clearly, you are all thinking about the whole “useless” situation. Was the flashback unnecessary? No. Absolutely not. Why? Just because we, as the audience, had only just seen it, that doesn’t mean time has not continued on in Makoto’s life. She probably had a boatload of studying in between being called useless by Sae and being called useless by Ann. It was needed from a narrative standpoint. And for the memes. Makoto’s arc is technically about her finding herself, who she wants to be, after spending years trying to be someone that everyone else wanted her to be. However, in between the whole Eiko storyline, that does not show strongly. Similarly to Ann’s confidant, Makoto’s arc lacks because it focuses on someone else. The whole arc would be so much better if it just focused on Makoto. From a narrative perspective, it makes sense to include students like Eiko. Makoto is student council president after all. However, I felt like this was more Eiko’s arc than Makoto’s at times. It is made even harder by the fact that you need charm to be 5 to pretend to be Makoto’s boyfriend. This is not an easy feat. Makoto working out that she wants to follow her father’s footsteps and be police commissioner is worth it, however, and ties into the main story, which heavily implies that the policing system in Japan is not good. It feels like Makoto is going to put the world right again, and the protagonist gave her the strength to do it. This, overall, is a very rewarding narrative. Also, it is pretty funny to see Makoto slap Eiko.

Makoto’s abilities are useful. Definitely more useful in a first playthrough than in New Game +, but useful nonetheless. Shadow Calculus is especially useful when searching for rare items such as liquid mercury (because we all want that shiny, shiny Eternal Lockpick). Finding out if a shadow will potentially drop a rare item will make the difference in how you attack it, especially due to Morgana’s pickpocket ability (automatically earned after the third palace). For the record, my favourite Follow Up is Makoto’s, because she just looks so cool when doing it.

Futaba Sakura

And now we get to the character I really relate to because of severe anxiety. Futaba’s arc is a fan favourite for a good reason. It is beautifully written. I have said it a million times, and I will say it again- Futaba Sakura is meant for this game. Okay, that seems obvious because she is a fictional character, she was obviously made for this game, but she could possibly be the reason this game is so great. She is top-level for everything. There was no mistake made with her. I really do not have a negative thing to say about Futaba’s arc. Yes, it is focussed on a friend at certain parts, but not as heavily as Makoto’s and Ann’s. It’s Futaba’s arc that makes players realise that they could have done so much better with Ann’s and Makoto’s arcs, because they did it here. Okay, I’ll put my hands up, kindness 4 is not the easiest to get. Kindness is probably one of the hardest stats to increase, that you have to work on constantly. Thank goodness for that plant, am I right? Although Kindness 4 is not easy to get, it makes sense from a narrative perspective. Futaba is scared. She has been hiding from the world, stuck in her room for around a year. She does not go to school, barely interacted with Sojiro. She needs help. Obviously, she will need someone to be kind to her. She needs her faith in humanity to be restored, which is hard because all of humanity seems to suck in this game. This arc is so well written; it makes you wonder why the other character arcs are lacking. Having this arc be so good lifts the expectation bar, because the other confidants at this point are not that great. They are good. They are just not this good.

As for abilities, when I started this research, I 100% thought that Futaba was going to come out on top. I had no doubts. Her abilities, like her arc, are top class. Futaba does not have all the same abilities as the other Phantom Thieves because she does not fight in battle in the same way that the others do. Futaba has a special persona, which makes her role as Navi more obvious.  Before Futaba, Morgana was Navi. However, Morgana’s persona can fight in battle and is fairly well kitted out in terms of healing too. Futaba’s Navi abilities help with battle in different ways. Emergency Shift can easily be thought of as one of the best abilities, and from personal experience, is a literal lifesaver in the final battle.

Haru Okumura

Yep. I did not expect this either. Haru is sweet, and her character is likeable. The issue? There is around one month to do her confidant. It’s hard, and when you still have other confidants to complete, it is forgivable if you just skip over Haru. Her arc shows her dealing with the loss of her father, but not in the way normal people do. She has to deal with it in terms of the company, her arranged marriage and managerial problems. These should not be an issue for a teenage girl who’s father has just died. Many people try to manipulate Haru, and because she is so kindhearted, she is almost weak in comparison to the business people surrounding her. However, as Haru’s confidant goes on, her confidence grows. It is definitely worth doing the whole confidant just to see Haru’s confidence at the end.

In terms of abilities, Haru’s are great, to put it bluntly. The hardest thing with Persona 5 is conserving SP. Haru helps massively with that. I want to make it clear here: this is not just a little tiny SP increase, it is 100 and 200 SP increases, which is insanely helpful. This can easily make the difference when going through palaces. It means that you are able to stay in the palaces for longer, and therefore you have more free time in the real world to increase stats and get through confidants. Palaces are the main part of Persona 5, and the quicker you do them, the better. Sure, it is nice to take your time. However, Persona 5 is also a game in which time is very limited. Spending 5+ days going through a palace is not needed, especially when you have Haru’s abilities. This comes more useful when you have Personas that are slightly above your ranking, and therefore require more SP than you would usually be comfortable using. Haru’s ability lets you freely use your SP to your hearts contents and then refill when you need to. Like I mentioned before, you do have to plan when you are going to use the thing. If you have planted vegetables with Haru in preparation, remember to go get them before going to the palace. It does not advance the time when you plant them, or when you go to pick them up.

Conclusion

This is part 1 of 3. The biggest take away from researching this is that although certain narratives might be compelling, there are better ways to spend your time. The later on the confidant appears the more useful the skills are. I have not mentioned it in this post, but I recommend getting Chihaya put enough so she can help increase your bond with your confidants. Doing that with Haru and Futaba will be your best bet to get rank 10 since they both come along pretty late in the game (and the whole kindness thing). The confidants that you have to put the most work into are usually worth it. Overall, it is worth having all of the Phantom Thieves up to rank 10, so that you unlock their second awakening to make your team stronger overall. Even if you do not plan on using that person much, they will come in handy during the last battle.

Please come back next week, when we look into Adult Help! If anyone would like to see my spreadsheet, feel free to get in contact and I will send it right over! It’s not completed but it is something.

P.S: yes, I know I spelt Akechi’s name wrong in my research. I just only realised just as I was uploading.

Persona 5 Royal- First Impressions

This post almost did not get written today. I expected to get Persona 5 Royal on yesterday, so I had a full day to play it and then write this. But unfortunately, it arrived today. Luckily, it arrived in the morning so I’ve had a few hours to play and here is my thoughts and feelings. There are limited spoilers for Royal, but a few spoilers for Persona 5, if that makes sense.

I want to make it clear that I had high expectations for this game. Persona 5 has been my favourite game for about a year, and I have fallen in love with the story and the characters. I wanted things to be different because paying for a full game, obviously, there has to be differences. However, I wanted a little change. Maybe a few big ones but not a lot. I am very picky when it comes to things I love being changed, so much so that I was initially hesitant to get this game in the first place. I am happy I got it.

High expectations are usually met with disappointment, but not in this game. It seems like whatever expectations I put in place for Persona 5, they get met. There are some dialogue changes, some changes in tone, and they fit perfectly with what I have played so far. For example, Sojiro and Principle Kobayakawa are a lot harsher, whereas Sae seems softer. The pictures that show up when the characters talk change more so that they are more diverse and expressive. As far as I can tell, when shadows speak, their speech is in a different type of box. I love the explanation of the ammo reloading (a decision that my partner does not like but I think was needed), it fits in so well, much more so than running out of ammo.

Okay, so I know you are all here for one character and one character only: Kasumi Yoshizawa. For the longest time, I fully expected to dislike this girl. I do not like change. I did not like Haru because she changed the Phantom Thieves too late in the game (I love her now, don’t worry!). Something last night just told me, I might like her. I was still hesitant when the game was installing. That changed the second she came on the screen. I instantly loved her. I am still a little hesitant, but that is mainly because of the opening; it’s confusing. However, that is not a bad thing. It builds up anticipation because now I want to know everything.

Overall, I am very much enjoying the game. It seems to be the perfect balance of change and the same. I am very satisfied with the whole thing. Hopefully, I will provide more of an insight into the game over the next couple of weeks. Feel free to ask any questions. I am considering adding a third posting day as I play Persona 5 Royal, just to voice my thoughts and feelings.

PS: If you have bought Persona 5 Royal, please take the survey. Near the end, it asks if you would be interested in bringing Persona 5 Scramble to the West, and the more Phantom Thieves stories, the better!

‘Life Is Strange 2’ (2018)- Game Review

Introduction

Playing Life Is Strange 2 is comparable to grabbing someone’s hand to be lifted up and slapping yourself with your other hand. You will definitely suffer, but you will definitely be happy about it. This episodic game was released as a physical game in December 2019; it was released digitally from September 2018, one episode at a time. This is the way that I originally played.  

Sound

The first thing that needs to be said in terms of sound in Life Is Strange 2 is that the soundtrack is phenomenal. It is very well timed with the story and adds to the emotional factor of the game. The first Episode in particular, when the character’s emotions are particularly tense, the music sets this up wonderfully.

The first Life Is Strange game-used music during the opening of each Episode, whereas Life Is Strange 2 uses the voice of the main character to retell what happened in the previous Episode. The way that they did this is in a bedtime story-like fashion, and it fits in very well with the story of the game overall. In terms of voice acting, this was, again, unbelievably good. Pure emotion could be heard through the character’s voices, which is so crucial in a game with so many essential life lessons. The way that the characters reacted lined up with their voices. Attention needs to be drawn to the voice acting of Roman Dean George (who plays Daniel Diaz) in Episode 4. Daniel goes through so much in Episode 4, and because of that, his emotions are all over the place. You can plainly hear this in his voice, and George did a fantastic job at tackling such difficult scenes.

Lastly, the background noise. One thing, in particular, that was nice as a player was that when the player walked closer to someone, their conversation because clearer and louder, but it was still realistic in the sense that you can slightly hear the other conversations around you too. A great example of this would be Episode 3, when Sean and Daniel are staying with a group of people. Although the downside to this would be that the surrounding conversations could be very distracting while trying to listen to a particular discussion. There is a moment in Episode 5, however, where the sounds clashing works really well. Sean listens in to a phone call, and you can hear nature in the background, and it is a rather lovely moment before the chaos of the last Episode truly begins.

Rate: 7/ 10

Graphics

The Life Is Strange series has a very unique look. The graphics aren’t the best in the business and never have been. If the graphics had been great in this game, it probably would not look like a Life Is Strange game. That being said, the graphics are significantly better than the ones in Life Is Strange and Life Is Strange: Before The Storm. It doesn’t take a long time to realise how much DONTNOD has improved when playing this game. The characters, particularly Sean, glitched into walls and tables occasionally, but again, this is a significant improvement, and the issues were often quickly fixed by the developers.

One thing that looked particularly good was the transaction scenes. What was shown worked well with the music, and it all flowed nicely. It was very much the calm before the storm with each transaction. The transaction scenes gave the player to sit back and think about what had happened, giving them a breather while allowing them to see more of the world that was created.

Rate: 6/10

Gameplay

It is difficult to talk about the gameplay without referencing the first Life Is Strange game. Although the player had control of the older brother, it felt a little unbalanced as Daniel was doing all of the work. At times, it felt like you were playing as Chloe in Life Is Strange: Before the Storm. If the player comes straight from Life Is Strange, they may be disappointed by the gameplay in Life Is Strange 2.

However, that being said, Life Is Strange 2 is based heavily on choices, and it feels like each decision you make has some sort of consequence. If the player had played as Daniel, the game would likely not be as intense of it is. There is one particular part in Episode 2 that the player has to do in order to progress the story, but the way it is set out is to make the player feel like they have a choice, and what happens is the consequence of this choice. It’s almost like the player is forced into feeling bad because of a decision they were forced to make for the sake of progressing the story.

Another thing that should be mentioned is that it is not always obvious what you are meant to do. There are so many things that can be done in this game, a significant increase to the first game at the very least, that it is not always obvious and linear like it is in the first game. This is likely a downside to not having control of the mystical power in this game. In the first game, you knew what you were doing, and if you messed up, you could just make Max rewind time. In Life Is Strange 2, you obviously don’t have that because, for one, the power in this game isn’t time travel and two, the player character isn’t the one in control of these powers. So what does the player character do? Train his little brother. And sometimes, it is not always obvious how you are meant to do this in terms of controls.

Another thing in terms of gameplay that really needs to be mentioned is the little ‘mini-games’ that Life Is Strange 2 has. Although they are not strictly mini-games, they provide a break from the main story of the game. The two main points that come to mind are in Episode 1 – teaching Daniel how to skip stones – and in Episode 2 – playing a dice game with Daniel. Both of these situations happen when the brothers are alone, and things are pretty calm in terms of story. Both these actions have consequences, but the main point that needs to be brought up is that the gameplay itself is drastically different from anything else in the game, yet slightly similar at the same time. There are still choices to be made and, as previously mentioned, these things have consequences. However, this does suit the game very well. It fits in with both the gameplay and the story of Life Is Strange 2. 

Rate: 8/10

Replay Value

Life Is Strange 2 has 7 endings in total. Episode 3, in particular, has so many different ways that it can go. Life Is Strange 2 is one of those games where you could likely play it over and over again and not get the same results. Over time, your perceptions of each character changes, causing you to make different decisions the next time you play the game. The game is so different based on the decisions that the player makes, DONTNOD really has to be commended for this as there was very obviously so much effort and thought put into this game to make sure that everyone had an experience unique to them, and so each playthrough could be different.

Rate: 7/10

Story

There is a lot that can be said about the story of Life Is Strange 2. It was well written, well thought out, and plays on the emotions of the player.

Each Episode starts off slowly, using tasks such as gathering items to get the player used to the mechanics of the game again. This was more beneficial to those who played the game as each Episode came out. It is pleasant for Episode 1 regardless, but by Episode 4, it gets a little tedious (although Episode 4 would be a bad example due to Sean’s inability to do much at the start of the Episode regardless). Each Episode has it’s high points and low points, which is different for each player. One thing that needs to be mentioned straight away is that This is not Life Is Strange. Max and Chloe are done. This is the story of Sean and Daniel. A lot of the fanbase of Life Is Strange fail to appreciate this game due to the lack of their beloved Max and Chloe from the first game. Rather than Life Is Strange 2 being a sequel that most of the fanbase wanted, it is an entirely different game, similar to games such as the Grand Theft Auto series and Fallout 3, Fallout 4 and Fallout New Vegas. Rather than the continuation of the story of the first same, it is a continuation of the world that the original game was based in. There are several hints towards Blackwell Academy, and some characters are mentioned during the game. The next few paragraphs will contain spoilers.

The first Episode has a severe lack of Daniel using his powers. It is much more about connecting with the characters and feeling the pain that they are going through. The death of their father in the first Episode was not so much a shock because of the trailers, but it still hit hard as the player spends time with their father, and they are even given a choice to hug him. During this time, you learn his morals and the love that he has for his kids (which is a lot). These kids are suffering. Episode 1 spends a lot of time with setting out the characters, explaining why Sean is doing the things he is doing. The goal of Puerto Lobos is evident right from the start. It is mentioned even before the death of their father, and the place very evidently means a lot to the man.

There is one particular character that needs to be talked about in terms of Episode 1, and that character is Brody. Brody is one of the characters that this game failed, in terms of there was simply not enough time to include him as much as he deserved. The reasoning is justified, granted, but in later Episodes, it really would have been a good call to bring him back, if only for a little bit. However, again, the reason for not doing this is easily justified by the brothers having a difficult time contacting him, them not wanting to get him into trouble and also him being busy with the death of his mother. Brody was such a unique character that the player almost instantly connected to. He was the first person that the brothers were able to trust; he helped them so much that it was likely that they would not be able to get by without the help he gave them.

Episode 2 is hard-hitting. Mushroom, the puppy that Daniel got in Episode 1, is attacked by a cougar and it is one of the most heartbreaking deaths in a game like this because it was so shocking. It was entirely out of the blue. It wasn’t that everything was going okay for Sean and Daniel, but they had a plan. Mushroom was the light of Daniel’s life. Daniel has just discovered that he has these strange powers, his father has just died, he’s on the run from the police and to top it all off, he has a bad cough. Sean lets Mushroom out to go to the bathroom (this is a choice but unavoidable- trust me, I tried), and she doesn’t come back. It’s a huge shock. There are really no other words to describe it, other than ‘shock’ and ‘heartbreaking’.

In Episode 2, you also get to meet characters such as Sean and Daniel’s grandparents, and Chris, who was the protagonist for The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, which acted as a demo for Life Is Strange 2. Episode 2 feels long because a lot happens. Sean and Daniel work on training Daniel’s powers, Mushroom dies, they go all the way to their grandparent’s house, and Daniel makes a friend in Chris. However, nothing major really seems to happen. It’s almost like a slow burn episode, that is setting up for Episode 3. However, it again works majorly on character development and the bond between Sean and Daniel. There’s a lot of decisions that have pretty serious consequences, a lot of which it is not obvious straight away.

Episode 3 is where things start to get dangerous. Sean and Daniel work on a marijuana farm, and they stay at a camp. Daniel’s powers are pretty well hidden, but he does use them more freely than before. There is a clear tension between Sean and Daniel in this Episode, as Sean has the opportunity to socialise with people around his age for the first time in months, and Daniel seems to favour Finn, one of the other boys.  It is similar to when you spend too much time with someone you love, no matter how much you love them, they will begin to irritate you after a while. Sean and Daniel, at this point, have been on the road for so long, where it’s always just the two of them against the world. For Sean, keeping in mind the end goal of Puerto Lobos is easy as he is older, but that is not the case for Daniel. He is a kid. Time goes by so slowly when you are a child, and the longer they are not at their goal, the longer the goal is not achievable. Episode 3 needs to be commended for its realism in terms of the relationship between Sean and Daniel. The tension is evident, and from the previous Episodes, there is an obvious reason for that.

The ending of Episode 3 is where things get insanely crazy and dangerous: The heist.

The heist is proposed by Finn after learning of Daniel’s powers. This is one of the points in the game where there are so many different endings; it is difficult to explain exactly what happens. Consequences of previous Episodes come alive here, where it is reflected on Daniel’s behaviour. Regardless of which direction the game goes, Sean gets hurt. Daniel goes missing. The ending is scary for those who really care about these characters at this point. Their fates are really left hanging, and for those who played this game as it came out, they were left hanging for just over 3 months. The writers did a fantastic job here because it got everyone talking about it. In particular, people who were not interested in a game without Max and Chloe suddenly gained an interest.

Episode 4 was… difficult to play. Not for the lack of wanting to, nor for the lack of being interested. It was the sheer amount of hard-hitting, real-world issues it dealt with. It was difficult to sit through because it was like being smacked in the face. The writers did an amazing (for lack of a better word) job at handling topics such as indoctrination, racism in America and cult activity- all in one Episode. This Episode also makes you realise that by this point, Sean has committed many illegal activities. He is no longer running from the police because of a misunderstanding, or just to protect his little brother, but rather because he has done several bad things in order to survive and help his little brother. Episode 4 makes you question your own morals because although you are not actually doing these things, you are playing a character that was once innocent… and now he’s not, because he had to survive. This Episode really hits you in the face and makes you ask the question of “when is surviving a criminal offence?”. The original Life Is Strange game handled hard-hitting topics well, such as bullying, suicide and child grooming. However, Life Is Strange 2 improved on this drastically, made these issues so direct that it is painful as a player to watch these things and play through them. If there is a single Episode that deserves an award for best writing, then it is Episode 4, without a doubt.

The tension between Daniel and Sean is still on the player’s mind as Sean finds Daniel wrapped up in a religious cult. They say that he is special to them because of his powers, but this cult is ultimately dangerous. This, and reuniting with Karen (Sean and Daniel’s mother), are the key parts of this Episode.  The latter sets up a large part of the last Episode, and brings back the running theme of Daniel not understanding why their mother was a bad person, but Sean not understanding what actually happened when Karen left either. Learning the truth about what happened with Karen feels a little bit anticlimactic, because this woman has been thought of negatively by Sean for years, and talked about negatively since Episode 1. The player was made to believe there was something big there, or Karen had more of a reason to leave than she did. However, this – again – adds to the reality of the game. It makes you sit back and think “huh… this actually happens in real life” because real life isn’t a soap opera or a game. And sometimes in games, character’s don’t get a redeeming explanation to the bad things they did in the past. What they do get, however, is redeeming actions, and Karen’s is one of the best in the Life Is Strange series. This woman never intended to be a mother again, but she was. Whether or not she was okay with that did not matter because her son was in drastic danger. She was there when her son needed her most, and by that, I mean Sean. At this point, Sean was well and truly at his breaking point. The dream of Puerto Lobos was well and truly faded in his mind; his little brother was gone, and so was the use of one of his eyes. He needed hope that things would be okay again, and Karen was that hope.

Episode 5 is the last Episode of this beautifully written game. There is not much to say, as again, this Episode is drastically different for everyone as it is the end. However, there is one thing that needs to be mentioned, and that is the cameo of one Mr David Madsen. This cameo is such a warming nod to the first game and a sweet ending to Max and Chloe’s story (providing Arcadia Bay is no more). Through this cameo, you learn that David and Chloe are now on good terms, and Sean is able to listen in to a conversation between them. You also learn that Max and Chloe are still travelling together. This cameo was unexpected but very welcome.

The endings of Life Is Strange 2 are all good in their own way. Not a single one is disappointing. It depends on things such as Sean’s bond with Daniel, and how well Daniel was taught morals throughout the game. This is interesting because teaching a child morals is hard when you are his older brother, and when the player just wants Daniel to love them. However, ultimately, the conclusion of the game is phenomenal in every way possible. Most endings get an appearance of beloved characters in some way, and each ending ties up the game nicely.

End Of Spoilers

Every single playthrough is different, so the story will be different for everyone, and therefore it is difficult to discuss the story of this game. One thing that runs through it right from the start, in every playthrough and with every single person, is the feeling of brotherhood. The connection that Sean and Daniel have is special. The story well and truly focuses on this, and as a result, the story is one of love, trust and a pinch of reality. This game was remarkably written, well thought out, and DONTNOD should be highly commended at their improvements at tackling real-life, pressing issues that are faced in modern-day society.

Rate: 9/10

Opinion

Lastly, my opinion on Life Is Strange 2. I don’t think it would come as a shock to anyone who has just read over 3000 words on this game that I liked it. I enjoyed playing it, and I very much enjoyed the story. I felt completely connected with the characters and more than anything, I wanted things to work out okay for Sean and Daniel. Life Is Strange 2 hit me hard. It threw the reality of issues that I don’t have to deal with as a British, white female. I liked that tremendously. I learnt a lot from the game, and I learnt how ignorant I had been in the past about issues in America, as issues that came up in the game are not as talked about in the UK.

This game is a work of art. There is clearly so much thought put into it, and I cannot help but love it. More importantly, I loved the improvements that DONTNOD had made since the original Life Is Strange game (and there were so many improvements).

The main thing to mention about this game, in my opinion, is that it makes you question your own morals, as I’ve already mentioned. It wasn’t until Episode 4 that I realised that Sean was an actual criminal, and then it hit me that he had been stealing (in my playthrough) since Episode 1. But it’s scary, because you understand Sean’s motives for doing these things, and the game leads you to believe that Sean isn’t a bad person because he has a good reason for doing these things. It makes you wonder, where is the line?

TLDR: do I think you should play this game? Yes. Completely. Especially if you enjoyed the first game. Please do not let the lack of Max and Chloe put you off such an incredible story.

Overall Rate: 8/ 10

I actually edited a video of my reaction to a certain part of this game, but it wouldn’t let me add it so here’s the playlist to the streams I did.

My Top 10 Favourite Personas

This list is more personal than I would have liked my first top 10 to be, but since I have been playing Persona 5 for *checks game file* 279 hours and counting, I thought I might as well share my current top 10 Personas with my lovely readers. This is mainly because I have a super-secret Persona 5 project in the works but still wanted to post about my favourite game. So, without further ado, here of my top 10 personal favourite Personas, with a few honourable mentions. WARNING: This includes spoilers for Persona 5 boss fights, palaces and confidants (namely the Strength confidant), so please proceed with caution.

So, without further ado, here are my top 10 favourite Personas from Persona 5!

10) Nue. LV 24
Weak: Fire
Null: Curse
Strong: Ice
Moves: Maeiha, Skull Cracker, Garula, Life Drain, Regenerate 1, Makajama, Mamudo, Pulinpa

Nue is one of those Personas that I struggle to realise that they are under level because I love them so much. It is one that I do not necessarily use a lot, but Nue is in my active persona list until at least Okumura’s palace. That’s usually the point where I have to make room for Personas that just do the job more efficiently. I do not know why I love this Persona so much. I do not particularly like the arcana, so it is not like I associate it with a character that I am fond of. I thought I would include it on this list because I always struggle to get rid of it.

9) Lachesis. LV 53
Weak: Electricity
Null: Ice
Strong: Wind
Moves: Tetraja, Elec Wall, Growth 2, Sharp Student, Trigger Happy, Maeiha, Makouga, Mabufula

Lachesis is a persona I was not very fond of during my first playthrough; although back then, I did not use much of the curse or bless skills. However, in my second playthrough, I used Lachesis more than I perhaps care to admit. Lachesis is the type of Persona that you use to get a quick and easy All-Out Attack. She stayed in my active persona list until close to the very end of the game, because if anything, she is convenient. I was heavily Curse/Bless based in my second playthrough (as I am sure you will be able to tell by the rest of this list), so it was often more efficient to use Lachesis to get All-Out Attacks, rather than using a stronger Persona and wasting SP to get virtually the same effect.

8) Unicorn. LV 51
Weak: Curse
Null: Bless, Ice
Strong: Psychokinesis
Moves: Garula, Hamaon, Dekunda, Maragion, Matarunda, Fire Boost, Samarecarm, Kouga

I worked hard to fuse Unicorn as soon as possible in my first playthrough. It was possibly the only Persona that I saw in the Velvet Room and got excited about. I actually grinded for the first time just to make Unicorn, which is the main reason that it is on this list. Unicorn made me excited to fuse Personas, which is vital for the next few Personas.

7) Black Frost. LV 75
Repel: Curse, Fire
Nul: Nuclear
Drains: Ice
Moves: Mabufudyne. One-Shot Kill, Miracle Punch, Diamond Dust, Life Drain, Megaton Raid, Freeze Boost, Ice Amp

So, a little backstory: Persona 5 was the first JRPG I completed, and the first game that I finished that had New Game Plus. My partner had completed it a while before me, but as soon as I started my New Game Plus file, he asked what Personas I was going to bring back. I was beyond excited for this and thought of two instantly. Black Frost was one of them. You see, in Shido’s palace, King Frost made my life a living hell. I am pretty sure that I cried because King Frost killed me multiple times. Fusing Black Frost was so satisfying because I had to get King Frost and destroy it for Black Frost. Black Frost just worked well for me. It was cute and strong, and I just liked having it on my active Persona list.

6) Kali. LV 77
Null: Fire
Strong: Curse
Repel: Psychokinesis
Moves: Vorpal Blade, Psiodyne, Tentarafoo, Agidyne, One-Shot Kill, Heat Wave, Cripple, Matarukaja

Kali is one of the creepiest looking Personas, in my opinion. I initially created it because I know someone called Cali, and she wanted me to do it. But Kali is strong and powerful. During the last fight of the game, Kali was actually one of my strongest Personas; it was not through hard work either, because I created Kali very close to the end of the game. Kali also looks interesting. Looks are not usually important in regards to a Persona, but usually when a Persona looks interesting, it makes me want to try it out to see what it can do.

5) Seth. LV 66
Weak: Bless
Null: Wind
Repel: Fire
Moves: One-Shot Kill, Agidyne, High Counter, Kougaon, Megido, Spirit Drain, Psiodyne, Cripple

Seth. Seth is beautiful. I love Seth so much. At first, I was excited because Seth reminded me of Red-Eyes Black Dragon from Yu-Gi-Oh, which is a card played by one of my favourite characters in the original show. However, I use Seth a ridiculous amount considering other Personas could probably do the same thing for less SP (or at least early on in my New Game + playthrough). Seth is obviously all well and good during your first playthrough when you have a decent amount of SP to use the moves that require SP. New Game + hit me hard when I used Agidyne once in Kamoshida’s palace and instantly ran out of SP. I learnt quickly that for me, Seth’s best moves are Spirit Drain (I live by that move, and no one can convince me that it is not useful) and One-Shot Kill. Both of these can be used throughout all of the game in New Game +, so it is super helpful. And yes, Spirit Drain is probably the main reason Seth is so good in my eyes but oh well.

4) Bugs. LV 56
Strong: Psychokinetic
Weak: Nuclear
Moves: Miracle Punch, Masukunda, Psiodyne, Samarecarm, Mabaisudi, Rising Slash, Diamond Dust, Auto Mataru

Confession time, here’s what I’ve got- I’m Welsh. I was beyond terrified of Bugs as a kid. I remember my school teachers telling me stories, and I had literal nightmares about Bugs. So to say I put off making Bugs is a slight understatement. I told myself that I would not finish the Strength confidant because I just could not make myself to make something as revolting as Bugs. Yes, I know I have a problem. But regardless of this problem, I tackled it head-on because I wanted to make Alice when I got Takemi to rank ten and I was nowhere near the level I needed to be, so the only other alternative was getting Justine and Caroline to rank 10, and I was not far off so I said “screw it” and went for it. I am beyond glad that I did. Do you have any idea how good it feels to destroy shadows with something you are afraid of? It feels good. Real good. I love using Bugs now. Bugs also makes me feel more at ease with not having Morgana on my team because it has the move Samarecarm, which is so good, and no one will be able to convince me otherwise.

3) Satanael.

Okay, so this one is a bit of an odd one because obviously, I have not put the moves, but there is a reason for that! Satanael is obviously a fantastic Persona that a lot of people wish to get (let’s pretend it is not just to get that shiny Platinum trophy). However, the main reason I put Satanael on this list is because Joker’s second awakening is impressive, for lack of better words. Considering each and every one of the other phantom thieves can possibly have a second awakening before Joker, it needed to be dramatic and at the right time, as well as more powerful than all the other Personas that Joker can make. It is all of those things. Joker’s second awakening is at the perfect time, and it is precisely what you would expect, but more. I cannot express how perfect Satanael is for Joker’s second awakening. So, Satanael is one of my favourite Personas because of Joker’s second awakening more than because of the Persona itself.

2) Satan. LV 98
Strong: Gunshot
Repel: Ice, Curse
Moves: Diamond Dust, Ice Age, Regenerate 3, Spirit Drain, Makarakarn, Drain Ice, Black Viper, Invigorate 3

Satan is the most terrifying Persona in the compendium, and I love it. Obviously, anything with Black Viper is going to be great, but Satan having Ice Age is even greater, as even Yusuke does not have Ice Age. Using Satan will give you a feeling of all-powerfulness, no matter what level you are. I often combine him with Alice (concentrate) to make Black Viper super effective no matter what enemy you come across. Spirit Drain is always a bonus. I will always, always, always pick to give a Persona Spirit Drain because I just find it so useful. Even when you are going up against powerful enemies, most of the time, Joker can just use Spirit Drain on his turn and have the rest of the party deal with the enemies.

1) Alice. LV 84
Weak: Bless
Strong: Psychokinesis, Nuclear
Repel: Curse
Moves: Megidolaon, Mudo Boost, Dekunda, Eigaon, Concentrate, Curse Amp, Evade Bless, Die For Me!

I was going to put Alice a bit further up the list – number 3, actually – because although useful, her best skill is undoubtedly one that cannot be used against bosses, which is such a shame (but seriously understandable). I actually did not have Alice when I started this list (same for Satan), but when researching, I discovered that I really really wanted them both. Alice was the one Persona that I absolutely needed. Die For Me! Is, what I consider to be, the best move in the game. The animation is amusing, and also creepy if you think about it too much; it hardly ever fails (I don’t believe it has ever entirely failed for me); it’s just fun to use. Whenever I use it, I feel so powerful and evil, and it’s just fun to use. The only major downside is that no matter what level you are, you really cannot justify 44 SP over and over again. Personally, I use it for big groups of Personas or King Frost (see the reason I like Black Frost for clarification). Alice is also useful for getting rid of groups of Personas as she had moves like Megidolaon, which is great but should never be used on one single enemy. Concentrate should not be looked over either. I used it during Shido’s boss fight, and it was beneficial when severe moves were only doing around 190 (it increased it to 500+). I was thinking about putting Alice third on this list because despite her being fun to use, she has her limits. But then I got reminded that this is not ‘Top 10 Best Personas’, it is my Top 10 Favourite Personas. Alice is my favourite Persona to use. This list, in general, changes a lot. Shiisaa, for example, was a Persona that I held on to until the bitter end of my first playthrough. However, Alice has solidly held the top spot since I fused her.

With the release of Persona 5: Royal on the 31st March, it will be interesting to look back and see if this list has drastically changed or not. There may be another list similar to this in a few months, which will be an update from Persona 5: Royal, but I highly doubt that Alice will not be at that number one spot. That being said, that spot was once held by Seth, and he is pretty far up, so I guess we will have to wait and see!

What ‘Until Dawn’ teaches about mental health, and why it is important.

WARNING: SPOILERS FOR UNTIL DAWN (2014).

Until Dawn is a psychological horror game, with emphasis on the psychological part. This article will discuss what this game teaches its audience about mental health illnesses, and why this is important. Mental illness is shown primarily through the character of Josh Washington, the elder brother of twins Hannah and Beth Washington, who go missing at the beginning of the game. This game is broken up by therapy sessions, although it is not immediately apparent who the player is playing as during these sessions. Josh, also known as The Psycho, is the only character who is not able to be rescued at the end of the night; either dying or turning into a Wendigo.

The first appearance of Josh in Until Dawn was when he was unconscious, presumably from drinking too much alcohol. He is at the lodge with the others and is downstairs in the kitchen when the player first gets to move around as Beth. The second appearance is when the player starts noticing that something isn’t right.  In a cutscene, you see Josh in a video on Sam’s phone. It’s like a welcome back video, as the group is returning to the lodge one year after Hannah and Beth go missing. Josh is very clearly excited about this, but it is easy to get a gut feeling that something isn’t right with Josh, right from the beginning. He’s trying too hard. It’s almost like he is working too hard to be happy. Out of everyone in the group, Josh would have had it the hardest during the past year. He was the older brother of Hannah and Beth. He was likely held responsible for their disappearances by their parents because he was meant to be looking after his sisters while they were at the lodge. More importantly, Josh likely held himself responsible. If he hadn’t drunk so much alcohol that he passed out, he might have been able to prevent them from running off. He might have been able to comfort Hannah instead of her running off, which would have also prevented Beth running off. He might have been able to catch up to Hannah before Beth did, and therefore talk sense into her. Josh probably felt a lot of guilt regarding the situation, which is why this video is so off-putting. He seems overly happy, overly excited. There is something off, but it is challenging to work out what with the limited information available at the time.

Skipping forward a little bit, the big (immediate) issue that the group face during this horror night is The Psycho. He is the secondary antagonist that taunts the group, psychologically torturing each and every one of them. The group are led to believe that this guy is the one who killed Hannah and Beth a year ago, and now he was back to get the rest of them. His first kill is Josh, which makes the idea of this murderer being back for more even more likeable because the first person he goes after is Hannah and Beth’s older brother. Josh gets cut in half in front of Chris and Ashley. At this point, The Psycho is torturing Chris, making him pick between his best friend and love interest, and then just killing his best friend regardless. So, Josh is dead.

Until he isn’t, of course, because in a shocking turn of events, Josh is actually The Psycho. He means well, but his friends do not see it that way, probably because of the whole psychological torture process that Josh made them endure. Josh explains that he had a plan, that he was filming the entire thing and was going to upload it online to make the group famous. His friends were less than impressed at his plan, and at this point, the player realises that there is something psychologically wrong with Josh because he just tortured – and depending on how you play the game, caused the death of – the people who were meant to be his friends. It was all for some video that might not even go viral.

So, let us dig deeper into Josh’s head.

Remi Malek, who portrays Joshua through voice acting and motion capture, states that Josh’s original reason for inviting everyone back a year after the disappearance of Hannah and Beth is so that everyone could get a little bit of closure. His intentions were always good.

Looking at the psychiatric report that can be found by Sam, you can see that Josh has suffered from mental illness since he was a child. He had been on many different medications to treat the same thing- depression. Looking further down, it is shown that Josh was referred to Dr Hill as he was at risk of suicide after the disappearance of Hannah and Beth. He was put under observation and then treated with medications. Dr Hill believed that Josh needed a higher than the normal dose to see improvement. But there is a much bigger issue here that this game touches on quite well, and that is how medical professionals treat mental illness.  

This is not to say that medical professionals fail because of something on their behalf. The issue with mental illness is that no one knows how to treat it efficiently. People, especially children, in treatment (such as therapy) know that their treatment is not working, but feel they cannot speak out for two reasons. The first reason is that it is meant to work. Treatments such as CBT and antidepressants are intended to work and expected to work. When these treatments do not work, the patient is often left feeling like they are too sick for treatment. The second reason patients with mental illness do not feel able to speak out is because they are unable to offer an alternative. As a whole, people who are mentally ill do not know what kind of treatment or support that they need, similarly to people who are physically sick. They rely on professionals. With physical illness, the goal is typically to fix the symptoms. Some doctors treat mental illness this way as well, especially due to mental illness being linked to physical symptoms. However, this is also the route that antidepressants take. They balance out the chemicals in the brain, but at the end of the treatment, the patient still has depression.

Let’s take a further look at Josh’s medical records. Joshua had been seeking treatment since 2006, when he would have been 10 or 11. He was a child. He was also put on antidepressants around this time. Antidepressants are typically not used in children or teenagers (below the age of 18) due to the risk of suicide or self-harm that may be caused by the medication for this group age. However, exceptions are made after the patient has already tried therapies (such as CBT) and have been unresponsive. The question that needs to be asked is: was Josh under some kind of therapy before he was put on antidepressants when he was a child? The short answer is, we do not know. However, it is unlikely. He was referred to Jeremy Harris on 11th June 2006. He was then put on antidepressants on the 18th June 2006, just a week later. It is improbable that in this time, they tried some kind of therapy and decided that Josh was unresponsive to the treatment. According to ABC News, one in ten Americans over the age of twelve are taking antidepressants. Yet, less than one-third of these patients are seeing a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or therapist.

The problem with taking antidepressants without some kind of therapy is that it does not solve the problem, it just hinders the symptoms to make depression easier to cope with. Let’s put this in a physical condition situation. Let’s imagine you have a headache. You take a pain killer (paracetamol, for example), and the pain goes away for a little bit. This is a repeated occurrence. You go to the doctor because you’ve had this headache almost non-stop for a few months by this point. It’s easy to tell that there is something else wrong. Something is causing those headaches. Paracetamol is not enough to fix the cause of the issue. Similarly, antidepressants are not enough to fix depression. It merely suppresses the symptoms of depression. This can be fine for people who are having depressive episodes, but depression itself is not that easy to solve. It is an illness. It is not just going to pass by.

Depression is often caused by (as well as other things, including genetics) environmental factors. This is why therapy is so vital to the recovery of those patients who have depression. While undergoing therapy, patients are able to establish a different way of thinking about negative situations in their lives, as well as being able to express how they are feeling about these situations (that being said, there are many types of therapies that work in different ways). It helps to heal the problem rather than suppressing the symptoms like antidepressants.

Next, let’s talk about why some people would want to go on antidepressants and the symptoms of depression itself. This will help us better understand Josh’s situation. Depression is not just being sad all of the time. More than that, it is feeling numb. It’s not feeling anything, despite knowing that you are meant to. It is looking at your parents and saying “I love you” because that is what you are expected to do, not because you feel that way. There sometimes comes a point when you have depression that days blur into each other, you sleep through most things, you are constantly sick, and you isolate yourself. The physical symptoms of depression include insomnia, headaches, and stomach aches. These things, although happen to everyone, can be debilitating. For example, having a headache for every day for a month will eventually lead to symptoms such as nausea. Insomnia, or struggling to sleep in general, can worsen the mood of someone, making them more irritable. However, it can also shorten someone’s concentration, making them less likely to be able to do their daily tasks up to their usual standard. Experiencing just one of these symptoms every day for a long time can be worrying, but also frustrating as it does get in the way of everyday life. If the doctors put Josh on antidepressants a mere week after first being seen regarding mental illness, it would be wise to assume that Josh had more than one symptom, and was experiencing them quite severely. As for therapy, Josh may have experienced therapy alongside taking his medication.

However, the most likely answer is that he was put on a waitlist for some kind of therapy and while waiting, the medical professionals thought that it would be best to attempt to reduce Josh’s symptoms to help him handle day to day life a little better. Unfortunately, a child suffering from depression is not uncommon; rather, the opposite. Medical professions should act forcefully when treating a child with depression due to the high risk of suicide. Children are often more pressed with the ideologies of social groups, school work, and growing up in general. As adults, it is easy to forget how hard all these things were at the time because they seem easy to deal with in adulthood. However, for a child dealing with depression, dealing with social pressures is extremely difficult. Adults often dismiss the feelings of children who are struggling, as they feel like they had gone through the same thing and what they are going through is small in comparison to real-world problems. They often forget that children do not have to deal with real-world issues, and therefore they have nothing to compare this negative situation to. It may feel like the end of the world to them, and depression can cause these thoughts to turn suicidal. This is why it is so important for doctors to put children in therapy. However, this creates an issue in terms of waiting lists. There are not enough therapists around to have sessions with all the children that need it. In America and other places without free healthcare, there is also the worry of cost. Parents are sometimes hesitant to send their children to therapy as it costs significantly more than medication, and they often do not understand that their child needs therapy. The most likely case for Joshua, as stated above, is that he was put on a waitlist during this time, and his antidepressant medication is merely to help with the symptoms.

So far, the main topic of this post has been focused on Joshua’s psychiatric report. Next, the discussion is momentarily directed to the therapy sessions that break up the game a little. The player plays through these sessions as Josh, as he talks to Dr Hill about the game that he intends to play on his friends. Dr Hill questions the root of Josh’s anxieties, asks which friend he likes least and most; overall, it seems pretty basic. It is evident that this is the way that the game finds out what you are scared of, and which characters you like least or most. It is a horror game. It is meant to make the player uncomfortable. However, the main thing that needs to be addressed here is that the therapy sessions are not advanced enough to be helpful, due to the short amount of time that they take up. This reflects how many people find therapy unhelpful for (typically) one or two reasons. One being the lack of time spent there, and the other being that what the therapist directs the conversation to is irrelevant to the problems at hand. Both of these issues will be addressed.

All the scenes with Dr Hill take roughly 20 minutes, perhaps a bit longer or shorter depending on how quickly you answer the questions. There are 10 Chapters in Until Dawn. Each chapter takes roughly an hour, depending on how you play the game. Twenty minutes for ten chapters mean 2 minutes for each chapter (approximately). This is 2 minutes with a character that is meant to be helping you through the game. This is a refreshingly realistic aspect of the game, although exaggerated. The majority of patients seeing a therapist see them either once a week, or once every two weeks. This changes depending on different things, such as the patient’s financial situation, the patient’s and therapist’s availability, and if the therapist thinks the patient needs more or less time.

Taking the best-case scenario of the majority, the once a week arrangement, that means that the patient would be seeing their therapist for one or two hours out of 168 hours. That means that a lot is going on in the patient’s life that will probably not get discussed due to more pressing issues. Despite Josh’s therapy sessions in Until Dawn being hallucinations, it is still a good insight as to how therapy works. In the prologue, Dr Hill asks you how you feel about a scarecrow image. He asks if it makes you uncomfortable, would you want to stay in the place, even if it was haunted, those types of questions. They seem irrelevant, but they’re not. This allows the therapist to understand how the patient thinks more.

The second session, at the end of the first chapter, is a lot more direct. The game gives the player a choice of two things, and the player is asked which scares them the most out of the two. According to Dr Hill, it is to understand the root of anxieties. However, remembering that the patient in question here is Joshua, it becomes clearer what is going on. Josh does not have anxiety. He has depression. Therefore, these questions are meaningless and a waste of time to him. This is not helping him get better as he does not need help with his anxiety. He has 1-2 hours to talk about what is making him depressed (likely the disappearance of his younger sisters at this point), but his therapist would rather ask him about what scares him. Not what makes him sad or angry or upset. Not why he is depressed. But what scares him. This is something that is entirely irrelevant to Josh’s situation. This aspect of the game teaches players that therapy sessions for those who need it are short and sometimes unhelpful.

Now, the main event. Josh’s hallucination in Chapter 10. This particular part of the game is terrifying yet refreshingly realistic. This hallucination helps the player understand a little bit more about why Josh did what he did. It becomes very evident that Joshua is not well. Hallucinations can happen to anyone, on any scale. However, it is highly suggested that Joshua suffers from a mental illness called schizophrenia. This is not his imagination; it is not him being tired; it is a mental illness that affects a lot of people. As someone who has psychosis, I saw this scene and felt reassured that the Until Dawn team did their research. I hallucinate daily, and it does get that bad, and it is that scary, even if you deal with it every day.

Joshua is terrified in this scene, and it is heartbreaking to watch.  Joshua needs help. One thing that is often pointed out on the internet is that depression was not Josh’s biggest problem, but schizophrenia was; that he should have been on medication for schizophrenia instead of depression. However, antipsychotics have a lot of side effects, and they are often more severe than antidepressants. There is also the issue of since Josh has been on antidepressants for so long, there may be side effects to him coming off them and starting a new medication. Of course, he could have taken both antipsychotic and antidepressant; however, mixing these two drugs may not always be beneficial. The point also needs to be made that Josh had been on several different antidepressants. They all have different side effects, and it is important for antidepressants to get into your system to have a stable effect. If there is a lack of stability in terms of antidepressants, there is a risk of there being a negative reaction if the antipsychotics are also taken. It is also important to remember that schizophrenia can develop slowly, and often in the teenage years. Josh was already being seen by a mental health professional at this time, and we know this because of his psychiatric report. It is sometimes complicated for medical professionals to pick up on new symptoms that a current patient is developing, even more so due to it developing during the teenage years. Josh is 20 during the game. Some people still count this as being a teenager; however, with the recent events of the disappearance of Hannah and Beth, it would be understandable if the doctors wanted to focus on his depression, rather than looking into new symptoms.

In conclusion, Until Dawn teaches the player a lot about mental illness and how it affects the person who is struggling with it. The scene in which Joshua has a hallucination, you can see how scared he is. It is not clear as to if Joshua has experienced this before, but regardless, it shows that even people who (potentially) have this happen every day can still be scared. Joshua’s changes in medication show that nothing is set in stone. In regards to how quickly Joshua was put on medication, it shows that therapy is not always an option at first and that sometimes it is better to treat the symptoms of mental illness rather than not treating it at all. It was likely difficult to diagnose Joshua with schizophrenia due to both the age he was when he started getting medical treatment. Because of the age, his symptoms likely first started- his teenage years. After the disappearance of Hannah and Beth, it would be understandable for the doctors to focus on Joshua’s depression. Above everything else, Until Dawn teaches the player that mental illness is a scary thing to go through and that treatment is not as simple as just going to therapy or just taking medication; it teaches the player that people with mental illness need help, because they are not okay, which seems obvious but due to stigma surrounding mental illness, it is not.

And why is this so important? Because this game is scarily realistic in terms of Joshua’s mental health. This stuff happens to real people on a daily basis. Mistreatment and misunderstanding lead to patient’s mental illnesses becoming worse; however, that is somehow unavoidable. We know Josh is getting treatment, yet his mental health is still extremely hindered due to misunderstanding and mistreatment.

'This War of Mine' (2016)- Game Review

Sound:

The sound in This War of Mine reflects the point of the game. It is gloomy, slow and reflects the ominous atmosphere. It doesn’t have cheery, upbeat music that people associate games with because the game is not cheery at all. This War of Mine is a game that resembles war in the way that war should be mirrored (accurately) and the sound in this game reflects that.

In terms of action sound effects, this game does a great job. When the character speeds up, the sound effects adjust accordingly in terms of both speed and volume. Attention is drawn to this as there is no voice acting, and the music is repetitive, so any changes to the sound are noticeable.

There are some points in this game where sound effects would be beneficial; something that was profoundly missed, however, was voice over. There was an issue with graphics that will be discussed later, but voice-over could have very easily made this problem not an issue.

Rate: 6/10

Graphics:

This game resembles the mobile game Fallout Shelter in the way that it looks. It has a side view of houses, similar to the side view of the Fallout Shelter vaults. There was plenty on the screen, and due to the side view, most of the time, you knew where you were going and what needed to be done.

As for the characters themselves, they looked good. Their movements were smooth, and you could sometimes tell when they were tired because they would slouch and move slower. The characters all look distinct enough so that you could easily tell them apart during a first playthrough. The characters glitch a little bit when they interact with each other; this is not often, so it is not something that happens all the time, and even then, it is optional.

The biggest issue I had with the graphics in This War of Mine was the writing on the character profiles. Regardless of how big the screen you play on, the writing is too small to be legible. This makes the game itself more challenging to play, and this issue – as previously mentioned – could have very easily been solved with voice over. This is not an issue if you sit very close to the screen, but it is still a difficulty that could have been easily solved, even with just changing the font.

Rate: 4/10

Gameplay:

This game is set to take part in the middle of a war, so the main point of the entire game is survival. This game does not make that easy at all.

The game isn’t challenging in terms of surviving. It is more frustrating that you are unable to get the items to protect yourself by scavenging in the safer places, in order to build weapons to go to the more dangerous areas. Things such as food and bandages are tough to come across in safe places, and you are fortunate to get enough items to make something as necessary as a lockpick to look around the house you are staying in, never mind somewhere that you need to go scavenging through.

This game is hard. You have to make difficult choices, sometimes that leave people dead. But overall, especially in the day, there is not a lot to do gameplay-wise. Sometimes you get to make something (that doesn’t take up a lot of the day, and with three characters, there’s always something else you could be doing), sometimes you can cook something. The daytime is the part of the game that drags, which is disappointing because the risks taken during the night-time are to make the daytime better.

This War Of Mine feels like it had the chance to do something amazing, to teach people a lot about war beyond the military stance that shooters tend to take, and it just missed the mark in terms of gameplay. There feels like something is missing, like you should be able to do more. Perhaps when attempting to recreate the dreariness of wartime, 11 bit studios forgot that this is also a game.

As for the controls, they are sometimes a bit temperamental. For PlayStation 4, you have to use the right stick to move, just like usual. However, this game would have benefitted more by perhaps using the D-Pad to move due to the layout of the game.

Rate: 6/10

Replay Value:

This game is one of the games, similar to Until Dawn and Life Is Strange 2, that replaying the game would give you a different result each time that you play. Therefore, it does have replay value. However, this game starts off slow and therefore, may be frustrating to play more than once.  

Rate: 9/10

Story:

Slight spoilers, but every story is different.

This War of Mine is set during some kind of war. The characters you start with have journals that you can read (again, please remember the issue with the writing mentioned in the graphics session). Each day, you do things as the characters; each night, you go scavenging, or sleep, or guard the house.

The best part of this game is when the character is sent to go scavenging. You can meet vulnerable people, such as hungry, homeless people or elderly sick people, or dangerous people who will try to kill you. When the night is over, the characters sometimes update their journals so that the player has some kind of insight into the character’s thoughts and emotions.  

The characters are vital to this story. Their relationship is shown through the knowledge that each of them knows (as it shows that they talk about and share what happened during the night). When someone dies, the characters can become depressed.

A radio can be made to give the player more of an insight into the world that the game is set in. This can be anything from warning about dodgy meat being sold, to the weather. It may not be valuable information, but it is a good insight into the world in general as it shows what people believe is necessary enough to report on.

There are also ‘outside characters’ that are apart of the story. As the game goes on, they keep popping up, and it feels like ‘your actions will have consequences’ is vital at these points. For example, if you steal from someone, they may not survive.

Rate: 6/10

Opinion:

I did a total U-turn with this game, and I really hope that this is the only part of this review that you can tell that. I hated this game. I wanted so badly to like it but got easily frustrated. After writing this review, I felt like it deserved another shot. I did not want to be overly negative about a game, especially if it did not deserve it. And this game really did not deserve the negativity I gave it.

There is an issue with the graphics, but that is nothing new. This game is different from the ones I usually play. But I am so glad that I gave it another go because once I did, I enjoyed it significantly more.

This actually taught me a lot about myself as a gamer; I am too stubborn, and I should definitely give more games more of a chance. It makes me wonder how many games I have claimed to dislike but just have not given enough of a chance.

In conclusion, this game is interesting. It is hard to take seriously as a console game. The resemblance to Fallout Shelter is strong. It may have been better suited to a mobile game. That being said, it is fun after the first couple of days. I started having fun when I stopped taking it seriously, which is a little strange for a survival game set in wartime.

TLDR: This is a fun game with some issues, but overall good. Just do not take it too seriously, and you should have a good time.

Overall Rate: 6/10