Mobile spinoffs based on beloved console games can sometimes be hit-or-miss. But based on an initial pair of trailers, I’m cautiously optimistic about the newly announced Persona 5: Phantom of the Night (aka The Phantom X). Following a tease in April 2021, “P5X” is now official, and is in development for Android, iOS, and Windows. Unfortunately, none of the press materials mention an international launch, so it sounds like it might be exclusive to China.
That’s a shame, because (from the trailers at least) this looks like a pretty faithful Persona experience. The game appears to be set in the same locations as 2016’s Persona 5, but revolves around a new cast of characters including protagonist Wonder, their owl sidekick Luffy, and friend Arai Suwa, according to Persona Central. There’s footage of the protagonist living their daily life in Tokyo, interspersed with scenes of their dungeon crawling through the Metaverse (which thankfully bears no relation to Zuckerberg’s money sink).
Although the game is being developed by Black Wings Game Studio rather than Persona 5’s P-Studio, publisher Perfect World Games said in a press release that series publisher Atlus is participating in development, and Persona character designer Shigenori Soejima was involved in the creation of the game’s protagonist. Characters from the original Persona 5 are shown off in official imagery alongside the game’s new entrants.
The big unknown at this point is how exactly this game is going to be monetized. The consensus seems to be that Persona 5: Phantom of the Night will be a free-to-play release (which makes sense given it’s meant as a mobile title) with Gematsu reporting that it’ll feature item-based in-app purchases. But there’s a fine line between fairly monetizing a mobile game, and making it feel like an exploitative slot machine.
I don’t know if I’m immediately ready to invest more time in the world of Persona 5 given I’m currently seventy hours into Persona 5 Royal’s recent Switch port, with seemingly no end in sight. But I hope P5X is ready and there for me when I am. A beta test of the game is kicking off at the end of this month in China.