With Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden hitting modern platforms mid-January, I thought now is as good a time as ever to talk about one of my favorite video game soundtracks of all time: Persona 5. The Persona series is renowned for its music: 3 had a cocktail of Japanese R&B, hip-hop, and melancholic sounds that fit the darker tones of the story well, and 4 contains J-pop and J-rock hits that match the upbeat and vibrant colors of the game while still blending with the murder investigation plot.
Persona 5, and its enhanced re-release Persona 5 Royal, are flashy and stylish, and just taking a look at the title screen gives a sense of just how nice the game’s UI looks, and the music matches these visuals perfectly. P5 goes for jazz as a genre, and within the over four hours of in game music, they reach to various subgenres of jazz: from acid jazz tunes that play over the streets of Tokyo to jazz rock hits that blast as you fight enemies.
In Persona 5, you play as a team of Japanese high schoolers who rebel against society and awaken to their Personas, their inner selves, and use their powers to become thieves, stealing the hearts of corrupt people with distorted desires in order to make them confess their crimes, while pretending to be normal high school students. This mix between high school life and the other
reality is a key part of the Persona series, and the music within 5 splits the two lives really well, with different music scores for laidback moments, tense moments, classroom moments, exams, bonding with friends or other people you’ll meet in the game, different shops you’ll visit, and more when you’re just a high school student. However, when you assume the role as a Phantom
Thief, the music scales up in terms intensity. Each dungeon, called a Palace, has its own theme and in Royal there is a song for different types of ways you enter battle. Shoji Meguro is the composer of all of the Persona series, and he does a brilliant job creating the tracks, and just like in Persona 3 and 4, a Japanese artist was brought in to provide
vocals in English for all versions of the game. In Persona 5 that vocalist is Lyn, and she works well with the jazzy beats to provide not only cozy vibes when you’re walking around Tokyo, but also providing powerful singing to the battle themes and some of the Palace themes. The definite standouts are Life Will Change, which plays during heists, The Whims of Fate, the theme to the Casino-based dungeon, filled with lyrics all about giving into temptations, Last Surprise, the battle theme from the original game, and Take Over, a new battle theme added in Royal. On the high school side of the game, Beneath the Mask is a wonderfully relaxing song, especially the version that plays when it rains, which just matches the mood of a window with rain tearing down the side amazingly. With the re-enhanced version, Royal, came new content, dungeons, battles, and of course, music. While none of the new tracks are better than anything in the original game in my opinion, all of the new tracks, particularly the ones from the new, final Palace and boss fight, are superb tracks featuring even more of Lyn’s vocals.
Persona 5’s soundtrack is the kind that doesn’t come around that often, especially for a video game. It has enough music to fill five albums, has its own dedicated vocalist to provide connection between all the tracks, and the music is great on its own, you can listen to some of the songs without ever having played the 130+ hour game and still fall in love with the soundtrack. And so, for those interested in getting a taste of the sound of Persona 5, I’ve included a mix of some of the stand out songs in the soundtrack to give a listen.
Tracks to listen to:
- Life Will Change
- Last Surprise
- Take Over
- The Whims of Fate
- Layer Cake
- Rivers in the Desert
- Beneath the Mask (Rain)
- Gentle Madman