Every time we write about Persona 5 we worry that we're going to run out of superlatives. Frankly, the game's an absolute masterpiece. Not only is it one of the best titles on PlayStation 4 – and PlayStation 3, if you want to get technical about it – it's also one of the greatest Japanese role-playing games of modern times. It's almost a perfection of the series' formula, which combines regular, every day life with shadow-slaying dungeon crawls. Persona 5 is our Game of the Year for 2017.
An interesting detail: Persona 5 swept our internal Game of the Year staff vote like nothing we've ever seen. It got so many first place votes that it was out of sight before any other nominee barely left the starting line. Does that mean Push Square is now officially a haven for weebs? Possibly, but let's not try and deny that Persona 5 is an impactful experience.
Once the 80-or-so-hour journey is over, you can't help but reflect upon the memories that you've made with the game's ragtag gang of outcast teenagers. If you've got no mates in real life, chances are you'll walk away from Persona 5 feeling like you've genuinely made a connection with some of its well developed cast. The title promotes a poignant sense of belonging that very few other games manage to replicate.
And on top of all the social gatherings and awkward dates, there's a deep dungeon-crawling RPG. Somehow, Persona 5 balances its wildly varying tones incredibly well – a feat that's overlooked all too often. But without its ability to flit from having fun to being deadly serious in the blink of an eye, the game wouldn't feel so grounded. There's a realism to Persona 5 that shines through even when you're battling demonic entities inside a mind castle. It's an experience that, on paper, shouldn't work anywhere near as well as it does. It's a real storytelling achievement.
Boasting one of the slickest turn-based combat systems ever crafted, battles come close to looking like an action title at times. The tactical depth offered by the persona system adds an addictive Pokémon-esque flavour to proceedings as you welcome otherworldly beings into your soul, and the boss battles are electric.
It's difficult to fault Persona 5 – one of the reasons we awarded it a 10/10 – but there is one overarching element that's crucial to tying everything it does together. We are, of course, talking about its art direction, which is mind-blowing. From the in-game menus to the flashy combat effects, Persona 5 is utterly stunning. Graphically, it's clearly a cross-gen title, but its sheer style solidifies it as one of the most unique and memorable looking games out there. Oh, and then there's the insanely catchy soundtrack, which is easily one of the best of 2017.
In a year that's been amazing for top quality games, it's Persona 5 that has stolen our hearts.
And there you have it: Persona 5 is our Game of the Year for 2017. What did you make of the Phantom Thieves' adventure? Remove your mask in the comments section below.