Persona 5: The Phantom X is an upcoming free-to-play mobile RPG from Perfect World and developer Black Wings Game Studio that feels too good to be true.

Persona 5: The Phantom X Seems Too Good to Be True

Nearly two years after it was first teased, Perfect World and developer Black Wings Game Studio lifted the curtains on Persona 5: The Phantom X, a free-to-play RPG for Android and iOS mobile devices that, at first glance, looks like a gaiden take on Atlus’ iconic game.

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The pair of trailers and abundance of concept art and screenshots that accompanied the announcement all point to a game that, for all intents and purposes, feels like more Persona 5. And that’s great!

It seems like there’s a lot to love about P5X. The new character design is immediately striking, which makes sense given that both they as well as their Persona were designed by series vet Shigenori Soejima. I’m also all in on the excellent talking owl named Luffy that seems to be taking on the Morgana role, plus your pal who has heavy Chie vibes.

Persona 5: The Phantom X is an upcoming free-to-play mobile RPG from Perfect World and developer Black Wings Game Studio that feels too good to be true.

Tokyo also feels as brimming with life as it did in the proper game. Along with the familiar sights of the rain-soaked streets at Shibuya Crossing, Big Bang Burger, Iwai’s Airsoft Shop, fishing, batting cages, and jamming through Mementos, there are some hints at new adventures as well.

The Velvet Room being an underground tunnel where the roof gives way to a vast ocean is a spectacular sight, and while Igor is back, he’s accompanied by a new attendant who fits right in alongside Margaret and Elizabeth. We also get quick shots of what look to be Palace themes, including a baseball stadium and a nightclub of some sorts.

And of course, one of the trailers ends with a tease of Joker and the Phantom Thieves themselves looking on, though there are a lot of ways this could play out. It could take place in the same world as 5 or Royal (though we don’t see any characters or iconography that points to its incorporating aspects of Royal). It could also be set in some sort of an alternate dimension, much like the Persona Q games were.

Persona 5: The Phantom X is an upcoming free-to-play mobile RPG from Perfect World and developer Black Wings Game Studio that feels too good to be true.

Honestly, Persona 5: The Phantom X looks way better than what I envisioned years ago at the prospect of a free-to-play mobile game. In fact, if these trailers had ended with console logos, I think we would’ve believed that the game was a straight-up sequel or side story to P5 to hold us over until Persona 6 or Project Re Fantasy are ready to be shown off.

But here’s the rub – what does the primary gameplay loop of Persona in a free-to-play model feel like? When our owl pal tells us that we’re exhausted and we’ll have to go to bed for the night, will we have to wait a set number of hours to play more, or pay real money for energy points or some nonsense like that? Will the Personas themselves be earned in battle, or will they be randomly obtained via gacha mechanics? Things could go south quickly if these elements aren’t implemented well.

That said, I can absolutely see the potential for a Persona experience on mobile platforms. Given the time-management aspects of the modern installments in the franchise, what if those were translated into the actual time of day? A day in the game would unfold over the course of an actual day, with certain characters, activities, and confidants only being accessible at certain times or even on certain days of the week a la Animal Crossing. If done right, this could be the thing that finally pulls me away from my dangerous Marvel Snap habit.

Persona 5: The Phantom X is an upcoming free-to-play mobile RPG from Perfect World and developer Black Wings Game Studio that feels too good to be true.

I could also see social aspects being incorporated into the game, expanding upon what we’ve seen in the franchise before. Persona 4 and 5 already had some passive online functionality, like seeing how folks spent their free time at a given moment in the game, or receiving help during a tough battle. But I could imagine that being taken even further.

Given how collecting mythological creatures already has a heavy Pokémon vibe to it, (Yes, I know SMT predates Pokemon; please don’t flood my mentions telling me that.) being able to trade demons with a pal feels like a given in a mobile game.

At this point, there’s no guarantee that Persona 5: The Phantom X will be released outside of China. Though given Persona’s rising popularity, as well as the sheer quality of these initial trailers, it’d be surprising if the game didn’t branch out across the world. With playtests beginning at the end of March, we should have a clearer picture of what Persona 5: The Phantom X looks like in the free-to-play mold, as well as possibly a clue as to whether or not it’ll be making its way west anytime soon. In the meantime, we always have Luffy.


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Marty Sliva
Marty Sliva was the Deputy Editor of The Escapist. He's been writing and hosting videos about games, movies, television, and popular culture since 2011, and was with The Escapist from 2019 until 2023. In a perfect world, he'd be covering Zelda, Persona, and the hit TV series Lost on a daily basis.
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