The Express The student news site of Wakefield Memorial High School Wed, 05 Feb 2020 19:29:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Starting Early: Four Tips For Success During College Process Thu, 30 Jan 2020 13:14:36 +0000 It’s Junior year and the college brochures have started flooding your mailbox. However, you are a little lost on where to start your search. Don’t worry, this article is just what you need.


Demonstrated Interest

What is demonstrated interest? Many high school students do not know this term, but as admissions counselors will eventually tell you, demonstrated interest can make or break your acceptance to the schools you are applying to. To exhibit your enthusiasm for a college, it is important to go to admissions events for that institution if at all possible. This can include college tours, admission information sessions, college fairs, admissions visits to your school, interviews (either at the college or by an alumnus in your area), and open houses. Attending these events can benefit both students and admissions counselors in a few different ways. 

Open Houses

In my personal experience of the college process, I have found open houses to be the most beneficial way to learn about a college or university for these three reasons. To start, open houses are a great way to meet not only the college admissions staff but academic faculty as well. If you go on a regular tour, chances are classes are in session or professors are too busy to talk. Generally, open houses are scheduled on weekends so that faculty and students are able to chat with the interested students. In addition, the campus is more open, hence the title of an open house, meaning that more of the campus facilities are unlocked and available for visitors to check out. Both of these factors are an excellent way to get to know the academic curriculum of an intended major, as well as the environment to which you will be studying and living in for the next four years.

Go to school admissions counselor visits

If you do not have the opportunity to visit a university yourself, admissions counselor visits hosted at your school are a great way to learn about a university. It allows students to show demonstrated interest while also giving them the chance to ask specific questions face to face with an immediate answer. It is a more intimate environment, separate from the hustled frenzy of college tours and open houses. Some schools, usually if they are on the smaller side, will even give out application fee waivers, which equate to about a $30-$60 value. These visits are often the last chance to meet with a representative of a school before you submit early applications, so take advantage of this opportunity! You’ll even be excused from class to attend.

Take notes when you visit a college

This is a very popular piece of parental advice, often ignored by their children. I didn’t believe it was all that important to take notes until it was too late. After you have seen many different schools, all the facts and figures start to blend together in your head. Then, when you go to narrow down your list, it is difficult to sort through the schools. It is extremely helpful to jot down what stands out to you about a school, either while on campus or immediately when you get home. 


Remember, there are steps in place to help you make your decisions! If you ever feel overwhelmed, take a few breaths and relax. It’s all going to be okay, and with these tips, you are one step ahead of everyone else!

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Swift’s New Album Opening New Doors for Her Career Wed, 29 Jan 2020 19:43:33 +0000 On August twenty third, Taylor Swift released a new album entitled “Lover.” This bright, happy, and fun-looking album described as “a love letter to love itself” by the famous singer, is a departure from her previous album, “Reputation.” “Lover” features eighteen songs with singles and remixes accompanied by other artists including Panic at the Disco’s Brendon Urie, The Dixie Chicks, and Shawn Mendes. Four of the tracks were released as singles,  including “Me! “(Featuring Brendon Urie), “You Need to Calm Down,” “The Archer,” and “Lover.” Each showed a different representation of what might be addressed in the album, with certain tracks hinting at love and others hinting at political and societal opinion. Taylor Swift uses this album to tell fans about issues that are happening around us. Her song “The Man”, for example, touches on sexism happening in a delicate and upbeat way. The pop star also addresses toxic masculinity and disillusioned patriotism in her song, “Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince” and the importance of being able to express yourself for who you love freely in “You Need to Calm Down”.  And with the closing track, Taylor Swift concludes, “I want to be defined by the things that I love-not the things I hate.” which sums up the whole idea that should be taken away from listening.

Seventy-two percent of people who have listened to this album were fans and loved every second of it. Yet there is always something that can be put on the negative side. An article from Pitchfork explains how these songs “feel recycled from everything Taylor has already created”.  Other sources state that the singles that were supposed to give a preview of what was to come were not depicting good qualities of the album itself and were “the Kidzbop Bubblegum of early singles” and “too preachy.” To the seventy-two percent who did like this album, see it as having an overall tone of self-awareness and hopefulness.

If I were to give my own opinion of this album, I would say it is very different yet still the same from previous albums. My favorite song, as of now, would have to be “I Forgot that You Existed” just because of its upbeat qualities about handling a breakup. Overall when listening to the songs, it gives me an overall joyful reaction not only from the songs themselves but to just think of where this once small artist started, to see her music grow and become a sensation around the world.

With her seventh album now out and a summer festival on her way to promote the songs throughout Europe and the United States, Taylor Swift has shown her dedication to what she does and enjoys it every step of the way. Her compassion towards the things she believes in inspires many to fight for who they are.

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Teacher Profile: Mrs Nigro Fri, 08 Mar 2019 15:21:49 +0000  

Mrs. Nigro is the new biology, physics, and AP environmental science teacher! She is a WMHS graduate herself, and is now teaching at her high school! In high school, and in college, she wanted to be a veterinarian. She even had a major in pre-vet. She worked in the field in college, she liked it, but did not want to do it for the rest of her life. However, she did apply to veterinarian school, and got into one in the Caribbean, but realized she would have too much debt, so she decided to become a teacher. Mrs. Nigro went to University of New Hampshire for her undergraduate, and Lesley in Cambridge for her masters. She has co taught at Saugus High School, but went for the job at Wakefield Memorial High School. And that led her to our school!

Mrs. Nigro wanted to work here because she had a good experience as a student, and she likes the town. Mrs. Nigro likes to teach science because everyone can relate to it. In biology, it is about our bodies, and lives, and obviously everyone has a body. She says that in “Every science class you will learn something you can use your entire life”. It is okay to be wrong in science, whereas in math you either got the answer or you didn’t. And science is also fun! The school has been very welcoming, even a little over welcoming, to her. Fellow teachers are always asking her if she needs help. She says that no much as changed since she went here. She says it’s funny to see a different side of the school, now being a teacher.

Mrs. Nigro teaches biology, AP environmental science, and physics. Based off of the information she teaches, she likes biology the best. Students wise, she likes her AP classes because she has better conversations with them. She works with a different type of student in AP, and the students work at a different rate than in a CP class. “An AP student has a different motivation that a CP student”  she says. The upperclassmen say stuff that makes her think. For example, is bottled water considered a domestic or industrial use of water, is one question that was asked in my AP environmental science class with Mrs. Nigro.

It may be hard to believe, but teachers have lives outside of school, and may enjoy similar things that students do. Mrs. Nigro says she loves everything with cheese on it. She also loves the television show Game of Thrones, as many teenagers also do. She has two pets. She has a cat named Anya, and just recently got a dog named Braun. Braun is a puppy who was originally going to be a police dog, so he knows some commands in German! Mrs. Nigro is a WMHS graduate and we welcome her back as a teacher!

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Senior Crisis Fri, 08 Mar 2019 15:19:59 +0000 Senior-Crisis

It’s that time of year again: college application season! If you’re a senior, or there’s a senior in your life, then you are probably aware of just how crazy things are about to get. It’s important to remember that, no matter how stressed they or you may be, it will all (hopefully) pay off. Whether you’re dealing with the craziness of an Early Action or Early Decision deadline, or just preparing for a Regular Decision deadline, every senior is dealing with their own crises every single day. Hopefully, with this article, you can help your senior deal with the anxiety of college applications.

First, they need to fill in a list of colleges to apply to. This step should be done far in advance, but if it hasn’t been completed, never fear! Schools are still offering tours, and though walking around in the cold is not ideal, it’s better than not having a clue about the schools that you’re applying to.

Once that step is done, add them to your Common Application. Just forget about any schools that don’t accept the Common Application — they’re trash, anyway. Who cares about Ivies and top schools if they make you jump through all kinds of hoops? The Common App is easy and convenient.

Next, you should examine your SAT scores. Maybe they aren’t quite high enough. Don’t worry! You can always pay an exorbitant late fee to sign up for one last standardized test, only to find out that you’ve done even worse than the last time you took it.

Remember, take a deep breath! Everything may be falling apart, but…forget about it. Everything is falling apart.

It’s almost spring, and you haven’t written your essay. Okay. Fine. Better get cracking! The later you wait, the harder this whole thing will be. I would know; in August, I wrote four different college essays, only to throw them all away and go with the first topic I decided to write about. And make sure you write your supplementals; too bad you can’t write just one. Make sure to cover the development of AI for College A, but don’t forget about writing that “what if Martin Luther King, Jr. was on Twitter?” supplemental, too!

Now, the FAFSA and CSS profile just went live. Great! Time to get that cash! Too bad the government believes you can afford to pay twenty-five times your annual income to go to school.

Just don’t freak out. Because surprise, you have a test today! That’s right. In all the chaos of your college applications, you forgot to study. Luckily, you’re positive that the school you’re applying to won’t even see your senior year grades (spoiler alert: that’s not true). What’s one 40 on a test, anyway?

When you’re ready to press that “submit” button on your application, don’t forget that you owe most schools money before you even get accepted, so make sure you have a few hundred dollars in the bank to spare. You have that, right? Paying for all those standardized tests didn’t drain your account, did it?

In all seriousness, no matter how cliché this sounds, this is the most exciting time of your life. It may also determine your entire future, but don’t let that get to you! Spend the next few years enjoying the freedom of college.

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Warriors Strike again with Four New Records at States Thu, 29 Nov 2018 12:25:50 +0000  

CAMBRIDGE – With the final meet of the season, the Wakefield Girls Swim Team came  in eighth place for the MIAA Division Two State Championship Meet held at Harvard on November 18th. The girls had an outstanding day for their last meet for the year, ending up with a total of 136 points. To start off the meet, Hannah Guay, Laura Sweeney, Katie Patt, Abigail Federici swam the 200 medley relay. These girls hada time of 1:55.57, which got them the spot of sixth place, a great way to start off the meet.

Next off was the girls 200 individual medley,  which Hannah Guay (SO) broke her record from last week at sectionals. At states, she went a 2:13.55, giving her a third-place finish. Coming behind first place winner from Reading was Anna Roberts (SR) with a time of 2:09.15, and tying Olivia Mozoki (SR) from Marshfield. Also in this event was Alyssa Toppi (SO), who came in twenty-sixth. Her time was a 2:27.92.

Coming up after the diving break was the 100 Fly. Swimming this event was Katie Patt (FR), who broke Emily Medeiros’s record from 2012 which was a 1:00.62. Katie swam this event in a 1:00.06, which got her ninth place.

Next was the 100 Freestyle, which Laura Sweeney (SO) swam and broke Erin Johanson’s record from 2005, who had a time of 56.29. Laura got a time of 56.04 and she came in sixth place, breaking her personal record. After the 100 Freestyle was the 500 Freestyle, which was swam by Hannah Guay. She came in ninth place with a time of 5:24.68. This time didn’t let her finish on the podium but was one of her best times from the season.

Right after the 500 Freestyle was the 200 Free Relay swam by Laura Sweeney, Abigail Federici (JR), Katie Patt and Hannah Guay. The girls broke their record from last week and got a 1:44.13, coming in fifth place coming right behind Marshfield, who had a time of 1:43.84.

Then was the 100 Backstroke, with Katherine Maloney (SR) who coming in twentieth place with a time of 1:07.03. Next up was Katie Patt who came in fifth with a time of 1:00.21.

After the 100 Backstroke was the 100 Breaststroke, which Laura Sweeney came in eighth place with a time of 1:12.20, coming in right behind Madison Crummey (FR) from Milton, who had a time of 1:11.74.

To end the night was the 400 Free Relay. This was swam by Abigail Federici, Katherine Maloney, Erica Pecjo (SO), and Sophie Brown (FR). They ended with a time of 3:58.88, placing them in twelfth behind Marshfield who had a time of 3:57.62.

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Red Sea Strong Mon, 19 Nov 2018 19:31:45 +0000 Friday night football games, or as the students call it, FNL (Friday Night Lights), are an essential part of the Wakefield Warrior spirit. Approximately 125 students come out to support the football team and sit in the Red Sea, the designated student fan section in the bleachers at Landrigan Field. The Red Sea got its fitting title from the sea of students who sport mostly red, the color associated with Wakefield Warriors. The air is crisp and full of chatter and laughter. “It’s the best part of the fall season,” comments Brooke Wallace, a junior at WMHS.
But what is so great about the Red Sea? It’s crowded and loud, you have to stand almost the whole time, and there is always the chance of getting hit with flying food. Yet students make a beeline for the section at the end of the bleachers, sometimes even arriving early to get a good spot. “It’s the atmosphere,” explains student Quinn Bayers. “I love it.” Quinn is most likely referring to the factors that make a Warrior football game so unique. For example, the Rollercoaster at halftime is always fun to participate in, never failing to put a smile on every single “rider’s” face. The Rollercoaster is comprised of all four grades following the seniors, yelling with their hands in the air, simulating the classic theme park ride. Then, of course, there is the parting of the Red Sea, where Moses runs up the middle of the bleachers to greet the loud cheer that awaits him when he gets to the top. Taking on the role of Moses this year is senior Rohan Singhvi, previously portrayed by Tommy Lucey, who graduated last year. “Whenever we come together, I feel like the spirit really comes out. So I think that normally when we come together, it’s always super-hype,” comments Senior John Roche.
Another huge part of the “Red Sea atmosphere” that cannot fail to be mentioned is the award-winning Wakefield High School Marching Band. The marching band show at halftime is an occurrence at every home game, under the direction of Thomas Bankert. Recently the band and color guard won first place in their division at the NESBA competition on October 13 for their show “Flight”. Winning is a familiar feeling for the marching band, as they have around 120 musically talented performers. However, some members do not believe the band’s presence is vital to the spirited nature of FNL, claiminig that no one pays attention to them at halftime. Though they are hidden from the fans, located at the far end of the bleachers, their music does not go unnoticed. All of the Red Sea chants are centered around the music they play, as well as some cheerleading routines. By setting an upbeat tone, the band keeps up the spirit, and their presence would be sorely missed.
Whether you go to support the dance team, the marching band, or the football team, there is always the guarantee of a fun time. Even though it may feel freezing cold, you are filled with warmth from the company of friends, community, and Honey Dew hot chocolate. Even those who don’t go to Wakefield High come for the Friday night experience. When asked about it, a Bishop Fenwick student complimented the Red Sea spirit, saying, “It’s higher than any other school I’ve seen.” FNL is definitely an experience you want to have in high school. It’s a great way to get to know your peers and kick off the weekend. “I think our school is really special because we all bond over football games,” concludes Brooke. It’s an average high school sporting event, but an above average crowd that means so much to the identity of the Wakefield Warriors. So if you were not able to catch a game this fall season, make sure you secure a spot in the Red Sea for next year’s season opener. If you can’t wait, don’t worry! The Warriors play the Melrose Red Raiders at Landrigan Field this Thanksgiving (November 22, 2018) at 10:15 am.

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Swim Team Strikes Back With Another Win Tue, 30 Oct 2018 16:53:22 +0000 The fierce Wakefield Warriors swim team won yet another meet against Woburn. Lead by senior captains Katherine Maloney and Jess Conley, they  fought hard the whole meet!


Katherine Maloney, in her fourth and final season, is planning to go to Coast Guard Academy for college. After that meet, the senior co-captain said,”It was a great day for the swim team!” Maloney gives credit to the practices at Malden High School, and expressed her excitement for the next few meets to see how the team “can grow and be the best that they can.”


The girls were dominate in the meeting, sweeping all the events. Wakefield’s 200 Yard medley got off to a good start, taking first, second, and fourth placing them twelve-two. Sophomores Hannah Guay and Laura Sweeney, junior Abby Federici, and freshman Katie Patt swam a 2:01.87 time for the 1st place in the opening event. The relay team featuring Katherine Maloney, Erica Pecjo, Abby Lane, and Emily Chan finished in second , and  Maria Brizon, Bella Barrett, Sam Coilton, and Jess Conley placed fourth .


Wakefield took first , second, and  fourth in the 200 Yard Freestyle with freshman Sophie Brown taking first place with a time of 2:12.10. Kyra Hoffman came in  second with a 2:15.46, and Lilly Cullen finished fourth at a 2:25.15. After the first two opening events, the Warriors led 24-6 heading into the 200 yard individual medley.


In the third event, Laura Sweeney’s 2:23.08 captured another first place finish. Sophomore Alyssa Toppi and Erica Pecjo came in 3rd and 4th, putting the Warriors ahead, 35-11.


Wakefield took first along with fourth and fifth in the 50 meter freestyle. Abby Federici finished in firstwith a time of 28.07. Freshman Maria Brizon came in fourth with a time of 29.65 and  Jess Conley came in fifth with a time of 29.83.


In the  100 Yard Butterfly, where Wakefield came in first, third, and fourth. This was a big hit step the freshman girls. Katie Patt’s came in first with a 1:02.95,two seconds faster than Woburn’s second place swimmer. Abby Lane took third with a time of 1:11.40, while Emily Chan came in fourth with a time of 1:13.66.


The next event was the 100 yard freestyle. Kyra Hoffman took the event with a 1:02.70, and Abby Federici came in close 3rd with a time of 1:04.15, while Alex Dececca came in fifth with a time of 1:10.76.


Going into the 500 yard freestyle the Warriors had established a 36 point lead, at 65-29. In the 500 yard Freestyle, the girls took first, second, and fifth. Leading that event was a strong race between Katherine Maloney and Sophie Brown. At the end, Maloney out touched Brown, ending with a time of 6:11.96, while Brown finished with a time of 6:12.32. Coming in 5th was Lily DeFeo with a time of 7:12.23.


The 200 yard freestyle relay had the Warriors claiming first, third, and fourth. Laura Sweeney, Emily Chan, Kyra Hoffman, and Abby Lane combined to come in first with a time of 1:54.72.  Just behind them was Maria Brizon, Jess Conley, Lily Cullen, Reignyah Grant with a time of 2:01.27, coming in third. Finishing in fourth was Bella Melo, Sam Colliton, Hannah Morris, and Alex Dececca with a time of 2:08.27.


In the 100 yard backstroke Hannah Guay won with a time of 1:03.70. Coming in 3rd was Erica Pecjo with a time of 1:15.90, and  in fourth was Maria Brizon with a time of 1:18.38. In the 100 yard breaststroke was Laura Sweeney with a time 1:15.58, crushing her opponents, with a seven second gap from the other swimmers. In second was Alyssa Toppi with a time of 1:21.51, and in 4th was Emily Chan with a time of 1:25.75.


In the final event, the 400 yard freestyle relay, the girls took first, second, and fourth. Abby Federici, Sophie Brown, Katie Patt, and Hannah Guay claimed victory with a time of 4:08.39. Kyra Hoffman, Katherine Maloney, Abby Lane, and Erica Pecjo came in second with a time of 4:25.28. Coming in fourth was Jess Conley, Lily Cullen, Sam Colliton, and Ava Sowyrda with a time of 4:38.57.

The girls ended the meet with a score of 86-76 giving the Warriors their fourth win of the season. Next Wednesday, the Warriors take on Lexington at Malden at 5:30. This meet will be key, as it is the last home meet for the seniors.

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Cool New Ways to Spice Up Your Dinner Parties Tue, 09 Jan 2018 19:57:50 +0000 We’ve all been there! Getting dragged to another family dinner party during the holiday season. The same old meal that your grandma prepared is losing its taste and you just can’t wait until dessert. Of course, it’s the winter so you’re forced inside the whole night socializing with aunts and uncles who keep nagging away at your life. Well, what if I told you that I had a solution to your unfortunate suffering! These fun new dinner party ideas may finally give you a reason to kill your least favorite cousin (kind of)!

The first dinner party idea is a murder mystery dinner, hence the opportunity to kill your cousin. If you’ve ever played the game of Clue, you know nothing has the potential to tear apart or bring together a family more than a good old murder mystery. At this party, everyone shows up dressed and in character as who they were told to be on their invitation(potentially being the murderer). You are not allowed to break until the mystery is solved, so have a lot of fun with it. Over the fancy dinner that everyone enjoys, you can introduce your new persona and start to make alliances and accusations. The host will come up with a scenario and hide clues around the house, so after dinner it is the attendees’ job to answer the age-old question, Whodunnit?

If you want to have the thrill of a mystery dinner but not necessarily spend quality time with your family accusing them of murder in the first degree, then a simple mystery dinner is another fun choice. This dinner puts all of the mystery out of the people and into the food. The host will give everyone coded menus with inside jokes or catch phrases and allow guests to mark these “meals” to be corresponding to different numbers, usually 1-4. After everyone has given back their menu, the hostess will take everyone’s marks for number one, or the first round. My family and I did this a few weeks ago at my aunt’s house, and some rounds my grandmother would get a drink, a fork, a meal item, and a dessert, while my aunt would receive a knife, chopsticks, and two drinks at the same time. Basically, you have no idea what you just signed up to eat and you have to make the most of what food, utensils, and drinks you have for each round because they are taken away before the next round begins. It’s a great time for laughs, anticipation, and eating spaghetti with a spoon.

The last and final suggestion for a dinner party is to make it a competition. Obviously this won’t work in large family settings unless your Aunt Marge happens to have eight ovens, so it’s great for a close group of friends or only some of you family. Basically, a few of the people at the party decide to be the judges and stay away from the kitchen for a while. Both teams are told to make an appetizer using a specific ingredient, a main course using a different ingredient, and a dessert again making sure to include a common element. Now depending on how much trust you put in your family’s cooking abilities, these key ingredients can be something simple like chicken for the entree, or completely bizarre like broccoli in a dessert. After each round is up, the group will go to the table and eat, not revealing who made what. While everyone is enjoying the food, the judges will deliberate and decide which dish was the best of that round. The courses will yield a champion, and full bragging rights and any other bet in place are accomplished.

These ideas are a fun substitute for just standing around and eating a lackluster meal, but the most important thing is to make the most of your time with your friends or family, whether it be as Sherlock and Watson or as aunt and niece. Though all three ideas require a lot of planning and preparation, the fun is most definitely worth it.

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Grades Rise Up! Tue, 09 Jan 2018 19:51:57 +0000 Congratulations! You have completed term 1 of this school year! This means your either happy, scared, sad, or relieved. There’s a high chance that all of your grades were not the way you had hoped. Whether APUSH is harder than you thought, or you thought you understood Sociology, something bad probably happened during term 1. For the rest of the school year, and the rest of high school, everyone is hoping for better grades than first term. Here are seven different ways to help bring your grade up.

The number one way to bring your grade up is to pay attention in class. Going to class is one of the main ways to get a good grade. Actually being there and paying attention to what is going on. Instead of imagining how amazing your lunch is going to be, write notes and pay attention to your history teacher when they lecture about the Civil War.

Another good way to try to bring your grade up is to ask classmates for help. Sometimes teachers do not connect the way a classmate can. The way a person of your age talks to you can help you understand something more than someone who is much older. If asking a classmate does not help, you can go to the teacher. One on one learning can really help the information sink into your brain.

If you understand, but can not seem to find an interest in the subject, John or Hank Green will probably have an interest! They made videos on everything under the sun, and probably the sun as well! They may talk really fast, but their videos can help with obtaining an interest. But if you’re not a fan of the Green brothers, but honestly who is not, there are plenty of other people to watch.

After everything else, your teacher will probably have extra worksheets. Whether it be practice problems in math or science, more readings in history or english, or more sentences to translate in a foreign language, your teacher should have some more resources for studying. Another way that might not be so obvious is to write down notes, do not type them. Many studies show that writing what you need to remember is a better way to retain the information. So break out those pens and paper and get writing!

Once you have completed everything else, you have to study. You can not just walk into a test without doing anything, and expect a A. Many students make the mistake of thinking the know who Aaron Burr is, but on the test, they end up confusing him with Alexander Hamilton. Always take time to study the night before a test, and right before the test. But, do not study in another class, because you need to be doing all this for that class too. Having good grades is something almost every teenager wants, and by following and working on these seven steps, you can achieve that A!


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“Take Your Heart:” A Review of Persona 5 Tue, 09 Jan 2018 19:41:28 +0000 For people who aren’t super invested in RPGs, the Persona series (a spinoff of the Shin Megami Tensei series) can seem overwhelming. It definitely seemed that way to me when I picked up a copy of Persona 5 for the PS4, a game I ended up absolutely smitten with. This game was stuck in development for years, with the publishers promising a game release as early as 2014. It didn’t actually see the light of day until late 2016, though, but the wait was worth it.

The story follows a teenage boy named Akira Kurusu, whose situation is more than a little messed up. One day, he was walking home from school and heard screaming. When he ran to see what was going on, he found a man harassing a woman. Akira, in a moment of courage, pushes the man aside to protect her. Unfortunately, this man turns out to be someone with a fair amount of influence, leading Akira to be put on a year’s probation, expelled from his school, and forced to move in with a total stranger in the middle of Tokyo for the next year. Over the next few months, Akira meets a colorful cast of characters and discovers that he — along with several of his new friends — possesses the power of Persona, a sort of extension of one’s soul. Using this power, he creates the Phantom Thieves, an organization dedicated to “stealing hearts” and forcing people in power to repent. They target all sorts of corrupt or otherwise “evil” people, starting with a teacher at their school who abuses the volleyball team (and one of the Thieves) and moving on to bigger targets, like a famous artist who steals from his pupils and a father willing to force his daughter into an arranged marriage with a man much older than her.

Without a doubt, the best part of Persona 5 is its aesthetic. The game is one of the most stylish RPGs I’ve ever played, though people may not approve of its cartoonish style. The combat system is smooth, effective, and easy to jump into, especially compared to the styles of the also fantastic last two Persona games. Its color scheme of black and red is fantastic, the Shujin Academy school uniforms are the best-looking uniforms I’ve ever seen, and the character designs are unique in the best way. The dungeons the player ventures into throughout the game all have crazy designs, from a flying bank to a pharaoh’s tomb. Every part of this game is visually stunning.

Though at first the game seems to promise amazing characters, all with their own storylines to follow (though in previous games they were known as Social Links, now they’re Confidants), many characters ended up not developing as much as they should have. The first members of the Thieves, Ann Takamaki and Ryuji Sakamoto, start off as amazing characters, highlighting both Ann’s struggles with sexual harassment and objectification and Ryuji’s despair after being kicked off the track team, but as the game progresses they lose some of what made them amazing in the first place. Others, though, are developed really well, especially the story-required Confidants, most notably Morgana the cat. He’s a little tuxedo cat who Ryuji and Akira meet the day their Personas awaken, and he’s the funniest, sassiest little cat in the world. Throughout the story, he is recovering from amnesia and remembering more and more about his life, leaving the player guessing at who, or what, Mona really is.

I played the game for about 120 hours on my first play-through, and missed a lot of content. The story is very linear and you have limited time to progress, so it takes two play-throughs to fully complete the game. Because of this, I felt like the $60 I invested in the game was well worth it. It is by no means a perfect game, but it’s those criticisms that make me love it even more. Persona 5 left me laughing, crying, and angry all at once, and I wasn’t even a prior fan of the series.

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