The silent protagonist of Persona 5 and his crew of Phantom Thieves have hugely bolstered Persona games, and Atlus seems aware of it.
Persona 5 has managed to remain in the minds of the gaming community for the last four years. That's both fitting for a game about infiltrating peoples' minds and generally appropriate, considering the game's achievements. Persona was already a pretty storied game series before Persona 5 arrived, but there was just something about Persona 5 that changed everything. The Phantom Thieves have gotten tons of adoration over the last few years. Thanks to that, there's been tons of additional content involving them. It won't be long before Persona 5 Royal's global release turns a year old, and Persona 5 Strikers gets an international release in just a few weeks. There's more than enough content out right now to keep the Phantom Thieves alive.
However, the Thieves' longevity resides not just within the Persona line. They've expanded out into lots of other media too. Joker has been leading his crew of vigilante misfits into all sorts of other media since Persona 5 took the world by storm. There's just something special about Joker and his crew that makes them hard to let go of, and because of that, they keep breaking boundaries and exceeding expectations. Atlus has already gone a long way in capitalizing on Joker's popularity -- so much so that one wonders just how much more mileage Atlus wants to try to get out of the character.
When writing a silent protagonist, there are a few options available to game developers as far as characterization is concerned. Perhaps the easiest is locking the player in first person and offering no dialogue and minimal body language to express the player characters' feelings, channeling dialogue and tone through surrounding characters. Oftentimes custom characters end up in this niche, the player's own expressiveness filling in for the character's lack of intrinsic personality. Joker, however, is no custom character, and the player certainly isn't isolated from him visually. That means Atlus had to decide during development how much personality he needed.
At a glance, Joker's personality is fairly basic, as one might expect. However, there's a lot that can be gleaned from his dialogue options and body language, as well as his limited spoken lines. Underneath his soft-spoken and unassuming exterior, there's a fierce rebel and a cunning leader with a flair for the dramatic. It's a diverse and complicated personality, but that's part of what makes Joker strikingly relatable despite being a silent protagonist. He seems both perfectly approachable and like a hero worth rooting for.
Atlus is keenly aware of how fondly fans look on Joker too. Persona 5 Royal wasn't too much of a surprise, since Atlus has shown it likes releasing expanded Persona games before. However, Persona 5 Strikers was a completely new venture that surprised everyone. A Dynasty Warriors crossover was pretty impossible to predict, yet Atlus clearly had faith that the Phantom Thieves were complex and flexible enough to thrive in a totally different game genre. As if that wasn't a surprise enough, though, there's a veritable deluge of other cameos the Phantom Thieves have made. Joker is nothing if not adventurous.
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