By Jenae R / April 17th, 2020
|Title||Persona 5 Royal|
|Release Date||March 31st, 2020|
Originally I wasn’t scheduled to review Persona 5 Royal. Though due to unforeseen circumstances and the fact that I had asked about it months beforehand, I fortunately ended up with the privilege of getting to tackle this one. ATLUS is known for making high quality JRPGs, and they’ve put out some great ones over the years. Thus, I was excited to play through this redone version of Persona 5 for myself. If you’re interested, feel free to check out our earlier review of the game’s initial release. Now without further delay, let’s get into the review.
Persona 5 Royal starts out mostly the same way it did in the original release. You’ll be following the story of an unnamed Japanese teenager. From here on out we’ll refer to him as Joker, his Phantom Thief alias. Joker was an ordinary guy until one day he was wrongfully convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. Having been expelled from school in his home town and put on probation, Joker moves to Tokyo and lives under the guardianship of Sojiro Sakura, the owner of a café. He’ll end up living in Tokyo for the duration of his probation as well as attend Shujin Academy.
The game plays out throughout a calendar year, where you’ll spend time going to school and on the side live your life as a Phantom Thief. If you’ve never played Persona 5 before, you may now be wondering what exactly your life as a Phantom Thief entails. Well, in the beginning of P5R, Joker and his soon to be friend, Ryuji Sakamoto, find themselves lost in a palace. Palaces only exist in the hearts of people with distorted desires, in other words people whose actions and general view of the world have become less than savory. In this palace they find themselves in, they’ll both awaken to their personas and meet Morgana, a talking cat who ultimately teaches them how to change peoples’ hearts and make the world a better place. Anyways, when you’re going through your regular life outside of palaces, you’ll travel around various areas of Tokyo and work on raising your social stats and getting closer to your confidants. These things are necessary because over time they allow you to fuse new personas and have more options in general for battles. For example, if you specifically get closer to your party members, they can do things such as give you multiple chances at negotiation with shadows to gain them as personas. Or, they might randomly cure you of status effects when affected during battle.
Battles are completely turn-based. You’ll use personas to take advantage of shadows’ (what the game’s enemies are called) weaknesses and eventually defeat them. When you’ve hit a shadow for the first time that turn with its weakness, you can then baton pass to someone else to do the same to a different one, and this continues until every shadow is knocked down. Once that happens, you can either do an all-out attack or negotiate with one of the shadows to gain them as a persona, get money out of them, or get an item. The baton pass feature is easier to take advantage of and is more useful in Royal than it was in vanilla Persona 5. There are also some changes to a handful of bosses. Some of those changes being, new phases to the battles, extra cognitive beings who affect things at some point and similar things of that nature. The majority of the soundtrack is the same as it was before. It’s not my favorite Persona soundtrack, however it is of the same top notch quality you’ll find in any Persona and I greatly enjoyed what new music there is. The music and the overall atmosphere does its job at setting a nice tone for whatever’s going on.
As I’ve stated earlier, P5R is a redone version of Persona 5. Another thing ATLUS is known for these days, is reworking their games and releasing them with additional content. Most of what’s new in this royal re-release is sprinkled throughout, like the baton pass feature being more useful as I stated above. Some of the other smaller changes include, your gun ammo restoring itself after every battle rather than each time you’ve left the Metaverse (the realm in which palaces exist), special enemies who can be defeated to deal major damage to the normal enemies surrounding them, brand new personas who weren’t in the game before and even a brand new area in town with a new minigame to enjoy and new stores to shop at. This is only a small snippet of the stuff that’s been sprinkled about since I don’t want to drag this review on for longer than necessary. Little things like this and the various quality of life features included are a much welcome addition to the game. I found that these seemingly less noteworthy things added in are what I appreciated most.
In addition to the small changes there are larger, extremely significant changes made to Persona 5 in this release as well. This new content I’m going to discuss is why old fans might be interested in returning to their Phantom Thief adventure. First of all, there are extra characters added into the game. One of those is Kasumi Yoshizawa, a gymnast and first year at Shujin Academy. She’ll become a playable character relatively late in the game. Another new character is Dr. Maruki, a counselor who Shujin Academy employs for only a portion of your time at school. And finally is Jose, a unique little boy who you’ll find collecting flowers in Mementos (the public’s palace where you can take on requests for some extra grinding and rewards). Jose will ask you to help him collect flowers and you’ll definitely want to do so because you can trade those flowers in for somewhat scarce, but highly valued items. Next, is the additional narrative content. P5R has a whole third semester tacked onto the game which comes with two endings not seen in Persona 5 before. I went ahead and completed this semester, making sure to check out both new endings. The additional semester and story content between characters, most importantly Kasumi and Dr. Maruki, is why you might want to double dip and play the game again. While I honestly loved the quality of life additions, I hardly enjoyed the third semester. I won’t go too into detail so as to avoid spoilers, but to me personally, this truly felt like extra content tacked on for the sake of extra content and making more money. I thought the original Persona 5 ended quite nicely and was a superior end result.
An earlier Persona title that received extra content like this, Persona 4, I think majorly needed it. So it’s not as if I haven’t supported these re-releases before. Vanilla Persona 4 on PS2 was arguably bare and Golden perfected it by adding all of the stuff that it did. Persona 5 on the other hand was already a seriously huge title. I was never at a lack of things to do or keep up with. The way they added on this new semester and what they did with the story, I found nonsensical. It seemed like it was merely for the sake of milking the latest, most popular Persona entry and not because the extra story was needed to fill in holes of some kind. Oh but one last significant feature added in which I do love and want to discuss, is the Thieves Den. This is a separate area you can get to through the menu, where you can hang out, listen to music, view different videos, play cards with your teammates and unlock a variety of awards as you progress through the story. It’s the one larger notable addition I actually did enjoy.
In the end, Persona 5 Royal is a substantially massive game. If you’ve never played before this is where you want to start. Just be prepared for spending time on a JRPG that is absolutely over 100 hours even if you attempt to rush it. If you’re a returning player, it kind of depends on whether I would recommend you jump into Royal or not. If you weren’t the biggest fan and you thought the game was okay but you weren’t in love with it, I wouldn’t bother. The original version was great as is and after experiencing it, I don’t think most of the new story content was needed. If you are a huge fan though and it’s the type of game you see yourself going back to time and time again, absolutely I would recommend P5R. This game is made for you and you’ll appreciate the stuff added. Despite not liking the third semester or seeing any reason for it, Persona 5 Royal is still another quality ATLUS game in general and I can’t knock it too much. I had fun playing it for the most part and it’s still got all the aspects that make a great game.
Review copy was provided by the publisher. A copy of your own will cost $59.99.
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