Persona 5: Royal
(Available on PlayStation 4 only)
There was no game I was more excited about getting in 2020 than Persona 5 Royal. Persona 5 was my game of the year and like with Persona 4 Golden, Persona 5 royal would act as a rerelease of the game with tons of added content to act as the definitive version of the game. to such an extent that all the way back in the autumn of 2019 I pre-ordered the Phantom Thieves edition of the game which came with an artbook, soundtrack cd, replica “Joker” mask and dynamic theme for my PS4 but good luck finding a cheap copy of that edition now. Forwarding from this point on I’m writing this as someone who’s played the original Persona 5 and really immersed themselves in it so I won’t be talking much about the game as a whole and rather be talking about what Royal added to the experience though I will avoid spoilers almost entirely. For the uninitiated, Persona 5 is a RPG in which you play a student on probation after being falsely implicated in an Assault resulted with him moving to Tokyo to attend Shujin Academy and rehabilitate himself as part of his sentence, he then discovers he is part of a group of people that can travel between realities based on other peoples distorted desires known as palaces and work alongside a group of friends to form a group known as the Phantom Thieves in order to steal their personal treasures in each of these palaces in order to make them confess to their crimes using spirits known as Persona’s to combat their enimeis. Like most RPGs you build up experience through grinding through battles but you also gain new abilities through hanging out with your friends outside of palaces since that reality is based of people’s cognition and strengthening these bods makes you a stronger person. The game runs on a limited time so choosing what tasks you do in each of the in game days adds an extra level of strategy since even though this is a Really long game with a single playthrough of the game lasting about 70 hours at absolute minimum you won’t be able to fully get through every single character’s arc on a single playthrough. Think of it as being like an Anime simulator and while your enjoyment of Anime is not entirely predicated on your enjoyment it does help. Think of it like a cross between Pokemon, Final Fantasy and a social simulator. Criticism has been levelled at developer Atlus for this re release since with Persona 4 Golden was released on a different console to it’s original model so charging full price for a re release had justification whereas Persona 5 Royal has been released on a console that is perfectly capable of add on DLC. In my opinion the game has enough new features and locations to justify being more than a glorified downloadable add on and sold at full price (at this point in time £50). This includes new enemies, slightly altered boss fights which kept me on my edge and lead to a few unexpected deaths, new battle tactics, new locations for stuff to do in the after school and evening sections of the game and of Corse new playable character Kasumi who was heavily part of the advertisement for the game. I actually was surprised how well she has been inserted into the already excellent plotline along with another new character, but she does fit in well. however, if you don’t fill in the criteria to unlock the new extra gameplay known as the third semester you won’t get to play as her much almost making her an unlockable character. this is obviously so the actors don’t have to record much new dialogue and the studio doesn’t need to make many more new animation sequences which once again have been made by Production I.G. however it does bother me slightly that much of what’s new for this game is locked behind certain criteria which the game only really indicates you should take priority in doing as your coming up to the deadline. Players who played a lot of the original game will obviously take this on since fulfilling it requires hanging out with the new confidants. Still I would really recommend looking up a guide on how to get the true ending, you can find many guides on how to do online that don’t give away spoilers.
- It’s still the same amazing game: it’s still the same great story with the same great characters and character arcs as well as really well thought out environments to explore and a well executed turn based RPG system that prioritises strategy for finding enemies weaknesses as well as learning when to retreat for a day so as not to tackle too much. Persona 5 is one of the best RPG’s I’ve ever played and as expected that hasn’t changed with Persona 5 Royal
- New feature feel like they add and not retract: Persona 5 is a well constructed game in terms of both plot and gameplay , so my concern was if the new features would feel crowbarred in. thankfully they really feel natural like they were intended from the start with only one exception which I won’t state for spoilers. The new darts minigame game was a particular highlight in regards to new features and like everything else does play well into your character building strategies.
- The soundtrack is even better: Persona 5 has one of the best soundtracks ever in video games and with then new songs it somehow has managed to get even better. from the new songs I particularly like the new fight song “Take Over” for when Ambushes occur which given how I play the game meant I heard that song more than the normal fight song “Last Surprise”.
- Presentation: Persona 5 Royal still oozes with style in every sense of the word and you still marvel at the menu designs as well as the level designs for Tokyo and the various Palaces that reflect the distorted desires of the villain.
- Most of the extras are locked: while I think it’s good to slowly ease you into the new features and the new features are great for people that did everything in the original game, there was a real pressure to meet the criteria to unlock it by the time you reach the in game deadline. It’s not a major issue and most of it I was able to achieve within the time because I kept Persona’s that corresponded with the confidant routes I need to do but it’s also true to say that I wish this was a little more readily available since this is why a lot of people will buy this game
- Lots of nods and winks to fans of the original: there’s a lot of moments where the writers deliberately put in something happening differently in order to throw off the players who played the original. My concern is that these moments won’t have the same impact for someone that’s only played Royal but it’s a minor nit pick
- The boss fight in the 4th palace is still a bit bad and it’s more annoying than last time: while most of the boss fights got a slight change to challenge players that had mastered the previous game the boss fight at the end of the 4th palace is not only still the worse boss fight in the game and has new features which didn’t help. I died in this fight more than any other and I had been grinding in prep for it. it’s not that this is a difficult boss fight it’s a tedious one which is really often can rely on luck but in fairness I’ve seen way worse boss fights in games like this so this is hardly the most annoying thing I’ve done.
Overall thoughts: if you Haven’t played Persona 5 yet now’s the time to jump on the bandwagon. It’s one of the best constructed RPG’s with great characters, story, soundtrack and combat. It’s just sheer enjoyment and still in my top 5 all time favourite games and Royal is now the definitive edition of the game and is highly recommended
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