March 31, 2020
Atlus, Deep Silver
Persona 5 originally released back in 2016 for Japan, and 2017 for the rest of the world to critical acclaim, being labelled as one of the best modern RPG’s by many critics. Fans were thrilled at the concept of a new version in the name of Persona 5 Royal, with a wealth of new content and updated gameplay. So, is this re-release worth going back to school for, or should you ditch the classes and drama entirely?
Persona 5 Royal is essentially more of what was an already near-perfect game, with a number of quality of life improvements being made, along with a list of added inclusions which I will cover off later. This review will be slightly different as we have already reviewed Persona 5 in the past, which you can read in full here. I will still briefly touch on the main aspects of the game for those new to the series, but let’s also answer if returning fans should invest in this version.
For people who are not familiar with the Persona series, they are by-and-large typical JRPG fare, complete with turn-based combat, anime-like visuals, and all the melodrama and high school antics you would expect from an anime.
Persona 5 though deserves its acclaim, as it’s a visually stunning title, not just from a pure graphical level, but from a general aesthetic level. It simply beams with artistic style and a clear commitment to over-the-top menus and effects.
The combat is turn-based, with its unique spin. Your character can wear a variety of masks, which each have their own “persona”, essentially an entity that provides you with different abilities in battle. You and your opponents take turns attacking, and you have many useful skills and powers at your disposal to use. You also have the option of controlling each party member in battle yourself or assigning different tactics to them so they will function on their own depending.
The story here is quite convoluted at first, and the first few hours of this game can be quite slow, but once it opens up and gives you a little more freedom it is very hard to put back down. You can enter palaces, which are like a twisted version of the real world within peoples minds where they keep their darkest and deepest desires, this is where you come in to try and put an end to these palaces and bring the people into the light.
Whilst the action component of Persona 5 Royal takes place in the other reality, you’ll be spending a lot of time in real world Tokyo, where your days and time are limited, so choosing how to spend your time wisely is key.
“…it is quite easy to become wrapped up in the gossip and drama whilst balancing your daily life as a student and nightlife as thief battling in palaces.”
In the real world, you will be able to explore iconic areas of Tokyo, strengthen your relationships with other students, attend and participate in school life, amongst a variety of other tasks. Daily school life is a big part of this game and it is quite easy to become wrapped up in the gossip and drama whilst balancing your daily life as a student and nightlife as thief battling in palaces.
Now for the real part of this review, what has been changed or added to this new addition to make it worth your money? Well, quite a lot actually, far more than you would expect or notice if I’m being honest as the changes are both large and small but each impact the game greatly.
Combat in this version has been massively overhauled, whilst yes it is still the same tried-and-true formula, there have been many noticeable tweaks. Your gun now refills with ammo at the end of every encounter, not just at the start of each dungeon. This may seem game-breaking but it is balanced in a way where at the start it is easy to take down enemies with, but quickly it becomes a tactic you learn to utilise when required the most.
There is also now a showtime mechanic that is triggered randomly but essentially works like a powerful team-up move with flashy visuals and often entertaining results that I never got tired of seeing, with some being quite hilarious.
A brand new third semester has been introduced that massively expands the story along with adding a new party member named Kasumi, a new palace to explore, new animated story cutscenes, along with a pretty intriguing new antagonist and heart to steal. If you thought the story before was interesting, then you really need to experience this updated version.
This also includes a brand new and very large location named Kichijoji to explore that comes complete with a new club, jazz bar, temple and a host of other locations, providing even more immersion into this realised version of Japan.
The main campaign has also been expanded with two new confidants that further expands the story; rest assured this is not simply a GOTY edition, this is a hugely overhauled experience that packs a lot more into an already expansive game.
There is also a new thieves den where you can listen to the awesome soundtrack, deck it out with various statues of unlocked personas and watch cut-scenes again, amongst a variety of other things to do.
Almost every aspect of this game has been overhauled, with new conversations included along with dialogue choices. I could write forever about all of the new minor tweaks that enhance the flow and gameplay, but instead, I can assure you that this is the best version of Persona 5, and I didn’t think the original could get much better.
There is quite a lot added to this version that truly makes it worth the buy, and seeing as this is already a very lengthy and deeply involved game, it provides even more of a chance to get lost in the world and commit to daily life. I find this title hard to put down, it does a superb job of drawing you into the world and lives of these characters.
- A host of added inclusions add to an already great title
- Quality of life improvements enhance the original experience
- Gorgeous graphics, art style, and intricate story
- If you have played Persona 5 before it will be up to how much you love the series to dive back in
- Has a slow start that holds your hand a fair bit before letting go
- Some conversations can be very drawn out and lengthy
So the ultimate question here is, should you play Persona 5 Royal if you are new to the series, and should you return if you have played the original?
If you are new to the series then I can highly recommend this version over the original, and there is no better time to get lost in the perfectly executed story and gameplay, there is a reason, after all, it received so much praise the first time around. Keeping in mind that this is a JRPG at its finest, so if you are not a fan of anime or Japanese games then you may be put off by the excessive dialogue, drawn-out conversations, and over-stylised gameplay.
If you are a returning fan than I can also wholeheartedly recommend getting this version, there is enough new content and improvements to warrant revisiting, especially if it has been a while since you last played it. I find this game hard to not recommend, and I think this is certainly one of those titles that will grab everyone in different ways. For me, it was the engrossing story that I couldn’t get enough of; I looked forward to each new interaction and the anime cutscenes never get old.