Persona 5 was one of the best, if not the best, JRPGs to be released this generation. Much like its predecessors in Persona 3 and 4, Persona 5 ended up getting more love in the form of Persona 5 Royal, and it made a great (and very long) game even better (and longer).
What Is It?
Persona 5 Royal is a souped up version of the game originally released on the PS3 and PS4 in 2017. Royal adds a new party member and two more confidants for the main character to forge pacts with to further enhance the party’s abilities during the games lengthy and involved dungeon crawling sequences.
Much in the vein of Persona 4 Golden, Persona 5 Royal is Persona 5 with a whole lot more–almost 20 hours more. For the most part, the story is relatively unchanged. You still primarily play as the protagonist Ren Amamiya who is sent away to live and go to school in Tokyo for a probationary period after an alleged assault charge. During this time, you’ll come across friends who have their own deep issues, and you eventually form a ragtag group of vigilantes known as the Phantom Thieves of Hearts in an attempt to improve society with the help of their powerful Persona partners.
Why Should I Care?
If this is your first foray into Persona 5, or Persona at all, the main thing to note is that while it has more than its fair share of dungeon crawling with turn-based fights, it’s not your typical JRPG. (You can find my review of the original Persona 5 here.) Persona is less about exploring new towns and sleeping at inns, and more about juggling the various responsibilities you’ll have as a student and as the leader of the Phantom Thieves.
When you’re not scaling the game’s excellent palaces, you’ll be going to school every day, taking tests, and deciding which friends you want to hang out with all while making sure that you’re studying, working part-time, and doing all the things expected out of a 15-or-16-year-old high school student.
In fact, the hardest thing about the game is making choices. Whether it’s hanging out with anyone of the many friends you’ll make, studying, going to the movies, having a burger, or even doing some classic RPG grinding, everything you do in the game takes time, and you’ll eventually find your character going to sleep and progressing to the next day. There’s a wealth of things to do in the game, and the reality is there’s simply no time for it all. In fact, if you spend too much time socializing (and that’s really easy to do), you might lose track of time and be unable to complete dungeons before their deadlines.
As stated, Persona 5 Royal adds newcomers in Kasumi Yoshizawa, Dr. Takuto Maruki, and Chihaya Mifune and with all of them come new scenarios for the plot as well as advantages when building up your social links with these characters. Of these three new faces, Kasumi is a playable character with a Persona that focuses on Holy attacks; Dr. Maruki plays the role of a dreamy high school guidance counselor obsessed with snacks, and interacting with him gives each of your characters more of a background as to how they’re feeling as the events in the story take shape as well as the ability to charge up your characters before battle; Mifune is a fortune teller, and developing her social links actually makes it easier to develop your relationships with other characters in the game which should give you even greater flexibility to make your “real life” choices as far as what to make Ren/Joker do with his offtime. You might even want to spend some more time with ace detective Goro Akechi… and if you’re wondering, yes, you can totally romance Kasumi and Chihaya.
We don’t want to go into too much detail about it, but like Persona 4 Golden before it, players are encouraged to focus on raising the social links of the new characters in order to see all the new content. Persona 5 Royal, when played in this way, adds over 20 hours of new content and a new “true” ending, so whether you’ve experienced Persona 5 or not — focusing on your friendships with these new characters is vital for the true ending (and the true ending is fantastic). That said, the original Persona 5 had a heck of an ending too, so if this is your first time, I’d really implore you to play however you want–of course, seeing as how it’ll take at least 100 hours to finish it will probably make you think otherwise.
For those that have already played through the original and wonder if there’s anything else new to go along with the new arc and ending, it’s worth noting that aside from one painstakingly difficult boss, Persona 5 Royal made some slight changes that go a long way when it comes to keeping the experience fresh.
As far as battles go, new features to the Baton Pass makes it easier to unleash an onslaught of combos on enemies while the addition of Kyouma enemies adds another wrinkle of strategy to non-boss battles due to the fact that while they’re stronger, defeating them causes to them explode and do massive damage to other enemies surrounding them, and the loot is better too.
The game’s dungeons have also been remixed a bit to take advantage of Joker’s grappling hook. Utilizing it will cause Joker and the gang to reach areas they otherwise didn’t have access to, which can allow them to sometimes get through the Palaces faster or come across the new Will Seeds, powerful gear that you can equip to anybody in your party to buff them up even more.
Mementos has seen its share of change too. Now each part of the map is lined with flowers that you can collect and give to a little boy named Jose (pronounced Joe-zay) in exchange for various items including items that’ll replenish MP, which is pretty much all you really need while dungeon crawling to begin with. You’ll also find star pieces in Mementos’ many floors that you can exchange to have Jose change up the amount of experience you get from each Mementos battle to make grinding easier, among many other things.
As far as grinding goes, assuming you have a full grasp of the game’s turn-based battle system, you won’t ever have to do it, especially if you aren’t purposely avoiding enemies–which I’ll admit to doing a little bit in the game’s final palace. I do want to talk about how cheap the Big Bang Burger Boss is though–Okumura took me over seven tries to beat, and I only did it after putting the game on its hardest difficulty because critical attacks at the opponent’s weakness do more damage for whatever reason (and they also do more damage to your party). Okumura aside, the battles are as fun and stylistic as ever.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t even the least bit wary of the fact that I’d have to play through another 100 hours of Persona 5 to really enjoy Persona 5 Royal, but at the end of the day, I’m glad I did.
I hate to beat a dead horse, but again, Persona 5 was the most fun I’ve had with any RPG this generation, so it was an absolute pleasure doing it a second time and seeing all the new stuff they had to show. Persona 5 Royal takes everything about the original release, and improves literally every part about it. If I were to nitpick, it would be the fact that you absolutely have to interact with the new characters in addition to having the new stuff come in a little later in the story (and that’s asking a lot from a game that’s already over 100 hours long), but I have no solutions as to how to fix that. A DLC probably wouldn’t have worked because then you’d have to re-learn the game anyway, and Royal is so well-paced that you don’t even really have to think about any of that.