Persona 5 Royal review

Persona 5 Royal is now available on multiple platforms, including Nintendo Switch, Xbox and Steam. If you haven’t played Persona 5 Royal then now is the perfect time to do so. This is a massive, 100+ hours JPRG, however, it manges to maintain a great pace throughout, it’s always entertaining and probably available on your system of choice.

Originally released back in 2017, Persona 5 is a stylish adventure that manages to tackle big themes with it’s large cast of chaarcters. While the game isn’t perfect with some small gameplay issues and game length coming into question, those two things aside this is a great game, and one of the best JRPGs out there on the market. Persona 5 Royal introduces new content on the top of the already huge Persona 5, although you most likely won’t see that new content until you are roughly 100 hours into the game.

You play as a Japanese high school student, Joker, who has recently had to transfer to a new school because you have been accused of a crime. There’s plenty to do traveling to school, showing up to lessons on time and making friends, but also battle demons in the minds of evil adults, who look to make the student’s lives a misery. If you like anime, then you’ll probably like Persona 5 as it takes a very similar approach with it’s cutscenes and gameplay.

The opening of the game sets the tone and a very high bar for what is to come later. We start near the conclusion of the story, and sit through flashbacks with Jokey being interviewed by the cops. Joker’s had to move to Tokyo to live out a year of probation, under the watchful eye of a new parental guardian. On the face of it Persona 5 is about friendship, battling evil monsters in people’s minds, but it’s also about rebeliion, politics and social change.

Joker starts out at school alone, although it doesn’t take too long to collect a bunch of friends. Each friend discovers they have a similar power, the ability to enter a parrallel world known as the “Metaverse” and summon powers allies called Personas. The biggest change with Persona 5 related to the previosu games is the main cast embrace their abilities and persona’s rather than use them sparingly. Joker and his team take on the name The Phantom Thieves and enter the metaverse to ‘steal hearts’, meaning they can affect change in the real-wolrd versions of people they battle.

The Phantom Thieves want to make their school, and ultimately the world a better place by changing what they see as the evil adults. It’s an interesting commentary from the perspective of teenagers and how they view the world. Many of the adults in this game are awful people, and Joker and his crew want to make a positive change through their adventure in the metaverse.

Persona 5’s main story will bring you along for the ride, it’s fast-paced, filled with style and it’s a visual and audible feast for the eyes and ears. Persona 3 and 4 had excellent side quests and stories with a range of characters. That’s all here too in Persona 5, as the developer does an excellent job in fleshing out the world throughout your adventure. Characters are complex; they drink too much, they show their desperation and they are into politics. It’s more than your standard run of the mill video game.

Turn-based battles are the main combat mechanic, but you’ll get bonuses and other benefits by leveling up your relationships with friends and contacts in the game. They are called confidants in the game, and improving your relationship with the confidants allows you to unlock bonuses that improve your turn-based battles. For example, one confident will unlock the ability to swap in and out party members during battle, while others buff your heath and skill points.

Persona is a product of Shin Megami Tensei, which has a reputation for difficulty in the RPG space. Persona 5 builds on this and isn’t a walk in the park either. However, Atlus have added difficulty options so you can play through on easy, medium and hard modes. If you’re finding things too tricky, then just bump down the difficulty levels to help you get through the game. I think we’re long past times where people judge on that, or at least we should be! There is another mode too called ‘safety’. In this mode enemies are much easier and provide more rewards for beating them including gold and experience points. If you die in combat you can immediately come back without losing progress. This is great if you simply want to enjoy the story in Persona 5.

Dungeons are one of the biggest highlight in Persona 5. They are no longer randomised, each palace is specifically designed and has a series of challenges that include puzzles and combat. It used to be a chore to get through Dungeons in Persona 3 and 4, but they have vastly improved that experience here in Persona 5, they are now a joy to play through. The old randomised dungeons do still kind of exist as an option. You can’t return to the main story dungeons once they have been complete, so if you want to grind them you can do in Mementos. This is a space to search for loot and complete side missions, including side missions you get sent on by your confidants to increase your rep with them.

The battle system is good fun, it’s big and bombastic, which is good given you’ll be doing a lot of it in the 100 hour plus game. Combat is faster than it’s been before, plus you always have the fast forward button if you find it going on for too long. Combat just looks great, especially given it’s a turn based RPG. The animations and style are there for all to see and when you pull off a full team combo to smash your opponent there’s almost nothing more satisfying than that.

Royal introduces a couple of new confidants including gymnast Kasumi and counselor Takuto. Kasumi is a playable party member, although you can’t access her until the third semester. Takuto is introduced a little earlier just after the first dungeon in the game, you can visit the counselor to meet them. While your visits are optional, your party members will go, and it’s an interesting insight into other players mental health throughout the game, plus another tricky topic that Persona 5 manages to execute very well. There’s an additional ploit in the third term, plus a new palace and final boss, all fit in great into Persona 5. The story is similar to what has come before, however, if you are a fan of Persona 5, then simply spending more time in the world is going to be a treat.

Atlus have imporved other parts of the game including the moment-to-moment gameplay. Previously scenes that didn’t have voice acting are now fully voice acted, confidants call you to hang out, helping you raise your rank with them faster. There are quality of life improvements too including improvements to dungeons like automatic reloading after encounters, which makes combat much smoother, faster and more fun.

Overall, Persona 5 is a huge game, full of great characters, fantastic music and stylish action. Everything feels well designed from the UI, characters and environments. It’s a massive game, 120 hours plus, so get settled in for weeks and potentially months of gameplay. Persona 5 Royal is now available on nearly all platforms, and its oerfect to play in short bursts on the Steam Deck, or for long stints on Xbox Game Pass.

Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5/4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox Cloud Gaming, PC
Release Date: 31 October 2019