Persona 5 Royal

released on Oct 31, 2019

An expanded game of Persona 5

An enhanced version of Persona 5 with some new characters and a third semester added to the game. Released Internationally in 2020.

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This review contains spoilers

I’m just gonna start this review raw and hit you with the cold water right away: Persona 5 Royal is one of my favorite games of all time! I’d say it’s tied with Bloodborne as my 3rd favorite game of all time (Subject to change). The absolutely incredible journey that this game has taken me through after my 100+ hours of playtime has had me on a rollercoaster of emotions and I’m so glad I got to experience it blind. As someone who prior to this had only known of Persona from greatest JRPG lists and Joker being in Smash, I’m happy to say that the hype was not only met, but exceeded in every way with Persona 5. So I’ll be going over every aspect and just gushing about almost all of it. WARNING!!! this review will cover all of P5R’s story, so you have been warned when it comes to spoilers, continue reading at your own risk.
First, the style and presentation of this game is honestly on a whole other level! The way everything looks has such a unique visual flair that’s both stylish while also being sleek and easy to navigate. Everything from the HUD to the UI has such an incredible style to it that makes even just simple stuff like just navigating the menus fun to do. It’s such a visual treat to look at. This is the type of menu and interface design I wish we had with more modern games today. Give us more shit like what you get in Persona 5, it strikes the perfect balance of being stylish while still being easy to understand and navigate. Without question the presentation is one of the best aspects of the game, but not because of its fidelity but for how much it stands out amongst the crowd.
Next, I’ll talk about the gameplay. Now Persona 5’s gameplay is of course split into two main halves, the high school daily life social sim aspect, and dungeon crawling turn based combat half. To start, the social sim aspect ended up being much more engaging and enjoyable then I thought it would be going into this game. I loved how participating and improving your social status led you to constantly being rewarded in game. By advancing confidants with you party members and the many other characters you’ll come to meet on your journey, you end up learning new skills and techniques that can come extremely handy in battle, one example of such is how by advancing the confidant with Shogi player Hifumi Togo, you gain the ability early in her path to swap out party members in the middle of battle on Joker’s turn, which can be extremely useful during boss fights or tougher battles. On top of that, you get to experience each character’s development and form bonds with them that does an excellent job of fleshing them all out and building the world of Persona 5. By the end of their confidants you really feel a connection to each person you meet and really feel as though you’ve left a positive impact on their life, it makes you care about them that much more as a result which I feel is so brilliant. Then there’s the second half of P5’s gameplay, the dungeon crawling aspect. When it comes to the combat, Persona 5 may have one of my favorite turn-based battle systems out there with the 1 More system. In combat you have a multitude of options that adds so much depth to it, not counting what stuff the 1 More system and Baton Pass mechanics add, but I’m getting ahead of myself. In battle you can choose to do a melee attack, guard, use an item, utilize a skill from you and your party’s personas, or use your guns to shoot enemies. Battles mainly consist of you figuring out how enemies react to different types of damage to figure out and exploit their weaknesses. If you manage to either hit an enemy with a damage type that they’re weak to, or if you land a critical hit, you’ll gain a 1 More, or an extra turn. However, there’s also the Baton Pass mechanic, where you can choose to pass your 1 More to another party member. The amount of options these mechanics allow in battle makes Persona 5’s combat some of the best out of any JRPG in my opinion. You can do what’s mostly encouraged by the game and try and form a chain of Baton Passes between your party members that can result in you dealing monstrous amount of damage if you complete a full change. Or you could use your 1 more to pass to another party member who can then apply buffs and debuffs for you before resuming normal turns, it adds so much choice and depth to combat which I loved! On top of that, these mechanics often made it to where for a turn based game, combat hardly felt as though it was turn based which was very surprising and made it super enjoyable even as someone who loves turn based combat. Then you have the Palace’s which I absolutely loved when it came to their level design, overall most of them Cough Cough Okumura’s Palace Cough Cough were very fun to explore and infiltrate. The puzzles within were also enjoyable to solve and were well designed in my opinion to where they required me to use my brainpower a bit, but weren’t mindlessly easy or too difficult to where I was looking up the solution for the most part. I also loved how each palace had a unique theme to them that made them each very unique and enjoyable to experience. One issue I had though when it came to the main Palace’s was it bothered me how you could instantly warp directly to the treasure since there’d be a safe room directly outside of the treasure’s location. I mentioned this early on in my playthrough when I noticed you could do so during Kamoshida’s palace. It especially bothered me since during infiltration you’ll find various shortcuts that I assumed the game wanted you to use later to get to the treasure faster, so I found it odd that you could just instantly warp straight to the treasure, it’d make more sense to allow you to do so on repeat playthroughs and such, but outside of that it just sounds like an odd choice from a game design perspective. I think an easy way they could’ve solved this problem would be that sending the calling card would disable the safe rooms so that you’d have to find them again when you went to steal the treasure. Now finally for gameplay, I’ll talk about the Boss Battles, and my god this games boss fights were so good, especially the last couple boss fights may me some of my favorite JRPG boss fights ever! I loved each how each boss had a unique gimmick to their fight that made them all very engaging and for the most part had me very hyped and engaged throughout Cough Cough again Okumura’s fight can fuck off forever Cough Cough. My favorite fight is tough to say but a couple of them would be Sae’s Boss Fight, The final fight against Yaldabaoth, and Maruki’s fight were just so incredible!
Actually I’m gonna go ahead and rant for a little bit because oh my god Okumura’s boss fight was actually fucking miserable. I have a love-hate relationship with this fight because on paper it had potential to be a very good fight, but the execution made this by far the hardest fight in the game for no fucking reason. I managed to beat both Yaldabaoth and Maruki on my first try on Normal difficulty, and even after swapping the difficulty to Merciless on Okumura’s fight to get those damage multipliers it still took me seven tries to beat him. I did like how the fight tests you on stuff you’ve been using up to that point in the game like weaknesses and utilizing Baton Passes, but the biggest sin in this fight is the fact you can’t use All-Out Attacks AT ALL during this fight even though you could in other
fights like with the fight against Wakaba. I wouldn’t even be that mad if the way gabe you a REASON for taking away all-out attacks during this fight. But I genuinely think this fight would be much better if you could do so. This fight is also just such a slog to get through, so when you beat Okumura you’re not satisfied and happy that you beat him, you’re just relieved you won’t have to do that godforsaken fight ever again, but yeah fuck Okumura’s fight.
Next, there’s the story and characters. Dear god this game’s story is absolutely fucking incredible. I don’t think it’s perfect, but damnit there are few games who’s stories had me as invested and blown away like with this game. There isn’t a single character in this game that I didn’t like or end up growing attached to over time. Dr. Maruki and Akechi are up there now as two of my favorite antagonists ever in my opinion, especially the latter. The twists where you find out his true motivations, only to then learn that the Thieves knew about his betrayal the entire game had my jaw on the floor in awe, it may honestly be tied with “Would You Kindly” as one of my favorite plot twists ever. I’d honestly say my only complaint when it comes to the story is Haru and how she’s done so dirty considering how fucking MORGANA gets more attention than her in her own fucking arc!! I don’t even dislike Morgana but her story interested me much more than his during that arc, like why is his cat ass getting to do the monologue against Okumura when it should be her since her whole arc is learning to stand up for herself and claim her own independence, but she only really gets development in her confidant which is just such a shame, because outside of that she just…exists in the main story. However I still liked her like all of the characters as I spent time with them as part of their confidants with my favorites by far being Ann, Kasumi, Futaba, Akechi, and Yusuke…the times where I was crying after hearing a character’s backstory was numerous and I loved it. I especially connected to Futaba’s story immensely due to being in a similar state of mind, with different circumstances though to clarify, but it still was probably the story that resonated with me the most. The storytelling throughout Persona 5 was also just top notch. I loved how the majority of the story was recounting the events leading up to the present situation, thought one small issue I had with it was I didn’t like how it would just immediately reveal the villain of each arc right from the get go, I think it would’ve been better if they kept the villains a mystery until after the Thieves chose to target them. It kind of takes away from the moments when the Thieves would choose their targets because you already know who it is, again I think Futaba’s arc stands out since you think you’re targeting the head of Medjed, but instead you’re targeting someone completely different and I wish each of the target reveals played out similarly. It’s not a massive complaint but it is something that bothered me.
Finally, I wanted to talk about the soundtrack, because Persona 5’s soundtrack may be one of my all-time favorites! I know I’m repeating myself a lot but I have no other good way to say it, everything from the atmospheric tracks to the battle music to the boss themes are just so goddamn good! So many tracks have been stuck in my head for weeks now like Wake Up Get Up Get Out There, Life Will Change, Beneath The Mask, and The Whims Of Fate. And HOLY SHIT Rivers In The Desert is one of the best boss themes I’ve ever heard, gave me actual goosebumps when I first heard it in game! Shoji Meguro is one of my new favorite composers when it comes to game soundtracks and I can’t wait to experience his other work in Persona 3 and 4.
To conclude, Persona 5 is without question one of the greatest JRPGs ever and one of the greatest video games I’ve ever played! It’s incredibly fun and engaging gameplay both in managing the daily life of a high school student, and in the dungeon crawling turn-based combat is some of the best out of any JRPG I’ve played. It’s story and characters are super well written, with emotional highs and lows, and with one of the best twists I’ve ever experienced, and the presentation is some of the best I’ve seen in any game ever. My experience playing this game over the course of this month has honestly been the most rewarding, engaging, and memorable gaming experiences I’ve had since when I first played Elden Ring. I’m so glad I got to experience this game for the first time finally. Persona 5 is an absolute masterpiece even if it has some flaws, so with that my final rating for Persona 5 is: 10/10!

Fantastic Story, Characters and Soundtrack.
Worth the 100+ Hours spent

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This review contains spoilers

persona 5 royal is a game that has some interesting points to make and takes full advantage of the structure and tropes established in modern persona to convey them. while on one hand the extreme amounts of bloat and padding based on the calendar system causes frustration, on the other you see a game deeply concerned with the status quo of japanese politics and the collective complacency seen in the country towards injustice. the message couldn't be more overt -- whether it's the off-kilter, rebellious art deco style of the entire game or the haywire urban setting, p5r presents itself as more subversive and less clean than its predecessors.
i think most of my gripes with this game are because of how inconsistent and lopsided it can be. the gameplay is a little snappier and more engaging in some ways to all of its predecessors, with classic demon negotiation brought back from the older megaten games, but the game simply isn't designed well around its own battle system. often times, bosses resort to DPS sponges or gimmicks that aren't particularly difficult, but just annoying. like in most megaten games, the hard mode isn't particularly well-balanced, and demands a certain level of grinding in order to not get cheesed by the occasional unavoidable instakill.
palaces are an upgrade from the TV world in that there's some semblance of an engaging hand-crafted dungeon, but even the best dungeons in the game (sae, maruki) have a tendency to just drag on for way too long. factor in the frustrating amount of filler dialogue explaining the obvious and you have dungeons that feel a lot more draining and a lot less consise than past persona games.
p5 also suffers in general from the same problem that 4 does: important moments in characters' growth are sidelined to optional social link development. if you end up missing a couple ranks in some of your party members, their inclusion in the cast can feel really hollow. in a game that's less character-focused than, say, persona 2 or 4, you often feel like one of your cast members you neglected to rank 10 feels half-baked and unappealing.
the new royal story additions are great. maruki and sumi are solid additions, but they suffer from being part of a very solid arc attached to a game that already hit its climax and raised its (albeit underwhelming) stakes already with the original final boss.
to get back to my main point, persona 5 royal has a gargantuan runtime but doesn't use it particularly well. rather than it being a substantial 100+ hours, it feels like you've been exposed to around 20 ignoring all of the padding. in the future, atlus should look at past games and consider slimming down their future output. i think it's unreasonable to expect them to abandon best selling traits of the series nowadays like its calendar system, but a hypothetical persona 6 needs to be more aware of how it's pacing itself.