There is something wrong with this world. You can sense it too, can’t you? The tendrils of corruption have crept into every crevice of society. Those in a position to help others, facilitate themselves. The influencers who lead us, have us follow into corruption, not into prosperity. Our role models are painted with golden brushes and take advantage of the ignorant masses. The ones who teach us, guide us, and prepare us for adulthood, steal us of our innocence and youth. The people of this world are blinded by their unbreakable faith, their misguided trust, and their inexorably monotonous way of living. In Persona 5 Royal, you will assemble your team of phantom thieves and dive back into the world of Persona 5.
A fleshed-out experience, a new integral character, new traversal and ambush mechanics, new areas with new activities, new confidants and an extended story all awaits within. You will take on the monumental task of delving into another realm, born from the sub-consciousness of the corrupt and bring their reality crashing down around them. These private mind palaces are shaped by the owners’ own distorted view of the real world and the society around them. It is your determination that will see the collective consciousness of society pure again. Are you ready for such a feat?
Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal…
Royal is not just simply the vanilla game with the DLC thrown into the mix, as most game re-releases tend to be. Nor is it simply an HD upscale, remaster or remake. P5R is basically that Christmas present you were super proud of yourself for wrapping perfectly. With the ribbon and the confetti and the bows and the glitter and the tag with the sculpted calligraphy on it to show that extra bit of love and care. You know. That one where you stand up, rest your hands on your hips and smile to yourself, only to turn around and realise that you have only wrapped the box, and forgot to place the actual gift inside. Persona 5 is by no means a small or unfinished product though. You should check it out if P5R seems too long for you or you are a little short on pennies.
You would be forgiven if you have been trying to determine what genre this is. Because in all honesty, my combined P5 and P5R gameplay is over 270 hours, and I struggle to define it. It is such a perfect harmony of turn-based JRPG, student living and dating simulation, multiple-choice questionnaire, time management integrated character progression, friendship development type, game, thing. It is unfair to label the game as anything other than a genre unto itself.
Time is always in motion in the world of persona, but the bulk of your time will be spent in the metaverse. This is where your team dons their masquerade masks, latex outfits, and fluffy tails. Get your filthy mind out of the gutter! Each team member has their own uniquely designed persona that grants them their abilities in battle.
Once a character awakens to their inner persona, they are re-clothed by their sub-conscious’ interpretations on what a ‘rebel’ looks like and are now able to take on the shadows of the metaverse. I appreciate that this seems farfetched, and I completely agree. But if you got the tingles when Goku went Super Saiyan for the first time then you will easily throw logic aside and enjoy these awakenings. If you do not understand this reference and you are reading a review for a battle heavy, anime-styled JRPG, then shame on you sir/madam. Shame on you!
Your objective is to find the most corrupt individuals, infiltrate their cognitive palace and steal their ‘treasure’. Your team are not called the ‘phantom thieves’ for nothing after all. After their treasure is stolen from their subconsciousness, they will retract from their misguided ways of thinking and see the injustice they have tendered in the real world.
The main character is a wildcard and as well as having his own unique persona, can capture any persona you fight and equip several of them at a time. Depending on which ones you have equipped, determines your abilities in battle. This makes choosing the right ones essential when visiting different palaces or momentos (another part of the metaverse). So, collecting as many personas as you can play a crucial role in your character’s development. Do not worry, you can make them stronger by throwing two of them into a guillotine to create an even stronger persona. Or strap them to an electric chair and shock them into new equipment. Or lock them up to force them to train to get stronger. For all Pokémon trainers: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.
Time for a quick JRPG checklist:
- Teammates deal different types of damage. Check.
- One teammate is an aggro-type, loveable idiot. Check.
- The main character has a nonsensical unique ability. Check.
- Every female, for one reason or other swoons for the main character. Check
- The game features an obviously coming villain redemption arc. Check.
- Team has a cute mascot in the form of a talking cat that is knowledgeable about the metaverse and serves as the games guiding hand whilst multi-tasking as both the team’s healer and turns into a van for metaverse transportation. Check. Wait. What?!...
Keep a note of these for later!
The Real World…
The interesting way in which you make teammates more adaptive and useful in battle however is not just from levelling them up from fighting enemies. You must build social bonds with them back in the real world. Doing activities that they enjoy, answering their questions favourably and giving them gifts they like will boost your confidant rating with them. This unlocks passive abilities that really help you out in battle. There are 23 confidants to spend time with (including teammates), each having their own set of abilities that you can unlock.
There are also many activities in P5R that I did not even get a chance to try them all. And I sunk 160 hours into the game. Eating burgers, watching movies, getting your fortune read, batting cages, the gym, reading books etc. All of which sounds SO boring, but each activity goes towards increasing one stat or another, which in turn goes toward progressing confidants’ opinion of you, which in turn unlocks more passive abilities that trigger in the metaverse.
So, having a good range of personas and teammates is sorted. Determining which confidants to spend time with is sorted. But what about yourself? Oh, you think because you are the main character that you can get by on your roguish looks and natural charisma? Do not compare yourself to seasoned protagonists the likes of Cloud Strife. You are a teenager!
You need to work on your social skills as well as your shadow smacking skills. And do not forget to study for those exams coming up! (Not a joke). You must work on your knowledge, guts, proficiency, kindness, and charm to get the best out of activities, companions, and confidants. Need to finish the Big Bang’s mega burger to increase your guts? You will need to increase your proficiency first. Need to get a confidant to rank 4 to unlock a passive skill you need? Maybe you need your kindness at a higher level before they notice you. Want to develop a social connection with the illustriously gothic local doctor, and try and romance her? You are going to need level two courage and level four charm.
There are ten possible romances to choose between. Or go down the harem route and romance everyone, but be warned, unlike other games, there will be consequences. Consequences that are irreversible. Not that I found that out the hard way or anything. Cough. Moving on…
That was certainly a lot to cover. But there is one more major gameplay aspect I need to make you aware of. You may have noticed (if you were paying attention) me mentioning time being in constant motion. Like it is true for all of us, the passing of time cannot be escaped. No matter how many ‘age-reversing’ creams you slather on yourself. Time in P5R is constantly ticking away. Every activity you do in the game progresses the time and you can only get in one or two activities a day. And yes, if you fail to hit palace deadlines, it is game over boyo!
Maybe you should not have spent all that time working on your charm to romance the gothic doctor after all. Do not let this discourage you though, it is masterfully implemented and makes everyday tasks part of your internal strategy meeting. No matter how you spend your time, you always benefit in some way, so you never feel as though the time is wasted.
If you are a fan of anime, then you will adore every visual in this game. Playing through it was an absolute feast for the eyes. Plenty of fully animated cutscenes spring up often, giving you a visual treat for your hard work and long play hours. Every character has been designed to look distinct, but to still look natural. The palaces are all vastly different from each other and you can tell that a lot of love and care went into crafting the world and locations you will visit. From environmental designs to comedic anime tropes, to the team members’ personas and metaverse outfits, everything just looks stunning. If you enjoy the art style as much as I do, then there is a Persona 5 anime you can check out and even a dancing game. If that is more your jam.
A simple review for this game does not do it justice. This game manages to cram such a lot into what first appears to be a simple game. So much content that this review could easily be three times longer. I first picked this game up because I was intrigued by the story, and it delivered, far past my expectations. Despite not being a fan of turn-based combat, or linear narrative, or (mostly) linear exploration, P5R quickly became one of my favourite games of all time.
I would be remiss in mentioning why this game is not for everyone though. Besides the obvious things like the length of playtime, not great for trophy hunters, the anime style etc. There are some very heavy and emotionally sensitive storylines in this game that really are not for the faint-hearted. The game has you target a host of different kinds of evil, nasty, predatory, and downright disgusting people. It is what makes the story so compelling, as you are enacting justice on those who commit terrible wrongs, but there will be people who will be sensitive to this.
For a game that is so open with its romance options, you can only romance female characters. The game has also received some criticism over the fact the only gay characters come across as more of a badly written joke. However, if you can see past these small issues, then you will find a little flaw with the game.
Persona 5 Royal promised an overhaul of the original game. And it took everyone’s expectations and blew them out the water, over the park, into the sky and straight off onto an orbital course to the deep depths of space. This game is superb. It is highly worthy of all the awards and praises it has received along the years. Of course, mainly owed to the talking cat.