Persona 5 Royal is ready to go on PlayStation 4! Find out why this is a must-have JRPG in our Persona 5 Royal review!
Don the mask of Joker and join the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. Break free from the chains of modern society and stage grand heists to infiltrate the minds of the corrupt and make them change their ways!
Explore Tokyo, unlock new Personas, customize your own personal Thieves Den, discover a never-before-seen story arc, cutscenes, alternate endings, and more!
Persona 5 Royal from Atlus and Sega is the enhanced version of Persona 5, presented in a similar fashion as to what was done previously with Persona 4: Golden (my top game on the PlayStation Vita), as well as with another entry in the series: Persona 3: FES.
Before diving any further into this review, do take note that I played and reviewed Persona 5 when it released back in 2017. I fell in love with the setting and finished it after playing for well over 100 hours. Persona 5 is a massive game featuring amazing story development, and the Royal edition features even more content!
Persona 5 is equal parts a JRPG and a life simulator. The game places you in the role of a high school student who has been falsely accused of a crime he didn’ commit. This lead to your character being expelled from the campus to Shujin Academy, where the game begins. Of course, as you begin your new life there, everyone quickly becomes aware of your past, and are, therefore, rude to you. This sounds like a bad start for a new life, but stumbling upon a strange app on his phone will change your character’s destiny.
The main gameplay of Persona 5 is divided into two major parts. The first one is how during the day, as you’re trying your best to be an honors student at school. This is done by studying hard, answering right during the various classes, and doing well in the mid-terms exams. This is also done by socializing with your confidants – basically friends – and helping them on their various issues. Managing to grow closer to confidants nets direct perks both inside as well as outside the dungeons.
The second part of Persona 5 Royal takes place at night when the main character and his team eventually create the Phantom Thieves, an organization composed of high school students with the goal of changing the corrupted adults’ hearts. The main process is by entering through the Meta-verse – the cognitive counterpart of the current world – and going through their palaces – their dungeon – to ultimately steal their most prized object – their treasures.
One of the many things that set the Persona Franchise apart from other games is how it is built on a set calendar. Every moment spent in the game is done on a specific date and period (morning, after school, evening). The game begins on April 10th (which is the date for the Japanese new school year) and ends near the end of the year. You’ll play through every day, and some periods will have set events taking place (spring break, exams, palaces’ deadlines), but most days are free to you to use as you wish.
And this is where Persona 5 became my obsession. As soon as I got some freedom after the first few game days, I noticed there were a ton of things that could be done in each period. At work, I was thinking about how I could optimize my free time in order to be the most efficient possible. The game also offers you some extra help if you have an online connection. By using network functionality, you can press the touchpad on the DualShock controller in order to display what other gamers did at a specific period of time on that specific day. This can give you some valuable insight on what to do, and you might end up taking the steps required for unlocking a confidant you didn’t yet know about. I already mentioned it, but let me reiterate: Persona 5 is a massive game featuring a ton of side activities to keep your main character busy, and you’re never forced to do anything unless you respect the palaces’ deadlines, which is usually set at around 20 game days. Missing the deadline leads to a Game Over, so it’s definitively something you want to avoid!
As for the palaces, this is where most of the JRPG elements of the game will take effect. If you’ve played Persona 4 and its randomized dungeons in which every floor looks the same, you’ll be amazed by how much care went into Persona 5 Royal’s palaces layout. Each palace is special and has sub-events relative to the palace’s theme – which is created by the distortion of the corrupted adult the crew is trying to cure. The palaces are also massive, and they require a LOT of time to get through, usually around 6-8 real-life hours of running and fighting. Defeating the boss of each palace could also have an effect on its real-life counterpart, but you’ll have to play in order to learn more about this!
As for the battles, the fast-paced turn-based battle system for Persona 5 Royal is one of the finest available on the PlayStation 4 library. Each character has a Persona of a specific element (fire, ice, wind, etc.) and attacking an enemy with its elemental weakness, thus stunning the enemy, gives your team the opportunity of acting a second time, or Passing the Baton to another character, which strengthens their attacks. If you can manage to stun all the enemies in a battle, you’ll have the choice of either making an all-out attack, which will probably end the fight or trying to recruit one of the enemies to become one of your Personas. Fighting in the cognitive world raises your RPG stats, such as strength, defense, and so on.
Outside of palaces, you’ll be working hard to try and become a model student. One of the main aspects required for doing this is raising his stats for things such as kindness, knowledge, proficiency, charm, and guts. Each stat has an effect. For instance, you need more guts to talk to some people in the game, and knowledge is required to perform well in the exams because even if you have all the rigth answers in an exam week, your final score is still dependent on said stat’s level.
Not every corrupted individual gets a palace in Persona 5. Smaller offenders will get their dark version cast in the Memento – the common public cognitive space – and, as you progress through the game and grow closer with confidants, people needing to be saved will start to appear there. The Memento is a strange place, and you even get a very strange vehicle to move down there. This huge dungeon opens up as the main story palaces are cleared.
One of the best elements of Persona 5 is its eye-catching presentation, which makes it one of the most stylish games in the entire PlayStation 4 library. The art style is superb, and it never ceased to amaze as I progressed further in the story. The voice acting is also top-notch, and the soundtrack is truly amazing and stays in your head long after a gaming session is over.
Persona 5 Royal Enhancements
Now that we’ve covered the original Persona 5 release, let’s talk about the Royal enhancements. As you begin your new run, you are offered a new intro cutscene and a new theme song. There’s also the option of having Persona 5 Royal check for a save data file for the original Persona 5 so that you can be rewarded with some items and money to get you started.
A new grapple mechanic is also introduced early in the opening sequence, and new zones are available in each of the palaces using this new tool. The grapple tool allows you to reach whole new segments in the palaces, which also include new collectibles that also recovers a bit of your SP during the long palaces runs.
Persona 5 Royal also includes a third school period, extending the game to a full school year and adding extra hours of new content to enjoy. There is also a new confidant: Takuto Maruki, a school counselor, and a new phantom thief named Kasumi Yoshizawa, who often appears in the game, but joins your group until later.
As for the battles, there are now random occurring sparkling versions of enemies you’ve already fought before, which are now disaster shadows. Getting rid of these will first net you a bonus item, and this will also make them explode, damaging the other enemies on the battlefield!
Finally, there’s a whole new Thieves Den which allows you to purchase signature items or Personas from the game and displays them there. It also includes a new in-game achievement system, as well as an easy card game called Tycoon in which you can play against the other party members.
The trophy list is also different from that for Persona 5. As was the case initially for Persona 5, most of the trophies are hidden to keep them from spoiling upcoming events in the game. On top of this, there are also new trophies awarded for using the new Persona 5 Royal features. It’s a robust list that will keep you busy for dozens of hours if you want to add a new Platinum to your collection!
Persona 5 Royal enhances what was already the best JRPG for the PlayStation 4. With an amazing story, excellent art style, great soundtrack, solid voice acting, and a very fun turn-based battle system, there is a lot to love about this one! The only bad news is that if you already own Persona 5, there is no option for buying the updated version and getting its content as DLC for Persona 5, but this was to be expected since we do have the examples of Persona 3: FES and Persona 4: Golden before it.
PSN Price: $59.99
PSN Game size: 37.7GB
This Persona 5 Royal review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by Atlus.