Title: Persona 5 Royal
Genre: JRPG, Adventure
Audience: PEGI 16
Release Date: 31/03/2020
Price: £49.99 – Rapid Reviews UK were very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
Like many modern JRPG fans, I was blown away by Persona 5. So much so that it found its way into my top five games of all time. A critical hit, a sales success. You know the rest of that story and, if you don’t, well, there’s no better time to get acquainted.
Let me reason with you; the purpose of this review, in the main, is to explore the differences between Atlus’ original masterpiece and this enhanced rerelease. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to use it as an excuse to tell you exactly why I believe Persona 5 is one of the best JRPGs ever created. The Phantom Thieves stole my heart and here’s why.
The UI. No, seriously. Do not understate the effectiveness of a snappy, intelligent user interface.
Alright, so the stylish soundtrack, gloriously fast-paced spin on the usual Shin Megami Tensei battle system, deep character development, hard-hitting storyline, more mature themes, beautifully imaginative dungeons and improvements to the Persona series’ trademark social link systems helped too.
Now on to (presumably the reason you’re here) the new stuff.
Have we seen this before?
In opening scenes you’ll find new party member Kasumi Yoshizawa firmly shoehorned into Joker’s failed escape, with a typically stylish fight scene. Shortly after, returning players will immediately know what they’re in for with the game’s number one sicko, Kamoshida and his creepy opening palace. Fortunately, it’s not long before Kasumi’s properly introduced as a confidant and has a very interesting and active role in the game, all without actually being a member of the troupe.
One you reach the end game there’s an additional school semester. I hope you like tests because your studies get stretched. Of course, in having a more involved school-life, you’re also given the gift of time, perfect for raising social statistics and removing obstacles to you maxing out your favourite confidant relationships. In fact, spare time in general is extended throughout the game which really eases the pressure.
In terms of combat, aside from new Personas for Joker to collect, there are additional specials attacks that gradually unlock as you progress through the story. These ‘Showtime Attacks’ offer some excellent mid-battles skits between two characters and have far more visual appeal than the all-out attacks. One of my personal favourites is the unusual exchange between Ryuji and Makoto involving a Fist of the North Star style punching flurry and can of grape soda. Enough said.
Battles flow a touch more freely with all characters gaining the baton passability (the ability to pass your turn in battle to another character) without the usual confidant levelling requirement. Instead, the baton pass can be ranked up by hanging out with party members in Kichijoji granting powerful boosts in recovery and damage. Guns now reload after every separate encounter, giving further tactical options. Don’t relax yet though as it’s not all convenient. All bosses have been buffed with new phases, making some of the game’s tougher battles even tougher.
All palaces have three new collectables which are found by making use of Joker’s slick grappling hook skills, opening up some new areas within familiar territory. There’s a decent incentive, too. Your bounty can be exchanged for stat-boosting accessories outside the Metaverse.
Having a brand-new funky battle theme which alternates with Shoji Meguro’s other mega track, Last Surprise, triggered through pre-emptive attacks (which, for a veteran Phantom Thief, will be most of your standard battles to be fair) is another boon, further extending what was already one of my favourite video game soundtracks.
The hell would you drink coffee when eating curry?
Probably the only part of Persona 5 I found truly lacking was the repetitive descent of the colossal Mementos dungeon. Morgana’s cat bus transformation was something special first time round but after going through boring corridor after corridor with same looping tune, it was enough to drive anyone to insanity at times. The question then, is whether or not Royal does anything about this. The answer? Sort of.
Adding a few tracks to the background music does the world of good for a start, with the old theme only returning in the late game. This might sound innocuous but anyone who attempted a completionist run will understand the weight of this. Stacking up the changes, there’s a new Mementos area with a different colour palette (or lack of in this case) as well as a host of new enemies and missions.
What’s more, there’s a whole new palace to explore (and it’s a beauty), a new area (Kichijoji, complete with a jazz club, no less), as well your own player space, the Thieves Den, to decorate with boss statues and other trinkets. The Thieves Den is also home to a poker-type card game, earning P-Coins for purchasing rewards.
You might just see it coming
Persona 5 Royal adds minor extras to almost all aspects of the masterful base game, including new story elements, however, if you’re fairly fresh off the P5 train, I’d recommend leaving it a couple of years. Unless you’ve been tempted by a second playthrough it’s difficult to justify paying full price for what’s on offer. If you’re lucky enough to have never played the original and you’re a fan of the genre do not hesitate. Persona 5 Royal, as a standalone product, is a shining example of how to use the best elements of JRPGs and is, without a doubt (in my mind), one of best games in the genre, ever.
The verdict really depends on where you sit on the Persona 5 fandom scale. If the thought of another 100 hours of Shujin lessons and curry mixing leaves you with images of cognitive breakdown it’s a hard avoid for you. I can appreciate that anyone who enjoyed Persona 5 would get a kick out of the new content, but you have to work for it and that’s quite the commitment. If you have the hunger though, there’s a feast awaiting.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
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