Imagine the good old days of your school life. Attending classes, making friends, going out, defeating otherworldly demons that are the personification of humanity’s darkest desires and taking down corrupt men who prey on the weak.
Did you miss out on some of this stuff back in your day? well, don’t worry because Persona 5 Royal is here to let you live out the school life fantasy that you always wanted.
AT A GLANCE
Release date: March 31, 2020
Series: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona
Genre: Role-playing video game
Platform: PlayStation 4
Developers: Atlus, P Studio
Final Score: 10/10
When Persona 5 released back in 2016, it was one of my favorite games of that year and the best Persona game to date. Persona 5 Royal takes all of the things that made Persona 5 great and adds more of everything to make this the definitive edition of the game.
The star of any Persona game, aside from the addictive monster collection mechanics and tactical TBRPG mechanics is, of course, the story.
The plot at the base of Persona 5 Royal is the same seen in the game three years ago, featuring the introverted Joker, who finds himself on the wrong side of the law after trying to do a good deed.
For this reason, he is forced to do a year of re-education and finds himself in Tokyo. Soon after he meets Ryuji and after that, his posse grows with a growing roster of trouble teenagers looking to punish the wicked for their crimes.
There’s really not a lot of additions to the story, except for some new subplots and characters. Most notably, the addition of a new semester, confidants and the star of the show, Kasumi Yoshizawa, a new playable female addition to the team.
Those who have had the opportunity to appreciate it three years ago will still enjoy it while discovering very subtle changes. While those who are new to the game will discover a mature, modern storyline, which is not afraid to deal with current taboos and society’s issues from bullying to sexual harassment, told in an impactful and emotional story that is a journey worth taking.
Persona 5’s gameplay consists of two equally fleshed out parts. During the day, you attend classes and do other extracurricular activities, while at night you can go explore the world or go to the palaces, do mementos and other activities.
Much like the plot, there’s not a lot of changes to the gameplay but there are quite a few additions.
The boss fights which featured grotesque perversions of the desires of the antagonists and represented some of the highest moments of the game have been improved. Already they were quite challenging and satisfying to defeat thanks to the excellent design of the fights, adversaries who changed forms and movesets, environmental puzzles to solve and a complex system of elemental weaknesses and resistances to master.
The boss fights have been balanced, with new weaknesses to exploit while simultaneously adding more challenge thanks to the new moves available to the bosses. Adding in a dash of unpredictability for veterans, while being a thrilling experience for newcomers.
Like the boss fights, the Palaces have also been improved. There are new explorable areas and treasure chests that can be accessed using the grappling hook.
Aside from the additions to the combat mechanics and palaces, there’s quite a few additions to the other aspects of the gameplay as well. Kasumi adds a new confidant and the new semester means more quizzes and extracurricular activities. There’s also a lot of new activities to do, like billiards, meditation, new shops and a lot more including a brand new explorable area called Kichijoji.
The newly added social hub allows you to revisit cutscenes, view your achievements and play a surprisingly fun card game.
Visuals and Audio
The aggressively stylistic art direction of Persona 5 did not need any more improvements but Atlus did it anyway.
The explosion of colors and the cel-shaded visuals accentuate the gorgeous visual design of the game. From the masterfully crafted anime-like cutscenes to the awe-inspiring palaces.
There are a few new finishing poses for our band of heroes, and some new cutscenes as well as a slightly improved performance in some cases. Also, no more gameplay footage block, you can take screenshots and videos to your heart’s content.
The incredible character designs are accompanied by an equally talented cast of voice actors, for both the dubs and the subs.
Finally, the soundtrack remains just as catchy as it was, with some new tracks by Shoji Meguro. The mix of jazz, pop and lounge tracks that perfectly accent the activities, from the adrenaline rush of the upbeat Last Surprise track that plays during the combat sequences to the slow beats of Beneath the Mask, do a tremendous of setting the mood and ambiance of the game.
Persona 5 Royal is an absolute must-have game. Veterans will enjoy the new additions, while newcomers will get to experience the definitive version of one of the best games of this generation. It filled with more things to do, sights to see and improvements under the hood.
The story, gameplay, visuals, and audio were already near-perfect the first time around, but Royal hits it out of the ballpark.