Whenever someone asks me what I think is the greatest JRPG franchise today – I point to one IP: Persona. The series is a mix of the enthralling, the endearing, and the eccentric. Dating its origins all the way back to the original Playstation – Persona has spawned multiple titles from mainline entries, dancing rhythm games, and even Musou mashups.
This is a series that doesn’t just have fans, it has FANDOM. The Wizards at Atlus go out of their way to produce narratives and characters that humanize and deconstruct the genre in the most fascinating ways.
And things have just gotten better. Persona 5: Royal – an updated version of the critically and commercially successful Persona 5 is now in my hands to review. So without any further ado – let’s talk about the phenomena that is…. PERSONA!
Persona 5: Royal follows the story of your named protagonist known as Joker. During one evening on a quiet street, Joker hears a lady scream. As he tries to save her from a corrupt politician, he gets the police called on him. The politician uses his power and influence to frame Joker for a crime he didn’t commit. He gets charged and convicted for assault. After these unfortunate events, he gets expelled from his current school and ends up leaving his hometown.
Joker then moves in with Sojiro Sakura in Yongen-Jaya, Tokyo to serve his one year probation. Joker transfers to the Shujin Academy for a fresh start. At first, the students feel uncomfortable around him because of his criminal record but eventually, they look past that. Joker then befriends Ryuji, Anne, Yosuke, Makoto, and a handful of others to assemble the Phantom Thieves with each of them having their own story arc. During one evening, Joker finds a mysterious app on his phone but deletes it. Later, he comes to find out about the Metaverse and meets a mysterious cat named Morgana. Joker befriends Him and Morgana ends up being his Navigator in the metaverse. If you’ve played the original Persona 5- then you know what happens with these characters and their story arc. However, since this is Persona 5: Royal–you’ll befriend 2 new characters that play an important part of the story going forward.
Meet Kasumi, a second year pupil from the Shujin Academy. Kasumi has a dark past that’s hidden within. Kasumi’s story arc is intriguing as it expands Persona 5’s overall story. Takuto Maruki is another new character that plays the role of a counsellor at the Shujin Academy. He’s also a confidante and plays a vital part later on in the game. P5R gives you 10 plus hours of extra content with multiple endings.
Persona 5 was always known for it’s turned based flashy combat and P5R is no exception. Each party member has their mele and firearm weapon. As you’re in battle with any shadow, you can discover their weak points. Doing so will give you a chance of a critical attack which gives you the opportunity to acquire their powers and a new Persona in the process. You can setup your party in whatever way you see fit. There’s plenty of moves you can unlock with each persona as you level up. There’s a new showtime attack that pairs two party members together. Once you launch this attack, you get a cool animated sequence. Another new addition to P5R is Joker’s new grappling hook. The grappling hook can be used to find new areas and get an upper hand on enemies. If you decide to rank up your social stats or confidantes, then the overview of the map will let you know where you can find everything. You can easily navigate from one area to another. P5R allows you do some new side activities. You can now take a friend to play darts or pool in a complete new area of the game.
All the palaces (dungeons) now have hidden areas where you can find Will Seeds. Once you get all three in each palace, it will transform into a crystal. You can visit Jośe in Momentos and once you find the merchant, he can upgrade it into a powerful ring. Speaking of Momentos, there’s a whole new area in Momentos that’s included in P5R. Mishima will message you new side quests during a new semester. The new semester can be unlocked when you fulfill certain requirements.
The one thing you’ll notice about P5R is how they improved the graphics. The original P5 was made with the PS3 in mind- with P5R this gave Atlus the opportunity to focus on PS4 exclusively. P5R is clearly tailored for current gen. The game has 4K support for PS4 Pro and upgraded character models. Other than that, the game still has the same stylish UI and animation.
The Jazzy soundtrack made Persona 5 iconic and P5R takes it up a notch. New tracks were added and you can still enjoy the catchy songs from the original game.
Overall, Persona 5: Royal delivered in every way imaginable. After 100+ hours of playtime, I can honestly say that the add-on content alone is worth the purchase. P5R will always be remembered for its stylish combat and catchy soundtrack, but once you go deep, you’ll notice that the game has its charming and gritty moments. P5R had me invested in all the characters and their story arc. With all the side activities the game has, you can easily get distracted. Compared to the original game, P5R doesn’t require a second playthrough if you want the platinum trophy. If you never played the original game then P5R has all bases covered. Persona 5: Royal is a MASTERPIECE that’s reached an impossible accolade: a higher level of greatness.
A Review code was provided by SEGA|Atlus
Developer: Atlus / Publisher: SEGA|Atlus
Release date: 31/03/2020
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Version Reviewed: PlayStation 4 Pro