Persona 5 is a Japanese Role-Playing Game with turn-based combat developed by Atlus. It is the 6th entry in the Persona franchise as well as being a part of the greater Megami Tensei franchise. Persona 5 Royal is an updated release of Persona 5 that adds over 20 hours of new content and scored a whopping score of 96 on Metacritic making it the 3rd highest-rated game on Playstation 4 game of all time. This entry in particular is a great start for new Persona players and is a fantastic entry for long-time players or JRPG fans in general. This game can be bought used and new in your local stores such as GameStop, Best Buy, Walmart, and Target. Or you can buy it online via the PSN store for Playstation 4 and 5. It still sells for 59.99 USD, however, I promise you that it will be worth every penny!
What is Persona?
The Persona Franchise started in 1996 stemming for the Megami Tensei series and has undergone huge transformations since the beginning of the series. The games always take place in Modern Japan following a group of students in high school that all have to face their inner self, otherwise known as their persona, and overcome trials they face that happen around them. A persona can be explained as the manifestation of ones personality as explained in every game. The main characters are able to use their persona to fight enemies in the cognitive world to force a change of personality, or as per the 5th entry a change of heart.
Persona 5: The Story Premise
Persona 5 takes place in Modern Japan as every entry does, and follows the main character known as Ren Amamiya. Ren is a character who ends up forced under probation due to false accusations from a corrupt politician. He ends up staying with a family friend in Tokyo for a year and temporarily starts attending Shujin Academy. It is there that he befriends fellow students like Ryuji Sakamoto, Ann Takamaki, and Morgana, a mysterious cat- like being that has ties to the momentos, but remembers nothing of his past or of who he is. Learning from Morgana’s lead, they form a group called the Phantom Thieves, whose mission is to change the hearts of the corrupt to lead to a better society. They do this by tackling the inner palaces of the corrupt and stealing their treasure, which forces a change of heart. They also accomplish this by entering the cognitive world of the momentos and endless palace of society’s collective hearts.
Persona 5 Gameplay: Original versus Royal
Persona 5 gameplay can be one of the most addicting, and time-consuming experiences out there. This especially goes for gamers like myself who need to do everything and anything I can in RPGs. The franchise has always made it to where you need to monitor how you spend your time, because you have a deadline to complete a palace per corrupt person. In Persona 5, they make it easier for new Persona players and veterans by actually giving you a deadline and more time in general. On average you get around 18 days to change the corrupted one’s heart. Between this time you need to decide carefully on how you want to spend it, because the game also revolves around making money, upgrading equipment, increases your social stats, and building relationships. You get two periods of time to decide what you want to do, which is afternoon and evening. You can only enter momentos or the palace during the afternoon, however you can work, hang out with people, or do fun activities at either time. Your mornings are filled with school, which on certain days you can answer questions to increase your knowledge. The 5 social states you can work on are Knowledge, Guts, Proficiency, Charm, and Kindness. Social Stats are extremely important because they allow you to be able to work certain jobs, be able to hang out with people and perform certain activities. Building relationships with your friends is also extremely important, because they give you benefits during combat, creating and fusing personsas, and even modifying weapons.
Persona 5 Royal not only adds to a lot of the gameplay, but also adds new characters and a new palace. Some of the changes made the gameplay a whole lot better. For example, momentos is not only a place to fulfill requests, but also a great grinding tool. In most Persona games grinding is a tedious chore, mainly because in palaces the enemies do not give you a huge amount of experience. You can pick and choose who to bring since the experience is divided amongst party members, but either way it becomes a lot and tedious chore. Momentos changes in Royal with a beautiful character named Jose. He is tied to momentos and able to change the conditions within it, as well as become a shop for resources. In momentos you can collect stamps on each floor to dump into different status bars that change experience earned, money earned, or item drops. This allows grinding for experience or money to become a hell of a lot easier. On top of that, you can even reassign your stamps depending on what you want to grind for.
New characters, and a new palace are also a huge bonus for Persona 5 Royal. Aside from Jose as previously explained, you also get Kasumi Yoshizawa and Takuro Maruki. Both characters are not only well-designed story-wise, but you also get the storyline extended through mid-February with your new palace. Maruki comes to school as a therapist looking to help kids involved in the first incident with Komoshida, a corrupt teacher that is assaulting students and sexually harassing them. Maruki is a genuinely kind-hearted character who wants to reach out to help students overcome mental obstacles, however, due to issues in his backstory, his persona becomes twisted and distorted. Kasumi is another great character design. She presents herself at the beginning of the game, but you can not form a relationship until after the Komoshida Palace. She is a gymnast genius who offers to train you in return for you becoming a mentor. You find out later that she struggles with depression and self-worth, for reasons I will not bring into the light to avoid spoilers. She will later become a playable character and part of the Phantom Thieves Team.
In addition, Persona 5 Royal has new locations to visit in-game such as the Jazz Club and Kichijoji’s club which allowed you to increase your social status with each character and strengthen them. The game also brought new weapons, armor, accessories, personas, and an additional form for each persona. On top of that, you also get two bonus endings to the story! I honestly did not think the original true ending could get any better. That ending left me with so many emotions after everything I had been through. Playing through persona is an experience like no other. The relationships you build with each character are so authentic and meaningful, it feels as if you yourself have a relationship with every character. You live the life of Ren and the true ending gives you not only closure but ultimately a sense of reward as if you earned it. But the two additional endings put everything into perspective, and show the difference between ignorance and reality. They were extremely well designed, and really make you think about whether or not you have done the right thing and whether or not you’re in over your head. I won’t go into too many details to avoid spoilers, but I urge interested players to do multiple playthroughs because every option is that good.
To summarize the experience that Persona 5 Royal adds versus the original version, Atlus added in the Thieves Den which is accessible to the home screen. Here you get to access new bonus content by using earned currency. This currency can give you additional cut scenes, artwork, character models, and even music! As someone that is a glutton for music, the new additions to the sound tracks were absolutely phenomenal. Music is arguably one of the most important parts of most games, and the fact that they added it in to the Thieves Den is rewarding and satisfying.
Negative Feed Back
My only issues with the game were very minor. I personally found to access the new palace was somewhat of an inconvenience. In Persona you get to pick and choose how you spend your time as previously mentioned, but for the players like myself who went for the platinum in one playthrough, I learned that the new palace is something you can completely miss. To get every trophy and experience everything in the game, it is impossible to max out every relationship. Everything needs to be balanced and to access the new palace you need to max three particular relationships. These include Goro Akechi, Kasumi Yoshizawa, and Takuro Maruki, which was very frustrating in the limited amount of time you have and the fact that you are forced to choose. This in a way takes away from the experience of forming the bonds you want to form, but it was not something that ultimately impeded my experience with the game.
To Summarize, Play Persona 5 Royal Now!
I can not recommend this game enough! Persona 5 Royal is an emotional roller coaster. This game succeeded in every way imaginable and improved upon an already near-perfect game. The gameplay is solid, the side content is perfect, and the story is downright incredible. This is one of the few games I have played that made an impact in gaming and gave me an emotionally satisfying time. I can only urge players to pick it up and put the time into what I can only describe as an incredible experience.