REVIEW: ‘Persona 5 Royal’ Has Stolen My Heart (PS4)

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Persona 5 Royal

Persona 5 Royal, developed and published by Atlus for the PlayStation 4, is a revamp of the original 2017 JRPG. The game is jampacked with new characters and features, as well as streamlined mechanics. As a result, Persona 5 Royal is a great place for new players to dive in, while still offering enough fresh content to please any returning die-hard Persona 5 fans.

Persona 5 Royal’s core story doesn’t deviate much from the original, even though it does add new key players. The main protagonist is a teenage boy who was forced to move to Tokyo after being expelled from school in his hometown. After starting at his new school, he meets Ryuji Sakamoto and Ann Takamaki. When they discover that they have the special power to unlock powerful personas and steal the hearts of corrupt adults, causing them to confess to their crimes, the teenagers set out on a quest to take down greedy, villainous figures across Tokyo.

While all companions and confidants from Persona 5 return to Royal, there are two important additions – Takuto Maruki and Kasumi Yoshizawa. Just like everything else in Persona 5, unlocking everything about these new characters takes some time. However, the game pulls in returning fans quickly.

Kasumi Yoshizawa appears in the opening section and pops up rather frequently at school. Similarly to the main protagonist, Kasumi has recently transferred to Shujin Academy and receives special treatment as a brilliant honor roll student. Her addition means returning players get something new to look forward to almost immediately as they learn more about Kasumi.

Kasumi in Persona 5 Royal

In general, each time Kasumi and Takuto appeared, it was incredibly exciting as a huge fan of the original Persona 5. Even though I knew the story like the back of my hand, I watched every cutscene hoping for new information about these characters and wondering how they would impact my gameplay. For new players, the addition of Kasumi and Takuto won’t be as exciting, but new confidants that help you unlock new abilities is never a bad thing, so their existence is still beneficial for everyone.

As well as new characters, Persona 5 Royal also includes a grappling hook and collectible Will Seeds, two key new gameplay features. The grappling hook allows Joker, which is the codename given to the main protagonist, to explore more areas and traverse the world more quickly. Of course, the grappling hook can only be used in certain situations, so players can’t go crazy jumping around the map.

That said, it does open up new scenarios, giving players more areas to discover and search for collectibles. This makes the map feel a little larger and a little more complex for those who experienced the original Persona 5. For new players, the grappling hook will feel like nothing more than another traversal mechanic, but it is still fun to look for hidden items on the roofs of palaces.

Another new feature introduced in Persona 5 Royal are Will Seeds. There are three Will Seeds to find in each palace. In Persona 5 Royal, items can have special skills beyond just things like fire resistance. When you find three Will Seeds, you receive a crystal that has a pretty standard skill. However, if you take that item to Jose in Mementos, the sprawling underground dungeon that you explore throughout the entire game as you complete side quests, he’ll give you a special item with an incredibly unique skill.

Like Will Seeds, Jose is a new addition to Persona 5 Royal as well. Jose appears in Mementos as a young boy who is trying to understand humans and believes that converting flowers into juice will help him gain more knowledge. Because of this, you can take flowers, not just Will Seeds, to Jose at any time in exchange for items and accessories.

The Will Seeds were a great addition to Persona 5 Royal. Not only did they give me another reason to explore every inch of the palaces, but I was eventually rewarded with special and very useful items, making my time investment feel worth it. The Will Seeds aren’t too difficult to find – it’s honestly pretty hard to miss them if you’re taking your time and thoroughly exploring the palace anyway – but it does add something else to the checklist of things to get done throughout the game.

Joker in Persona 5 Royal

Mechanically, Persona 5 Royal also fixes all the little gripes I had with the original. As small as it is, one of the absolute best additions to Royal is the “auto” feature. At any time, just press square, and you no longer have to manually press the button to continue through the dialogue in long scenes. Along those same lines, Persona 5 Royal now offers a more easily accessible log feature, so if you miss anything, it’s not difficult to go back and figure out what’s going on.

Combat remains largely the same as the original game, though it does still feature notable improvements. It’s a turn-based system that allows you to either attack with a melee weapon, shoot a gun, or use your persona’s special abilities. The persona abilities have different elemental weaknesses and strengths that you need to pay attention to in battle if you want to effectively take down enemies.

The best improvement to combat by far is that in Persona 5 Royal, you start with refilled gun ammo each battle, unlike Persona 5, which required careful management and only refilled your ammo after leaving a palace. Plus, when you perform a baton bass, which is passing your extra move to another character after knocking an enemy down by exploiting its weakness, the game now shows you whether or not your teammates have effective moves against foes, instead of making you check manually each time.

Additionally, negotiations with enemies are much easier now as well. If you’re able to knock down all enemies by exploiting their weakness, you surround them and have a chance to negotiate with them to obtain new personas, just like the original game. Unlike Persona 5, however, Persona 5 Royal gives you direction in what kind of responses will encourage the persona to join you. While it just gives you hints based on the enemy’s personality, it still makes the negotiation process so much easier. Plus, if you ask a persona you already have to join your team, you receive bonus experience points for that persona, regardless of whether it is equipped or not.

Another somewhat trivial but great change, especially for returning players, is that there are more fast travel locations. Persona 5 wasn’t difficult to traverse before but in Royal, it is even easier to get to specific locations instead of just general areas of town. There are also more locations where you can save instead of just your bedroom, the entrance of a palace, etc. You still can’t save anywhere you’d like, but the restrictions being less strict is definitely a huge plus since gameplay can be so time-consuming.

Overall, Persona 5 Royal is an incredible deluxe version of what was, in my mind, already one of the greatest JRPGs of all time. The new characters, gameplay features, and more efficient mechanics make Persona 5 Royal worth the time sink for returning fans who have already plugged 100+ hours into the original while making the adventure more accessible and fun for new players. I had a blast diving back into one of my favorite games and, just like my first playthrough, I lost myself in the music, characters, story, and battle system for hours at a time. Persona 5 Royal is a phenomenal experience that will blow away any JRPG fan.

Persona 5 Royal
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10/10

TL;DR

Overall, Persona 5 Royal is an incredible deluxe version of what was, in my mind, already one of the greatest JRPGs of all time. The new characters, gameplay features, and more efficient mechanics make Persona 5 Royal worth the time sink for returning fans who have already plugged 100+ hours into the original while making the adventure more accessible and fun for new players.