Fit for a crown – Persona 5 Royal review
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Release Date: March 31, 2020
Publisher: Atlus USA
In this day and age, getting an upgrade of a game into the hands of players is different than it used to be. The third and fourth games in the Persona series each had additional versions that made sweeping improvements and added more to see and do. But both of those games were initially released on the PlayStation 2, which was before DLC and online patches became a thing. Because of that, when Persona 5 released, I was curious to see if they’d handle the updated version any differently.
Suffice to say, however, they did it again. Persona 5 Royal is being released as a separate product entirely and buyers of the original will have to shell out another $60 for it. But there are so many changes, both large and small, and such a significant amount of additional content that it’s hard to be all that mad about it. After all, this isn’t just a re-release with some new stuff, but a partial refocusing and rebalancing of the original game.
Take my heart
You likely already know the story here. Boy saves woman from man accosting her. Man manipulates the justice system to have the boy put on probation in Tokyo. Boy’s phone gets an app that allows him to enter a shadow realm that leads to him forming a gang of thieves that steal the desires of the corrupt as a way of bettering the world around them. The story is excellent, with a massive amount of dialogue and a large, interesting cast of characters. Persona 5 Royal adds voice acting to scenes that were unvoiced as well. The options menu now lets you switch freely between the English dub or original Japanese, so no separate download is required if you’d rather hear the game’s legendary voice cast work their magic.
Not only that, but it adds new characters, including a new party member that’s integrated into the story early on and three new confidants for you to interact with and rank up your relationships. Even the original game’s confidants get some extra scenes. It also adds an entire extra semester onto the game with a new palace to boot. Oh, and new places to explore as well, with new shops to visit. People who have already sunk a large amount of time into the original will find plenty new here to keep them interested. That being said, the game’s original ending is still intact and you’ll need to meet conditions to keep the story going beyond it.
I’m going through changes
As I said before, Persona 5 Royal doesn’t just add that new content but is a result of how carefully Atlus has gone over and improved any aspects it deemed to be lacking. For starters, the game just looks better than the original. Some textures have been replaced and there is now a wider variety of character models walking about in the world.
There’s also a new menu option called The Thieves Den that allows players to explore a gallery where they can purchase and view models, cutscenes, concept art and more. All of these can be purchased with coins that are granted to you upon completing certain accomplishments. These coins can also be acquired by playing a card game called Tycoon with your allies that you might find yourself sinking hours into as well. Upping the difficulty on that mostly just seems to give the AI infinitely superior cards, though, so be warned.
Persona 5 Royal very much fleshes out the world even more and Morgana now doesn’t force you to go to bed without doing any evening activities as much. There are also new ways to get affinity with your confidants, often tying into your responses to them. As you’d guess, there are new personas as well and many now have new traits that grant special abilities.
Palling around with palaces
Naturally, Persona 5 Royal‘s palaces have seen their fair share of changes. Area layouts are different, with new traversal methods, new puzzles, and even entire new areas. Each palace now has three Will Seeds to collect in areas off the beaten path. Each time you collect one of these, some of your party’s stamina will be restored. Collecting all three will grant you a new piece of equipment that will likely come in handy to boot.
The palaces now also feature stronger enemies that drop extra SP and, in a particularly fun change, ammo now restores itself after every fight. You can no longer accrue ammo, however, and have to make do with each character’s default capacity. Bosses now have new moves and many have been significantly reworked. Various aspects of the game do make it easier than before, though. For instance, negotiating with demons is more likely to succeed now.
The thrill of sneaking around rooms to ambush enemies while utilizing cover is immensely fun and the cover mechanics and general camerawork are even better now. It’s still remarkable how Atlus improved the dungeon crawling for Persona 5 and kept it consistent with the thievery motif. There’s also no going wrong with the excellent turn-based combat that is quite possibly the best the genre has to offer. Successfully exploiting the weaknesses of your foes and holding them up is rewarding and tactical, not to mention extremely stylish.
Leaves quite a calling card
Persona 5 Royal seemingly did the impossible here. Atlus has taken a game that is rightfully beloved and greatly improved it. Many little nitpicks players may have had before have been clipped away, offering a streamlined, yet deeper experience that will almost certainly be lauded for years to come. Whether you’re coming back to Tokyo for another go or pulling off your first heists, there’s a great time to be had here for everyone.
This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.