Persona 5 was release back in 2017. It is regarded as one of the best JRPG games in recent times. There is a unique, elegant and stylish art style in the game. The game has a complex turned based combat system that can be easily approached. From all of the games I have played, this has one of the best soundtracks. You meet varieties of people who are likeable and unforgettable. Overall, I can say that this one is a masterpiece.
Atlus has a tradition of releasing enhanced editions of the Persona games which started from Persona 3. P5 also got the same treatment and Persona 5 Royal was released. Initially, I had doubts about making a follow-up game to a masterpiece like P5. However, P5R addressed all of the problems that was in the original. Atlus did a good job of polishing and expanding the game by adding new gameplay elements and a new story arc which is fitted in the original narrative of the game. I spent almost 130 hours in this game exploring urban Tokyo and the Metaverse, fighting evil in the night and hanging out with friends during the day. I will make a bold statement saying that “P5R is the living proof that you can make game which is already a masterpiece, better”, here is why.
For gamers who played P5 I can say that the core of P5R remains the same as the original but for those who those who haven’t played yet, the game takes place in modern-day Tokyo and you play as a high school student. You and other students discover their spirit of rebellion and awaken to a special power, and make a secret vigilante group known as the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. They explore the Metaverse, to steal malevolent intent from the hearts of corrupted adults by entering their palaces.
In the very opening credits, you are arrested and a prosecutor will come to interrogate. The game unfolds as the main character recalls events that led up this instance.
Throughout the game, you meet a lot of people who later become “confidents”. Confidents are who you trust a secret with. Since, the game is considered part life simulator, you are encouraged to go and spend time with them. All of the confidents are unique in their own way and the more you spend time with them the more you get to know about them.
The new content in P5R comes in the form of a new school semester and a dungeon. Both are present in late game. There are some additions to the story that take place during the original story and they don’t feel out of place. As part of Royal exclusives, you get to meet two new confidants, Kasumi who is a rhythmic gymnast and Mayuki, a guidance counselor.
If you look at the story, it is easy to notice that the inspiration behind most of the stuff that happen in the game like, sending a “calling card” to the palace owner before stealing the treasure, doing everything in the most stylish way possible in the Metaverse, is from the stories written by Maurice Leblanc with the character “Arsene Lupin”. There are several callbacks to the book in the game like a café called “Leblanc” and the persona of the protagonist named “Arsene”.
This game is part life simulator and part dungeon crawler and the gameplay is derived from it. First, Let’s have a look at the life simulator aspects of the game.
You play as a high school student so basically you live a normal high school life. You go to school and after school you have a lot of options on what you can do. However, you can only attempt only one activity per day. If you don’t plan well, you won’t be able to do these activities later on in the game.
In Persona 3, a gameplay mechanic called “Social Skills” was introduced which transitioned into the rest of the games as well. Social skills are important and they are affected by the things you do in your daily life. There are times where you are only able to open up to a confident when your skill level is high enough. In P5, the things you can do to increase the skill rank were limited, but this was made easier in P5R.
As part of P5R new content you can explore a new neighborhood in Tokyo called Kichijoji. There are hangout spots like Penguin Sniper and Jazz Jizz. When you spend time with you party members there, they can get extra benefits like learning new skills and increased stats.
Now, let’s look at the dungeon crawling part of the game. This comes in the form of Metaverse. Metaverse is a supernatural realm born from humanity’s subconscious desires. If a person’s desires became really strong, it materializes into a “Palace“, and the place is modeled after their distorted perception of the world. The core of the palace remains the same in the original but in P5R there are new areas to explore and Joker gets a grappling hook, which helps you explore new areas. There is also a new collectible item called Will Seed that gives you powerful accessories.
There are no changes to the battle system in P5R other than the addition of a powerful duo move called Showtime Attacks. The move gets activated when the enemy or party member is low on health. Each showtime attack is different and unique. The animations of these moves are some of the best in the game.
The only problem I had with P5 was the Mementos. For me that was really a blank place as there is not much to do there other than to complete request and to farm exp. However, in P5R the place is actually worth spending time in. You can also collect stamps and flowers for mysterious kid named Jose. This sounds suspicious but you are able to use the flowers to buy useful items from him and when you trade stamps, he will rewrite the Mementos to help you get more items, money and exp.
Atlus games have a very anime look in them. This game has a unique art style and it perfectly fits this game. The many districts of Tokyo and the different palaces are showcased really nicely. Atlus did a really good job of improving the graphics. In P5R, there were many portraits drawn for each character with different expressions and because of it the characters feel far more fleshed out. This can be seen during conversations where characters change their facial expressions when they talk unlike in the original where the characters have the same face for all the dialogue choices.
The soundtrack of P5R is one the best out there. Music is very much a part of the game. There is a specific song for each situation like on a rainy day there will be very calm music playing in the background or like on the day of the heist there is a high paced song. The new battle theme of P5R is almost as good as the original battle theme. Some of the music is so good that you could actually add them to your playlist. It is because of P5R that I actually started to listen to video game songs and appreciate them.
Persona 5 Royal is one of the greatest RPGs ever to exist. It’s excellent story with its fun gameplay mechanics and soundtrack makes this game unique in this genre. I highly recommend the game to JRPG and anime fans and for those who wants to explore the JRPG genre. This is the game for you.