Review – Persona 5 Royal

When it launched back in 2017, Persona 5 was immediately regarded as one of the very best JRPGs of the current console generation and with good reason. It was bold, stylish and delivered an engrossing narrative to get lost in over the course of its near 100 hour runtime. Three years later, developer Atlus releases Persona 5 Royal, which is a complete overhaul of the original Persona 5 to not only make it an overall better experience to play with its many quality of life features, but also adds almost 15 hours of new story content that takes place after when the original would normally end. What this means is that Persona 5 Royal is now the undisputed definitive version of Persona 5.

If you have not played Persona 5 at all then here is a quick rundown of the set up. You play the nameless protagonist who goes by Joker. He was wrongfully accused of a crime in his old hometown and was forced to leave both his school and home to live under probation for a year in Tokyo. On his first day in his new school, he accidentally travels to a place known as the Metaverse. Here, the distorted desires of corrupted individuals take shape in the form of a Palace. In the Metaverse, these Palaces hide the Treasure of the individual and by stealing this Treasure they can have a change of heart. By meeting others like him who share a similar goal the Phantom Thieves are born who seek to steal these Treasures.

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I can relate to this.

Anyone who played the vanilla Persona 5 will notice changes made in Royal right from the beginning, as new scenes and dialogue are shown. Some of my favorite changes in Royal come from the combat and exploration of Palaces. Some things that seem small on the surface end up making the flow of combat smoother and more enjoyable right from the getgo. For example, you have access to the Baton Pass for each character in your party right away without having to advance their confidant. Brand new accessories grant skills to you and your party Personas that they normally wouldn’t have. Guns now reload after each battle, making ranged weapons a more viable option.

Then we have the Showtimes. Two members of the Phantom Thieves come up with a super special (read: flashy) finishing move. Watching these for the first time is an absolute treat. Each one is beaming with character and fits the two involved. Makoto and Haru stepping into a wrestling ring to perform tag team attacks speaks to me personally. As does the equally great Fist of the North Star reference found in another Showtime.

One major addition used while exploring is the grappling hook. It can be used to access new areas of each Palace and discover some unique items like the brand new Will Seeds. These are optional objectives in each dungeon that reward you with a new piece of equipment at the end with a powerful new ability. Every single Palace has not only updates made to the layout with new areas but also to the boss fights that await you at the end of each. Every boss has been given new mechanics and scenarios to flesh them out even more. That idea is the driving force behind Persona 5 Royal as a whole. Everything is fleshed out.

Naturally this extends outside of the Palaces and to the time you spend with your numerous confidants and your everyday student life. Every single confidant has received brand new scenes that just lets you get to know each of them more. These also give you more opportunities to deepen your bond with them to progress through each rank. An entire new hangout spot has been added as well. The town of Kichijoji adds a slew of new activities to engage with including darts, billiards and a jazz club. It’s a fantastic addition to the world of Persona 5.

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Kichijoji, a new town to explore in Persona 5 Royal

Other fantastic additions are the two brand new characters, Kasumi Yoshizawa and Takuto Maruki. The story of these two are best kept as spoiler free as possible but their tale that unfolds alongside the events of the Phantom Thieves is absolutely worth seeing to the end. Which brings up the other section that provides the biggest reason for returning to Persona 5 with Royal: the third semester. This semester features a brand new Palace to infiltrate and new a adversary to face off with. Once again, this will be kept spoiler-free, but this foe brings a whole new set of questions and ideals against the Phantom Thieves. It is their toughest test and is unlike any of their previous heists.

The new music is also a major highlight, as the already incredible soundtrack of Persona 5 is also made better. The brand new song that plays during the opening movie is a toe tapper and the new battle music for a successful ambush is even better than the old battle theme. Mementos, which always felt like the weakest part of the original, is given a shot to the arm with new music tracks playing after the first few sections.

There is also the Thieves Den, which is just a celebration of all things Persona 5. You can decorate the area with all kinds of Persona statues, enemy statues, decor of a Palace you conquered, etc. You can set different music tracks to play while looking around as well. There is a wall to unlock tons of art like concept art or pictures the characters take during their time together. And when you finally need a break you can sit down for a game of Tycoon with your fellow thieves.

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You can decorate your Thieves Den however you like with numerous options.

I played the vanilla version of Persona 5 twice. Persona 5 Royal managed to make my third playthrough of this narrative feel like I was playing it all again for the first time. There are just too many changes to list and they all add up to make the game feel fresh for returning players and far more enjoyable for newcomers. I lost myself in this world once more and felt like I was reconnecting with friends. The cast of Persona 5 is still as strong as they have always been. A superb JRPG was made even better in every single facet. Persona 5 Royal is without a doubt one of the greatest games of this generation. After 115 hours I still look forward to an eventual fourth playthrough in the future.


Graphics: 9.5

Brand new animations like the Showtimes are outstanding.

Gameplay: 10

Game balance seems to have been redone from the ground up. Every piece of combat and exploration saw improvement.

Sound: 10

Persona 5 already had a perfect soundtrack. Royal adds even more new songs to make it better.

Fun Factor: 10

Dungeon crawling is far more engaging with all of the new tools and spending time with your friends outside of the Palaces is still extremely entertaining as the quirks of each character get to shine.

Final Verdict: 10

Persona 5 Royal is available now on PS4.
A copy of Persona 5 Royal was provided by the publisher.