Persona 5 Royal (PlayStation 4) Second Opinion Review

By Justin Prinsloo 16.05.2020

Review for Persona 5 Royal on PlayStation 4

Upon its initial release, Persona 5 was something of a revelation. Critics the world over praised it as a near-perfect JRPG, lauding everything from its excellent writing to its exemplary sense of style. What's more is that the Persona series is famed for its robust re-releases - taking the original entries and polishing them to a fine sheen with gameplay enhancements and additional content, as seen in Persona 4 Golden and Persona 3 FES before that. Thus, questions were raised among the fan-base about how an impeccable title like Persona 5 could be enhanced into an even more captivating state of near-perfection in Persona 5 Royal. Somehow, though, Atlus has done it.

The most obvious changes made in Persona 5 Royal are the new semester that is tacked onto the tail end of the main game's story, a new area to explore (Tokyo's popular Kichijoji district) and the addition of Kasumi Yoshizawa, a new Confidant and eventual party member. She is joined by a couple of other new faces, namely Takuto Maruki, Shujin Academy's resident councillor, and José, the mysterious child who roams the twists and turns of Mementos - Persona 5's procedurally generated dungeon.

Kasumi and Maruki are not only responsible for a drastically enhanced ending to the original story but are also brilliantly overlaid into the existing story of Persona 5 as well. Far from only being introduced when their impact on the plot heats up, they are also interwoven into existing scenes in order for them to feel as important as the rest of the cast - and in fact, they often outshine the other cast members. Maruki's gentle presence as a mentor to the main character is a perfect counterpoint to the psychologically-heavy themes posed in the main story, while Kasumi's sweet demeanour and resilience in the face of adversity make a strong case in establishing her as Persona 5's "best girl" - if you can be patient enough to avoid dating anyone else in order to spark a romance with her later in the game. Or, you know… be a total dog and vibe with all the ladies - no judgment!

Screenshot for Persona 5 Royal on PlayStation 4

Kichijoji, the new explorable area, heightens the already stellar sense of Tokyo's unique personality that Atlus has managed to capture. The stores and venues herein add clever new ways of utilising the game's existing mechanics, such as the ability to sell sooty armour to a merchant with a strange affinity towards dirty clothing - a useful method of getting a return on armour that you don't feel like putting through the laundry. You can also play darts and billiards with the other members of the Phantom Thieves: darts is useful for levelling up Royal's overhauled Baton Pass system, while billiards boosts Technical damage done during combat. Other additions like praying at the temple to boost Social Stats and SP, and visiting the jazz club with your Confidants provide yet more activities to the already momentous wealth of existing content.

Combat has also undergone many adjustments and improvements. It's always risky taking a great system and shaking it up but somehow, Atlus has only improved it by doing so. The new 'Showtime' mechanic allows for some fun moments between party members, essentially comprising very powerful attacks carried out by two members of the party at a time. These do well to showcase the dynamics between Phantom Thieves members, and do a sizeable amount of damage to enemies. The other changes and tweaks are almost too many to list, but some standouts are gun ammo that recharges between battles as opposed to once a day, new music on each floor of Mementos and new battle music, which slots in beautifully alongside Persona 5's already phenomenal soundtrack.

Screenshot for Persona 5 Royal on PlayStation 4

Royal's new final Palace is also far and away its best, boasting some of the strongest level design and ultimately the strongest story arc in Persona 5, proving that a fantastic experience can indeed be made even better. The other Palaces have also seen some welcome redesigning in order to streamline them and accommodate Royal's many new mechanics, such as the grappling hook, which is used to provide some verticality and access to far-away areas. Also making an appearance for the first time are Will Seed chambers - hidden areas housing Will Seeds which essentially provides a small top-up to SP. Collect all three Will Seeds in a Palace and you'll be granted a unique accessory when handed over to José in Mementos.

Speaking of José, he's also present in the Thieves Den, a new customisable area separate from the main game that allows you to showcase some of the story's milestones and unlock additional art, music and cutscenes, among other things. Most of this is superficial but it's a way to further saturate oneself in Persona 5 content, which can really only be a good thing. Easily the best thing about the Thieves Den, though, is the new Tycoon mini-game, a unique card game that is easy to learn but difficult to master. It's not quite Gwent-level on the addictiveness scale, but it's nevertheless capable of absorbing many hours of play through its fun gameplay loop, especially on the highest of the three difficulty levels.

Screenshot for Persona 5 Royal on PlayStation 4

Other standout changes include a significantly improved English localisation, additional conversation options with Confidants that help to rank them up faster, revamped routes for some Confidants (namely Akechi, who is no longer ranked up through story progression), and more free time during the evenings. All these changes alongside the additional semester mean that there's a wealth of extra time to experience all that the game has to offer in a single play-through, meaning it's easy to rank up every Confidant and max all Social Stats with months of in-game time to spare.

It's difficult to quantify all of the changes made in Royal, as the most obvious ones only scratch the surface. This is undoubtedly the definitive edition of Persona 5 and in many instances feels like an entirely new game, which is sure to be welcome news for those that beat the original and are on the fence about diving in again. If you loved vanilla Persona 5, you will adore Royal - it's as simple as that. This reviewer is not usually one for re-rinsing already-beat games, but Royal, by dint of its stupidly good execution, is a major exception. For all you new players, there's no need to play the original before enjoying Royal either. It's an experience unlike any other, one that has been honed to an edge that remains sharp throughout its lengthy and rewarding campaign.

Screenshot for Persona 5 Royal on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

10/10
Rated 10 out of 10

Masterpiece - Platinum Award

Rated 10 out of 10

Persona 5 Royal is an exhibition in taking a 10-out-of-10 experience and pushing it as close to an 11 as quantifiably possible. This is Persona 5 with a veritable wealth of quality-of-life improvements that serve to make an already smooth and stylish game even more so. Almost all of the kinks from the original have been worked out and the new content is the perfect complement to the original story and characters. This is a marvellous achievement.

Developer

Atlus

Publisher

Atlus

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date 31.03.2020   North America release date 31.03.2020   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date 31.03.2020   

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