Rating M (Mature)
Persona 5 Royal is the enhanced version of Persona 5, with quality-of-life improvements and additional content. For those familiar with the JRPG, Persona 5 is a huge title with average playthroughs clocking in at 100+ hours. I will see what the upgraded game does differently and if the additional content is worth spending a lot of nights in Mementos again.
The words “f***,” “sh**,” and “as*****” appear in the dialogue.
Several female monsters/Personas are depicted with exposed breasts, and a handful of creatures have phallic-shaped heads, torsos, or appendages. Various Personas (e.g., Succubus, Incubus) have sexual characteristics that are described in text (e.g., “They visit sleeping men/women and have sexual intercourse with them”); dialogue also includes sexual references (e.g., “Apparently he’s been forcing young idols and other girls to have sex with him to move up in the ranks”). The game gives players the ability to, playing as a high school boy, date every important girl character simultaneously, including adult women such as a tarot card psychic and the home room teacher/part-time “maid.” Two minor, heavily stereotyped LGBT characters appear as well.
Characters use blades, pipes, firearms, and Personas (i.e., creatures that enable magical attacks) to defeat enemies; battles are highlighted by light effects, impact sounds, and cries of pain. Some cutscenes depict characters ripping masks off their faces as blood sprays. One cutscene depicts a man shooting another character in the head at close range; blood is shown pooling on the floor and splattering the victim’s clothes. Players may be disturbed by a scene involving a student attempting suicide.
Drug smuggling for the mafia is briefly discussed during a side quest (e.g., “Like illegal drugs…? Maybe they made Iida smuggle drugs for them.”). Ohya, a journalist, and friend is an avid drinker and can always be found at a bar.
As players explore themed areas of the “Metaverse,” they engage in turn-based combat against fantastical creatures (e.g., demons, evil spirits, shadow creatures). The best personas the main character has at his disposal are fantastical depictions of the Devil in three forms: Lucifer, Satan, and Satanael, with the latter being more from the religion of Gnosticism.
The main theme can be found in the original Persona 5 review. Messiah and Mariah (Jesus and Mother Mary) exist as high level Personas for the player to utilize. The additional semester of new content explores free will, and how important it is over some deity controlling your destiny and giving you an always happy ending. Persona 5 Royal also believes this to be good, despite having the ability to forget all the bad things like loss, pain, and suffering. The main characters fight for the reality to endure pain, because it is our ultimate right to choose. By not running from it, we become stronger, and we prove ourselves truly human. This partially echoes the truth we find in God himself. But the story in God doesn’t stop there. Yes, we are human by holding our free will in our hands, but to turn that back to Him yields a life truly greater, more plentiful, and beautiful than a life for anything else.
Since GUG has reviewed the vanilla version of Persona 5 in the past, I’ll cover the additions to see if this is worth playing all the way through again. This is my first exposure to the series, but from what I’ve seen of other entries, and hardcore fans saying P5 doesn’t get as serious in some ways compared to former titles, this seems like a great place to dive in.
Additionally, it should be noted that I played the base game all the way through just before Royal released, and quickly jumped into that with a fresh mind, so I could easily spot the differences. And yes, that is a 300-hour endeavor through three total playthroughs. I don’t say that to get a pat on the back, but to say that the effort to endure that much of one game at once wasn’t much hassle, because Persona 5 Royal is a stylish game in theme, play, and now in completion.
Right from the start P5R throws in the Assist button, and at free times you can press the touchpad. It’s the new home for the network function, as well as the Hangout, Confidant, and Leisure directions. The Confidant tells players which friend is free to hang out and level up. The Hangout feature takes you immediately to the Phantom Thieves’… hangout. The Leisure button lets players know which activity they can do, evening or afternoon. Speaking of activities, the batting cage lets you play as long as you want.
The first palace also gives you the grappling hook. There were a couple of places reworked entirely to let the grappling hook have a moment to shine. Each palace now has a small place where the hook is worked in.
Will Seeds have become a new item to collect in each palace. There are three total, in small rooms off the beaten path. These rooms have small echoes of the villain and their words repeating what it is they want. Collecting these means getting nice accessories afterwards, but they don’t add to the story or give any new insight to the villain’s inner self. Using guns in the cognitive world reset after each battle. Also, many of the bosses feature new tweaks and thematically-appropriate gameplay elements, adding some spice to each fight.
In-between the first two dungeons we meet Kasumi, the future party member, and the counselor Dr. Maruki, who is asked by the school to assess students in the wake of Kamoshida. Their inclusion adds plenty to the established tale without feeling overdone.
Speaking of new, the game also introduces you to Jose, a little boy with white hair and a cute little car who drives around Momentos collecting flowers and learning about humans. He can “manipulate” to offer increased money, experience points, and items for players by offering him flowers and stamps.
Goro Akechi is reworked to become more of a Confidant players can interact with like the others, usually drinking coffee or playing pool. Justine and Caroline request tours around Tokyo in order to understand humans, making humorous moments and reward gamers with magic cards. Futaba gets to be included in fights more, going as far as having her own All-Out Attack sequence, or blocking attacks for the whole party. Showtime attacks deal tons of damage, acting as special finishers between two members of the Phantom Thieves. Joker and Akechi have my favorite team attack, but Makoto and Haru elbow slamming enemies is a close second.
Living like Royalty
P5R adds Kichijoji, a town with lots of new little shops, a temple, a darts and billiards place, and a jazz club. It gets an automatic introduction during the time Makoto is snooping on Joker, and you can find her running around keeping her eye on the player.
A big addition is the Thieves Den. The Den contains a large central area for displaying main character Persona statues, boss statues, and hotspots of Tokyo, like Cafe LeBlanc or the airsoft shop, Untouchable. Awards are extra feats to accomplish in the game. They’re like little achievements, and they give coins which players need to buy the music, statues, and art.
You can run around the Den as any member of the Phantom Thieves in various costumes, play a unique card game, listen to all of the music, and view concept art, promotional posters, and awards. The Den isn’t tied to any one game file, thus any achievement earned is gained forever, and all awards can be gained from separate plays.
Finally, the game has faster loading times. And the writers made an effort to shorten and simplify the explanations of the pseudo science and storytelling plots. On top of new sprite art for every character, and the content during the third semester, replaying through Persona 5 is worth it.
The Bottom Line
Persona 5 Royal is the definitive way to play as a Phantom Thief.