Launched in 2017, Persona 5 represented the next evolution of the Persona formula. Persona 5 Royal amplifies top-notch turn-based combat and superb social mechanics, as well as the complex systems surrounding them. But it also adds new characters, a storyline, and a rich post-game palace that delve deeper into the lore of the world, offering the ultimate way to experience Persona 5.
The original game loop remains the same: you seek out fallen people, infiltrate dungeons according to their personalities, and battle a plethora of enemies—all while going to school and building relationships with various confidants. Networking with people from all walks of life, getting to know their stories and strengthening your bonds can be beneficial both from a character development perspective and from the way these relationships serve you usefully . If you haven’t played Persona 5 before, this is the perfect way to start.
Even if you do play the original, Royal will give you plenty of reasons to go back. In addition to realigning the way you relate to Wise to have more meaningful interactions with this important character, Royal has added two brand new confidants, Kasumi and Maruki. While I love the stories of both characters, I especially love the bonuses they offer along the way: Kasumi increases your health and gives you awesome dodge when the shadows are about to ambush you, while Maruki increases the Joker’s Max SP, which comes in handy during long palace infiltrations.
Kasumi and Maruki provide humor and heartfelt interactions, and while Kasumi eventually joins your team as a full-fledged Phantom Thief, that won’t happen until the new postgame palace. While I’m disappointed she’s not at your party for most of the game, her constant presence in the story means you’re already familiar with her when the time comes. This new palace and the arcs around it provide an interesting perspective on how the world works strangely after the events of the original ending, and offers puzzles, dungeon elements, and is unique among other palaces in the game of. Initially I was concerned that adding a new final boss fight would dilute the specialness of the original ending, but without spoiling it, this new final boss provides the climax and cinematic ending to your journey as a Phantom Rogue.
In the 100 hours leading up to this post-game content, I enjoyed revisiting the original palaces and their tiny additions. The Joker can now use a grappling hook, which allows him to swing to new locations in the palace to find hidden treasure chests or the new collectible Will Seeds. The three seeds of will per palace are usually hidden behind fighting sequences, puzzles or tough battles, but if you collect all three and take the resulting item to the new character Jose in the memento, you can get valuable accessories to equip your character. While they all give you powerful perks or moves, my favorite is an ability that buffs an ally’s next magic attack to an extreme degree; I can’t tell you how many times this move has helped me turn the tide of the battle. As the story progresses, you’ll also accumulate Showtime moves, team up attacks that progress through fun cutscenes, and get you out of trouble if you get into trouble in the palace.
It’s even more fun to relive memorable battles with the rulers of the palace, as they now have more form to play on their sin themes. Since the palace is built on the perception of the palace’s rulers, I love seeing how they fit into the boss’s deviant and twisted perspective in unique ways. While each of these forms adds something exciting or engaging to the way the fight goes, a boss fight is time-limited, while the royal version adds extra dialogue and a new form, while Instead of adding time, that led to frustration. Regardless of that defeat, thanks to these additions, palace boss fights are overall better than the original game.
With so many additions and improvements, Persona 5 Royal is an improved version of one of the best RPGs of the past decade. Whether you’re eager to enjoy the Phantom Rogue’s journey again, or want to experience it for the first time, the Royal wears its crown well.