Persona 5 Royal was released worldwide on March 31 of this year and is an enhanced version of Persona 5, which is similar to Persona 4 Golden. The story follows a young man who is falsely accused of a crime and transferred to Tokyo to live out his probation. During his time at school, he awakens to a new power (his persona) and sets up the Phantom Thieves to change people’s hearts, making them confess their sins.
With the original release nominated for various awards and considered one of the greatest role-playing games of all time, it begs the question, what does Persona 5 Royal actually add to the story? The new version has added a few things to the game, but is it worth the full retail price being charged?
Here’s a breakdown of what’s good and bad and if it ultimately is worth the price tag.
Thankfully the enhanced version lives up to its promise of exciting new content. They’ve added two new confidants (potential friends), Kasumi and Maruki. They are a worthwhile addition providing extra story content to the game and both play a big part in achieving the new, true ending. Both of these new confidants give the protagonist beneficial rewards such as HP (health) and SP (magic).
Kasumi might be my favourite confidant to level up as her story is fascinating and she is so interesting to interact with. Playing both Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal, I can safely say that it feels like these additions complete the story. I can’t picture the story of Persona 5 without these characters now.
A New Palace and New Personas
Persona 5 Royal adds an entirely new Palace and a third semester to the game which totals over 30 hours of fresh content. This addition completely changes the dynamic of the game; it’s a Palace that has a ruler with ambiguous morals where the player must judge whether their own distorted desire is good or bad.
A special mention must be made for the incredible score by Shoji Meguro. ‘Gentle Madman’ represents the Palace perfectly as it evokes a mix of beauty with a bittersweet feeling that something isn’t quite right with the idyllic music. It’s my second favourite Palace, behind Madarame’s, as the design fits the story. The plot is also a refreshing take on the meaning of these Palaces by questioning if the Phantom Thieves are doing the right thing.
Not counting extra DLC and awakenings, there are 15 new personas to create and play as – Cait Sith being the cutest addition. When a character awakens to a persona, their Shadow Self (negative version of the character) calls out to them, forming a mask on their face. Once a mask is ripped off, it becomes the character’s persona and gives them their strength and power. Each member of the Phantom Thieves can have a third awakening of their personas if you max them out and interact with them during the third semester.
One of the best things that has had changes made to it is Mementos Palace. Mementos is the Palace for Tokyo’s hearts, in which residents have distorted hearts that the Phantom Thieves can then help fix through requests. It’s less grindy and is made more fun by the new additions to it. You can crash into enemies and now gain a reasonable amount of XP to make leveling up easier. Plus, it’s hilarious to see Morgana crash with the added sound effects.
Jose is a new addition to Mementos. The player can collect flowers and stamps to trade with him for boosts. This helps to level up your team as he can improve the amount of XP gain, money, and the value of items. He can also give you much needed support items and can improve the accessories gained when gathering Will Seeds (collectible items).
With the addition of semester three, most of the confidants in your party are given further characterisation through the story and we are given more details about their desires. Akechi’s social link route has been completely changed and contributes to the new story. I found myself liking the new version of Akechi much more and making his decisions in Persona 5 make more sense after Royal.
The gameplay is improved as battles are more about strategy rather than bombarding an enemy with power. Status ailments (such as shock or freeze) have a stronger effect making technical all-out-attacks easier to achieve. The addition of Showtime as a special attack is incredible. The different combination attacks from your team make fighting exciting because you’ll never know which event you’ll get.
A few new areas have been added where you can explore and visit with confidants. Kichijoji is the biggest and has the most freedom to adventure. The addition of darts, jazz, and the thrift store make it a must-visit in the game.
Whilst there are small changes to Palaces such as Will Seeds and updated boss battles, you’ll have to play over 50 hours until you encounter new content. If you’ve played Persona 5 before, then it can feel quite repetitive with only slight changes until you get to the new Palace.
Apart from Akechi, I was disappointed that confidants from the original rarely got any change in their social links, making the events feel a bit monotonous. I wanted a little extra from my favourites Makoto and Futaba, but the social links were almost the same as Persona 5.
They added a new feature called Thieves Den where you can buy collectibles and decorate your own space. A lot of work clearly went into this and it looks phenomenal, but it’s not part of the main game and I barely used it besides during my first playthrough.
If you played Persona 5 and didn’t immediately become obsessed with the amazing franchise, then perhaps Persona 5 Royal isn’t for you. If you loved Persona 5 and found yourself invested in the characters and story then Persona 5 Royal is a must have.
The new additions truly change the game and are worth the full price as it’s more than DLC, it feels like a refreshed game entirely. Persona 5 Royal is definitely for the fans of the series, but if you aren’t a fan yet, Persona 5 Royal is worth checking out.
Words by Charlie Vogelsang