An enhanced version of Persona 5 with some new characters and a third semester added to the game. Released Internationally in 2020.
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Still in love with this cast of characters. I found the original story to be pretty weak compared to the other games in the series but it had some great highs. The new Royal portion of the story was a welcome addition and honestly, I really wish it was the main focus of the original story. Would've liked it a lot more. While I find the Royal additions to now be my favorite part of the game, I don't think this game should've been another full release but that is what we got. All in all, still a well-polished game with good characters and a fun story.
This review contains spoilers
Really excellent adventure throughout and a definite improvement over P4G. Namely the dungeon system is completely reworked and it's now actually fun to traverse the various Palaces instead of the mind-numbing random dungeons of previous games. Social links feel more impactful now, not only upgrading your Persona fusions, but also giving you additional abilities that help you during combat. My only major gripes is the final villain, Shido, is kinda lackluster. Like he's set up to be the evil force that orchestrated everything and then you blink and he's groveling in remorse. It's too quick of a turn around and it just left me unsatisfied. Speaking of story, Akechi's reveal was already spoiled for me but amazingly the game knew this would get spoiled so there is a second twist on the reveal that really makes me applaud the brilliant writing for anticipating the spoilers and delivering an even bigger twist. Overall, the game is really a huge step in evolving the Persona franchise and I can't wait to see what Atlus has cooking up next.
Phenomenal writing stretched too thin.
The visuals and sound design are literally perfect. From the ui sound effects, to the music, and the bordering on ASMR brilliant voice acting, my headphones and ears have rarely been so treated. The menu system elevates a fairly paint by numbers RPG battle system to something actually tense and engaging visually.
But here come the complaints.
First off, this feels like a stupid thing to complain about, but the length of the game is gargantuan. I clocked in a 143 hours to just reach the credits for the first time. Ordinarily getting this much content out of a $60 USD game (got on sale for half that price) it would be a positive. And it would have if Persona 5 Royal had maintained a consistent quality of writing and characters. Unfortunately due to its length, the cracks in the writing and characterization become unavoidably apparent.
****** light spoilers (I will omit details but will be spoiling narrative patterns and directions that would be better as a surprise.****
The Achilles heel of Persona 5 Royal is introducing phenomenal characters, only for them to eventually devolve into caricatures.
The character hit the hardest and most offensively in my opinion being Ann. Her entire arc is based on being objectified and abused by those around her because of her sex and physique. The trauma of these experiences shapes her character and motivation... only for a few chapters later for her to be the butt of every sexual joke in the game. Her character started strong, and then turned into a cardboard cutout of herself treated as the "haha sexy girl" and is put in various situations making light of her trauma, or even entirely ignoring it. Eventually that carboard Ann tips over when her relevance is worn out and the next character is introduced.
The pattern goes great character introduction -> turned into a trope -> largely forgotten about. This plays out so many times by the end it gets more and more frustrating each time.
There is another frustrating pattern with the optional confidants. Each one is introduced as some sketchy individual with a threatening aura. The beginning of the game genuinely felt like an infiltration into the seedy underbelly of the big city. As you get to know each character, it comes out that they have a dark past and have made some serious mistakes. But then each and every one of them is revealed to have a heart of gold and were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. This parallels the main characters story decently enough, but feels increasingly convenient and dull the more it happens. I wanted one of them to be just a real piece of shit with no redeeming qualities. And maybe then they could grow into a better person (or not). But the more interesting idea of a bad person dealing with their mistakes always ends up that their "failures" were never their fault in the first place.
Unfortunately these two patterns, once identified, make up most of the game and only have slight variation. The game shines its best before these same stories have been repeated enough to be expected.
**light spoilers end here**********
Despite my two aggressively negative complaints with the writing, when the game is in the introduction phase to the next event, the game is phenomenal. It is only through prolonged exposure and an overstuffed cast that the cracks begin to show.
The setting and theme of the game is very emotional and struck home more often than not during the painfully introspective moments the characters go through. The visualizations and explorations of these distorted world views blew me away at their proficiency and insight.
Overall, Persona 5 Royal is a masterclass in presentation and character writing, but begins to unravel due to prolonged exposure of repeated ideas.