The time has come once again to debate which Persona 5 cutie is the best to date. My mind has always been set on Makoto (although my heart is set on Yusuke) but there’s a brand new character who may give her a run for her money. Persona 5 Royal brings new content to the already massive game, but is it enough to justify purchasing at full price and playing through a 100+ hour campaign for a second time? That is the question.
In Persona 5 Royal you’ll still be fighting against rotten adults and forging strong relationships with the Phantom Thieves, though with more story content, new mechanics, and some quality of life changes. A majority of the additional story beats come at the end of the original plot, though there’s plenty of cutscenes and chances to hang out with the new characters sprinkled in before then. The biggest differences in Persona 5 Royal are all the new and updated mechanics found throughout the game.
The Metaverse — the cognitive world where Persona 5‘s Palaces, or dungeons, take place — have received some pretty big upgrades and changes. Joker can use a grappling hook in certain areas to find hidden treasure chests or take shortcuts. Boss fights have different mechanics that freshen things up for veteran players. The Phantom Thieves also devise abilities called Showtimes, where two teammates come together to perform a finishing move that dishes out a ton of damage and finishes off enemies in style. As anyone familiar with the game knows, Persona 5 has no shortage of character and style. These (and a few other changes) make combat flow better and give it a bit more personality.
Not all changes are found in the Metaverse, however. The best part of the game — hanging out with your friends — has gotten some shiny new updates alongside the combat. Social states, such as knowledge and charm, can more easily be leveled up this time around. You can spend time at night studying or reading in Cafe Leblanc even when you’re tired after infiltrating a Palace. This also means Morgana spends less time nagging you to go to sleep. Confidants will call your cell after hanging out and provide an opportunity to gain more points toward deepening your bond with them. I love getting to know all the characters and investing myself in their stories, so I spent a lot of time with them all. They provide a lot of useful skills for the Phantom Thieves too, both inside the Metaverse and out.
Persona 5 Royal even introduces some new confidants. Kasumi Yoshizawa is an adorable young gymnast, and Takuto Maruki is a counselor brought on by Shujin Academy. Needless to say, they each provide interesting and unique stories to explore, and I’ll be totally honest: Maruki is super hot. He might even overtake Yusuke’s spot in my heart. On that note, I am a little bummed that the male characters aren’t available for romance options, but I’ll still be happy with Makoto. Yoshizawa seems like a great choice for romance, too. I had to stop myself from breaking hearts because all the girls are so sweet it makes me want to date them all.
There is so much I haven’t even mentioned yet, including a new area of Tokyo to explore, changes to Mementos, extended confidant encounters with Goro Akechi, new and updated sprites and artwork, lots of personas to fuse, and even the new Thieves Den. The Thieves Den is a great way to showcase all of your achievements, and even play a fun card game with your friends. All of these changes, along with the new story arc, will take a good chunk of time to fully experience. They also change the game enough for me to feel comfortable recommending Persona 5 Royal to those who have already played the original. Yes, you’ll have to play through the game’s long story again, but there are so many changes that it feels fresh, even for returning veterans. I also found myself extremely invested in the story, even though I’d already experienced it during my initial playthrough. Persona 5 has such amazing characters and great interactions, and this time around, the already-fun combat has been greatly improved. I think the game marries the life sim and JRPG genres so well that everyone can get something out of it.
My only real complaint is that the new story arc feels a little tacked on at first. Going straight from fighting a huge final boss to entering a separate story was a bit jarring, but it ultimately made sense. I do wish the other Phantom Thieves played a bigger role in the new content, but it’s propped up by the new characters who bring fresh perspectives to the table, and it was great experiencing new story content for a game which already has such an amazing narrative. I’m such a sucker for a good story and great characters that I couldn’t help but get invested the second time around.
Honestly, it was easy for me to get through such a long game all over again, not only because of all the new changes but simply because Persona 5 is such a great game on its own. No exaggeration — I was glued to my TV for hours at a time, trying to experience every bit of content on offer. And yes, I could have written a tell-all review, but I also you to experience it for yourself. I had such a blast playing Persona 5 Royal, and I can safely say that it’s the definitive way to play Persona 5.
This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version of the game. A copy was provided to us by Atlus.
Persona 5 Royal offers so many changes to the core game that it feels fresh, all while keeping its original charm and style. With a brand new story arc and characters, as well as combat mechanics and updates to the social aspects, it's without a doubt the definitive way to play Persona 5.