Persona 5 Royal is the updated version of Atlus’ 2016 masterwork Persona 5. I didn’t go into this expecting much to have been changed, I was pleasantly surprised.
Now in the interest of full disclosure, I love Persona 5. I think it’s the closest to perfect that is possible for any game. So much so that it’s in my top 6 games of all time. This has to come with a caveat or 2. I love Anime and turn based RPGs. Persona 5 is “Anime The Game”. That appeals to me greatly but I can understand that not everyone will feel the same.
P5 already had my favourite OST of any game, strong narratives, great storytelling, interesting combat, and one of the best social systems of any game to date. Needless to say it was incredible, so what could they possibly do to improve this? Well they actually changed up a lot, almost every part of this game has been updated or added to.
I played around 10 hours for this first impressions article, so I basically got past the first main boss. I’ve checked online and the average play through is around 100 hours. First I’ll talk about the things that have been altered from the original. Then I will discuss just new things they have added. I’ll finish up with anything in my short play time that I didn’t like. Spoilers for that last part, there isn’t much I don’t like about this game… My bad.
So what’s the message? You are a highschooler in Japan who basically has his life ruined by corrupt adults. The corruption of adults is a common theme throughout P5.
You are transferred to a new school and are staying with a stranger, Sojiro Sakura, who owns a small cafe. On your way to your first day at school you and another student, Ryuji, are somehow transported to a castle. This castle is actually what is called a Palace. A Palace is basically the manifestation of a person’s strong distorted desire. It’s hard to explain without spoilers. Basically, when someone’s perception of the world is really messed up, they may form a Palace. This Palace holds their shadow form, this shadow basically acts out the distorted desire completely. I won’t blame you if this seems confusing… It’s definitely explained better in game!
In this Palace you and Ryuji are captured and taken to the dungeon. You awaken to a new power called Persona. Your own Persona, Arsene, helps you to fight your way out, along with another Persona user. This Persona user is a small strange cat called Morgana.
You then spend the rest of the game trying to fight for justice against all of the corrupt adults. You will engage with many people and form strong bonds with them, fight with many Persona, and fight for your justice all the way to the top.
That’s just a brief overview but it sets it up well enough, I think.
Ok, for the comparisons. You will notice right from the start that there are plenty of changes.
When you boot up the game, both original and in Royal, there is basically a music video to start you off. This has been completely revamped, there is an all new animated scene and also a new song as well. I can’t decide which of the songs I prefer, it might be the original but only by a little!
Right from the opening sequence they have changed things up. You are introduced to a character that wasn’t in the original, who actually saves you. This is a nice touch because it sets up how this character may play a part in the story early on. I’m definitely a fan of this, and the scene is pretty cool regardless.
An interesting choice that has been made, is to change the way ammo works. You can use guns when you are in a Palace, in the original you had set ammo that you went into a Palace with. Now however, you get one clip or rounds to use per battle. So when you use them up, there are no more to use in that battle. Then when the battle is over, they are replenished for the next fight. This makes using guns a more reliable option in battle. Definitely a good change.
I don’t think this happened in the original so I’m adding this here. When you arrive home after you hang out with your friends, they will call you and check on you basically. Not only is this already a nice touch, they have added a little dialogue box. They also included an animated graphic of the person, made to look like it’s over the phone. It’s just a really nice touch and endears everyone to you more.
It seems that all loading times have been shortened, even if only slightly. I also think the main transition animation has changed as well. It’s more of either a cloak moving or the cloth being pulled away. Either way it’s a clean little animation.
Next for the comparisons section, the baton pass feature has been updated. This time around, you are able to use it right from the start. This is fantastic, it makes the combat flow much better, especially when you get a new team mate. It also comes with a new animation. When you baton pass to another team member, you are told what benefits they will get and then they will have a coloured aura around them. It also changes based on the number of passes that you have made.
This will be the last thing I talk about for the direct comparisons. This might be one of my favourite things that they have done for P5R. Specifically because it caught me off guard. They have changed up the mechanics for the boss fight. Only a bit but just enough that it definitely feels like a different fight all together.
So that’ll do for the direct comparisons in the beginning of the game.
So now about straight up new additions, I’m really enjoying all them so far. In quite a lot of ways they refresh the game enough to make it feel more like a new game.
Let’s start with one of my favourite additions first, the grappling hook. This is awesome. I don’t know if I would say that it adds a significant amount of traversal. I would say that it definitely does add more options. Just in the first Palace there is a point where you can do an awesome skyline swing. It’s quite cinematic. It’s just a nice touch that occasionally gives you a new option that wasn’t there originally.
This is just a small one but you are rewarded for playing the original P5. It doesn’t add a lot, but it’s nice to see the devs rewarding you for continuing to support them. It’s just some ingame items but it’s enough, specifically, you get some money and a bunch of healing items.
There is a whole new type of accessory added. These accessories actually give the wearer access to a particular skill. The first example is a wind accessory that gives anyone wearing it access to the Garu spell. It’s definitely an interesting addition.
Following on from that, there are now new collectibles in the Palaces. In each Palace there are three hidden doors that house Will Seeds. When you collect all three they combine to create an accessory, this accessory can give you access to a skill too.
Speaking of new, there are new confidant skills. A confidant is basically a friend, then when you become better friends with them they can give you bonuses. Some bonuses are for combat, others for outside combat, all are important. They have changed up what abilities some of the confidants can give you. So far, I really like the changes. They seem much more useful and more tuned towards the gameplay.
There is a new battle simulation available as well. I’ve not delved into this but I know that you can go into battle and depending on how much damage you do, you can get some pretty cool rewards. It’s just a little extra activity, so I’m all for it.
Now for a couple of little quality of life changes that I like. The first, is a little quick menu that can help you travel around. It has an option to take you to your hideout, to see a confidant, or to go somewhere to improve your stats. The other is when you are looking at your map, trying to travel around, each location will give you information about what you can do there. For example, if somewhere can improve your guts, it will give you that message. It seems like a small addition but I appreciate anything that makes it easier to keep track of what can be done where.
That’ll do for the positive sections, as I said, I’ve only gone through the first Palace so far. I have no doubt there will be more to talk about going through the rest of the game.
I said it above but there really isn’t much that I dislike or would consider bad about the original Persona 5. This very much holds true in Royal too. So this section will be very light in this first impression.
This has not changed from the original but the opening is pretty slow. I personally really like it and don’t mind it taking a while, but there is quite a lot of set up and exposition to get you started. There will definitely be people that do not like this but I don’t find it to be an issue.
The only other “issue” that I picked up on is with the auto scroll feature for the text boxes. This occurs sometimes with the text that is voice acted, and sometimes when you have the auto feature turned on it will scroll slightly too fast. When it does this, the next line of dialogue starts a little too fast so the dialogue doesn’t flow perfectly.
In my personal opinion there was not really anything that needed to be changed about the original. That being said I definitely think that all of these changes are welcome and the quality of life (QoL) changes are all good. Whilst playing the original I never really thought about it needing any QoL improvements, but the devs found plenty of places to make additions and improvements that definitely improve the experience.
If you loved P5 then you will definitely love this game as well. Even saying that, if you like any kind of JRPG then you will also find something to love in this game too. I would definitely say that so far this update is fantastic and definitely worth a try. I bought P5R for 50 of my English pounds on the PS Store, so it is basically priced as a brand new game. This may deter some people, but for my money it is already seeming to be worth it.
Look forward to me releasing a full review for Persona 5 Royal, this should be coming soon!
In the meantime check out our other reviews!
Persona 5 Royal First Impressions.
Written by Kyle Munn