Bigger, Bolder, Bursting With Style
Persona 5 exploded onto the scene way back in 2016. While it was a gorgeous game in its own right, it was PS3 gorgeous. On top of that, there was DLC released for the game, and the developers had a thing or two they wanted to tune up. As such, Atlus is gifting us all with Persona 5 Royal. Better graphics, new content, new characters, and all that DLC you might have missed. It’s a fabulous version of a fantastic game.
So why am I doing a ‘review in progress’ before the full review? Long story short, a lot of this hot new content is buried way up in the rib cage of this game. Rather than skirting the edges for cool new tidbits, I’ve got to reach in all the way to my elbow. To that end, I’m doing a full, fabulous playthrough of Persona 5 Royal. Also, and this is important, I sort of missed the Persona 5 boat when it pulled in to the harbor back in the day. Also also, there was this other project happening simultaneously. Nothing too serious, but it required a fair bit of time to complete. You understand. But now it’s all aboard the Persona train!
If you’ve forgotten the gritty bits of the Persona 5 narrative, here’s a helpful primer! You play a troubled teenage high school student who is entrusted with terrifying powers and decides to use them for good. By entering the minds of various scummy losers, you can steal their hearts and force them to be better people. Or maybe they just suffer irreparable mental trauma. It’s a roll of the dice, really. You exercise this power through gods/delusions/monsters known as Persona. Like all enviable powers, yours is honed and elevated by forming stronger bonds with the people you meet. Going on dates, doing odd jobs, performing well in your exams, and seeing good movies also help build your best self. This is all stock and standard for the larger Persona/Shin Megami Tensei franchise. So what have I discovered so far that’s new and exciting?
For the sensitive souls among you, here’s where I dig into spoiler-type content. You’ve been warned! Anyways, there’s a new feature introduced at the very beginning of the story. I was shocked when I learned this wasn’t in the base game. How did people get through Palaces before without a grappling hook? It doesn’t come up all that often, but it feels like certain parts of stages are designed around it. What did you all do before? Climb, like a peasant would? Preposterous. There are new characters as well, though I’ve only met one of them. Jose gives you more to do while running around the Mementos, such as collecting flowers in exchange for items. The boss encounters have apparently been tweaked, but I’ll have to take their word for it. As someone who has Persona’d a time or two before, the fights felt very on par with previous entries in the series. Tough but fair, with a healthy dash of strategy thrown in. As for the major additions, there’s some leg work to put in on my end first.
Believe The Hype
Although I’ve only put in a scant 27 hours so far, let’s wrap this up with some current impressions. First, I am a fool for keeping this game on the back burner for so long. Persona 5 is everything I hoped it would be and more. The combat is slick and stylish, the writing hits hard and fast, and the music is hopelessly infectious. Second, this already feels like a major upgrade from my previous Persona pilgrimages. There’s a host of little quality of life upgrades, like the notifications built into the fast-travel map. Now, I know ahead of time what’s in store at every part of the neighborhood. The pace starts out gentle, but it ramps up in short order. On the other hand, I feel an unusual confidence in all my time-sensitive choices. One way or another, this madcap story will resolve.
So what’s next? Now I retreat to the safety of my cave, shielded from sunlight and serious illness, to power through the new content in Persona 5 Royal. There is an extra 30 hours of game to chew up, which is pure madness. But so far, everything I’ve played has been exceptional. While I have no final score to report just yet, the preliminary judgments are all quite sound. Expect Persona 5 Royal to take a top spot on your shopping list when it comes out on March 31st.
***PS4 code was provided by the publisher***