I could leave it at that if I wanted. It’s just Persona 5 but there’s more stuff in it. Thanks for reading, have a nice day, enjoy Final Fantasy 7 Remake. But I do have a bit more integrity than that.
If you read my review of the original version, you’d know that I fucking love Persona 5. It’s my second favorite game of all time and easily my favorite JRPG. I poured hundreds of hours into it, driven by a desire to see everything the game had to offer. From the moment I started it to the moment I got the platinum trophy, I was enraptured by it.
When P5 Royal was announced, I had… mixed feelings. On one hand, I was excited to have an excuse to revisit one of my all-time favorite games. On the other, I was worried that this version would turn out to be a cheap cash-grab that changed too little from the original to be worth it. These two sides bickered back and forth for months, forcing me to ask myself a question: did I get it the day of release? Or did I wait to see what other people thought?
In the end, temptation won over caution. I preordered my copy and rushed to the door like a kid on Christmas the day of release. Since then, I found myself playing it practically non-stop. Partially to get it done with quickly to play newer games and write the review. But also because I wanted to see all the new stuff as quickly as possible.
But the question remains: was it worth it?
The main factor that sets this version apart from the original is the new story elements. Not only does this game add a whole new story with new characters, but it also completely revamps one character altogether. You get access to the new characters and their Confidant lines pretty early on, as they’re peppered into the original story. If you want to see the new Royal content, you’ll need to max all of these out before reaching the original climax.
If you do that, you’ll get extra story elements after you beat the original final boss. Since it’s pretty late into the game, I’ll avoid spoiling any of it. I can, however, give it a fair critique. So, what did I think of the new story elements?
Well… I have mixed feelings. I love the characters (except the antagonist), but the story itself is cliche and tacked on. The way they connect it to the original, while it does kind of make sense, is incredibly forced. It basically says “Hey, remember all that stuff with the final Palace? Yeah, fuck that. None of it mattered, it was a waste of time, deal with this now!” It feels like a slap to the face for the audience and the original game. There’s literally a line here explaining how Mementos came back that goes “It wouldn’t have stayed gone.”
In other words: you wasted your fucking time, fuck you.
The new Palace is… just okay. It has some decent puzzles, but they’re piss-easy. All the new enemies are cool looking and pose an interesting challenge, so I have no complaints there. It does sort of deflate the tension of the story though; that makes it the fourth time in a row that the characters say “This will be our last mission!” It’s hard to care when it keeps happening over and over, now isn’t it?
Now, let’s deep dive into the antagonist. Fuck this guy. They try to make him a sympathetic villain, but it all falls flat on its face. He just says the same thing over and over again and tries to persuade you to his side not once, not twice, but four fucking times! Maybe more, he did it so often that they started to blur together! Sometimes he’d try multiple times in the same fucking scene! It doesn’t help that his design is weak and his boss fights (yes, plural) are the worst in the entire game; they’re dull, repetitive, and make me yearn for death. And get this: they try to end it all off with a Metal Gear Solid 4 finale! Doesn’t exactly work in a turn-based RPG, especially when you don’t give a rats ass about anything that’s happening up to that point.
Fun fact: the original game ended with killing God for a fucking reason! There’s kind of no stepping it up from there! If you wanted to add another Palace, throw it in before the original final boss, not after!
The ending to the new arc is also incredibly stupid. Logic and reason are completely tossed aside. The established rules of the story are completely torn apart. Worse yet: when it’s all over, it just rewinds time and gives us what we got in the original! Only this time, Kasumi is there! Congratulations! You spent sixty dollars on a total waste of time! Good job everyone! Nothing’s different, no one cares!
Oh, but there’s a new ending cutscene! Which is worse than the original in literally every fucking way! It isn’t satisfying, emotional, or even all that conclusive! All the old characters are shoved aside for the new, logic is completely thrown out the window, and it teases for a sequel! It sucks and it makes me angry!
So… the new story gets a D-. The new characters, excluding the antagonist, are pretty good and well-written. But the story itself is a big waste of fucking time that changes nothing, except for making the ending suck. You will gain literally nothing from playing this one if you already played the original. This was the part I was most looking forward to; now, I can’t shake this feeling of regret.
I paid sixty dollars for an advertisement. I did that willingly!
Now, to be fair: the new gameplay elements are actually pretty solid! Not only are there a ton of new additions, but a lot of old elements have been redone! In terms of actual gameplay, this one is definitely an upgrade from the original! At least in most regards.
The biggest one is a series of new additions to the day-to-day gameplay. These include… *deep breath*
- Playing darts (featuring weird motion controls!)
- Playing billiards (featuring no controls!)
- Going to a jazz club
- Selling clothes to the anime Goodwill
- Meditating at a shrine
- Reading new books
- Cleaning Leblanc
- Solving crossword puzzles
- New requests in Mementos
- A new area in Mementos which is just more of the same but white and gray
- Slight redesigns to certain areas of the Palaces
- Will Seeds, new collectibles that give you super powerful accessories
- Revamped boss fights
And probably more. The challenge of listing them all is that I can’t tell whether or not they’re new or if I just missed them in the original. But I know for a fact that those are all new.
There’s also a whole slew of new combat mechanics! Going over all of them would take waaaaay too long. So I’ll just go over the biggest one. As well as my personal favorite. I’m referring to the new Showtime attacks.
These new tag-team attacks are easily the best new thing in the game! They’re flashy as hell, featuring some of the most fun animations in the whole game! My favorite is shared between Makoto and Haru, wherein they take the enemy to a wrestling arena, double-team them, and finish with a double elbow drop! They don’t make any sense, but they’re often hysterical and incredibly visually appealing! Plus, they do a lot of damage!
There are also the new Persona abilities. These are special abilities that you choose for your Persona during fusion. The effects range from decreasing the cost of spells, granting immunities to certain attacks or status effects, increasing the likelihood of insta-kills hitting, so on and so forth. They’re a nice touch to spruce things up, adding an extra layer of depth to Persona creation. Although it is a letdown that some abilities are just objectively better than others.
And then there are the challenge battles. These are extra fights you can partake in the Velvet Room, wherein you earn points depending on your performance. Unfortunately, all the cool ones, those being the fights with the P3 and P4 protagonists, are restricted to DLC. And considering how much I already paid for this game, I don’t think I’m going to bother taking that plunge. Which is a shame, because that could’ve been the coolest part of the game!
Mementos has also seen a fair few changes. The new shopkeeper, Jose, will appear at random. In exchange for collectible flowers, you can buy a whole list of incredibly useful items. There are also the new Stamps, which can be used in exchange for experience, money, and item drop boosts. Unfortunately, grinding for said stamps quickly becomes a huge pain in the ass, as it’s entirely RNG based whether or not they’ll appear after your first run through that area. And make no mistake; if you want them all, you’ll need to go through each area multiple times. By the time you collect them all, you’ll already be beyond the point of needing the rewards they give. Oh, and no. You don’t get anything else for collecting them all.
That’s about all I can say for Persona 5 Royal. Overall, I found it to be fairly disappointing. It’s definitely an upgrade over the original in a few ways. But the new story elements, excluding one character, are a huge downgrade. It takes a story that I absolutely adored and butchers the ending. Unfortunately, I just can’t forgive it for that.
Look, I’m fine with adding new story elements. Just make them actually interesting, give them consequence to the narrative beyond a shitty ending, and don’t make the antagonist the most annoying ‘holier than thou’ man in history.
If you’ve already played Persona 5, don’t bother with this one. If you haven’t, I’d highly recommend playing the original over this. None of the new stuff makes it worth the price tag or the time investment. I had hoped for an upgrade. But it turns out that you can’t improve perfection.
Although I do love Kasumi. She’s fantastic.