Over the course of the Holiday season, here at Ready Player Gone we will be bringing you a feature article each day – with a break on every 6th day – in the lead-up to Christmas. Our posts will be split into one of five themes throughout the event and there may even be a competition or two. Today the theme is, Games of the year. That means that this post will highlight what we believe to be a game of the year contender. Today I will be taking a look at Persona 5 Royal. For the full RPG Christmas line-up, click here!
Persona 5 Royal – the perfect game?
Persona 5 is considered to be one of – if not – the most near-perfect JRPG ever made. Forget Final Fantasy VII, Joker and the Phantom Thieves have stolen the title in incredible fashion. How on earth could it get any better? Yes. Yes it could. Persona 5 Royal released worldwide in March 2020 to some of the best reviews ever given. With a 95 score on Metacritic (two more points than the standard release) and 10/10 ratings from both IGN and Gamespot. Does any game truly deserve a 10/10? Is it possible for a game to be truly perfect?
If Final Fantasy VII is renowned for its incredible, gritty storytelling and in-depth combat system; Persona 5 Royal is renowned for giving us a game that fulfills the potential of the genre as a whole. As I have already mentioned, the original 2016 release was already highly rated, but the additions brought by Royal takes it so much further. Persona 5 Royal isn’t just a complete version of the original release including all the DLC – like Final Fantasy XV Royal Edition – but it is an entirely new release aiming to fix and enhance an already great game. This is the ultimate way to experience Persona 5.
One part social-sim, one part dungeon crawler
For those who do not know about the Persona series, firstly, where have you been (check out our Persona 4 Golden article)? A little bit about how the game functions. The game essentially has two major elements to it, the social-sim aspect where you control Joker in his daily life as a highschool student. During this time you will engage in school and build relationships with people known as confidants. These relationships (or social links) will improve your aptitude in the other major part of the game, dungeon crawling.
The dungeon crawling element has always been the weaker of the two in the series. Usually it can be tedious at times and this was apparently even the case to a degree with the original release of Persona 5 (thankfully not the case with Royal). In the dungeons known as Palaces, your party takes control of their Persona, which is the manifestation of the user’s personality.
The combat in the game feels great, there is a level of simplicity to the turn-based formula here, but as you progress and more elements are introduced, variety is found in abundance. From what I have heard (as I never played the standard version), Persona 5 originally was a bit lacking in some departments – mainly those that were relevant in the Palaces. The layouts were stale after a while, and one of the key combat elements – guns – was really lacking in usefulness. Thankfully these were rectified in the Royal version with more verticality added and your ammo resetting after every encounter.
Persona 5 Royal brings more than just DLC
Persona 5 Royal added a whole host of new features, equating to about an additional 60 hours worth of gameplay. One of the main features it brought with it is actually more of a general overhaul of the game’s pacing. According to players of both games, Royal improves on this incredibly well. Here is a brief list of other changes/additions Persona 5 Royal brings with it:
- Kasumi, a new character and party member.
- A third semester, bringing an incredible amount of story content and an additional palace to conquer.
- Thieves Den, an area to show your collectibles off.
- New story cutscenes.
- A whole new area, Kichijoji, which is larger than any other area and includes extremely useful activities.
- Two new confidants for social links.
- Various new items.
- Two new story endings.
I haven’t played everything this game has to offer yet. It is so large and there is so much you can do. If you even want to play the game in its entirety you will need to complete multiple playthroughs. Check out The Completionist’s video below on his five HUNDRED hour journey with the original release of Persona 5. There is so much here for you and even Atlus casually let you know with every load screen, take your time.
More gushing about the social-sim
The social-sim elements of the game are by far my favourite. To be able to finish a long day of school, after answering an obscure question in my German class, to be able to go for a bowl of Ramen with Ryuji is great. Then when I get back home to Le Blanc (coffee shop and dwelling) maybe Sojiro wants to teach me how to brew the perfect blend of Columbian beans.
Joker has one hell of a social life and although all these little interactions benefit me in the dungeon crawling and furthering the story, I really don’t care about that. It’s useful, but what is a lot more satisfying is watching the relationships between characters grow, their dialogue becoming more interesting because maybe you now have the guts to ask Ann out on a date. To think, I got to the point of doing that by competing in a burger challenge 3 times to raise the skill point.
That is another thing, skill points. All the little things that you do in the world can raise your attribute points, whether that’s reading a book, studying or maybe pumping your guns at the gym. But seriously, you’re gonna want to choose carefully what you do and take your time as you can’t do it all.
A joy to the eyes and the ears
I haven’t even mentioned the art style and the music, how could I forget? The anime artstyle is gorgeous and it looks even better on a PS4 Pro with HDR enabled, it is such a colour heavy game. The palette has it’s blends of moody colours, dispersed and splattered with bright, eye watering red tones.
Then there’s the music, the Persona series has always had some of the best music out of any series ever. In fact, the music in the series is so good, they’ve even created three spin-off rhythm games so you can enjoy the music without the need to play through an entire RPG. From the little jingles to the focus on Jazz when you go for coffee or food with a confidant. Or there’s the engaging battle themes which know how to ramp up the tension perfectly. This game is a joy to listen to as well as play.
Voice acting is also top-notch. I am usually a bit of a stickler for a Japanese Dub with English Sub due to my love for anime, but I cannot imagine playing Persona 5 without the English dub. The only bit which is slightly grinding about it is the way some characters say eachothers Japanese names in an almost obnoxious American accent.
My time with the game is still limited. I haven’t played endless hours into the game. In fact, I am relatively early into the main story, but I love what I have seen so far. Even from what I have seen, I can consider this game a Game of the Year candidate. It is an enthralling RPG that will keep you gripped with its quirky dialogue, in-depth relationships and addictive battle-system.
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