Thursday, 9 July 2020

Persona 5 Royal ★★★★★

‘Persona 5’ originally came out at the end of 2016, and at the time it was lauded as one of the PlayStation games of the generation (which I completely agree with, thinking back to my initial experiences with it). It was a JRPG that hit all the marks and managed to craft an incredible game that walked the line between dungeon battling and a teenage Japanese soap opera.

Now we have the release of ‘Persona 5 Royal’, that is essentially ‘Persona 5’ but with an expanded story and a whole host of new features. But does this release have enough packed in it to warrant a full new game (especially given that the 2016 release really wasn’t that long ago), or should it have been a DLC for the original?

I won't talk too much about the basics as the game has been out for over 3 years now, but it still looks and feels wonderful to play. Prominent features such as the style of every area explored within Tokyo, and the excellent gameplay, right down to the accents like the handcrafted menus of the game are a wonder to behold.

But what is NEW in ‘Persona 5 Royal’? Firstly and most importantly there is a whole new school semester and dungeon/storyline at the end of the main game, which will unfold as long as you fill a few easily completed prerequisites. This is a well-told new narrative that is hinted at and woven into the original story like it should have always been there and doesn't feel tacked on. It truly fits in seamlessly.

There are also new characters and gameplay mechanics that are injected into the original game, for example, a new tool that you gain access to quite early on - the grappling hook. This completely changes how you can move around at certain points in dungeons which, along with some big fights, have been reworked to implement this and other mechanics. So much so, in fact, that it doesn’t feel like a cash grab as the whole game has been revamped from the ground up.

The new characters that have been added feel right at home in the story and you will be introduced to them over time, but make sure you give them enough attention so you can unlock the best ending to the game! My favourite new character is definitely Kasumi, who was unlike any others and added a fresh feeling to the previous content. There are also new cutscenes, voiceover lines, and areas of Tokyo to explore when you aren't being a phantom thief in one of the many dungeons in the game. They offer you lots of different activities to bond with characters and improve your protagonists’ social stats.

‘Persona 5 Royal’ could have been a mistake. It could have been completed half-heartedly and not contained enough new content to make it worth your money, but like ATLUS did before with ‘Persona 4’, they have again made an absolutely incredible game even better. It will take you way over 100 hours to see everything that the game has to offer, and I guarantee that it will be time well spent. If you are a fan of the ‘Persona’ series then this game is definitely for you, and if you have never played before then this will be a great introduction to the series.

Hannah Read

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