Persona 5: Royal (Feature Review) Playstation 4

Persona 5: Royal (Feature Review) Playstation 4
Review Score:

Developed by Atlus, Persona 5: Royal is a turned-based JRPG that sees the player in the role of a voiceless protagonist, who is destined to become the elusive Persona user, Joker. After being expelled from school for intervening in a crime where an inebriated man attacks a woman, Joker is sent to Tokyo to live with family friend Sojiro Sakura; a staunch business man who operates a semi-popular restaurant/pub in the suburbs. From there, Joker is expected to attend Shujin Academy without violating his probation, but there’s a problem – on his first day of school, Joker befriends a troublemaker by the name of Ryuji.  

As they walk to school together, they take a shortcut that somehow sends them into a parallel dimension. While in this ‘Metaverse’, Joker and Ryuji discover the school is missing, and a giant, ominous castle stands in its place. After debating whether they should enter the castle or not, Joker and Ryuji decide to go in and investigate. Ryuji is surprised by what he and Joker finds – the castle is actually a prison for the school’s Volleyball team. Even young female students are trapped, and they are made to wear scantily-cladded outfits. Worst of all, is when the owner of the castle is revealed. The school’s Volleyball coach, Suguru Kamoshida, occupies the castle as its ‘king’, and he is nothing short of being a tyrant.

As they try to escape the castle, Joker and Ryuji encounter a talking feline named Morgana. He (Morgana) initially helps the group escape the castle and return to the real world. Unfortunately for Joker, he and Ryuji are hours late getting to school, and this is where the adventure begins. Luckily, Morgana becomes an import alley, and he is present throughout the story to lend a helping hand (paw?) to both Joker and Ryuji. Unbeknownst to Joker and his friend, they are going to need all the help they can get.

It should be mentioned that Persona 5: Royal contains several improvements that were not present in the original game, Persona 5. For starters, the game includes two new characters – Takuto Maruki (a school counselor) and Kasumi Yoshizawa (a rhythmic gymnast who transferred to Shujin Academy at the same time as Joker). In addition, Royal’s story has been expanded to include a new school semester and more ‘Palaces’ to explore. This is all complimented by brand-new animated story sequences;  Holidays and additional character scenes; and social events. There is now a jazz bar the player can visit that can grant level ups and stat increases, along with a temple where Joker’s SP can permanently increase via meditation. And this only scratches the surface where story changes are concerned; there are just too many to cover in a single review.

The gameplay has been reworked to contain ‘quality of life’ improvements. For example: the in-game calendar has been tweaked to allow for more free time outside school. This means the player has more time to interact with party members and the NPCS who occupy the game world that is Tokyo. Surprisingly, the social element of Royal has been upgraded to include possible phone calls from ‘confidants’; people the player interacts with in and outside school. This feature introduces additional chat dialogue during conversations, while also strengthening Joker’s bond with the person (or people) in question. It also provides a ranking system that rewards new abilities for combat. For example: increasing the ‘Confidant’ ranking with party members will unlock a new combat skill called ‘Baton Pass’, which allows the player to select a second party member after the first lands a critical blow. In addition to this, the player can interact with non-party Confidants to unlock new equipment and special items that can be used later in battle.

As mentioned earlier, Persona 5: Royal uses a turn-based combat system. Battle is initiated when the player attacks a ‘Shadow’ (i.e. the physical manifestation of a person’s oppressed psyche) or is ambushed by one. It’s also possible to sneak up on an enemy by pressing the X button to hide behind certain objects in the environment (i.e chairs, corners, etc.), and then attacking from behind. This will unmask the shadow and make it vulnerable for a short period of time.

During battle, the player’s party can use melee weapons and firearms to battle foes. In addition (and most importantly) are the Personas, which each party member can summon to participate in combat or heal party members. (A Persona must possess a skill called DIA to heal party members, though.) Certain attacks like ‘Cleave’ can expose a foe’s weakness by knocking them down. This feature will provide the player with a second turn.

If the player can successfully ‘knock down’ (i.e. incapacitate) all enemies during a single turn, it will trigger what is called a ‘Hold Up.’ When one is activated, the player’s team can execute a powerful ‘All-Out’ attack capable of inflicting a tremendous amount of damage. In addition, the player may be asked to ‘negotiate’ with an enemy. The sequence involves answering a series of questions asked by the Shadow. It’s possible to ask for money, items or even power during a negotiation. If  the right answers are given, the Shadow will merge with Joker and become a new Persona. (It should be mentioned that Joker’s level must be the same or higher than the creature’s  level in question, for the merge to work.)

It’s also possible for party members to be ‘knocked out’ during combat. When this happens, they can be captured by a Shadow. The only way to retrieve a captured team mate is to negotiate with the Shadow that kidnapped them. If negotiations happen to fail, the character in question will be unable to return to the party. With that said, some minor changes have been made to the combat system. For example: firearms automatically reload at the start of every battle, making them invaluable weapons when exploring the game’s many dungeons. Moreover, all available enemies have been re-balanced, and the ‘Baton Pass’ feature is available to all party members from the start. Some Personas also had their skills and stats re-balanced as well.

As the game progresses, the player learns of the importance of their Persona(s). These powerful, demon-like manifestations can be ‘combined’ or ‘fused’ by visiting the Velvet Room; a location that Joker visits throughout the story. While there, Personas can be joined together by using the ‘Guillotine’ fusion process, where the Persona of choice ends up inheriting the stats and skills of the ‘sacrificial’ Personas. The more skills a scarified Persona has during the fusion process, the more it will transfer over to the target Persona in question. 

 

Aside from the main story and combat system,  the randomized dungeons from the previous game  – known simply as Mementos – have been expanded to encourage more exploration. Plus, a new ‘Stamp’ system has been implemented. Any stamps the player collects along the way can be used to purchase bonus XP, money and items. And this doesn’t include the new Mementos shop, which accepts flowers (i.e. special collectibles)  in exchange for exclusive goods.

Essentially, Persona 5 Royal is the best version of the game to own. While Persona 5 was a great game in and of itself (and it could be argued that Royal is basically more of the same), it’s the number of changes made to this release that helps it stand out from its predecessor as a separate release.

Mike Pittaro
Platform: Playstation 4
Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus
ESRB: M (Mature)
Price: $59.99

Persona 5: Royal Official Website: https://atlus.com/p5r/lang/en/

Review Score
Graphicswww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Superb 3D graphics and 2D illustrated cinemas.
Soundwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Impressive English speaking voice actors.
Gameplaywww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Addictive, challenging and fun.
Overallwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Persona 5 Royal is the best version of the game to own.
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