This article explains why Persona 5 Royal is an upgraded version of Persona 5 that is worth playing: it’s almost free of spoilers, written with the goal of getting you to play my favorite game.
Let’s start with a brief introduction to the franchise. Persona 5 Royal is a new and improved version of Persona 5 (released in 2016), a JRPG created by ATLUS as part of the Persona Series, a spin off series of Shin Megami Tensei Saga. Persona 5 features two types of gameplay: a live sim part in which the player can improve the relationships with the NPCs and level up social skills while going to school and having exams like a regular student; and a dungeon crawling part with turn based combat that takes place in a parallel world of the game, called Metaverse, in which the protagonist steals the enemies’ Hearts to make them repent and turn themselves in. The Persona Series has 21 games counting different collaboration spin-offs and upgraded versions of the games, and Persona 5 Royal is one of the newest ones alongside Persona 5 Strikers, a sequel to the normal Persona 5 version.
So why should you play Persona 5 Royal specifically? Is it that different from Persona 5?
Persona 5 took everything good from its predecessors Persona 4 Golden and Persona 3 FES – such as the characters, the dungeon crawler mechanics, and the social stats mechanics – and learnt from their mistakes making them better. Persona 5 Royal is a better and more polished version of Persona 5, plain and simple. There are many improvements that make the gameplay smoother, the story greater and of course the game more interesting and engaging. Why is Persona 5 good and what is even better in Persona 5 Royal? Here are some thoughts about both games and some comparisons between the two titles:
● Persona 5 features a wonderful setting, with different parts of Tokyo that the player can visit: some of them, such as Shibuya or Yongen-Jaya, can be explored, while others just have the option to have social events in them – like Inokashira Park or Ikebukuro. Persona 5 Royal introduces a new area of Tokyo, Kichijoji, which the protagonist can explore freely and which features a lot of activities that they can do there to upgrade skills, abilities, and to improve social relationships.
● The original title has an amazing story driven by the main characters, the antagonist and their problems. Each antagonist has a dedicated dungeon and each new party character has their own motives to be against them. In Royal, the developers expand the story even more with the addition of a brand new dungeon, two new characters, and a complete new semester to face.
● Persona 5 is populated with incredible characters with different background stories and a lot of loveable traits that make you feel for them, want to be with them, and help them. The more time you spend with them the more you’ll understand their personalities. They are called “confidants”: they can develop a relationship with the protagonist as friends or as lovers and give the player some perks and abilities. In Persona 5 Royal the developers have improved this feature by allowing your relationship with the main party to be expanded in the third semester and by adding and reworking some of the interactions with the secondary and party characters so you can improve your relationship with them more easily. Furthermore, one of them, Akechi, has been completely reworked so instead of their relationship with the protagonist naturally growing with the story the player has to go out with him to become closer.
● The gameplay of the life simulation part is very smooth: during the day the player can do two different activities (except if one of them is dungeon crawling) to either improve their bonds with confidants or improve their skills. The list of activities that you can do varies from day to night and depending on the day some of the activities are blocked. However on some days the player has to perform some fixed activities. In Persona 5 Royal, the developers have improved this by reworking the calendar so players have better chances to improve your bond with confidants and to have more activities to improve your skills.
● The gameplay in the dungeon crawling part has RPG elements and turn-based combat. The player controls a party of four characters with strengths and weaknesses and goes through dungeons by solving puzzles and sneaking behind the enemies to get an advantage in combat. Persona 5 Royal includes reworked versions of some of the enemies, and new enemies with special abilities. The new game also includes “the grappling hook”, a new mechanic that allows the player to reach different parts of the dungeon.
● In Persona 5 there is a big general dungeon called “Mementos” that the player can visit in their free time. It’s an enormous dungeon with randomized levels that expands every time the player advances in the story. In Persona 5 Royal it has been expanded quite significantly and has one shop that sells exclusive goods in exchange for ‘flowers’ (collectables that you find while exploring) and in exchange of ‘stamps’ (can be found on each floor) you can get three different bonuses: exp, money, and items.
● The Velvet Room, a chamber where the player can fuse Personas and make them stronger, was improved in Persona 5 Royal with a new mechanic called “alarm” that allows the player to create more powerful Personas but also can have unexpected results. Also it offers special optional battles with rewards. (includes DLC battles).
● Also, Persona 5 Royal includes a new feature called the Thieves Den that allows you to visit a room with unlockable bonus content using in-game currency. In the Thieves Den there are a gallery with concepts arts, songs of the game and videos and images, a palace maker part in which you can personalize the whole Den, an awards gallery in which you can get achievement in your playthroughs and a table in which you can play tycoon with the other party characters in different difficulties and win in game currency to by the different images, videos and songs.
● Finally the soundtrack… Persona 5 has one of the best videogame soundtracks I’ve ever experienced. The opening theme makes me vibe everytime I listen to it, the jazzy background theme Beneath the Mask of the daily life sim is the most chilling song I’ve ever listened to, the battle soundtrack “Last Surprise” is amazing and it has a very catchy phrase that will make you sing it for hours, the themes of the Palaces are unique keep you motivated. Persona 5 Royal has 30 new songs: one of them is the new song for the opening sequence that is completely new, others are for the new dungeon, and some are for the new Tokyo location.
Those are the changes that ATLUS did in Persona 5 to make the new version Persona 5 Royal even more enjoyable.In general Persona 5 is a really good game and in Persona 5 Royal they tried to take care of the drawbacks the gameplay had and improved everything they could in both the social life simulation and in the dungeon crawling part, besides including new elements to make the story better and more engaging than it was before. As you can see there were a lot of changes, some very little, some big and some almost imperceptible, but all those changes together made Persona 5 Royal a much better version of it’s predecessor and made it worth to replay it from the very beginning even for old players.