I’m gonna take you back a couple of years. To the time that I was introduced to this game called Undertale by a very good friend of mine. An RPG with a lot of characters, great story moments and an incredible soundtrack. I adored the game, and have done so ever since. I don’t want to know how many runs I have done, but it never was enough. I kept playing and playing it. The world was presented in such a way that it always felt alive, even though it was inhabited by stale sprites. It made an impact that I will not soon forget mostly trough it’s story and the characters.
One of my favourite scenes in that entire game is one where you just sit in a restaurant with one of your friends. You talk, the music plays and you feel a connection. It is as if you are there, taking part in the conversation. When I picked up Persona 5 Royal I did so because multiple people told me it was good, and the friend who introduced me to Undertale told me it was definitly a game for me. I trusted those advices blindly, not looking up any gameplay, trailers or reviews, no. I just bought it and played it.
And people, it did not dissapoint in the slightest. For I can say with confidence this could very well be my Game of the Year. It reminds me of Undertale a lot but also is so good because it is very unique in my eyes. (This is my first Persona game, and I have also never played the main series, Shin Megami Tensei, which Persona is a spin-off from.)
But now, the game itself. It’s kind of hard to describe what it is exactly, but to put it in a genre, it is a turn-based RPG Dungeon Crawler/Life Sim. That is to be explained by the general premise of the story. You play as a student in Tokyo who is placed under probation for a crime he didn’t commit. Trough a series of events however he gets special powers that allow him to change people’s hearts. With his new friends they form the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. Their goal? To change the hearts of rotten adults!
The way you change hearts is also quite interesting. The Phantom Thieves have means of infiltrating certain people’s hearts. If a person has really distorted desires they form a Palace. When this happens, your group can decide to infiltrate that place to change them. You do this by stealing their Treasure. The embodiment of their desires. Without it, they’ll be changed.
The Palaces themselves are big dungeons reflecting how the Palace Ruler sees it. One time you might be in a big castle, or a flying bank. All those locations are full of challenges and puzzles. They all have their own little jingle that makes them unique. Enemies that inhabit these places, (also called “Shadows”) also vary from type, strengths and weaknesses depending on in which Palace you are. Most enemies won’t be very noteworthy in terms of challenge (but the designs are awesome!) once you figure out their weaknesses. Some enemies go on the ground if you use a certain type of attack, while others are resistant to it or even drain it and recover HP. But where things get really interesting is the boss fights. Mini bosses are cool and all but once you get to the big guys, you can say it gets banana’s. Just as in Undertale, these bosses don’t play by the rules. They get extra attacks, they summon help, it gets absolutely crazy and even on the lower difficulties (which I play on) it can still be a hell-hole. Especially the late-game bosses are difficult if you don’t prepare enough.
Good thing is that there are a lot of ways to prepare. You can do so by buying new weapons, guns and equipment, make infiltration tools, buy health regenerative items, brew coffee (an absolute must for your magic attacks) and you can find some stuff in the Palaces to inflict ailments or a specific type of damage to an enemy. Buffs and debuff skills also become quite important after a while, so don’t make the same mistakes as I did and ignore them. They are really useful.
Outside your door…
All of that what I talked about up until this point is not even the best part of the game. No, believe it or not, living as a high school student is actually fun here! And it has uses for in the dungeons. You see, there are people all around Tokyo that need your help and you can hang out with. These are your confidants. Ranking them up gives you perks, be it reduced prices in stores, or a chance to shield you against a fatal attack in the Palaces. But for some Ranks you will need to have a specific Social Link on a specific rank. The social links are: Knowledge, Guts, Proficiency, Kindness and Charm. You can rank these stats up by doing a lot of things. For example watching movies, eating big burgers or studying. There is always something to be done and honestly, it can be quite addicting. Every person you engage with has a story. You know what I said in the beginning, about Undertale where you sit in a restaurant and just talk with someone and it is one of the best moments in the game? Well Persona 5 is full of that. I can’t believe how they can make you relate to so many characters and make them feel alive. It is a work of art.
Of course, in a game as big as this, some things will become tedious. Like making coffee for the 15th time and the same dialogue playing as before, but this is just one of the only gripes I have with this game.
If you want to unlock a bonus Palace exclusive to Persona 5 Royal you have to rank up a few confidants in a certain time period. Here is a list:
- Councillor confidant on rank 9 before 11/17
- Justice confidant rank 8 before 11/17
- Faith confidant rank 5 before 12/22
But now I have finished it. And I am 100% certain I am going back for a New Game +. It is a game that has a lot to say and really takes it’s time setting up everything. It leaves the player to do as they please but at the end of the day you always work towards a certain goal. And how could I forget the incredible soundtrack which I still listen to on a regular basis. Music really elevates the battles and gives a chill vibe to life in Tokyo. But I could imagine you’d also want other opinions. Worry not! For I have gathered some people to write a little piece about what they like about this game so much. Let’s roll!
“Persona 5 is one of my favourite games, not because of the dungeon crawling, no, the dungeons can sometimes be a little repetitive, especially in the middle of the game. But what really made me fall in love with the game is what you do outside of the dungeons, which I will refer to as Palaces from now on. Outside of palaces you can hangout with your party members and help them conquer their inner demons. A lot of the characters in this game have personalised character arcs, where you have to help them out, doing this also grants new abilities inside Palaces. This is a good step up on the usual grinding system, and I dont think I’ve seen this in any other game. The characters are fleshed out greatly and everyone has to have at least one person in the game who they can relate with. Not to mention the killer soundtrack, which I listen to very often. It just makes the moments that more immersive. I could talk about the story for ages but I don’t want to spoil anything for the people planning to pick up the game, which you should 100% do. So I’ll just leave it at this.”
“I think the main reason I enjoy P5R is how much it’s optimised everything from the original game. New confidants, a whole new story arc, and pretty major improvements to the battle system. Almost every character is either charming and fun to watch, or provides some impressive gameplay benefits, meaning almost everyone has a purpose. The gameplay has easier options for those who want to enjoy the story, without comprising those who want to really get into it. The story feels masterfully constructed, and upon a second playthrough, you’ll notice tons of foreshadowing to almost every event in the game. Overall, P5R is just a fun experience, whether you enjoy the witty writing and humour, or the intense strategic battle.”
Persona 5 Royal is one of the best games I have played this year. Mostly because of it’s story and characters, but also its amazing soundtrack and combat won me over in no-time. This is a game that I can whole-heartedly say, is a MASTERPIECE!
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