It’s safe to say that Persona 5 is an absolutely amazing game, no questions asked. So when Atlus stated that they would be launching a re-imagined version of Persona 5 with an additional Palace and new member to the Phantom Thieves, you can say that I kind of lost my mind. What more could there be to this already amazing game? I threw money at it and didn’t think twice. But once I got into the game, I could see the flaws in the system
Persona 5 Royal Edition kind of falls flat. The new content is only available if the player buys the new version of the game and plays through it completely. The content is at the end and seems more like a cash grab than anything else. For players who haven’t picked up and played Persona 5, this version of the game isn’t bad. It has all the story content that seasoned players love. But for those of us who have played Persona 5, this new content isn’t necessarily worth it. However there are still some good points for these upgrades.
Persona 5 is a massive game. When I played through it the first time, it took me around 120 hours. It was my first full experience with a JRPG game after I reviewed Shin Megami Tensei on the 3DS. When in the game itself, it is easy to see how much less thought and care was put into the new content than the original game. Everything was staged and nothing felt like a natural addition to the flow of the story.
There have been some quality of life changes in the mechanics, such as easier ways to get into contact with confidants when they have their next level available. My favorite change has to be the Showtime attacks. These attacks are triggered randomly in battle and involve two characters teaming up to deal a massive amount of damage. There is usually a fun scene before and after the move, adding to the characters themselves. My favorite has to be Queen and Noir teaming up to beat up enemies in a boxing ring. Other moves involve Skull and Queen acting out a scene from Fists of the North Star, and Joker and Crow becoming Batman and Joker. Lots of fun little antics to remind the player that these characters are still teenagers who are taking on the world.
As far as the new content goes, it’s dabbled in and around the original story. The first instance players notice this is when a new character, later called Violet, shows up in the opening scene. She seems to know Joker, leading players to believe that this person will join up with the thieves over the course of the school year. These new events with this new character do seem to be interspersed throughout the game. New additions were very obvious, as there seemed to be a different quality of detail and writing for these characters. They weren’t as fun or intriguing in the ways the rest of the thieves are.
The other new character, Dr. Maruki, seemed to be a little more thought out. Dr. Maruki joins the game shortly after a traumatic event at the school near the beginning of the game. He is there to console the students after this incident. Dr. Maruki will add 5 SP to Joker after each therapy session players go to, and seems to be a genuinely intriguing character who just didn’t get enough attention, until the end game content.
Other big changes are the addition of two new locations players can travel to. Persona 5 R introduces both the Aquarium and Kichijoji. The Aquarium is where the player can take people on dates as well as spend time with male friends to get to know them better. The other location, Kichijoji, a new district for shopping, meditation, and a hangout for multiple friends at once.
Darts is a new activity players can engage in with more than one confidant. Each time you win a game of darts, confidant levels go up as well as a new thing called Baton Pass Level. When enemies get knocked down on the battlefield because of a weakness, the player can pass a turn to another party member to follow up and do more damage to an enemy, or attack another enemy’s weakness. By leveling up the Baton Pass Level, each pass gains new bonuses for each party member as the turn continues.
Mementos also received a face lift in Persona 5R. There is a new NPC named José who is similar to Caroline and Justine, the wardens of the Velvet room where players create stronger personas. He is in Mementos studying humans and how they feel. Jose challenges the player to collect bundles of flowers on each level of Mementos as well as wishing stars to exchange for items and bonuses. This gives players a reason to continuously go back and grind in Mementos.
The palaces have changed slightly as well. There are new objectives known as Will Seeds. These are optional objects to get, but getting all three in a palace gives the player an orb which can be brought to Jose in Mementos for additional bonuses. The Will Seeds, however, aren’t always easy to find. Most are found off the beaten path. This includes using Joker’s new item, the hook shot, to get to new levels of palaces to get these seeds as well as finding other treasures. The further players go out of their way to explore every aspect of each palace, these Will Seeds will be fun to find.
The longer players are in palaces or Mementos, the more likely they are to experience an alarm in the Velvet Room. This allows players to perform a new execution style. This alarm is called a fusion alarm, where Caroline and Justine can perform a more powerful fusion with personas. There are added bonuses, increased levels, and sometimes the moves will even change after a fusion. By performing this fusion, it does weaken the guillotine so players can only use it twice. But if the players fuse their new empowered fusion from their first execution, a whole new persona will form that was not intended originally. Sometimes, these new fusions worked in the players’ favor and other times it didn’t.
All of these additions and more are wonderful for the base game. However, when it comes to the end game, Persona 5R honestly sucks. Most of the days are spent in cut scenes that the player has no control over or interaction in. After a while watching nothing but cut scenes, I got bored. It hurts to say this. I adore everything about Persona 5. I love every little detail. But the last 15-20 hours of the game, the new content, seemed like a cash grab and was poorly thought out.
The new content only felt like padding. I did find a new respect for a few characters. But the final palace felt like the rambles of a mad man. It felt disingenuous from what Persona 5 was as a game. Much of it felt like cut content from the original game that they didn’t know how to use. It seems slapped on at the end in hopes players would enjoy it as much as the original. Each palace in this game, I was able to find a connection to it through the characters and their struggles. This last palace, there wasn’t any of that. It was a weird mind game that I didn’t enjoy playing.
I somehow managed to get the best ending of the game, but even that was confusing. I had to Google that to make sure that I got the true ending instead of something else. This new ending does elude to either a new Persona game in the future, with a strong possibility of returning to these characters.
I love Persona 5, but the new content isn’t worth the $60 price tag to play through a 120+ hour game just to see something new for even a moment. In my opinion, it would be best to just watch someone play through this new content instead of spending the money. I will always love Persona 5, but this new content isn’t the ending for me.
This review is based on a copy purchased at retail. Images taken from in-game play.