Before playing Persona 5 The Royal, I’d clocked up over 120 hours in the original game, so I was well prepared.
It’s one of my favourite RPGs this generation so that probably gives you a pretty good idea of what I’m about to say next, but Persona 5 The Royal isn’t just the definitive edition, it’s somehow made a great game even better.
It’s not just because there’s a new character, or some extra story and new missions to follow, there’s just so much more content added in here that you wonder how the game even functioned without it in the first place.
Most of it doesn’t even feel like filler. Which is impressive because Persona 5 is an absolute behemoth of a game, already chock-full of things to do, but on top of your belly-buster challenges, Mementos side quests, sacrificing personas, and relationship building, now you’ve got new move types, extra locations to visit, upgraded boss battles, and a unique exhibition of your achievements in the Thieves Den.
I am absolutely blown away by how much Atlus have managed to cram into an already full and busy game. And the best part is they’ve made it fit in naturally, to the point where I was convinced I could do certain things in the original game.
The most impressive thing for me, though, is the desire to want to replay through such a massive game when there’s so many other amazing games either on, or coming to market, very soon. It was so easy for me to fall back down the Persona 5 rabbit hole and the game does enough in the early stages to make it interesting for veteran players, while also staying accessible to new ones.
The biggest difference veteran players will notice first off is a few new scenes with red-headed character, Kasumi, who now makes an appearance during the game’s initial cut-scene, setting up a brand new intriguing story arc. The game doesn’t give very much away in its first few months, with only a few chance meetings, and it mostly plays the same as you fend through the palaces of Kamoshida and Madarame, so instead Atlus have carefully peppered in other changes.
For example, the grappling hook mechanic is introduced to the player, basically turning Joker into Batman (That was weird reading back). Now you can soar to the skies, accessing new areas in levels, clambering onto rooftops, propelling yourself above enemies and dropping down on them with an Ambush. This also lets you access hidden areas, and cut through some of the game’s more laborious sections.
It also looks really cool and is totally a Phantom Thieves thing to do, considering you do a lot of rooftop walking and chandelier dancing anyway.
Another big addition is the changes to the boss battles. I won’t delve too deeply into spoiler territory, but Kamoshida, for example, has a brand new form for you to fight through that makes the character even more hateful. Let’s just say he has several new shadows in tow to do his bidding and really packs a punch when calling them into action.
If you’re like me and have powered through most of the game already, this is a nice way to keep things fresh.
From there, the game just keeps dropping new things on you, like the inclusion of Takuto Maruki, school counsellor. Frankly, the character’s appearance makes perfect sense considering the events of the game. So much so, I can’t believe he wasn’t in already.
There’s a new character to find in Mementos called Jose, who is looking for flowers to trade for items. You can also get stamps on each floor which can then be exchanged for XP gains and money.
Jose can even change the look and style of Mementos if you wish.
And I haven’t even talked about the Thieves Den, which you can keep adding to with statues and movies. You can even play a form of Uno there with the rest of the Phantom Thieves.
To be honest, I’m still only scratching the surface. This would never work as a standalone DLC, the scale and scope of it is enormous, with at least thirty hours worth of extra content here. Probably more.
I can understand why a newcomer might feel overwhelmed, then, as we mentioned Persona 5 was already incredibly stuffed with content. But somehow, despite all the new bells, whistles, and gimmicks, the game feels like it’s been paced better.
You move from day to day, gradually working your way through the game building a new life for yourself, trying to lead a normal life as a student, while also juggling this immense responsibility as a phantom thief.
The narrative also comes together slowly and surely, never moving too fast or too slow. The game introduces new concepts to you at a nice pace, and you can make sure each day is different, spending time with different characters, going to your job, doing recreational things.
Persona 5 was already a magnificent RPG, one of the best this generation, but The Royal content has just made it even more essential. All of the additions feel important and necessary and contribute positively to an already fulfilling game.
If you haven’t dived into Persona 5 before, you’re in for an incredible treat. It’s the perfect way to fill hours in the day and right now, that sounds just perfect.
Persona 5 The Royal releases on PlayStation 4 on March 31.