Adult Video Game Recommendation: Persona 5 Royal, Fountaindale Public Library

Platform: Playstation 4

Rating: Mature (17+)

(Content warnings: sexual, emotional, and physical abuse, attempted suicide, police brutality, drug and alcohol addiction)

Genre: Japanese Role-Playing Game

First Released: March 31, 2020

Part of a Series? Yes, but you don’t need to play any of the others in the series to understand the game. It is a standalone game.

Brief Synopsis: “Break free from the chains of modern society and stage grand heists to infiltrate the minds of the corrupt and make them change their ways!”

Ashe’s Commentary

How I’m playing: Easy difficulty, English voices.

The original Persona 5 is one of my all-time favorite games, so you can imagine how hype I am for a re-release of the game with new content added. (I am very, very hype.)

Persona 5 has an action-packed, compelling story (though not for the faint of heart), a fun and engaging battle system, intriguing characters and absolutely amazing music. It’s very heavy on the character development of its main cast, which is part of why it’s one of my favorites.

But let’s get to why you’re actually here. Why should you get Persona 5 Royal instead of the original release?

There are some key changes in the game. The major one I know is that there’s another semester added to the game, so this one is LONGER than the original—and the original is already pretty darn long. I put in 151+ hours into the original (and that’s just going through the main game). So if you don’t own P5 already, get Royal. It’s worth the extra dollars for more content. A few other reasons are:

  • Morgana makes you early sleep less often
  • New characters and confidants
  • New locations to explore
  • New music to jam out to
  • Gameplay changes such as no longer having to level up a confidant for baton passing
  • And so much more!

To view all the changes, visit this Twitter thread for a spoiler-free comprehensive list.

Jason’s Commentary

How I’m Playing: Normal Difficulty, English voices

Like Ashe, the original release of Persona 5 quickly stormed onto my all-time favorites list in 2017, so I’ve been following the expansion of the game’s universe with spin-offs like Dancing in Starlight, Royal and (American title pending) Scramble with quite a bit of interest. That said, with how packed my gaming backlog is, I didn’t expect to play Royal immediately. I booted it up just to get a quick look at the upgraded visuals–but from the new opening movie, Royal demanded its place in my “Currently Playing” list. About 20 hours in, here are some thoughts.

Key to a game that relies so heavily on its elaborate urban-fantasy plot and massive cast of compelling characters, the translation has been dramatically improved from the original release. Royal improved clarity, faithfulness to cultural references, the feel of the characters’ personalities and little things like ensuring names are pronounced consistently. The original release’s localization was produced very quickly for an incredibly text-heavy game. It’s clear that the Royal localization really benefited from the extra time to get it right, rather than just good enough.

Like most JRPGs not made by Square Enix, graphics aren’t really a selling point. However, they are greatly improved from the original release. The stylish visual design of characters, environments, etc. remains top-notch, with the new characters fitting in seamlessly with those from the original, and the menus retain a slick presentation without compromising readability.

Dungeon exploration and combat have had their share of changes, too. So far, it feels slightly easier to me—some of the new mechanics and added items reduce the resource management in the game’s very long dungeons, which was a source of much of the original release’s challenge. To account for this decrease in difficulty, the enemy encounters seem to be a little bit more powerful. But with the impressive combination attacks the player can pull off with a little bit of planning, it feels slightly easier on balance. Even though I’m not after a particularly challenging experience with this, I may increase my difficulty settings to hard to compensate.

In summary, I thoroughly recommend Persona 5 Royal instead of the original, both to fans of the initial release and to newcomers. For fans of the original, you’ll delight to see all the new content, content that you remember remixed and tightened up and just to spend some more time with the Phantom Thieves. For new players, you’re in for a real treat: an enhanced, definitive version of one of the best games of the last decade, if not all time. Just be aware that it’s a time commitment: the original ran about 100 hours or so for a playthrough, and I expect Royal will exceed that. I’d recommend also keeping a handful of much shorter, faster-paced games on hand when the mood strikes for something different—Persona is a marathon, not a sprint!