Warning: This Persona 5 Royal review contains minor spoilers. So if you want to remain completely oblivious, the TL;DR version of this review is this: if you loved Persona 5, P5R seamlessly integrates the new characters and adds many awesome new features that I think you will love.
Fans of the Shin Megami Tensei universe are no strangers to expanded versions of original installments. Persona 5 Royal follows suit, adding new confidants and activities, as well as fresh updates to familiar dungeons and gameplay. Whether you played the original version or decided to hold out for this edition, prepare to have your heart stolen by the best of the best.
Meet the New Players
Two new confidants have joined the Persona 5 Royal tarot deck. The first of these is Kasumi Yoshizawa. Kasumi is the biggest addition to the game. She’s a transfer student just like you, new events have been woven into the story making your interactions with her feel natural to Joker’s tale. In the beginning, her confidant progression will be tied to those story events, but eventually, she will join your team with her Persona, Vanadis.
Our other new confidant opportunity opens up once you clear the first Palace. Shujin Academy hires Takuto Maruki to join the staff as a counselor for the students after the Kamoshida incidents come to light. Like the Sun Tarot confidant, Maruki does have a deadline, so it is important to meet with him as much as possible so you can max his Consultant Tarot. Other benefits to regular counseling sessions include bumping up your max SP and acquiring some tasty snacks.
To make things fresh and exciting, Atlus added new elements to the game’s Palaces. The first of these is a new grappling hook. Using it you will reach new areas and might even spot some alternate routes while you search for the Palace’s hidden treasure. And the most important new areas for you to discover are the ivy-covered doors hiding Will Seeds. Each Palace has three Will Seeds that instantly replenish your SP. There’s an added benefit to obtaining all three seeds which I’ll fill you in on in just a minute.
Perhaps my favorite new gameplay mechanic is called Showtime. These are special new combo attacks in Persona 5 Royal performed by two of your Phantom Thieves. When the conditions are just right, you will be prompted to tap the touchpad and your teammates will execute a series of elaborate but brutal attacks. Just another element that unlocks new variations as more members join the team.
Boss battles also got a bit of an upgrade. Starting with Kamoshida’s Palace, original Persona 5 players will notice some differences. Palace owners have switched things up, so while those strategies you used the first time through are still viable, look out for a couple of curveballs. It’s kind of nice knowing there’s a new challenge waiting at the end of each chapter, isn’t it?
Oh, Mementos! That twisty labyrinth of uneasy souls is back and better than ever. A mysterious young boy Jose (pronounced Joe-say) has found his way into Mementos and requests that you collect the flowers sprouting here. In exchange for bringing him said blossoms, he will have healing and other items available for trade. As an added bonus, if by chance you missed acquiring a Will Seed from a Palace, Jose will scavenge it and bring it to his shop.
Another service Jose offers is changing the atmosphere of Mementos in your favor. Each section of the dungeon contains a predetermined number of stamp stations. Stamps can be exchanged with Jose for alterations, such as increasing the amount of experience you earn in battle or collecting extra items. I’ve been sinking a lot of stamps into earning extra EXP, mostly because I want to collect as many Personae the first time around as I can.
Remember the Will Seeds you’ve been collecting as you raid Palaces? Persona 5 Royal has given them yet another purpose. When you have all three seeds in a set and locate Jose in Mementos, he will offer to craft them into something useful for Joker. The seeds become powerful accessories to aid you in battle.
Chilling With Your Buddies
Kichijoji is a brand new area for you to explore and hang out with friends. There are new shops with delicious snacks, clothing, and gifts for purchase. For hangout spots, you can hit up the temple or check out a new mini-game! Penguin Sniper in Kichijoji is a super important mini-game and one you should try to play regularly. It’ll cost you 800 yen to play plus the train fare to Kichijoji but doing so with your fellow Thieves will rank up your Baton Pass.
If you are looking for extras outside of P5R‘s gameplay, the Thieves’ Den is where it’s at. You may have noticed that from time to time the game has been telling you about in-game reward “P Medals” that you’ve unlocked. The den is where you’re going to spend those medals on things like decor items, art and music galleries. One of the coolest things I discovered here was music videos from those epic Persona concerts they hold in Japan. I may have gone a little crazy and spent a good deal of my special coins on those.
You can also play a new mini-game with your friends here. There’s Tycoon (Daifugō in Japanese) is a card game played with Joker and three of his teammates. I’d never played this card game before, but as someone who has played Hearts and Trump before I found it easy enough to pick up. The goal is to get rid of all of your cards first, but there are special rules for some of the cards.
With all of this new content expanding Persona 5‘s original story I was slightly worried about how it would all turn out. Especially that infamous scene with Ryuji which I firmly believe the localization team nailed this time around. It feels much smoother and perfectly conveys what was lost in translation the first time around. New scenes with Kasumi and Maruki feel like they were always supposed to be part of Joker’s journey. Looking forward to re-exploring Mementos and finding new secrets inside the Palaces are the reasons why I push myself to find every nook and cranny.
But the number one reason I am most excited about playing Persona 5 Royal (and I’m betting this is the same for you, too) is to woo my new waifu, Kasumi. I hope this game steals your heart all over again, just like it has mine.
Persona 5 Royal review code provided by publisher. Version 1.00 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4 console. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.