Persona 5 Royal returns to tell the strength of rebellion and friendship
Of all the mid-sized development houses, ATLUS it is perhaps the strangest one. It is the maximum expression of that eccentricity typical of Japanese developers which made a lot of gaijin fall in love with that way of understanding the video game. When in 2017 5 person appeared on the shelves of the West celebrating the friendship and rebellion of the Phantom Thieves, ATLUS was still an unknown home in the eyes of the general public. It is normal, after all we are talking about niche developers who have always invested little in overseas advertising, intimidated by who knows what inferiority complex towards the Western public, often judged too different to understand that philosophy.
Yet Persona 5 has changed everything. He also made it clear to many of us that among the JRPG there are titles and series that go further final Fantasy. It is a nonsensical comparison, I realize, but in this part of the world we have this somewhat disturbing prejudice that has closed our eyes for a long time. And do you know how Persona 5 got loved? It's trivial, but Persona 5 stole the hearts of so many people because it talked about friendship in the most honest way possible.
How a masterpiece is reinterpreted
Those unfamiliar with ATLUS or the Persona series may probably have turned up their noses at the Persona 5 Royal announcement. We are too used to Game Freak's predatory practices and a certain approach to DLC by a large part of the industry to be able to fully understand the nature of an operation of this type. It is common practice for the series to release a revised, rebalanced, expanded and corrected version of the last published chapter. At first glance it may seem like a move to suck as much money as possible from fans, but these ehnanced versions always make substantial changes and additions to the source material. They do it to the extent that everything looks the same from the outside, but pad in hand it almost feels like playing a whole new title.
So what are the differences between Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal?
The differences between the two titles are slight, but there are a lot of them. In terms of content Royal adds a new protagonist, new confidants, a new secret ending, new demons and some small alterations to the original plot. It gives more space to the creative flair of the duo Shoji Meguro - Lyn Inauzumi, who have added new tracks to the already wonderful original soundtrack, and gives more space to the inventiveness of Shigenori Soejima and her character design. Special mention for everything related to Kasumi, but we get there calmly.
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In short, it is as before, but better. Persona 5 Royal still tells the anger against the politics that has forgotten its vocation, against Japanese society and against corruption. Above all, however, Persona 5 Royal remains the ultimate celebration of friendship and hope for a better future. In this the plot additions play a fundamental role, giving more space to characters who in the original were stifled by the imperfect management of the rhythm, especially in the final part.
Another aspect of the game that has undergone a facelift are the bossfights: almost all of them have been rethought and most of the time the attempt has been successful. But there is one in particular - the one against Okumura - which is half a disaster. Persona 5 Royal is a basically simple title if you have even the rudiments of JRPG, you incur in game over only after a few incredible bad luck shots and you don't really need to indulge in compulsive grinding. Arriving in front of Okumura, however, Persona 5 Royal becomes hell. Not that the battle itself is particularly complex, the problem is that it is definitely unbalanced, as well as frustrating. It is not a good bossfight, it must be said, also because it represents perhaps the only real difficulty spike in the whole game.
The new ending
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The structure of the game has remained almost unchanged and the plot is the same as it once was. Persona 5 Royal, however, has added a new final secret which is closely linked with Kasumi, a character introduced on the occasion of this re-edition. The narrative arc related to Kasumi is by far one of the best of those faced by Persona 5, and it should be appreciated how the new script has managed to insert it perfectly into the plot that we already knew. It was not a simple operation, the risk was to make it seem a false addition and incoherent with the rest of the game.
As already mentioned, it is in the new ending that the substantial differences between Persona 5 and Royal are concentrated, yet the third semester manages to give new strength to the original message contained in the work. The last hours of the game (we are talking about about 20 hours of unpublished content) contain the very essence of the series, give space to characters that have not been previously explored, and return to emphasize the importance of friendship in Persona 5.
We need Persona 5 Royal
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We really need it. Beyond its being a wonderful, fluid and lousy fun video game, what makes Persona 5 Royal a must have is its political verve and hope for a better future. They are simple concepts, perhaps even trivial, but I challenge you not to fall in love with the sincerity that exudes from every pixel and every line of dialogue.
That said, we need Persona 5 Royal for a lot of reasons. In fact we are finally talking about a real reference point for the JRPG in the world. A title that behind that wall of dialogues and visual novel dynamics hides the refinement of the formula inaugurated by Persona 2 on Playstation and brought up to Playstation 4. That formula works divinely, thanks also to the additions of the Royal version, which have improved the balance and fluidity of the combat system.
ATLUS has spent a long advertising campaign aimed at recounting all the additions of this new version, so I will not start listing them all. Suffice it to say that if you come from the vanilla version you will find the same feeling, but you will be able to perceive all those small adjustments made during the balancing phase. If, on the other hand, Persona 5 Royal is an absolute novelty for you, know that you will find yourself in the presence of one of the funniest turn-based JRPGs with the deepest and most articulated mechanics you can find on the market.
Persona 5 Royal is a political game
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Persona 5 Royal - Politics, friendship and that future to hope for
Persona 5 Royal does politics and doesn't hide. Behind his urban JRPG comic style lies all the frustration of a generation abandoned to itself by a ruling class blind to the needs of the youngest. It could be argued that Persona 5 Royal is perhaps a little too simplistic towards the issues addressed. Simplicity, however, is a facade and nothing else. That anger is real and tangible. What is unusual is the reaction of the protagonists to the anger towards that society: the Phantom Thieves maintain an extreme positivity for the duration of the title and face the contradictions of society with an enviable tenacity and positivity.
Persona 5 Royal exposes problems, filters them through the eyes of a diverse group of high schoolers and sets out to solve them. It does so in a perhaps naive, but concrete way. Persona 5 Royal is politics done in the most idealistic and honest way possible. It is politics made from below, which is born in the hearts of the oppressed, often considered a simple annoyance by those who govern the country. But truly, Persona 5 Royal's sincerity lies in its willingness to respond to corruption with friendship, sincerity and honesty.
Persona 5 is a celebration of friendship
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The first impact with Persona 5 Royal was wonderful. I loved the original madly and finding myself back in Yongen-Jaya literally gave me the creeps. It was like going back in time to retrace the same emotions as a few years ago, and it was a really complicated experience to communicate in words. The feeling is the same as it once was, but all the additions significantly improve the overall experience, even if the real value of Persona 5 Royal is that new semester added at the end of the main storyline.
I know it seems paradoxical since we are talking about a title of more than 100 hours in total duration, but Persona 5 was having some trouble managing its rhythms, especially as regards the final phase of the game. The addition of an entire semester significantly improves the experience because it allows some characters treated in a hasty and somewhat superficial way to finally find the right space in the dynamics and relationships of the protagonists. I think mainly of Haru, who in the original had too little space to be truly appreciated.
Farewell to Yongen-Jaya
After the last boss fight, Persona 5 takes the time to do something not normally seen in a video game of this type. We are used to dealing with works that close at the apex of our businesses. It is a growth path outlined in such a way that starting from the bottom we become supermen in order to save the world and that ends the same day we averted the apocalypse. That journey that goes from point A to point B stops once you reach the goal, because the sense of our progress in the game's plot has always been concentrated in reaching that point B. There is hardly anything else.
Persona 5 Royal, on the other hand, does more. Persona 5 Royal communicates itself and its message by relegating our exploits as phantom thieves to the background, right at the most beautiful. What is important is not what we did, but why and, above all, with whom we did it. This is why, just before officially leaving, Persona 5 leaves us a full day of its damn calendar to say goodbye to Yongen-Jaya and all its inhabitants. We are still playing the role of Joker and are given the chance to greet our comrades.
You have accomplished your mission, bravo. But now he thanks those who made it possible.
That Persona 5 Royal moment is perhaps the high point of the whole work: we are given the opportunity to meet and greet our comrades. Now that Tokyo is safe we have plenty of time to take a breather and contemplate those streets and people we have protected without even being aware of it. Above all, however, we are asked to reflect on what we have done and we are asked to do it in silence, walking through those neighborhoods that we have saved.
It is in that moment that we really understand the extent of our adventure, and it is an extremely melancholy moment. The reason for all this melancholy is that we get thrown in the face that Persona 5 Royal is finished, there are no more buildings to storm, treasures to steal and hearts to change. At least not with the pad in hand. The only thing left for us to do is get on the subway and go say hello to everyone, starting with Ryuji, the first companion of raids, up to Kasumi, the last graft of the gang. In that moment Persona 5 Royal throws in your face the true value of the friendship that brought you this far and allowed you to change the world. In that moment Persona 5 Royal throws at you the fact that you have grown up and that, even if only virtually and for a hundred hours, you have been a good person.
I will miss you, dear Phantom Thieves
Persona 5 Royal ends up making unnecessary promises. From now on, the wait begins to discover the future of the Persona series (and maybe even Shin Megami Tensei), but this chapter is most likely closed forever. Of course, it seems now established that we will see Persona 5 Scramble also from this part of the world, but that is a different project developed by another team. Royal has definitively closed the Phantom Thieves experience, and its ending perfectly summarizes all the melancholy that follows.
However, there is one aspect that is worth remembering. Persona 5 Royal is a warning, it's irrefutable proof that turn-based JRPGs can be part of the medium's future. It makes a little smile that this result has been achieved by ATLUS and not by more famous publishers, who seem to be unable to shake off their past.
The JRPG is alive and well.Verdict 9.5 / 10 Persona 5 Royal is anger, revolution, friendship and politics that dance to the rhythm of Shoji Meguro's Jazz. Comment Persona 5 Royal is the refinement of what was originally a masterpiece. The modern JRPG goes through the fluidity, depth, tactical component and urban atmosphere of Persona 5 Royal, which proves once and for all that turn-based combat can still be grossly fun. Royal's additions are all improvements (excluding a totally unbalanced and very badly thought-out bossfight) and justify the expense even for those who have already put their hand to the vanilla version. ATLUS truly deserves all the support that can be offered. Pros and cons ✓ "Pumped" Combat System
✓ The new ending is cool
✓ Kasumi. I don't say anything else. x A few dead moments at the end
x THAT bossfight