Welcome to the fifth in our new series, Staff Picks: Retrospectives.
The games that should be mentioned and our main sources of gameplay granting us hours of inspiration and satisfaction.
Today, we are looking at one of the big guns in the franchise, Persona 5 / Royal. A huge fan favourite that has won several awards and has been cited as one of the greatest role-playing video games of all time, with praise given to its visual presentation, gameplay, story, and music. Including Royal, it has sold over 6.5 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling entry in the Megami Tensei franchise.
Persona 5 is the sixth instalment in the Persona series, which is part of the larger Megami Tensei franchise. It was released for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 in Japan in September 2016 and worldwide in April 2017, and was published by Atlus in Japan and North America and by Deep Silver in Europe and Australia. An enhanced version featuring new content, Persona 5 Royal was released for the PlayStation 4 in Japan in October 2019 and worldwide in March 2020, published by Atlus in Japan and worldwide by parent company Sega. Royal was later released for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S in October 2022.
Our story takes place in modern-day Tokyo and follows a high school student known by the pseudonym Joker who transfers to a new town and school after being falsely accused of assault and put on probation.
He soon forms friendships with a group of high school students to create a mysterious metaphysical group called “The Phantom Thieves”. A vigilante group exposes the crimes of corrupt adults but they soon find themselves amid a worldwide conspiracy and targeted by powerful individuals who would do anything to silence them.
On the positive side, P5R is a fantastic example of how to make a game appealing and open for newcomers to get into the franchise without any gameplay or knowledge of the titles before it.
With a massive story of corruption, deceit and lies in the underbelly of a more interactive and realistic city in Tokyo. Once players get free rein to explore and participate in a huge range of activities on offer. You can only admire the work the developers have put into this title, to immerse the player into what seems like a living and socially active environment.
It’s true, Persona 5 Royal has a vast variety of new additions, and enhancements too numerous to mention in one article. A great new comic book look combined with a deep and engaging story alone, is well worth a player’s time and effort and deserving the awards and accolades.
This is the ideal introduction to the series and possibly the best entry to play and complete before progressing with the other titles, and that is because developers Atlus have added new extensions from the original role-playing game formula in two big directions. Going with Assassins Creed stealth actions for the palace areas and a more expansive Tokyo area with a huge range of activities feeling more like Grand Theft Auto.
The big downside for me, or for anyone well affiliated with the likes of say, Persona 3, 4 is that there is an extremely long start where every facet of the persona gameplay of old, is stretched and drawn out in that you’re dragged through an immensely long 8-hour tutorial section before you can begin to apply any freedom of choice in what you do and who to see.
Whilst some new additions work and make elements like the combat battles more fluid, it’s also ridiculously easier on the normal default setting than the other titles, and consequently dilutes the challenge in what can only be described as a bit of a setback.
Persona purists will want to get the opening trawl out of the way, and whether it’s worth the time, money and investment are completely down to the experience and opinion of the individual.
I found not everything bigger is necessarily better.