*Some light spoilers near the ending of Persona 5 Royal*
So check it, I tried to play Persona 5 once before. And it’s not like I didn’t love it, I did. I was just late. So I was only two palaces deep when Persona 5 Royal got announced and figured I’d wait. Man, listen, for a Persona weeb like me, this shit was amazing. And so very, very involved. I’ve never played a single player, linear game like this in my life. But like…I’m gonna play it again.
Anissa, this was your second time through. 100-plus hours later, how you feelin?
*whispers 158 hours*
I feel amazing to have gone through it a second time. It’s like seeing an old crush again and thinking “Wow, they were pretty good looking back then, they can’t possibly look any better, right? Right? Wrong! Persona 5 Royal exceeded my expectations. From seeing the old Phantom Thieves gang, Ryuji telling me “This is BS” every 5 seconds, battles that required skill and strategy while trying to resist the urge to sing “You’ll never see it coming!” and the multiple relationships with various characters, man it was so good to be back. In addition to that, Royal added more flavor to it, turning it up a notch. My body wasn’t ready!
Yo, I missed YOU’LL NEVER SEE IT COMINNNNNNNNN…for like five battles. And then I was fully engrossed in Royal. It does so many things. So. Many. Things, Anissa. So you’re the vet. I had only gotten to the third palace my first playthrough, but I went all in and finished in an unhealthy time frame for this long of a game this time. And I still missed so much that I might, sorta kinda, be doing a speedrun 100% completion on the low. As we speak. But that’s neither here nor there. What was your favorite new addition to Royal?
Hmm, my favorite new addition to Royal? It’s so hard to pick only one. I love the new confidant additions Kasumi Yoshizawa and Takuto Maruki. I never thought they’d play such a big part in the story, and I’m happy to see how their stories coincide. Combat felt more purposeful this time around.
In my first playthrough of the original, I didn’t feel like I needed to do much to destroy a shadow. In Royal, they’ve upped the battle attacks up a notch. More attention is given to getting technical attacks, choosing the right Personas, making sure you have the right members on your team to get every type of magic attack covered. You can even go to Kichijoji and play darts to improve your combat Baton Pass ability. Like so much…..SO MUCH……was improved on the battlefront.
But my all-time favorite addition in Royal was the Showtimes. Man, it felt like some WWE Tag Team ish. The showtime addition added so much flavor and even more personality to your team. I never passed upon the opportunity to do a showtime attack ’cause I knew I was about to do major damage and witness some dope and funny interactions. All of them were so unique. All I knew is they better give one to Joker before this game is up. And what did they do? Gave the homie TWO! Which ended up being my favorite ones. I mean, I could go on all day about the other additions to Royal. So Will, as this being your first full playthrough, what did you think? Did it meet your expectations? Did it live up to the hype?
Fam, you already know cuz I was hitting you up every couple of days like, “wait, was this shit in the original? What about this? Or this? I think what I love about Royal, especially talking with you and seeing my second playthrough, is that the game is dense af. There’s so much to do and so much you can miss…and still enjoy the hell out of the game. For example, I never dealt with the twins at all in my first playthrough. But messing around with it now, that unlocks a whole ass narrative (that pays off at the twist), let alone the whole mini-game of leveling personas that completely change how you go into combat. I love the balancing of the social links and how different characters influence your journey differently.
I can’t believe Akechi wasn’t a social option in the OG Persona 5 because he feels vital in Royal. The Witcher 3 is one of my favorite games of all time, but one of the sleight criticisms I have of the game is that there’s almost too much to do. As a habitual 100% completion guy, that game pushed my limits. But with Royal, there is a ton of purpose in trying to do everything, but also, the game still works out great when you don’t do the optional stuff.
I know we ain’t getting another sequel for like 6-7 years, but what would you like to see happen in the next iteration? What crazy thing do you wish we could do in Persona that we haven’t seen yet?
Yes! And that’s what I love most about it. You don’t have to go for the extra stuff and still get a lot out of the game! It’s hard to say what I would want in the next iteration since it offers so much already. It would be cool to explore traveling to different locations a little more. At the end of Royal, when Morgana turned into a helicopter, it made me think that there are opportunities for further exploration. Now, that is if the next Persona continues with the Phantom Thieves characters. But either way, it would be dope to have a Mementos type area but in the sky. What would you like to see in the next one?
I think the locations is a good point. That definitely feels like a gaming evolution thing where we can visit and do more outside of the core locations you’re given. I think I’d also like to see some more branching narratives / story elements for decisions made. What they did with Akechi and Maruki specifically was very dope for Royal, but it also exposed how narratively on-rails the base game was. I’d like to see more decisions making a difference in the story more than making a difference in what you have access to. But honestly, this is one of the best JRPGs ever made, so everything is nitpicking at the Mona Lisa. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a palace to finish.