Back in 2016, something magical happened to this site, I was brought on board! Will, master of the long-winded metaphor and occasional rage beast. I brought my own brand of comedy to this site, but when dropped in the group chat, I had no idea what was going on. Salman & Luke were in that round table-esque discussion, bantering back and forth about a game I had never even heard of, Persona 5. My shame was compounded even further when I realised not only hadn’t I heard of it, but I also hadn’t heard of the proceeding 4 mainline games in the series. I just kept quiet and waited for their hype to blow over.
Now 4 years later, I’m older, more well-travelled, balder and ready to take on this game that was my first real experience of gamers strong opinions, however I get an updated version to really get my teeth sunk into! I get to sit down with Persona 5: Royal.
Off the bat, this game is just beautiful, its UI and art style are a joy to behold with striking colours and pop art visuals that make everything you do have a real comic book flair to it. Major moments in the story are made more impactful with specially crafted anime scenes to really draw you into the story and let you just enjoy the moment without worry of a QTE or conversation choice coming at you. However, the conversation choices come hard and fast in the main gameplay, a key part of the game and series is the bond you form with those around you and how they can give you strength!
Starting the game, you are immediately introduced to leading man…er…well you call him what you like but for the purposes of this review we’ll stick with his codename, Joker. Joker starts off as a run of the mill high school student but through an app on his phone (no I am not kidding) he is drawn into an otherworld called the metaverse which is a supernatural realm created from people’s subconscious desires. Using the power of personas, Joker and his vigilante team, calling themselves the Phantom Thieves of Hearts, go into the metaverse and steal the physical manifestation of peoples desires to reform them. This is where a lot of the games cool style comes from too, the thief nature. Gentleman thieves are a cool trope and this game is a love letter to rebellion and freedom. Case and point when silent protag Joker first awakens his persona, he is given a long coat, bandit mask and red gloves to make himself look quite the thief and his Persona itself is names Arsene, which the more literate of you will notice (don’t worry Alexx I’ll explain later) is a play on famous literary thief Arsene Lupin.
Enough of me trying to sound clever, lets talk about video game! The best way to describe this experience is saying Persona 5 is like a deeper and much more stylish Pokémon. Exploring your foes “palaces” is like a good old-fashioned dungeon crawl as you use your sneak thief ability to navigate around enemies and get the drop on them for an ambush. Most of the fight plays out how you’d expect for a JRPG but how the fight ends is fairly unique, manage to down the bad guys and your team will surround them and give you the option to end the fight with a massive all out attack, or you can talk to the wounded demon and demand money, and item or that they lend you their power! This power stealing leads you to have a brief conversation with the foe and if you succeed in winning them over then they will become your new Persona! I had a blast collecting these assorted beasts though I did start to miss the starting boy Arsene after a while, he looked really cool…
The metaverse is where most of the actual action takes place, but the real world is where I found most of my joy for this game. Going about Joker’s day to day life, attending school, studying and hanging out with friends is great fun and oddly addictive, early on I was given a time limit to steal my first treasure and I let that clock run till the last possible day because I was having so much fun hanging out with friends and studying! I put more effort into my studies than I did in real life! Which helped because now and then in class you teacher may hit you with a random question which if answered correctly will up Joker’s knowledge stat, god help you too because some of these questions are nails and come out of nowhere!
Overall I’ve been having a great time with Persona 5: Royal and it’s making me regret not picking up the game first time around so I could have more people around to talk to about my experiences! This is also one of the few times where post review I am sure I’ll be going back to mess around with the game again! Watch this become a member of the plus 100 hour club for sure! I’ve got a long way to go and a fair few bonds to form with the Phantom Thieves, especially Ryuji, god bless his bleached hair and badass pirate Persona!
I’m giving Persona 5: Royal a well-deserved (and definitely not at all stolen) 9/10