Updated: May 23, 2021
When I played Persona 4 about four years ago, I almost immediately picked up Persona 5 and just like 4, it immediately became one of my favorites of all time.
After playing Persona 4 Golden, I decided it would be worthwhile to pick up Royal on PS4 and see if it still holds up.
Just like with Persona 4, I’ll be talking mainly about all the extra content added into the Royal version of the game. Though I’ll also be talking about the story of the game and compare it to Persona 4.
I’ll obviously be touching on a lot of spoiler material so if you haven’t played Persona 5 Royal then this is your warning. Additionally, if you’ve played the original Persona 5, I’ll give another warning before going into the new post-game story content.
In my memory, out of the three Persona games that I’ve played, each one has a feat they excel in. Persona 3 has the best story, 4 has the best characters, and 5 has the best gameplay.
I remember the story in Persona 5 while still great, still lacked in comparison to some of the other games.
However, in my most recent playthrough of the game, I found the story of Persona 5 to not only blow the other two out of the water, but also found it to be one of the best stories I’ve experienced in a long time. To the point that it makes the entirety of Persona 4 look like a filler arc.
The opening and beginning arc of Persona 5 is a perfect example of how this story injects conflict into its characters and scenarios to create more engaging scenes.
In Persona 4, there’s not that much going on in the beginning. Yeah, Yukiko gets kidnapped and a few other things happen. But there are aspects that the story lacks that make it less compelling than 5. Yu Narukami doesn’t really have much of an internal conflict, the danger of the situation isn’t immediately clear and the whole thing just lacks urgency.
But Persona 5 ups the anti in every imaginable way. Instead of playing as just some guy we know nothing about, you play as Joker who is a juvenile convict put on probation after assaulting a man trying to force himself on a woman. As it turns out, the guy turned out to be this big political figure who promptly had him arrested for messing with him.
I always love it when stories set characters up like this. From the very beginning, you’re already on Joker’s side. Wanting for him to have some sort of justice.
It creates and emotional attachment to the character, making the following conflict all the more engaging.
Even though Joker has much more of an identity than any other Persona protagonist before him, he’s still silent for most of the game allowing you to better project yourself into the character and even try to role-play as him.
Right at the beginning, he’s already the most compelling protagonist in the series for me, and that’s without even taking into account the clear character growth that he goes through as the game goes on.
But Persona 5 doesn’t just get the main character right, it also has a perfect introduction to both the side characters and the immediate conflict of the story.
Kamoshida is a great first antagonist, not only because of how much of an asshole he is, but also because you get to see his actions.
In Persona 4, most of the time you’re told about the antagonist, or you’re told that being in the TV is bad.
But here, you get to see how Kamoshida treats his volleyball team, you see how he treats Joker and the rest of the side characters. And it’s his actions that make you hate the character and make you want to change his heart.
The side-characters fit into the narrative perfectly as well, Ryuji having a previous connection to Kamoshida as he used to be part of his team, and Ann who’s best friend is being abused by him.
Everything comes together perfectly, and it’s all paced in a satisfying way. Always showing you the story and raising the stakes whenever possible. Like when Kamoshida blackmails Ann or when he’s about to expel Joker from the only school that was willing to take him in.
This all makes the goal to defeat Kamoshida feel more urgent then literally the entirety of Persona 4. Creating an incredible amount of engagement with the story.
Honestly, the whole game raises the stakes considerably from past Persona games. Having the effect of the Phantom Thieves’ actions be something that affects the entirety of Japan and not just a small village.
With each new arc, more and more elements of the story are unveiled, eventually reaching one of the best finales in a videogame.
Yet the game manages to tell this high stakes, massive scale story without losing the thing that makes great stories, heart, and character.
The characters in the game are just as memorable as they are in Persona 4. You’ll very quickly find yourself developing an emotional attachment to all of them and will probably forget that they’re fictional characters.
I could easily make an entire post just about the story of Persona 5, however, I wanna talk about other aspects of the game, so I’ll save my more in depth analysis of the whole game for some other day.
Another aspect of the game that’s seen massive improvement since Persona 4 are the social links.
I mentioned in the Persona 4 Golden post that most of the social links felt pretty forgettable as most of the time I felt like the story was being told to me.
However, Persona 5 completely circumvents this. Now, in terms of writing, the social links have had a considerable improvement for many reasons.
The first is because you actually get to see the story happen. It’s not just told to you after the fact, you get to see how Ann deals with her modeling career, how Futaba over comes her introversion.
And not only that, but this time it feels like every character actually goes through some sort of positive character arc. Take Yusuke for example:
In the beginning of his social link, Yusuke creates a painting that isn’t very well received by art critics. You spend time with him trying to come up with ideas for paintings and can see the struggle that he faces coming up with satisfying ideas.
He’s eventually approached by an art entrepreneur who tells him that he can become a successful artist by just selling a sob story about a struggling artist. Making Yusuke question everything that he knows about art and start inner reflecting.
At the end, he rejects the entrepreneur and makes his own piece. A piece that wins an award at an art exhibit.
Not only do you get to see everything that happens to Yusuke, but there’s also a clear character arc. Yusuke at the end of the social link isn’t the same as he was in the beginning.
Not to mention that you get to see all of this happen instead of it just begin told to you.
And this doesn’t just apply to Yusuke or even the important characters, but this type of story-telling is something that is present in all of the social links in the game. Making each and every one of them memorable in their own way.
Heck, the game even gives you more of an incentive to actually do the social links. In Persona 4, all you got for doing them was bonus exp when fusing new personas and (if you maxed them out) the ability to create a new extremely powerful persona.
However, in Persona 5, each social link gives you cool new abilities exclusive to them. And these aren’t just some niche abilities for the sake of a reward, the skills that they each confidant gives you is extremely useful.
There’s an ability that lets you grapple onto enemies from a distance, there’s a skill that lets you switch characters mid battle, heck, there’s one that lets you just win the battle instantly if you’re high level enough.
This all makes the social links in Persona 5 one of the best aspects of the game and really made me want to do all of them (which I did).
There are a lot of cool new gameplay additions in the Royal version of the game. All of which add to the game in some way while never taking away from it.
I’ll start by talking about each new addition in the main game individually and giving my thoughts on each one.
The will seeds are probably my favorite new addition to the game. They’re essentially a brand new collectible present in every palace of the game.
There’s three of them in each palace and each one is decently well hidden making you constantly be on the lookout for them.
Not only is it fun to collect them but getting all three in a palace gives you a cool new accessory, each one with their own unique skill that you can give to one of your party members.
And these skill aren’t no pushover, almost all of them are extremely useful and I found myself using them for pretty much the entirety of the game.
Another new addition is the Thieves Den. It’s basically a glorified gallery where you can unlock concept art, anime movies and even has its own in-game achievements.
And to be completely honest, I never used this feature. It just isn’t really my thing to stop the game entirely in order to indulge myself in bonus content. But it’s entirely optional so it didn’t really affect my enjoyment of the game.
Two new social links were added in the form of Kasumi and Maruki. And I really like both of them.
Both characters are not only interesting and well developed, but they also play a new role in the story that fits in surprisingly well. If I hadn’t played the original Persona 5, I could easily be convinced that they were here since the beginning.
I’ll go more in-depth into both characters once I get to the end-game content. But with that said, their role in the main story is still a welcomed one that I really enjoyed.
Now, outside of those new features, I don’t have much else to say about all the other ones. So, I’ll just give my rapid fire thoughts on each one.
These are cool new attacks that characters can do at specific situations. They do a lot of damage and look fly as hell, however, because of their situational use, I didn’t really find myself using them to often as they messed with my strategies. They still look cool though.
This is another feature I really like, basically, after fighting a set amount of battles, the velvet room will be under alarm making the personas that you create more powerful.
I found myself using this feature a lot, especially since it’s the only way to get each character’s ultimate weapons.
Honestly, the grappling hook was way less of a game changer than I was expecting. All it really does is allow you access into the new areas in each palace and it’s also used for one of Kasumi’s skills.
It looks cool, but I wish it were implemented a bit more into the game.
Jose and Mementos
Jose is a new character exclusive to mementos who changes the cognition of the place.
Basically, there’s this new collectible that you can find all over mementos. You can then exchange these collectibles to make mementos do stuff like give you extra exp, extra money, and rarer items.
Jose also sells you stuff with another special collectible from mementos.
I used this feature a lot, especially since it makes grinding for money and exp a lot easier. And, if you don’t want to use it, then you don’t have to. Overall, a great new addition.
This is an entirely new area in the game that adds a surprising amount of content. Not only do you get the new billiards and darts minigame, but this also gives you access to the revamped Justice arcana.
There’s also all sorts of other goodies, like the store that lets you sell equipment and the temple that increases Joker’s stats.
It’s all really cool and I found myself enjoying my time in this new location.
Now, with all that said, it’s time to finally get into the new story content added into the game that takes place after the final boss.
If you haven’t played the Royal version of Persona 5 yet, then I highly recommend you do so before moving on as there will be spoilers.
Ok, when going into this new month added into the game, I was expecting something exactly like in Persona 4. Just a new month with not much going on where you can do all the things you couldn’t do in the base game.
And honestly, I would have been completely okay with that. Atlus could have just played it safe, giving us the new month with not much going on, and the extra content would still be great.
However, they decided to go the extra mile for this game. Instead, there is a lot going on in this new month. All of which has to do with new character Maruki.
Basically, the whole world has been turned into a sort of dream world, where everyone’s dreams come true with no effort. There’s no suffering, no pain, only happiness. Instead, everyone lives in their own perfect world.
Everyone seems to be unaware of this change except for three characters, Joker, Kasumi and Goro Akechi of all people.
And speaking of Akechi, he’s honestly one of the most surprising aspects of this new month for me. Not only does he get a proper redemption arc, but you actually get to see more of what he’s actually like.
Heck, when you go into the metaverse with him, he’s using his darker outfit. Symbolizing that he’s done playing goodie two shoes. He even acts the part for the whole palace.
His inclusion was shocking yet very refreshing, not to mention that he’s a fun character to play as.
On top of Akechi’s involvement, you also get the reveal of the new antagonist for this arc, your previous friend, the psychologist Maruki.
And let me tell you, Maruki is by far and wide my favorite antagonist in this game, probably the whole Persona series.
And this is mainly because he’s not inherently evil, he doesn’t want anybody to suffer, he want everyone to lead a happy life, even if it’s all an illusion. Heck, he doesn’t even want violence and wants to solve things peacefully.
You get to learn a lot about him over the course of his palace. The game actually shows you the scenes were he suffered the most. When he lost his girlfriend, when his research was rejected. You begin to understand why this man wants to get rid of all pain around the world. The game really makes you feel sympathy for this character in a great way.
And heck, this guy tries to solve things peacefully until the very end. There’s a scene right before you infiltrate his palace where he just goes over and tries to talk things out with Joker.
A scene that includes this really cool moment where Joker just hands him his calling card in a somber tone. It’s honestly all quite upsetting and you start to wish that this conflict could be solved peacefully as well.
However, you also gotta realize that a world that’s just an illusion isn’t a world worth living in. If things were just easy and people never had to go through any effort to achieve their goals, then what’s the point of living to being with?
Maruki is a great example of one of the best forms of antagonist, one where you can see where they’re coming from, but also see where they went wrong.
This all makes the final battle against him all the more emotional, especially when Joker fist-fights at the very end.
In terms of the story, there’s one very important character I’ve yet to mention, and that’s Kasumi.
At first, it doesn’t really seem like there’s anything really important about her character. However, in a plot twist I did not at all see coming, Kasumi isn’t actually Kasumi.
Her real name is Sumire, and she’s been living as her deceased sister Kasumi over her sheer denial over her death. Which is revealed to us in the best way possible, through an anime movie showing the accident that killed one of the sisters. You expect Kasumi’s sister to die, however, when you see Kasumi herself get run over by a truck, that’s when you realize that something isn’t right.
Her character fits really well with the rest of the story, going right alongside Maruki’s desire to end all suffering. She serves as an example as to the type of person that Maruki wants to help by giving her what she wants, to live as Kasumi.
However, Sumire realizes has to accept the fact that her sister is dead, and that she has to move on with her life. And no illusion bullshit is going to fix that.
She’s a great character that fits perfectly with the themes of this new month, not to mention that her social link is fun to.
But now, it’s time to talk about all the new content from the extra month!
Just like in Persona 4, every character gets new third-tier personas. Even Goro Akechi gets one.
However, the context for getting them is a little different. In Persona 4, the new personas were just kinda given to each character for no real reason.
But in this game, after each character is completely fooled by Maruki’s fake reality. They all have a small existential crisis over whether they prefer to live in that world or the real world.
And when they overcome their doubt, that’s when they get their cool new personas.
Once again, not only do you get a cool stat boost, but each character also gets an exclusive new skill that is extremely useful and definitely worth getting.
The new month also introduces a new palace, Maruki’s palace. This palace is really cool, though it also leaves me wanting more.
When I first played Persona 5, I thought the palaces were a massive improvement over the randomly generated dungeons from 3 and 4. Though I also felt they were a bit linear.
And I still think that a more metroidvania esc design for each palace could really make the game even better than it already is.
Granted, the new palace is still really cool, having a healthy dose of story content, combat, and puzzles. But it wasn’t exactly the palace to end all palaces that I was hoping for it to be.
But with that said, it’s still probably the best palace in the whole game.
The new content also let me fully explore a lot of what the game has to offer.
By the end of the new month, I grinded out all of my characters to level 99. I got all the will seeds and unlocked all the trophies. I got all the best weapons for all the characters I used. And I maxed out all of the confidants. All in one playthrough.
This all leads me to the new final boss in the form of Maruki, which for me was pretty easy (even in hard mode) considering that I was way over leveled.
Yet even still, the whole series of fights had enough emotion to them to keep me invested. Mainly because of Maruki.
And by the way, Throw Away Your Mask is absolutely boppin. Seriously, in a game already filled with tunes that I could consider some of the best video game music ever, Atlus somehow managed to create another track that (for me) takes the cake as the absolute best song in the whole game.
Not to mention new tracks like I Believe and No More What ifs are also boppin.
I feel like I only scratched the surface of Persona 5 in this post. After playing the game again recently for the first time in four years, I feel like I can safely say that Persona 5 blows Persona 4 out of the water in pretty much every category (except for maybe the characters).
The story alone is enough for me to consider it as one of my favorites of all time. And that’s not counting that amazing, characters, music, and all the new additions to Royal.
If you’ve played Persona 5 and are just as much of a fan as I am, then I highly recommend checking the Royal version out. It’s definitely worth the price of admission.
But with that said, those are all my thoughts on Persona 5 Royal, if you have any thoughts of your own then make sure to put them on the comments below.