Is Persona 5 Royal Good?

Phantom Thieves
The Phantom Thieves posing for the camera

I’ll be blunt here: Persona 5 Royal (or P5R for short) is one of my favorite games of all time. It was my first Persona and I very much fell in love. That being said, this article will stick to highlighting what the game does right and what it doesn’t, allowing you to make your own decision. So let the show begin (there may or may not be puns ahead) 


10. Graphics/Artstyle

The first Palace, a prime example of the more unusual locations in the game

I don’t usually consider visuals to be too important when judging a game’s quality for the most part, but for many there are. Good visuals can definitely highlight a game though, and as for this one? It's got style for days.

Anime aesthetics was 100% the goal here, and in cutscenes, it would be hard to tell it apart from one. Outside of them, it's still very stylish though, a bit hampered if you’re on Switch but looking very anime-like. 

Overall visually P5R is a knockout, but this can definitely be subjective. Persona as a series largely appeals to anime fans though, and what they’d get here is something very familiar to them. 


9. The Real World

The real world of Tokyo thrives on using colors the Metaverse lacks… through sometimes tacky billboards 

To those unfamiliar, Persona games are largely split into two sections of gameplay. The real-world social aspects, and the otherworldly (Metaverse in 5 but it has different names in others) areas where the game’s combat takes place. 

P5R’s real world is a shockingly accurate recreation of parts of Tokyo, barring some game original locations like Shujin Academywhere much of the main cast goes to school). And yes school is a major part of the real-world activities when you’re not on break, although it largely amounts to cutscenes with questions sometimes for the most part.

The bulk of your time in the real world will be spent exploring the city and finding things to aid your journey in the Metaverse. Confidants (more on them later) are important here, as they give you access to new abilities, many of which prove useful.

The major restrictor on this though? The whole game is on a calendar system, meaning (almost) anything you do will move time forward. This limits you from doing everything unless you plan very carefully. I can say from experience doing everything is indeed possible, but without a guide, you’re very likely to miss something. 

But this only serves to further highlight the social sim nature of the game outside of combat, for which Persona is a standout among other RPGs. I can safely say this aspect of the game is not for everyone, but those who do enjoy these features will like what is here.


8. The Metaverse

The distorted black and red subways of Mementos…. during a fight with a catgirl

When you’re not in the real world, chances are you’re in this largely black-and-red oddity of the Metaverse. There’s two different “types” of Metaverse in the game. Memontos isn’t available immediately, but it's a large randomly generated dungeon area that expands as the game progresses and is home to many resolutions of real-world side quests.

And then there’s the Palaces. These are the main story dungeons and cannot be returned to once completed. Unlike Mementos, each features a unique design and concept, and are actual set maps. Without spoiling too much of them, as they are among the best parts of the game, you will visit an art museum and a gaudy casino, among several others. Counting the new one added in Royal, there are nine of these, which are mostly positive experiences. 

But regardless of the form it takes, the Metaverse is woven seamlessly into the narrative and feels like a natural part of the world. The fact that this can be achieved with such a crazy concept really shows the skill of the game’s writers and makes this incredibly long game nowhere near a slog. 


7. The Sleekness

The face cross-sections are one of the most stylish things in gaming

This one will be brief but I felt it deserved some mention. P5R is a game dripping with style to an extent I’ve scarcely seen in other games. From the UI elements visible in many screenshots here (definitely including the face cross-sections) to the presentation both ingame and in its accompanying materials, this game has a style and keeps to it. 

To a lot of people, this might not be a major factor, as a lot of popular games don’t really have a style of their own. But for me, and I’m sure others would agree with this, a game having a standout look only serves to make it more memorable. And in that regard, Persona 5 Royal is hard to beat. 


6. Combat

Combat retains the sleekness, even when you’re fighting weird horse things or the more suggestive creatures I neglected to show

Combat is arguably less important in Persona than in a lot of other RPGs, but it is still here and required to beat the game. But it should be noted that, with a couple of exceptions, it's pretty easy unless you’re on hard mode or higher. 

For RPG veterans, the core combat here isn’t anything new, just a new coat of paint. You have your guard and your basic melee attack with whatever weapon that character has. You can choose the order they attack in, which can be useful for chaining certain weaknesses on an enemy for maximum damage output (Baton Pass when its unlocked makes this even better by applying buffs) 

Then there’s gun and Persona. Gun is just that, each character has a gun of some sort (except Morgana who has a slingshot), and limited ammo that refills after each battle. Gun damage is its own element, and therefore can be a weakness or resistance. So it's another element to factor into battles, especially with ammo being limited.

Lastly, there are Personas, which actually deserve their own category. But overall, combat is pretty simple here in P5R, with the hardest part being figuring out the weakness of a new enemy type. Enemies are often quite fragile (with some exceptions), and you only lose if the MC goes down. This all makes combat probably the least impressive part of the game, not bad but not a standout of quality. 


5. Personas

Joker moments after tearing the skin off his face

Calling Personas messed up Pokemon wouldn’t be too far off. Based almost entirely on real-world fantastical and mythological characters, these beings are integral to the series, hence the name. 

Outside of the MC Joker, each member of the party has a single Persona that becomes tied to them after their epic Awakening scene (they can be evolved a few times though if you put in the effort). This means each character will largely have a certain element: wind for Morgana, electric for Ryuji, fire for Ann, and so on. All of this means that different party compositions give you different coverage, which can be important in each of the game’s Palaces.

But there’s the literal wild card in the mix with Joker. As the Wild Card of the team (every Persona game has this in its MC), Joker does start with a Persona like everyone else. But it is a weak one you are given no choice but to get rid of. Instead, Joker can capture nearly every enemy in the game (barring unique ones) and turn it into his Persona. As such he will have a sizable amount on hand at all times after you get a few, giving him considerable coverage.

You do have to be careful though, as Joker will take on the element of his equipped Persona. So if he has an ice one, he will be weak to fire just like a normal ice character would be. And since Joker going down is an instant game over, this necessitates being very careful with Persona switching.

Joker’s Personas can also be acquired by the various services of the Velvet Room, using the ones you have. This is a location deeply tied to the plot you will visit many times, but as far as this mechanic goes, it is largely optional for the most part. It serves to give you faster access to more powerful Personas, but you can easily get by without it if you capture powerful ones. 

Personas do have levels and gain experience as well, but this is something that’s only significant with Joker. His are all leveled individually and gain experience as you use them, meaning a weaker one can become strong if you use it enough. Or you get a high-level one that makes the rest redundant, also a possibility.

Personas are unsurprisingly essential to Persona, and there are a lot of them. But unless you’re playing on the harder difficulties, you shouldn’t have much trouble here, and could even get by using ones you like once in a while. Just pour one out for the first Persona in Arsene, at least he got in Smash. 


4. The Music

The wacky art of the album, since you can’t highlight music visually 

P5R’s soundtrack often hovers near the top of my favorite gaming soundtracks. It's hard to say for sure but this jazz-influenced music hits hard with both its vocal and instrumental tracks. And it's not just me, I have seen near endless praise for it, and even videos of music composers reacting to how well done it is. It's that good.

… But it is hard to describe music in written form unless the people involved have musical expertise (I do not). Instead, I would advise checking out some of the music online to see what it is like, but nowhere near all of it. So many of these songs, especially the likes of Rivers in the Desert, are best experienced for the first time in the game. Instead, I will leave you with the intro and some battle music to get a feel for what it is like. 

Some of the more memorable side characters, being the shogi player, your teacher, and a shifty doctor…. all of whom you can date!

Persona 5 Royal has a LOT of side content to take in. From part-time jobs to random minigames, there’s a massive amount here. But for this, I’ll highlight the Confidants, easily the most important of this content.

Nearly every important character in the game, including your party members, has a Confidant line to experience. These amount to scenes with characters that can take some effort to unlock, but the rewards are very worth it.

For party member ones, completing these will make them more efficient in battle. From reducing weaknesses to landing lucky hits or dodging blows, these can make all the difference when the difficulty does pick up later in the game.

The other characters give access to abilities that range from useful (like letting you do stuff in the evenings or allowing you to switch in reserve party members in the midst of battle) to extremely useless (increasing the alertness level of a Palace…. I never saw a use for that one at all). 

And while on the topic of confidants, nearly all the female options are romance options for Joker, forcing you to lock in or out at Rank 9 of 11. Picking one will lead to several date scenes late in the game… or picking multiple will lead to them finding out and literally beating up Joker. Yep, that’s a thing that can happen in this game. And let’s hold off on the waifu wars, this isn’t the place for that. 


2. The Story

New character Sumire during the intro sequence 

From my experience, your opinion of the story will vary greatly depending on if this is your first Persona or not. For me it was, and I loved nearly every minute of it. For others, from what I have heard, it pales in comparison to the stories in earlier games. I cannot say for sure as I haven’t played them yet, but just throwing that out there. 

But this story is best experienced unspoiled, so I’ll be vague here. You play as the Phantom Thieves of Hearts, a group of teenagers led by Joker whose goal is to fix corrupt people of the world. This is done by entering the Palaces of their hearts and stealing their greatest treasure (and usually defeating their Shadow self along the way).

And these villains are immensely unlikeable people who have done terrible things. But yet many of them have good people close to them who have difficulty accepting just how cruel they are. This makes for powerful scenes when they eventually do accept this and join your side to help strike down these villains. 

Furthermore, Joker is framed for a crime he didn’t commit very early on by one of the major villains, leading to him being on probation for most of the game. This gives him a stigma as a criminal, as the truth of what happened was not made public knowledge. All because some rich jerk didn’t want to face the consequences of his actions. 

One last thing of note here is the Royal additions. New party member Sumire is added, along with additions to Akechi from the previous version. And most notably, an entirely new ninth Palace that takes place after the original ending. I will say nothing about this except it was the best-written villain in the entire game, and that’s saying something. 


1. The Characters

The Phantom Thieves in almost full, Sumire wasn’t invited here

It is essential for an RPG to have a solid cast of characters, and from my perspective, it delivers and then some. From others, I’ve seen… it's a bit more mixed, but really it's hard to guess how you’d react to them without experiencing them.

Joker is an excellent take on the silent protagonist by not being a massive blank slate. You can tell he is shy in his day-to-day life, but as Joker in the Metaverse, he dons a black leather coat and is every inch the calm and collected leader. It's no wonder he became so popular. 

Morgana is the mascot character every Persona has had since 3, and this time it's a cat! Except don’t call him that, he really doesn’t like it. This guy’s one of the more divisive members of the cast, with some people loathing his existence and others finding him adorable. I’m in the latter camp myself.

Ryuji and Ann are the initial members along with Joker and Morgana, and are the best friend and popular girl (sort of) types respectively. Ryuji is a bit of a thug but a nice guy under all that, remaining loyal to the team no matter what. Ann meanwhile is hard to sum up briefly, but she’s a foreigner who doesn’t fit in despite seeming like she’d have a lot of friends, meaning she really appreciates the team being there for her.

Later on, you’ll gain quite a few more members of the team. There’s the not-very-worldly artist Yusuke, the role model council president Makoto, and shut-in nerd Futaba at first. Even later you’ll meet rich girl Haru, the detective in training Akechi, and aspiring athlete Sumire. I’m not going too much into them as it's hard to describe them without spoiling their arcs, especially the latter two. But I’ll just say they’re all very good, even if Haru in particular was robbed of screentime. 

Overall this is easily one of my favorite RPG parties ever, but that is a subjective metric. Taking others into account, it is still very highly received, just less so among people who’ve played other Persona games. And that applies to the game as a whole really. If it's your first Persona you’ll likely love it, if not, well, at least you got the memories. 


Score: 10/10


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Gamer Since: 2002
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D, Deathloop, Final Fantasy IV, God of War (2018)
Top 3 Favorite Games:Mass Effect 2, Assassins Creed Syndicate, Mark of the Ninja

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